08/14/2014 3:09PM

Fornatale: 1 day, 3 tournaments, 3 strategies


If you’ve ever thought about trying multi-tabling – playing in more than one contest simultaneously – Saturday would be a great day to try. There are three excellent online contests, all going on at the same time on a similar set of races.

Interestingly, all three contests require a different strategy as well.

We’ll start with the $110 buy-in BCQualify.com Round 1 event, where contestants must finish in the top 10 percent to advance to Round 2 next Saturday. The top eight participants in Round 2 – assuming full participation – will win full $10,000 rides, plus a travel allowance, to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Here are the races in the contest:
4:12    Arlington 6  (1M dirt, Straight Line Stakes)
4:45    Arlington 7 (1M 11/16 turf, American St. Leger)
4:49    Saratoga 8 (7F allowance dirt)
5:15    Arlington 8 (1 1/4M turf, G1 Secretariat)
5:22    Saratoga 9 (1M turf statebred optional claimer)
5:30    Del Mar 2 (1 1/8 turf allowance)
5:54    Arlington 9 (1 3/16M Turf, G1 Beverly D.)
5:55    Saratoga 10 (1 1/4M dirt, G1 Alabama)
6:00    Del Mar 3 (6.5F starter allowance Poly)
6:30    Del Mar 4 (1M claiming Poly)
6:36    Arlington 10 (1 1/4M turf, G1 Arlington Million)
7:00    Del Mar 5 (1M turf conditioned allowance)

It’s an excellent sequence of races, but be prepared, as there are some races on top of each other later on. Make sure to have default picks in.

These will also be the races for the credit-building contest over at NHCQualify.com. In that contest, players will buy in for $50 and compete for a minimum of $8,000 and a maximum of $25,000 in credit at NHCQualify.com, BCQualify.com, and DRF Bets. No NHC Tour membership is required to play.

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

The third event going on at the same time is the free contest being held by the NTRA and sponsored by Sovereign Stables. The top two finishers will receive seats and a travel allowance to the 2015 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

You do have to be an NHC Tour member for this one, which costs $50, but once you pay it, you’re eligible for any contest for the rest of the year in which NHC seats are offered. It’s a worthwhile investment. To play, you also must sign up for a free Inside Track membership at https://www.ntra.com/en/signup/.

For the complete rules and prizes, check out http://games.ntra.com.

Here are the races for the Sovereign contest:
3:39    Arlington 5 (1 1/16M turf, Hatoof Stakes)
4:02    Monmouth 7 (6F dirt, statebred allowance)
4:12    Arlington 6  (1M dirt, Straight Line Stakes)
4:34    Monmouth 8 (1 1/8 turf allowance)
4:49    Saratoga 8 (7F allowance dirt)
5:15    Arlington 8 (1 1/4M turf, G1 Secretariat)
5:30    Del Mar 2 (1 1/8 turf allowance)
5:54    Arlington 9 (1 3/16M turf, G1 Beverly D.)
5:55    Saratoga 10 (1 1/4M dirt, G1 Alabama)
6:36    Arlington 10 (1 1/4M turf, G1 Arlington Million)

Again, watch out for the Beverly D. and Alabama post times. Those races could be going off at the same time, which is unfortunate.

As for the different strategies for these contests, let’s start with the free one. There are going to be a ton of entries for this, likely more than 1,000. That means that even if you finish in the top 1 percent, you’re probably going to lose. But you still should play – it’s a free roll.

On that ticket, pick a mix of short and middle prices with a longshot or two thrown in for good measure. You’re pretty much going to need the run of your life to get one of the NHC seats, so don’t stress too much about strategy. Play your top choices and use your mental energy where it’s more likely to count – at NHCQualify or BCQualify.

The BCQualify.com contest is great because finishing in the top 10 percent is a lot easier than finishing in the top 2.5 percent. If you like prices, by all means, play them. One price and a couple of favorites are likely to get you to advance. The best advice is to play whom you like and don’t be afraid if whom you like in several prices is a shorter price or even the favorite.

The NHCQualify.com contest lies somewhere in the middle. At a minimum, prizes will look like this:
$2,000 to first
$1,000 to second
$800 to third
$600 to fourth
$480 to fifth
$320 to sixth through 10th
$150 to 11th through 20th

The payout structure is pretty top-heavy, with the top four finishers getting most of the cash, so you’ll want to shoot for the top 2 percent or so. There’s still no harm in trying to pick the horses you like – even if they’re on the shorter side in some instances – but here you’re pretty much guaranteed to need a couple of midpriced winners or at least one bomb to hit for a significant amount. So, in some instances, you might need to stretch a bit and take on a favorite even if he looks tough.

pshurm More than 1 year ago
Players shouldn't forget that even though only the top two finishers in the free NTRA contest qualify for the National Handicapping Championship, because of the high number of players, significant Tour points are awarded. Even if players don't qualify outright for the NHC, anyone in the top 150 on the Tour that has not qualified by the end of the year gets to go. At this point, that there are about 58 players who fit this category. Right now, 150th place in the tour is about 4,400 points. You can accumulate between 2,820 and 2010 points for coming finishing the free contest 3 - 12. You get between 1,920 and 1,020 points for finishing between 13 - 23. Point are awarded down to 30th. So even if you don't come in top two, players who have not qualified who have some Tour points already, as well as players who have no Tour points yet, can make significant strides toward qualifying.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Great, great point, Paul. A top 30 finish in the free Sovereign contest could go a long way to getting one qualified for the NHC via the top 150 rule!
derby1592 More than 1 year ago
Also don't forget about the free publichandicapper.com contest as well on Saturday. Four stakes races from the Arlington Million card. Contest mania! Good luck if you play. Cheers Chris
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Absolutely, there's a weekly prize to shoot for every week. In a bit, a piece I worked on with Rodrick Dobson, another PH editor, will be pubbing with his thoughts on Million Day. As a Chicagoan with extensive European racing knowledge I think folks will be interested in what he has to say.