Tommy “The Hammer” Massis Wins Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge

(Courtesy of Keeneland)

Tommy Massis of Toronto is truly the King of Keeneland Contests. On Sunday, he rode a $1,000 win bet on 19-1 shot Bella Noire in Keeneland’s 4th race to a win in the BCBC-NHC Challenge. Tommy’s winning total of $20,800 bested 2nd place finisher Blake Jessee of Carmel, IN by nearly $8,000.

Tommy loves Keeneland, with good reason. He won the BCBC at Keeneland in 2015, and this is his second win in a big Keeneland live money contest. For his victory, in addition to his bankroll he takes home $30,000, a fully paid $10,000 berth in the BCBC at Churchill Downs, and a fully paid entry plus expenses into the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship in February at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.

Tommy Massis, shown here after his 2015 BCBC triumph at Keeneland.

Known to friends as “The Hammer” for his willingness to pound a wager that he really likes, Tommy played the tournament from the Green Room at Keeneland, and when Bella Noire stormed down the stretch he jumped up and declared “You have a new leader!”.

Blake Jessee, who finished 2nd and collected $15,000 in prize money in addition to a BCBC and NHC berth, capped off an incredible week in the Bluegrass. Blake got married on Saturday, October 6th, celebrated in a Corporate Suite with his beautiful bride and their families on October 7th, traveled to Thistledown on Saturday the 13th to oversee Loooch Stables’ entries in the Best of Ohio, and returned to Keeneland on Sunday to cash for $12,865 plus all the goodies. Pretty good week…

The tournament drew 167 entries (53 of which qualified online with the cooperation of and, and awarded BCBC and NHC spots to the top five finishers, NHC spots to places 6 through 8, and prize money to 15th place. Grabbing BCBC and NHC spots were 3rd place finisher Jonathon Kinchen of Austin, TX (double qualified and ineligible for another NHC entry); 4th place finisher David Rink of Chicago; and 5th place finisher Faron McCubbins of Mount Washington, KY.

NHC spots went to 6th place finisher Steven Shaffer of Prospect, KY; 7th place finisher Marshall Gramm of Memphis, TN; 8th place finisher Nick Tammaro of Houston, TX; and 9th place Ken Hopkins of Flushing, NY (eligible due to double qualifying status of Jonathon Kinchen).

Following are the top 15, with bankroll and prizes. Complete standings available at

1. Tommy Massis $20,800 NHC; BCBC; $30,000
2. Blake Jessee $12,865 NHC; BCBC; $15,000
3. Jonathon Kinchen $11,716 BCBC; $8,000
4. David Rink $ 9,552 NHC; BCBC; $5,000
5. Faron McCubbins $ 9,000 NHC; BCBC; $4,000
6. Steven Shaffer $ 8,975 NHC; $2,000
7. Marshall Gramm $ 8,484 NHC; $2,000
8. Nick Tammaro $ 7,912 NHC; $2,000
9. Ken Hopkins $ 7,260 NHC; $2,000
10. Chris Larmey $ 6,226 $2,000
11. Eric Pineiro $ 6,156 $2,000
12. Richard Verri $ 6,112 $2,000
13. Tim Dougherty $ 5,640 $2,000
14. Gloria Kahlden $ 5,530 $2,000
15. Mike Maloney $ 5,349 $2,000