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Hawthorne Race Course

Hawthorne Racecourse (10/19/09)

Contact: Ron Uchman (708) 780-3700

A fairy-tale day at Hawthorne

It was almost like a Damon Runyon story. A couple of guys, real characters and Damonesque in their own right, had a fairy-tale day Saturday at Hawthorne. The two were at the track visiting Bob Nastanovich, the Hawthorne and Prairie Meadows Equibase chart caller.

Jeff Dukes, a software consultant from Tennessee, who currently resides in Chicago and is the roommate of Nastanovich, comes to the races a couple of times a meet but hasnít really had much success and he never bets much.

John McArthur, a madman from across the water, was also in town and staying with Nastanovich. A native of Grimsby who currently lives in London, John is a teacher of accountancy (aargh) courses for private London accounting schools. John has had the more experience of the two and had some big days at Breedersí Cup but he primarily bets on jumpers.

So, with neither having a real clue on what to do with Hawthorne races, they asked Bob for advice. Bob was rather non-committal. He didnít have a lot of confidence in his selections for the day, Hawthorne Derby day, and suggested that the pair just wager in rolling Pick 3s. He recommended that they pick two runners in each race, which is an $8 wager, makes their bets and do what they do best (hint: they had quite a few commemorative glasses by the end of the day).

So John decided to handicap the card. It took him less than 15 minutes. They put up the money, $28 each for those $56 worth of wagers. They won the first race and all was good with the world. Unfortunately, they lost the second.

But, then the winners started rolling. None were favored. They were even all over Proceed Bee, the upset winner of the Grade III Hawthorne Derby.

All told, they won four Pick 3s in a row. The Pick 3 ending in the fifth paid $245.30; the one ending in the sixth returned $424.80; the seventh paid $455.70; and the final in the eighth brought back $526.90. In total, their Pick 3 winnings totaled $1652.70. Not a bad day at the races.

Dukes was elated. ďI didnít think I was going to make it to the track with them. I travel a lot for business and I was still in Denver Friday night. But, I got up at 3:15 am, caught a plane, and they picked me up. I have had one bigger day, in the 2006 Breeder's Cup, but this is easily the second best. Iím sure glad I made it.Ē

McArthur was certainly on top of his game. ďI have to tell you. I love it at Hawthorne. We played cards almost all night. I only got two hours sleep. It was supposed to be three hours but I set me alarm an hour early because Iím still on English time. We had to pick Jeff up from the airport.

ďI think the way to do this is no preparation, head in shreds, fully exhausted, and then just stick a pin to make your selection. I really did some work, looking at Hawthorne form, how the trainers and jockeys were doing and such but I really just stumbled into it.

ďI donít like racetracks that remind me of shopping malls. I really do love Hawthorne. Itís got a bit more about it. It has character. Iíll be back.Ē

Weíll be glad to have him.




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