11/04/2016 9:22PM

Traynor leads after Day 1 in bid for second Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge title

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Bob Traynor, a 55-year-old packaging sales rep from Oceanside, Calif., is in the lead at the end of Day 1 of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. Traynor, who won the event in 2014 when it was held at Santa Anita, sits in first with $47,300. His big win came in the final Breeders’ Cup race on Friday, the Distaff, won in thrilling fashion by Beholder in a nose photo over Songbird.

But for a very close beat earlier this year in a Santa Anita contest, Traynor would be playing for a $1 million bonus. Should he go on to win tomorrow, he wouldn’t be the first two-time BCBC winner. Patrick McGoey managed the feat in 2012 and 2013.

The BCBC continues to grow at an explosive rate. This year’s field attracted 397 entries, up from 322 last year, enough to generate a prize pool of $1 million. Added to that are 15 seats to the National Handicapping Championship.

“I’m a gambler,” Traynor said. “Sometimes we win, and sometimes we lose, but the million dollars definitely makes things a lot more interesting.”

Part of the BCBC growth can be attributed to the addition of simulcast sites to the contest. In addition to Santa Anita, there were BCBC contestants at Keeneland, Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, and Gulfstream. Also, for the first time, players were allowed to play online from home.

The second-place finisher on Day 1 was A.R. Kluger, with $28.752.60, playing online. In third was Farron McCubbins, whose total was $28,450, playing from Churchill Downs.

The contest is far from over. There are a lot of big names, including former champions, in behind with plenty of money to bet. Tomorrow’s rules require players to bet at least $900 in each of at least six races in the win, place, show, exacta, or trifecta pools. Traynor’s opponents are sure to come out firing.

Some other notable names in the top 20 include David Gutfreund ($19,010), Belmont Betting Challenge winner Garett Skiba ($15,774.20), and Kentucky Derby Betting Challenge winner Ron Myeress ($14,470).

For the leaderboard, go to www.breederscup.com/experience/bcbc/leaderboard.