11/12/2015 11:43AM

Fornatale: Electrician gets a jolt from contest play


If you want to become a truly great contest player, practice and patience are required. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some success right away. Consider the case of David Wilganowski, an electrician who had never played in a contest before purchasing “The Winning Contest Player” in December 2013.

“I played in my first contest in February [2014] on NHCQualify.com, and I won,” said Wilganowski, who was visiting his daughter at the time. “I had the whole year before going to Vegas [for the National Handicapping Championship], so I had time to practice, and I got another seat as well.”

As a Texas resident, where there is no online wagering into live race pools, contests have a particular appeal to Wilganowski. “It’s not always easy to get to the track, so now at least I can play when I can’t get out there,” he said. “Online play enhances the experience of being a racing fan.”

Contests also help him keep up with what’s going on in the sport. “I like the bigger tracks, and I love the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup,” he said, “and when I’m playing in contests, it’s like playing fantasy football: You pay attention a lot more than you would otherwise, so now I can keep up with everything.”

The main appeal of contests is the chance to take his mind off his work. “All I do all week for the last 34 years is wire swimming pools,” he said. “Playing contests is a great stress reliever, and it just takes a little bit of knowledge.”

Wilganowski qualified for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in 2015 but had struggled overall prior to last weekend. That’s when the new grandfather decided to visit his other daughter and spend a few hours playing on NHCQualify.com. It was one of those days when things just clicked. He backed four winners and collected critical place points in another race to earn another trip to Las Vegas.

Wilganowski appreciates the role of family – not only the tolerance they have with his spending time handicapping and playing horses but also the good luck they provide.

“Next time I really need to win a contest, I’ll just go visit one of my daughters,” he said.

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale.