By Julie Sarno
Rancho Santa Fe resident Christian Hellmers finished second in the 2012 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita Park held on Nov. 2-3. Hellmers won second-place prize money of $154,525, finishing second to Patrick McGoey of New Orleans who took home the winner’s share, $255,341.
Improbably, the contest was a repeat of the 2011 Challenge, when Hellmers also finished second to McGoey at the Breeders’ Cup, raced at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
This year, Hellmers led the standings throughout the tournament until McGoey, down to $8,700, put most of his bankroll on 9-1 Fort Larned, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, the final race of the contest. Fort Larned won and McGoey finished the contest with accumulated winnings of $85,341 to Hellmers $74,525, which was added to the second-place prize of $80,000. Hellmers girlfriend, Alicia Teresi, of Solana Beach, finished in sixth place in the Betting Challenge, taking home total earnings of $51,655.
A Torrey Pines High School alumnus, Hellmers has had a passion for betting on horse racing since his teenage years. Growing up in Del Mar, where his mother George Hellmers still lives, Christian has fond memories of going to the track with his late father during his teen years.
At 20, Hellmers and two friends – Nisan Gabay and Kevin McFarland –won several tournaments and were known as the “Pick 6 Boys,” capturing the attention of the racing world when they were interviewed on television and won $15,000 that day. Now 35, Hellmers is an entrepreneur. He founded thefirst10minutes.com, which specializes in “personalized matchmaking for solid men and radiant women.”
Hellmers looks forward to the next chapter of his life. He has signed a contract to be on a proposed show about young handicappers on the G4 cable network. In fact, a camera crew followed him throughout the Breeders’ Cup weekend contest. Hellmers plans to offer handicapping tips and horses on his website, www.christianhellmers.com.
“I feel like Bodemeister in this year’s Kentucky Derby and Preakness,” Hellmers was quoted as saying in Daily Racing Form. “I ran two great races but just got caught by someone better on those particular days. These tournaments remind me of my engineering finals at UCLA, trying to analyze everything that is going on. I bet $2,000 to win on Fort Larned, but it didn’t end up being enough. Anyone can say they would have done something different in hindsight, but when you’re holding tens of thousands of dollars, that’s a lot harder to do. This contest is a game within a game within a game.”
The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is the nation’s largest live money handicapping contest. A record 138 players entered the contest this year, which required a $10,000 buy-in and featured $370,000 in prize money. Players also keep the winnings they have accumulated. The top six finishers also earned berths into the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship finals to be held Jan. 25-26, 2013 in Las Vegas at the Treasure Island Resort Casino.