09/23/2014 12:30PM

Fornatale: Another kind of winner for contest players

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Last Wednesday’s ninth race at Belmont didn’t appear in a any major tournaments, but it had a lot of significance for a couple of tournament players, Eric Moomey and Anthony Robb. Moomey and Robb are among the investors in Sovereign Stables’ Boston Strong. Both were first introduced to Sovereign through their efforts in tournament play as Sovereign Stables is one of the title sponsors for the National Handicapping Championship.

Boston Strong, making his third start, went to the lead and gamely hung on for a dead-heat win when collared late by Tiger D. The partners were obviously thrilled. “We’ve learned to expect the unexpected with this horse,” said Robb, referring to the colt’s pre-race antics before his first two starts, “So we weren’t surprised when he went to the lead even though that wasn’t part of the plan. Thankfully, he just barely hung on. I feel lucky to have had this success with my first investment in a horse!”

Moomey is a familiar name to contest players and currently is in a great position to make a run at first on the NHC Tour. He met Sovereign president Matt Gatsas and Sovereign director of business development Rich Cristiano at the 2013 NHC and decided to become an investor later that year.

Robb met Cristiano at last year’s Battle of Saratoga and soon after became an investor in the colt with the great name and cool breeding – he’s by Pioneerof the Nile out of a Danehill Dancer mare named Truly Enchanting. That was his first tournament, but he’s become a regular, both at Saratoga and online as well.

“I haven’t had a ton of luck in tournaments yet,” Robb said, “But I definitely believe they’ve been a great help in my handicapping. I am looking at things I did not before and I think I am better equipped to take a good pick 5 or pick 6 and land prices amongst the chalk.”

Robb learned the game in his native Australia from his grandfather Frank Robb, who is 90 years old and still bets every day. “My parents were not impressed he was encouraging me betting from a young age,” Robb said. “I have fond memories sitting on his lap listening to the radio call of all the races as we followed his Quaddie, our version of the Pick 4.”

Having lived in New York for the better part of 15 years, Robb’s accent has morphed to somewhere between that of a native Australian and a native New Yorker, making some observers think he’s from somewhere else entirely. The confusion came in handy on Wednesday. “Right before the race I had a business call and the guy asked me if I was from Boston,” Robb explained. “I said, ‘No, but my horse Boston Strong will win Belmont’s ninth race today.’ If he followed my lead he got a nice run for his money!”