Pegasus World Cup day 2020 will be remembered for many things, including a tour-de-force performance by Mucho Gusto, and a bold run up the hedge by Zulu Alpha. For contest players, it was also be remembered for a father-son exacta.
Brian Chenvert, 42, won the contest, netting over $190,000. His closest pursuer was a familiar rival, his father Bill. Brian, who works in auto repair, built his total with a $250 exacta in the W.L. McKnight, where he keyed 35-1 shot Spooky Channel on top. That sent his total over $60,000.
“I was waiting for my spot and I loved the horse,” said Chenvert, a Minneapolis, Minn. resident. “The horse had competitive figures, good closing kick, outran his odds with trouble last time and I thought Brian Lynch, a trainer I like, could get him to run better off the layoff.”
Father Bill’s big move happened, as is so often the case in these live-bank tournaments, in the final race. Brian didn’t bet on his leading ticket, but he did make a play on his second entry, in an attempt to surpass his “good” one. He keyed #10 Mucho Gusto on top in trifectas and halfway through the race it looked like he had a chance. Then he heard his father rooting as well.
“He told me who he bet before the race but I wasn’t paying attention,” Brian admitted, “but when I wasn’t going to win I figured out he had a big 10-8 so I started pulling for him.”
His happiness for his Dad turned into fear for himself when he realized his Dad played that exacta for a whopping $1,500. “I thought he might have knocked me out for a second,” Brian recalled, “but I went and looked back at the will pays and saw that the old man couldn’t catch me.”
In the end, Chenvert the elder fell about $4,000 short but don’t feel too bad for him – he still walked with around $120,000 on the weekend. Bill Chenvert had made news in the contest world back in November at the Breeders’ Cup when he actually finished with the highest bankroll of any entrant only to be assessed a 10,000-point penalty because he failed to make one of his minimum wagers. He eventually finished second there to ultimate winner Brad Anderson, costing him over $100,000 in prize money.
“He wasn’t too worried about it,” Brian said. “I told him, if making $375,000 is a bad day, I hope I have one soon.”
And if Bill was going to run second in a second “major” tournament in a row, he’d rather do it to his son than anyone else. “If one of us isn’t going to win, we root for the other,” said Brian. “I’m still amazed we were able to run one-two.”
Brian Chenvert started going to the track in the mid-80s because of – who else? – his father. “If you wanted to see the old man on Saturday, you had to be down at Canterbury because that’s where he was going to be,” he said.
By nature, his father was more of a box player, but through the years in tournament play he’s been impressed with his son’s take-no-prisoners approach.
“Live bank fits my style because I’m not afraid to go all,” Brian said. “I’ll pay a $1000 straight tri in the last race and some people think that’s crazy but it’s not crazy because I’m getting value [from the added money in the prize pool].”
Over time, Bill has adjusted his style accordingly. “For 30 years, he’s taught me about horse racing, these days I’m teaching him about betting,” Bill said, “but now I think I’m making him dangerous.”
That notion of rivalry between father and son is real and goes back a long way, at least to Bill’s initial appearance at the NHC.
“I was at Canterbury that day and I called him and all he wanted to talk about was these TV cameras that were there filming everything,” Brian remembered. “I told him, ‘Who cares about that? Don’t you have handicapping to do?”
There was one horse that weekend in one of the NHC races that Brian loved and he called Bill to tell him to bet the horse, a 20-1 shot. The race goes off and sure enough the cap horse wins and Brian calls Bill hoping to hear that he’s the new leader – he’d been doing great up to that point. There is no answer. “This isn’t good,” Brian thought.
When he eventually got his dad on the phone all Dad said was, “I don’t even want to hear it.”
Bill finished in the top 10, and likely would have won had he played Brian’s horse. Gentle ribbing ensued on both sides with Bill telling his son, “You can’t even qualify for the NHC so don’t act like such an expert.”
Since then, both father and son have qualified multiple times and tournaments in general have become a way for them to get together throughout the year. Bill has since left Minnesota for the warmer climes of Florida. “It’s saved me a lot of money not having to go to Canterbury every Saturday,” Bill quipped, “and now we pinpoint our favorite tournaments and that’s my time to spend with him.”
In addition to contests being a great way to spend time with family, the Chenverts have made lifelong friends on the circuit as well. “This is a bunch of great guys and real smart handicappers,” he reflected. “Any time you beat the best it’s mindboggling.”
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