01/12/2015 1:56PM

Fornatale: Eight more berths awarded in NHC


Eight more spots for the National Handicapping Championship have been awarded. The qualifiers came out of two contests held in the Daily Racing Form family of tournaments this weekend.

The National Handicapping Championship will be held Jan. 23-25 at the Treasure Island in Las Vegas.

On Saturday at NHCQualify.com, six players earned spots, led by contest winner Randy DelaGardelle of Harahan, La., who finished with $82.40. The winning scores were low, due to a preponderance of short prices, with a total of 1.7 times the initial bankroll of $48 being enough to get the job done for DelaGardelle. It typically takes at least 2.5 times one’s initial bankroll to earn a qualifying position.

DelaGardelle had a streaky run on Saturday. He managed to cash in the first four contest events with a place horse and three straight winners, but what got him home was nailing his own personal pick three in the final three contest events. He had Presto Magic ($7.60 to win) in Gulfstream’s 11th, Sacred Ovation ($13.60) in Santa Anita’s fifth, and Calculator ($3.20) in the Sham, Santa Anita’s sixth. In the end he cashed in nine of the 12 contest races.

Joining him in Vegas will be runner-up Lee Geraghty ($77) of Mission Viejo, Calif.; third-place Mark Callahan ($73.80) of Orlando, Fla.; fourth-place Tom Heller ($73.80) of Mission Viejo; fifth-place Matthew Rentze ($73.60) of Tuscon, Ariz.; and sixth-place Deanna Badalamenti ($72) of Brooklyn, N.Y.

A full leaderboard can be found here.

On Sunday, in the return to contest action on DRFBets.com, two familiar names won their second NHC seats of the season. David Gutfreund, a racing tournament veteran who also recently won $156,649 in the main event on the Heartland Poker Tour, was first overall. Contestants had to make eight $10 win bets across Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Santa Anita. Gutfreund finished first with $414.

Lynn McGuire, who finished 10th at last year’s NHC, got the second spot. Her brother Mark is a well-known tournament player who also recently won into the NHC. Lynn McGuire’s total was $407. Both she and Gutfreund backed Locker Room Guy in Gulfstream’s sixth, a $61.20 winner. Locker Room Guy would have been a nice hit in any contest format but was particularly important in a real-money contest like this one where there is no odds cap. Several others had the horse as well, however, and Gutfreund and McGuire had to fight to the wire to win their NHC qualifications.

For a list of the prize winners, go here.

BC Betting Challenge

On BCQualify.com on Sunday, 25 more players advanced to Round 2 of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge contest on Jan. 18. Rocky Hardy ($162.80) of Roland, Ark., led the way in a field of 247 players.

NHC Tour second-place finisher Brett Wiener of Clearwater, Fla., placed two entries into Round 2. He finished in 23rd ($93) and 24th ($92.60). Despite the similar final scores, Wiener played his tickets differently. His first ticket had three winners, including Muchos Besos ($17.60) in Santa Anita’s first and Travel Required ($33.60) in Tampa Bay’s ninth. His second ticket was anchored by Locker Room Guy. He augmented his total by one more winner and a couple of place horses.

Also landing two entries to Round 2 was John Gamane of Humboldt, Tenn., who was 12th and 16th. He too had Travel Required on one entry and Locker Room Guy on the other. Shawn Turner of Middletown, Md., and Bill Wilbur of Gold River, Calif., also added second entries to Round 2 after securing their first berths in last weekend’s Round 1 event.

A list of all the Round 2 qualifier’s from Sunday’s contest is available here.

Raise Your Game Challenge, Santa Anita Betting Challenge

DRFQualify.com held contests on both Saturday and Sunday. On Saturday, George Henning of Palatine, Ill.; Travis Reese of Schenectady, N.Y.; and Michelle McSweeney of Dania Beach, Fla., won entries to the $100,000 Raise Your Game Handicapping Challenge, to be held at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28.

On Sunday, three more players won their way into the $100,000 Santa Anita Betting Challenge, to be held at Santa Anita on March 14-15. Paul Weizer of Leominster, Mass., won, with Sally Goodall of Las Vegas running second, and Dennis Decauwer of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. rounding out the trifecta.

For full results for both DRFQualify.com events, go here.