08/25/2014 10:53AM

Fornatale: Eric Boyd wins seat to NHC

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Eric Boyd of Fort Davis, Tex., is on a roll. Last weekend, he put up $50 and won the NHCQualify.com credit contest. This Saturday, he took $165 of his winnings and bought an entry on NHCQualify.com and won a seat at the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. This January, he’ll try to parlay his initial $50 investment into the $750,000 first place prize out in the desert.

Other NHC qualifiers from this Saturday were the overall winner, Eliot Honaker of Louisville, Ky., ($158.60), Zachary Kisber of Memphis, Tenn., ($157), and Kevin Jones of Richmond, Va. ($141.70). Boyd came in fourth with $139.10.

Honaker caught the three biggest prices in the sequence. They were, in Del Mar’s first race, Backwoods Belle ($24.40), whose recent quarter horse form likely contributed to her price; V. E. Day in the Grade 1 Travers ($41); and Rusty Slipper ($29.20) in Monmouth’s 11th race, the Grade 3 Violet.

Kisber had V. E. Day and Rusty Slipper, and added three other winners. Jones and Boyd both had Backwoods Belle and V.E. Day. Even though Boyd picked three additional winners and Jones only one, Jones still got the nod for third by picking six other horses that placed.

The next NHCQualify.com contest will take place on Sunday, Sept. 7. You can sign up now at https://www.nhcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx

McFarland back in BCBC

Last year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge runner-up Kevin McFarland looks poised to make a run at going one better this year at the BCBC. His two entries in Saturday’s BCQualify.com contest ended up fourth and sixth. McFarland only receives one BCBC berth, however, as even though BCBC are transferable, you can only win one in any given contest.

Still, this is a good result for McFarland, who used V. E. Day on both his tickets. He also, added three Saratoga winners, Abaco, Artemis Agrotera, and Morning Calm on his best ticket, which finished with $107.

Going into the contest, the Michael and Cheryl McIntyre of Masillon, Ohio, had five entries between them. Cheryl McIntryre managed to get a BCBC by finishing seventh with $92.90. She had V. E. Day and two other winners.

The overall winner was John Kolodzej of Bayonne, N.J., who picked V. E. Day and five other winners for a total of $127.50. Second place went to Bob Graham of Broomall, Pa., with $113.10. He missed the Travers but connected with six winners overall including Rusty Slipper. Justin Keywood of Mississauga, Ont., was third with $108.90, built on the back of V. E. Day, with three winners added.

Also winning seats to the BCBC are John Fisher of Houston, Tex., ($105.70) and Jim Burrell of Calgary, Alb., who finished eighth overall but was the beneficiary of Kevin McFarland having two entries finish so high up. BCQualify.com’s two-stage qualifiers resume in September with events slated for the 6th, 13th, and 20th.

Looking at the scores on NHCQualify.com and BCQualify.com yields an interesting lesson. The scores on NHCQualify were obviously much higher. This is indicative of two things: One is the simple fact that there were more players on NHCQualify than BCQualify. But the real reason is that the goal of the players was so different. On NHCQualify, players know going in that they had to finish in the top 4 of 277 to make their goal. Meanwhile on BCQualify, players figured they had to finish in the top 7 of 90. Good players target their play to the number they’ll need and it takes a lot fewer points to finish in the top 8 percent (7 of 90) than it does the top 1 percent (4 of 277). That’s why the scores were really lower. If you’re gunning for the top 1 percent you have to pull out all the stops. If all you need is the top 8 percent you still have to be aggressive, but it’s a lot easier to get and hold your position.

Saratoga Twitter Challenge

Over in the Saratoga Twitter Challenge there was finally some movement on the leaderboard. Jmanmetsfan1 vaulted into first place by hitting the Pick 5 both days. His bankroll now stands at $5,967. Longtime leader TonyAccetturo took a collar this weekend but is still very much in the hunt with $5,370. Tallodawa is in third with $5,275. With just three days left in the competition, these look like the three to watch, but with all accepted bets as part of the contest, there is still room for a dark horse contender to emerge. The winner receives $200 in site credit – not to mention bragging rights for the year.