06/16/2014 12:42PM

Fornatale: A dime short of free Vegas trip


Sunday’s contest on NHCQualify.com saw four more players win entry into the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, to be held Jan. 23-25 at the Treasure Island Hotel and Casino. The qualifying contest followed the typical 12-race, all-mandatory $2 win-place format.

Wayne Atwell of Dublin, Calif., finished first overall with a score of $113.50. His big winner was Cristina’s Halo in Woodbine’s seventh race. Cristina’s Halo paid $69 to win (win payout was limited to $42 for contest purposes because of the odds cap). Atwell selected three other winners on the card and qualified $27.70 clear of fourth place.

Also earning seats were Joe Accavallo of LaGrange, Ohio ($99.60); Brian Gross of Chicago ($88.20); and Frank Polk of Oklahoma City, Okla. ($85.80). All three also had Cristina’s Halo and at least two other winners.

A few tough beats were readily on display on the final leaderboard. Anthony Kite of Princeton, N.J., missed qualifying by a mere dime. Kite was the only player in the top eight who didn’t select Cristina’s Halo. Getting as close as he did required his having the winner of the 10th contest race as well as nice-priced place horses in the penultimate and anchor legs. He had five winners in total. Had any of them paid an extra 20 cents to win or place combined, he’d be going to Vegas instead of Polk.

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Carl Gioio of Ossining, N.Y., provided an object lesson in the difficulties of playing multiple entries. Gioio ended up in a classic split-ticket scenario, with one ticket in 12th ($70.30) and the other in 13th ($66.60), with different winners on each ticket. With a little mixing and matching, he could have made the grade easily – but, of course, that’s not how the rules work.

For more, check out www.nhcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx.

Twenty-six advance at BCQualify

On Saturday at BCQualify, another 26 players qualified for Round 2 of this month’s two-stage contest. There will be a third and final Round 1 contest this Saturday. The Round 2 contest will be held the following Saturday, June 28.

The two-stage format requires participants to finish in the top 10 percent in Round 1 to advance to Round 2, where the top eight finishers will receive full $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats along with a $500 travel allowance. This year’s BCBC will be held at Santa Anita on Friday, Oct. 31, and Saturday, Nov. 1.

Rocky Hardy of Roland, Ark., finished first overall, tallying $119.60. In the seventh and eighth contest events, he caught big winners with Fire Tricks in Arlington’s seventh ($39.80 to win) and Lil Bit O’Fun in Santa Anita’s fifth ($19.20).

Brent Sumja, a familiar name in the contest world, ran second with $114.20. Sumja, known as a strong finisher, also had Fire Tricks, and in Santa Anita’s sixth, the third-to-last event, he added Nueva Fortuna ($15.60), and in Santa Anita’s eighth, the anchor leg, he picked Iotapa ($11.20).

The competition was close down at the other end of the qualifying standings, with Schuyler Tilly of Halfmoon, N.Y., ending up with $66.60, just 20 cents ahead of Doug Smith of Bedford, Texas.

Tilly finished strong, collecting $6 to place on Summer Front in Santa Anita’s seventh race and closing out with Iotapa. Smith was looking very likely to qualify after coming up with Lil Bit O’Fun in the eighth contest event, but he went cold, blanking on the last four races for a narrow miss.

For more, check out www.bcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx?cid=101.