Contest Central

Zars Zones In on $50K DerbyWars Win

February 09, 2016 10:23am
DerbyWars $50K February Contest

Not being a familiar face in the bigger games on DerbyWars, Brian Zars (Czarspalace) took a very humble approach toward last weekend's $50,000 High Stakes game.

"No shot," said Zars about his initial chances of taking down the 45-person tournament which was highlighted by a $20,000 top prize.

"The best tournament players compete in these games. I really didn't think I had a chance. I really enjoyed the smaller games vs. bigger games, but I decided to change my play about three or four months ago and I was really excited to have a chance to compete with the best."

By the time Saturday rolled around, Zars' humility evolved into some confidence.

Brian Zars, DerbyWars $50,000 High Stakes WINNER"My wife, daughter and I were sitting on the flight to California and I was just reviewing some of my picks and handicapping from the night before. I really liked some races so I wrote a note to my wife on the plane that said, "We are going to win this tournament," explained Zars, who took a trip to Santa Anita Park Saturday with his wife, Lacey and daughter Savvy.

Fitting for a day of travel, it was Duffle Bag, who took the 9th race at Gulfstream Park and returned Zars a win-place total of $40.80.

The turf winner ignited Zars, who returned payouts in nine of the 18 races included in the 50K game.

Zars needed every one of those payouts in order to claim the $20,000 top prize and hold off one of the country's top tournament players in Eric Moomey (Moomeyer).

Moomey, the 2014 NHC Tour Champion and tour runner-up in 2015, has been one of the most successful DerbyWars players. A multiple winner of the DerbyWars Saturday featured 20K/25K game as well as a winner of last February's 100K game where he won $50,000, Moomey has been a tournament force.

Just three races into Saturday's 50K game on DerbyWars, Moomey built a bankroll of $100 by catching back-to-back cap winners including first-time starter Lookin For A Kiss at Gulfstream and Proletariat at Aqueduct.
"It was pretty spectacular," said Moomey of his start. "If you would have asked me at that point, I was almost certain I was going to win the tournament."

Meanwhile, a relentless Zars never stopped cutting into Moomey's big early lead as he rattled off payouts in four of five races beginning midway through the tournament. Fourth Watch ($40.80), Kelly Tough ($20.40), Uncle Lino ($5.20) and Luke's Alley ($17.40), who put Zars in first place with just five races to go.

With one race to go at Santa Anita Park, Zars held a $5.70 lead over eventual third-place finisher Paul McClelland, who earned $7,500, and a $14.50 advantage over Moomey. Zars and McClelland were blanked in the finale landing on Hay Dude and Abbey Vale respectively, while Moomey set up some anxious closing moments to the tournament when 14-1 Gaga A finished second.

"I lose the race...I was just waiting for the (place) payout. It was nerve racking and I just kept doing the math," Zars said.

Moments later, Zars was able to breathe again and enjoy a landmark tournament victory as Gaga A returned $12.60 to place as Moomey fell just $1.90 short of the top prize.

Moomey admitted that he originally liked Power Foot, who underlayed a bit and concerned him that had he finished second there wouldn't be enough of a place payout so he went with Gaga A. He added that he didn't consider taking any shorter priced horses in the finale because he felt he was likely to get blocked by at least one of the top two.

"Brian deserves a lot of credit," Moomey said.

By Dustin Haluska


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