COLUMBUS, OH (Feb. 10, 2014) - Rick Arbiter of Kingston, N.Y. and Arthur Nigro from Tuckahoe, N.Y. won the weekend's two USTA World Harness Handicapping Championship Free, Online Qualifiers to earn berths ($8,000 value) to the $60,000 World Harness Handicapping Championship (WHHC) at the Meadowlands on Saturday, April 19, 2014.
Arbiter started slowly in Friday (Feb. 7) evening's contest involving the first 12 races at the Meadowlands. With only three-second place finishers selected through the first seven races, he had only $29.40 in his bankroll. But he rallied to pick the winners of the last five races, including #6 Solid Queen (Race 8), who paid $31.00, $12,20, and Race 11 victor #5 Nutmeg's Cider, who returned $19.40, $7.80, to finish with $139.00. John Merola, who also hit the final three races to earn $109.20, was second best among the 816 entries. Last year's 2013 WHHC champion Jeff Klahr finished 38th.
In the Yonkers contest on Saturday (Feb. 8), Nigro scored for $90.40 of his winning total in the last four races. His $165.00 total was $13.20 better than runnerup David Schanker's $151.70. Shanker held the lead with two races to go but was shutout in the contest's final two races while Nigro picked Race 11 winner 7 Whogoesfirst $14.40, $6.40 and finale runnerup #4 Hello Hot Shot $14.80 to earn his victory. There were 799 total entries.
The next two contests in the series of 10 USTA Free, Online Qualifiers to the WHHC take place
Thursday, Feb. 13 with the last 12 races from Dover Downs and Saturday, Feb. 15 with Cal Expo's first 12.
Contestants can enter free at www.HorseTourneys.com prior to the start of the first race. Free TrackMaster Platinum Past Performances are available now on that site.
Following were the top 10 finishers in each of the the USTA online qualifiers for the WHHC during the past weekend:
USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifier 3 - Meadowlands, Feb. 7, 2014
# Name Earnings
1 Rick Arbiter
2 John Merola $109.20
3 Charlie Carden $108.00
4 Patrick Ruta $103.80
5 Randy Bauer $ 99.20
6 Patrick Garvin $ 98.60
7 Jim Bourgoin $ 97.40
8 Ray Garnet
9 Jeff Kingsbury $ 93.20
10 Diane McClyment $ 91.40
USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifier 4 – Yonkers Raceway, Feb. 8, 2014
1 Art Nigro
2 David Schanker $151.70
3 Carl Hiel
4 John Iannone $129.70
5 John Mucciolo $126.60
6 William Johnson $123.40
7 Lewis Falton $120.50
8 Glenn Mink $119.30
9 Glenn McConaughy $117.60
10 Jim Peake
Following is the results/schedule with featured racetracks for the 2014 USTA Free, Online WHHC Qualifying Series:
Thursday Jan. 30 Northfield Park Gerry Tuzzolino
Friday, Jan. 31 The Meadows Jeffrey Arnold
Friday, Feb. 7 Meadowlands Arthur Nigro
Saturday, Feb. 8 Yonkers Rick Arbiter
Thursday, Feb. 13 Dover Downs 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 15 Cal Expo 8:45 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 21 Buffalo Raceway 6:40 p.m.
Saturday, Feb. 22 Pompano Park 7:05 p.m.
Friday, Feb. 28 Maywood Park 8:10 p.m.Saturday, March 1 Balmoral Park 8:10 p.m.
by Dan Leary, for USTA