12/07/2015 1:38PM

Fornatale: Collier wraps up his NHC seat


Wayne Collier was first overall in a field of 255 players on NHCQualify.com on Saturday with a score of $124.90. He is one of six players from Saturday who won into the NHC outright. Joining him in Vegas will be Robert Gilbert ($123.40), Dennis Erwood ($118.10), Timothy Yohler ($113), Robert Moore ($105.80), and Thomas Blosser ($103.20).

Perennial NHC fixture Trey Stiles finished in a position to win an NHC seat, but as a double qualifier already, he was just playing for Tour points. Players earn Tour points by finishing in the top 10 percent in NHC qualifying events. Stiles, 14th on the Tour going into the weekend, is now in very strong position to play in the top 20 tournament at the NHC, where he will play for an additional $25,000.

Collier had received NHC Tour points for two online contests earlier this year and was presumably playing with one eye on qualifying for the NHC through the Tour, where the top 150 get in automatically. He no longer has to worry about that. He picked four winners in the 12-race sequence, three of whom paid over $20 on the win end. His longest-priced winner was Doddsprivatelabel ($27.40) in Gulfstream’s ninth, a horse each of the six qualifiers backed.

Gilbert earns his second seat for 2015. He is one of the MVPs of NHCQualify.com: He’s now earned 13 Tour scores overall (only the top six count toward his score), and 10 of them have come via NHCQ, the NHC’s official qualifying site. He is in solid position to make a Top 20 run; he was 46th coming into the weekend.

He started off strong with a double-digit winner in Aqueduct’s sixth, Springers Point ($12.20). Then he hit a flat spot, whiffing on six consecutive races. But he made up for that by finishing with an impressive closing kick, tabbing three of the last five winners including Key to Power ($21.60) in Gulfstream’s 10th, the penultimate race in the contest.

Erwood has arrived on the contest scene late in the year. He got his first qualifying score last weekend with a 23rd-place finish online and backed up that effort with an outright qualification here. Like Gilbert, he had an early winner and then nailed three of the last five races.

Yohler took the opposite route, doing his damage in the early part of the contest. He finished with four winners overall, Successful Native ($25.20) in Gulfstream’s eighth among them.

Moore ground it out for the first half of the tournament, earning four collections. He broke out big time with Doddsprivatelabel and Key to Power.

Blosser, very active on the Tour this season with seven qualifying scores coming in, had only three winners but they were the right winners: Successful Native, Doddsprivatelabel, and Key to Power. He now has the maximum two qualifications for the 2016 NHC.

Other notable finishes include Stephen “The Undertaker” Thompson, who was seventh on the Tour heading into the weekend. He is another player in that NHCQ MVP discussion. He now has 11 Tour scores and two outright wins on the site. Thompson ran eighth Saturday, enough to improve his score and strengthen his hold on his spot in the top 20.

Two other double-qualifiers earned points on Saturday -- Geoffrey Schutt and Mark Stanton. Schutt was 54th on the Tour coming in and finished 13th. Stanton was 11th coming in and ended up 19th. An updated Tour leaderboard will be available later this week.

For full results from Saturday’s NHCQ contest, check out http://www.nhcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx. For the full Tour leaderboard heading into the weekend, go to http://www.ntra.com/en/nhc/nhc-tour-leader-board/.

Ludt scores at Los Alamitos

Over at Los Alamitos on Saturday, two players won NHC seats in a live-bankroll qualifier that attracted 57 entries. Tom Ludt, the former president of Santa Anita Park and chairman of the Breeders’ Cup, walked away on top. Ludt had a balance of $188 going into the final race of the contest, but scored big by selecting the winner of Los Al’s ninth and final race – 16-1 longshot Zorro’s Storm. Ludt’s total soared to $1,246.

Mike Superstein, a longtime syndicated handicapper, finished second with a balance of $520. Mike was steady throughout the entire contest, but his key play was the winner of the sixth race on the card, Red Toro, whom he played in exactas that paid $50.70 for a $1. Coincidentally, Edwin Maldonado was the winning jockey aboard Red Toro and Zorro’s Storm.

On Sunday, Marino Sciancalepore became the first qualifier for the Gulfstream-Santa Anita combined tournament on March 19-20. Sciancalepore caught the $62.50 bomber (limited to $42 for the contest), in Aqueduct’s ninth. From there, it just took a little chalk in the form of a place horse in Gulfstream’s 10th (Crowd Idol, $4.40 place) and the 8-5 winner in the anchor leg, Flyin for a Livin ($5.60).

Sciancalepore was multi-tabling Sunday, also competing in the qualifier for the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge on BCQualify.com. The dynamics were a bit different in that contest. Two players who also hit Light Years Away were ahead of Sciancalepore at the time, necessitating a change of strategy. In the end, Richard Meister and  Ryan Scharnowske won  the $10,000 BCBC seats.

For full BCQ results, go to http://www.bcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx