05/11/2015 11:47AM

Another timely victory for Churchill clocker


John Nichols, the head clocker at Churchill Downs, solidified his status as a major player on the 2015 National Handicapping Championship Tour on Saturday. Nichols won a tournament on NHCQualify.com, securing his second berth in the National Handicapping Championship finals

The key horse for Nichols was Chrubim in the anchor leg, Santa Anita’s seventh race. Nichols said he liked Chrubim because his works were decent, had a hot trainer, and looked good in the paddock. Most importantly, Cherubim was the right price, and at 8-1 he landed both his connections and Nichols right in the winner’s circle.

This was the second win for Nichols on the Tour this year, and that’s important because winners get a points bonus. Nichols also has two seventh-place finishes on the site. He projects to move into third place overall behind Ryan Flanders and Jonathon Kinchen.
There are a handful of players on the Tour who come from a horseman’s background and use equine appearance as part of their handicapping, and Nichols is certainly chief among them. He has the pedigree as well. His father, John Sr., was a jockey in the 1950s at Agua Caliente in Tijuana, Mexico. His uncle Jimmy rode in five Kentucky Derbies and was the leading rider at Del Mar in 1948.

It’s difficult for Nichols to travel as much as some of his competition because of the time commitment his day job requires. But he will be making a push for the Tour nonetheless.

“I’ll go to Monmouth and or Arlington events in July and then I’ll really look to go to more contests in December,” Nichols said.

Nichols wasn’t the only major player to qualify out of Saturday’s tourney. Jim Meeks, who won the Horse Player World Series earlier this year, finished second, presumably as a tune-up for the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge live-bankroll contest, which he’s planning to attend next weekend. And the third-place finisher, George Chute, is no slouch either. Chute earned his sixth NHC qualification on Saturday.

24 go on to Round 2 of BCBC

On Sunday on BCQualify.com, 24 entries advanced to this month’s Round 2 contest, to be held on Sunday, May 31. George Henning was the overall leader with a score of $128.50.

Last year’s NHC Tour champ, Eric Moomey, advanced two entries to Round 2, as did Ming Meyer. Meyer and her husband, Curtis, were in the exacta spots at one point in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. Curtis also advanced an entry to Round 2 on Sunday.

Other notable names to graduate out of Round 1 include Brett Wiener, second on last year’s NHC Tour, and 2011 NHC champion John Doyle. BCQualify.com regulars Mike and Cheryl McIntyre also will have at least one entry in the second round.

There will be two more Round 1 events on the next two Sundays, May 17 and May 24. As many as 11 full $10,000 entries to the BCBC will be awarded in the Round 2 event.

Saturday NHCQualify.com results
Finish Name Total
1 John Nichols $107.80
2 Jim Meeks 107.30
3 George Chute 100.50
All three win seats to the National Handicapping Championship, plus a $500 travel allowance.

Saturday DRFQualify.com results
Finish Name Total
1 George Chute $107.80
2 Matthew Evers 107.30

Sunday BCQualify.com results
Finish Name Total
1 George Henning $128.50
2 Eric Moomey 125.20
3 Randy Scholz 121.40
4 Michael McIntyre 118.50
5 Alex Larmey 107.00
6 Ming Meyer 106.70
7 William Degnan 101.10
8 Phil Hoedebeck 98.90
9 Shadron Walton 93.60
10 Robert Felty 90.40
11 Rick Broth 88.00
12 Cayne Collier 86.40
13 Kenneth McMahan 85.30
14 Ming Meyer 83.30
15 Brett Wiener 83.20
16 Curtis Meyer 83.20
17 Sergio Ramirez 83.20
18 Eric Moomey 82.20
19 John Doyle 81.80
20 James Connors 81.60
21 Cheryl McIntyre 81.30
22 Paul Groffie 80.10
23 Joseph Rich 78
24 Kevin Geraghty 77.30
All 24 entries to Round 2 on May 31 when $10,000 seats for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge will be awarded.

DRFQualify.com Sunday
Finish Name Total
1 Ken Seeman $144.30
2 Steve Wolfson Sr. 128.70
Both receive $3,000 entries to the Sept. 19 Gulfstream Park live-bankroll contest, plus a $500 travel allowance.