Ohio Handicapper Captures Grade One Gamble and Spring Challenge at Keeneland
April 22-23, 2017
In the storied history of Keeneland Race Course, many patrons have had memorable (and profitable) weekends. We would venture to guess, however, that not many have equaled the weekend that Blaise Brucato just experienced at this venerable racetrack.
Roughly 24 hours after winning the inaugural Keeneland Spring Challenge, a $400 buy-in tournament held on Saturday (4/22/17), Blaise topped that performance with a dramatic win in Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble, a $3,000 buy-in tournament that has become one of the most prized titles on the NHC Tour.
On Saturday, the Cleveland native bested a field of 258 players by hitting a $500 exacta on the last race, winning a $10,000 BCBC spot and $3,500 in cash. Mike Maloney of Lexington captured 2nd and 4th places in the tourney, earning an NHC spot and $3,500 in prize money. NHC qualifiers Paul Hoffman of Chicago (3rd place) and Mark Haidar of Northville, (5th place) joined lucky 6th place finisher Ali Aksoy of Toronto, who benefitted from the NHC rule that prohibits any player from scoring 2 NHC spots in one tournament. [AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen finished a distant 21st].
After winning the Saturday tournament, Blaise revealed that April 22 was his Dad’s birthday. Bill Brucato introduced his son to horse racing at a young age, and even though Bill passed away in 1988, it is clear that his spirit and love for racing lives on through Blaise.
The incredible story continued on Sunday, as Brucato closed again in the final race, cashing a $250 exacta to vault past former NHC Tour champion Jonathon Kinchen by a mere $200 to claim back-to-back victories, with another BCBC spot, an NHC berth, and $13,000 in cash. In the Grade One Gamble, a record 170 entries competed for 7 BCBC spots, 10 NHC spots, and over $40,000 in cash prizes. The 2nd place finish by Austin, TX native Kinchen earned him a BCBC and NHC spot plus $6,500 in cash. Third through 7th finishers Bob Traynor of Oceanside, CA, Joe Kramer of Fargo, ND, Marshall Gramm of Memphis, TN, Randy Gallo of Palm Beach Garden, FL and Kenneth King of New York, NY all earned BCBC and NHC entries, in addition to cash prizes.
Brian Johnson of Biloxi, MS, Ali Aksoy of Toronto, ON and Mike Maloney of Lexington, KY finished 8th through 10th and earned a berth to the 2018 NHC, in addition to cash prizes. For Aksoy and Mahoney, it was the 2nd NHC berth in as many days.
To recap the weekend, totaling his bankroll winnings, cash prizes, and BCBC/NHC berths, Blaise Brucato cashed for over $50,000. Not a bad way to spend a weekend at Keeneland, and not a bad way to celebrate your father’s birthday. Somewhere Bill Brucato has a wide smile on his face.
Final Standings for Grade One Gamble (with Bankroll)
- Blaise Brucato $8,434.00
- Jonathon Kinchen $8,234.50
- Bob Traynor $7,000.00
- Joe Kramer $6,546.80
- Marshall Gramm $6,493.50
- Randy Gallo $6,412.00
- Kenneth King $5,968.00
- Brian Johnson $5,780.00
- Ali Aksoy $5,590.00
- Mike Maloney $5,151.00