06/22/2015 11:28AM

Fornatale: Cettina goes wire to wire


Roger Cettina ran away and hid in Saturday's BCQualify.com contest, netting himself both a $10,000 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge seat and his second seat to the National Handicapping Championship. Cettina's total of $182 -- 3.8 times the initial bankroll of $48 -- is exceptionally high for a 12-race, all mandatory online qualifier. "I like those wire-to-wire jobs," said Cettina, referring to his own performance.

Cettina came out hot, and looked like he might pitch a perfect game through four races. He had each winner, all of them double digits.

Cettina explained the winner that got him started: "I was torn between two horses in Belmont's sixth, the five and the eight (Forever for Always). The five was coming out of a race where she was on the lead with a hot pace and the eight was coming from a race where she had trouble behind a slow pace. I hemmed and hawed and thankfully settled on the eight, though the five ran second at a big price."

Forever for Always paid $28.60. Then he played Golden Wheels ($27.20) in Monmouth's eighth. Cettina had Golden Wheels as one of his three contenders, "I always say this though I don't always do it -- if you're choosing between horses, always put the longer price on the good ticket."

In the seventh at Belmont, Cettina chose Il Vagabondo, whom he'd backed last time and thought might improve second off the layoff as he had in the past. Il Vagabondo paid $36.40 and capped a $730 double, which he had for $10.

Cettina had noticed a speed bias at Monmouth and it led him to Wildly Good Lookin in Monmouth's ninth, "It looked like she could probably be the speed despite the eight hole, and she went wire-to-wire at 9-2."

Over the next two races Cettina managed "only" place points before coming back with one more price. "I really like Babe's Ruler in the 10th at Monmouth," Cettina said. "First time for  a tag, which I always like. Elvis Trujillo is one of my favorite riders and I noticed he had two calls in the race. First call was on the favorite and when Babe's Ruler drew in off the AE list he went with her and she was a whopping 11-1.

From there, Cettina didn't get another point. But this was not a case of him going cold as much as it was a case of him using game theory and playing correctly. "After that I was far enough in the lead that I said 'Okay, I'm going to bet horses to protect myself," he said, "So I looked for the livest longshot and that's what I bet."

In the end, no one got close. But longtime WWE executive and racing fan Basil DeVito, did manage to hang on for second, securing himself a $10,000 seat for the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge. DeVito initially thought he wasn't going to have time to play the races at all on Saturday. "I was supposed to be away at a charity function on Saturday, but I was sick all week and couldn't get on a plane," explained DeVito, "I was nursing a bad cold and I did what I've been told do since time immemorial: I took my meds, I drank plenty of fluids, and I got the Daily Racing Form."

McCowan goes on a tear

On Sunday, on NHCQualify.com, Kenneth McCowan went a furious late run to grab an NHC seat and a BCBC seat. He backed five winners overall -- all at prices -- including an impressive four of the last five.  In the one late race he missed the winner, he still collected place points. His biggest price was the 30-1 cap horse Tapidor in Churchill's ninth race (limited to 20-1 for contest purposes), and he closed things out with a cold double -- Limosuine Liberal ($12) in Churchill's 10th and Two Seventeen ($19.60) in Belmont's ninth.

Also qualifying for the NHC on Sunday was Daniel Hawkins. Hawkins went on a great run too -- but his was at the other end of the contest. He backed the first five winners and had six of the first seven -- two were heavy faves ubt he also had Soresca ($17.80) in Santa Anita's first, Deliverance Day ($15) in Churchill's seventh, and Non FInisce Mai ($19.20). He briefly went cold but pulled the contest out of the fire with Two Seventeen in the anchor leg.


Rank Name Total
1 Roger Cettina $182.00
2 Basil DeVito $134.00

Cettina wins a BCBC seat and an NHC seat with travel packages for each. DeVito wins his full BCBC seat plus a $500 travel voucher.


Rank Name Total
1 John Fisher $133.90

Fisher wins the final seat to next weekend's $5,000 Gold Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita, plus a $500 travel allowance.


Rank Name Total
1 Kenneth McCowan $167.50
2 Daniel Hawkins $130.70

McCowan wins an NHC seat and a BCBC seat plus travel allowances. Hawkins wins an NHC seat plus a travel package (four nights at Treasure Island plus $500).


Rank Name Total
1 Michael Caposio $132.20

Caposio wins a $3,000 seat to the Sept. 19 Gulfstream Park contest, plus a $500 travel allowance.