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Derby Days Proves to Be 'Sure Bet'

by Chris Pinkert / St. Louis Blues

RELATED LINK: Photos from the Blues "Derby Days" Casino Night

ST. LOUIS - Erica Goodwin went all-in on her final round of blackjack.

It’s a good thing she did, too, because she hit the jackpot.

No, it wasn’t real money. And Erica isn’t going to be able to quit her job tomorrow. But her experience at the blackjack table with Blues forward Steve Ott is one she isn’t likely to forget anytime soon.

“The very last hand, I bet $200,000 and everybody at the table won because (Ott) busted,” Goodwin said. “Everybody was jumping up and down and screaming with excitement. It was awesome. I had a blast.”

Ott was serving as a celebrity dealer on Wednesday night during the team’s annual Casino Night at Scottrade Center. The event, which featured a “Derby Days” theme, turned the ice surface into a full-fledged casino complete with poker, craps tables and roulette wheels.

The event is one of the biggest fundraisers for the Blues 14 Fund.

“Every single person at my table was here for the right reasons,” Ott said. “We had an extremely fun time tonight and we had some good laughs at the same time.”

Fans attending Wednesday’s event received Blues Bucks to gamble with, and after about two hours of games, turned in their winnings for raffle tickets to win great prizes, including a team autographed jersey, a Club Suite to a game and a Brett Hull autographed stick.

But gambling was only half the fun. The “Derby Days” theme gave guests the opportunity to dress in full derby-style attire. We’re talking pastel-colored shirts, bow ties, blazers, dresses, big hats - even a full jockey outfit!

The night also featured a dinner provided by the St. Louis Originals restaurants.

Blues goalie Brian Elliott, who was working a roulette table, said having a good time at Casino Night is a sure bet.

“Everybody was winning, so it turned out to be a great night for everybody,” Elliott said. “It’s one of the biggest nights of the year, it’s what gets the most money and the most recognition for the Blues 14 Fund. We couldn’t be more happy to be here to help out. If it’s just taking some pictures and signing autographs, if that’s all it takes, we’re happy to do it.”

Tickets for Casino Night sold out weeks ago. Through live and silent auctions, the event raised more than $150,000, which will benefit the following St. Louis organizations:

The Blues 14 Fund - The charitable trust of the St. Louis Blues, the fund was established in 1998 to honor former Blue Doug Wickenheiser, who passed away in 1999 after a long battle with cancer. Thanks to the commitment of players, alumni, volunteers and fans, the Blues 14 Fund has contributed more than $3.5 million to the St. Louis community.

Flashes of Hope - This program raises funds to accelerate a cure for children’s cancer while honoring the unique life memories of every child fighting cancer. Flashes of Hope transforms hospitals into professional photography studios with professional make-up artists and photographers who take photos of children with their families and supporters - free of charge.

Mathews-Dickey Boys and Girls Club - The club was initially designed to provide structured recreational activities to neighborhood youths. Today, its focus is on emphasizing Respect, Restraint and Responsibility through athletic competition and team-building, emphasizing the importance of becoming literate and educated citizens.

Ride On St. Louis - An Equine-Assistant Activities and Therapies center that serves disabled children, adults and the at-risk youth of the greater St. Louis area. Ride on St. Louis uses the unique movement of the horse and emotional bond created between horse and rider to gain physical, mental, emotional and spiritual improvements in the lives of those they serve.

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