07/28/2016 11:16AM

Two-Ed-ed monster has dead aim on BCBC bonus


Ed Robinson and Ed Briggs are one of the handicapping contest world’s most successful partnerships. Playing together, each under his own name, the two have cashed in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge on multiple occasions. Thanks to an outright win in last weekend’s Del Mar contest, the pair will be headed back to the BCBC with their eyes on a very big prize: a $1 million bonus.

Robinson, 67, runs a steel and scrap recycling business in Birmingham, Ala. Briggs, 68, is a manager at a poker hall in Oceanside. The two met in the National Guard over 40 years ago in Alabama and have remained close friends, owning horses and playing contests together in the last two decades.

Robinson and Briggs have played in the Del Mar tournament for the past eight years, with multiple in-the-money finishes including running fourth a few years back. There have been frustrations as well.

“It’s like when you play golf,” Robinson explained. “You don’t go out there to run second, you want to run first and so many times we’d blow half our stack the first day and limp in on Sunday morning with not too many bullets in your holster.”

This time around the duo got off to a hot start. A format changed helped them. In past years, players had to divide their mandatory bankrolls over five races, this year only three were required. “That allowed us to filter down to more of the races that we wanted to key into,” Robinson said. “I think you get better value if you key into races that have 10 head or better.”

They kicked off their play on Saturday with a $20 trifecta in the sixth race. Their starting bankroll of $7,500 was increased by 60 percent coming into Sunday. “We identified the three races we liked the most,” he said, “but the irony of this whole thing is that the race we liked the absolute most was the very last race which we wound up blanking in. As a good friend of mine says, ‘You just never know when you’re gonna win a race.’ ”

That last race didn’t wind up costing them because they had done so well on the sixth race once again. “Coyote Fly had some numbers that were a lot better than anyone else’s and we knew that if he ran back to them he would win,” said Robinson. Coyote Fly paid $18.20.

Robinson and Briggs kept their momentum going in the eighth race. “Robertino Diodoro is a real live trainer off a layoff and [Patriots Rule’s] numbers on both Beyer and Thoro-Graph were good,” he said. “There was a lot of speed in the race and he was a stone-cold closer.”

They also liked Ambitious Brew, who had strong numbers and Flavien Prat, one of their favorite riders. “We bet it so we’d kill it if it came 2-6 or 6-2 and the 2 took the lead and the 6 passed in deep stretch and then all of a sudden we were geniuses,” he said. The $1 exacta was $149.30.

The Eds had a tough decision going to the last, knowing that many players would be willing to make what Robinson called “kamikaze runs,” pushing all-in on whatever they needed to get to the top of the leaderboard. Since they liked the race, they wanted to bet, but they opted to bet little enough that even if they whiffed they’d have a chance to hang on. Charlie Davis, third heading to the last, hit the race, but only got within $29 of the lead. Robinson and Briggs had held on.

As a result of the win, Robinson and Briggs are also headed back to the National Handicapping Championship in addition to the BCBC. Which experience are they most looking forward to? “It’s like asking somebody what their favorite flavor of ice cream is,” Robinson said. “There’s no right answer but for us, our style of play does much better at the BCBC because we can be more selective and weight our strongest opinions more. We like to limp along until we find a situation where we can move in a lot of chips on it and that’s what the BCBC allows you to do.”

The way their partnership works is simple. Each plays his own ticket, they share winnings equally, and they confer before the races. “I’ll have all my handicapping done, he’ll have all his handicapping done, and I’ll go to his house in Carlsbad and we’ll sit at a table in his backyard, pour a cocktail and talk about the races,” Robinson said. “Through the years I don’t even have to ask him anymore who he likes in a race, because we’re both looking at the same kind of patterns and we have a fairly similar outlook on quite a few items.”

It’s a system that has paid dividends for both. Robinson and Briggs have proved definitively, as one message-board commenter joked, that two Eds are better than one.