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Blaise Brucato Captures Grade One Gamble and Spring Challenge at Keeneland

April 24, 2017

To view the complete list of official Grade One Gamble results and standings, click here.

LEXINGTON, KY (April 24, 2017) – In the history of Keeneland, many patrons have had memorable (and profitable) weekends. We would venture to guess, however, that not many have equaled the success that Blaise Brucato experienced this weekend.

Roughly 24 hours after winning the inaugural Keeneland Spring Challenge, a $400 buy-in tournament on Saturday, Brucato 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 National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour.

On Saturday, the Cleveland native bested a field of 258 players by hitting a $500 exacta on the last race to win a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) spot and $3,500 in cash. Mike Maloney of Lexington captured second and fourth places in the tourney, earning an NHC spot and $3,500 in prize money. NHC qualifiers Paul Hoffman of Chicago (third place) and Mark Haidar of Northville, Michigan (fifth place) joined lucky sixth-place finisher Ali Aksoy of Toronto, who benefited from the NHC rule that prohibits any player from scoring two NHC spots in one tournament.

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 died in 1988, his 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, another BCBC spot, an NHC berth, and $13,000 in cash.

In the Grade One Gamble, a record 170 entries competed for seven BCBC spots, 10 NHC spots, and over $40,000 in cash prizes. The second-place finish by Austin, Tex., native Kinchen earned him a BCBC and NHC spot plus $6,500 in cash. Third- through seventh-place finishers Bob Traynor of Oceanside, California; Joe Kramer of Fargo, North Dakota; Marshall Gramm of Memphis; Randy Gallo of Palm Beach Garden, Florida; and Kenneth King of New York City earned BCBC and NHC entries in addition to cash prizes.

Brian Johnson of Biloxi, Mississippi, and the aforementioned Aksoy and Maloney finished eighth through tenth, respectively, earning berths to the 2018 NHC in addition to cash prizes. Aksoy and Mahoney both earned their second NHC berth in as many days.

To recap the weekend, totaling his bankroll winnings, cash prizes, and BCBC/NHC berths, Brucato cashed for more than $50,000.