03/31/2016 1:18PM

Fornatale: Covello also gets pot of Rainbow gold


If you’ve been reading Daily Racing Form this week, you already know that a bunch of contest players hit the Rainbow 6 at Gulfstream last weekend. Well, you can add another name to the list: Jim Covello. Covello also won a seat to the National Handicapping Championship last weekend on NHCQualify.com.

In addition to being a contest player, Covello is also a Thoroughbred owner. Because of a new role at work, he hasn’t had the time in the last year to focus on the horse ownership side of things, but he still has a foot in the door. One horse he has an interest in, the graded stakes winner Far From Over, has been breezing down in Ocala for the past six weeks and will be headed back to Todd Pletcher’s barn in short order. “He’s fully recovered from the injury that knocked him off the Derby trail last year so it will be exciting to see him back in Todd’s barn in a few weeks,” said Covello.

Despite his busy schedule, Covello has remained active in contests, playing weekly in the NHCQ events. “I really enjoy them and they are perfect for those of us who can’t get out to the track on the weekend because of family obligations,” he explained. “This is the sixth time I have qualified for Vegas and each time has been on NHCQualify.com.”

Covello is also a fan of the other “major” in the contest world, the Breeders Cup Betting Challenge. “I had a great first day,” he said of the only live tournament he typically plays in, “and while I slipped a bit on day two I still made a nice profit and had a blast playing in that from Belmont with some of my buddies.”

His focus last weekend was primarily on the Rainbow 6, but because five of the races were also used in the NHCQ contest, he was able to seamlessly do both. “The key to the day for me both in the tourney and in the Rainbow 6 was focusing on horses getting a weight break,” he said. “S’marvelous was getting seven pounds from the favorites and he was very competitive on his adjusted top on the Thoro-Graph figures.”

Rose’s Dancer was ridden by a 10-pound apprentice, and Take the Stand in the Muniz was getting eight pounds from Chocolate Ride.  Those winners were also critical for Covello, and the latter had special meaning. “That’s always one of my favorite races of the year,” said Covello, who ran Swift Warrior in the Muniz a few years back. “Playing that race in tourneys always reminds me of going down to New Orleans with friends for the weekend.”

Sitting 5 of 5 in the Rainbow, he faced an interesting decision heading to the anchor leg on NHCQ. “I was alive to six horses so I honestly thought about taking one of the ones I didn’t have in the Rainbow 6 in the tourney just to hedge my bets a bit,” he said, "but Appa" -- the eventual winner -- "had a bunch of siblings who had run big figures so I was hoping some turf pedigree made its way down to him.”

Indeed it did, and in the end Covello, like NHCQ winner Brent Sumja, pulled off the impressive double.


There are four contests in the DRF universe on Saturday. Two for the National Handicapping Championship, one for the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge, as well as a low buy-in feeder for the April 10 Breeders’ Cup qualifier.

DRF Bets is offering two seats to the NHC on Saturday via the Spring Challenge. Interested players must pay a $75 registration fee and then make 10 actual $10 wagers from their account across the cards at Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and/or Turfway Park. Highest bankrolls win. For more information, and to sign up, go to http://www.drf.com/spring-challenge.

NHC seats will also be available on Saturday on NHCQualify.com. There is a $162 buy-in and up to four NHC packages will be awarded. Packages include $1,000 in travel and a four-night hotel stay.

Players interested in visiting Santa Anita for the Preakness contest can take a shot at qualifying on DRFQualify.com for $225. Up to two $4,500 packages will be on offer. Winners will also receive $500 in travel.

BCQualify.com is hosting a $21 feeder on Saturday. Players finishing in the top 10 percent will advance to the April 10 one-day BCBC qualifier. If you’re playing in one of the other contests, it’s a great chance to multi-table, and if you’re a lower bankroll player, it’s the perfect way to dip your toe in the water of contest play.