03/14/2016 12:15PM

Fornatale: Former champs qualify for NHC


They say that styles make fights and it’s a well-known fact that pace makes the race. It’s also true that certain final scores favor certain tournament players. Players with a more grinding, winners-focused style do well in the 12-race, $2 win-place format when the final scores are say $90 to $120. And then there are days like Saturday.

It was a busy one in the Daily Racing Form family of tournaments, with four separate events. The highlight was Saturday’s qualifier for the National Handicapping Championship held on NHCQualify.com. Four players won their way in to next January’s NHC: Ken Kasowich ($196.30), Eric Moomey ($153.90), Michael Tomatz ($134.30), and Rich Goodall ($119.90).

It’s an impressive lineup of contest talent with a former NHC champ (Goodall) and a former Tour champ (Moomey) in the mix. The common denominator was Baciami Piccola ($31) in the very first contest event, the Grade 3 Florida Oaks from Tampa. Brian Lynch’s bay filly was making her first start on American soil after racing well enough in low-rated sprints in France and Italy. Her workouts at Palm Meadows looked strong though, and her being marooned outside probably helped her price.

Kasowich’s day was truly impressive. His total score was more than four times his initial bankroll of $48 ($2 win-place times 12 races). It’s one of the best numbers we’ve seen in this format in a while. He collected in eight races overall and used a mix of longshots, mid-prices, and favorites. His card included Tepin ($2.80) and Minute Madness ($63.40 but limited to $42 for the contest win end). He also nearly had a place capper with Commute ($19.40).

Moomey’s card had five collections, including the same three best as Kasowich. There’s no doubt he badly wanted the outright win, as it would have helped him bolster his chances of becoming the first-ever two-time Tour champ, but second in a contest with 277 players is nothing to sneeze at.

Tomatz had six collections and needed help from Miss Matzoball ($20.20) in the penultimate race to secure his spot. Rich Goodall will join his wife, Sally, at the 2017 NHC.

On Sunday, BCQualify.com winner Michael Birenbaum was the best of 26 players who advanced to Round Two at the end of the month. Contest rules required a top 10 percent finish in order to advance. Up to eight players will win their full $10,000 buy-ins to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge out of Round Two. Other notable names to advance include (but are not limited to) Ken Jordan, Alex Larmey, and Brett Wiener.