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Bally’s plans ‘Mother’ of
all horse contests

Mar 25, 2003 6:01 AM

With the Kentucky Derby right around the corner, visions of pari-mutuel jackpots are probably dancing like sugarplums in horse players’ heads.

Helping to sweeten the pot are some high-profile handicapping tournaments that will be staged in the weeks leading up to the Derby (see page 24 for information on the Hilton’s Pick the Ponies and The Orleans’ Championship contests).

Among the more intriguing contests is Bally’s Moolah Horse Handicapping Contest, which is scheduled for April 18-19 at Bally’s Las Vegas.

With a $5,000 entry fee and limit of only 30 entries, Moolah could be considered the "Mother of all handicapping contests," according to Johnny Avello, race and sports director at Bally’s and Paris Las Vegas.

"We wanted a very special contest, a handicapping tournament for the serious player who could enjoy the action in a private setting," Avello said. "The contest will be held in a private salon, away from the usual action, giving the players a great setting for a great event."

Avello said Bally’s elected to open the contest to only 30 players so it could create an aura of exclusivity, much like the super high-stakes poker games that often require buy-ins of $5,000, $10,000, $25,000 or more.

Of the $150,000 collected in entry fees, all will be returned as cash prizes to the players. On each day of the contest, there will be a $12,500 first place, $7,500 second place and $5,000 third place winner.

The overall winner will take home $70,000 for first place, $20,000 for second place and $10,000 for third.

In addition to the prize money, the winner will land a seat in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s (NTRA) National Handicapping Tournament, which is held every January at Bally’s.

The contest’s format requires the entrant to make 15 voucher bets ”” $2 to win and $2 to place ”” on 15 different horses, selected from five different racetracks, on each of the two days of the contest.

In addition, a five point bonus will be awarded for each first place finisher selected.

For further information, contact Bally’s Race and Sports Book at (800) 468-8946 or log on at