02/05/2016 11:00AM

Fornatale: Goodall always a sure thing to qualify for NHC


Sally Goodall has qualified for the National Handicapping Championship an amazing 15 times. She didn’t wait too long to punch her ticket in 2016, nabbing second place at last weekend’s “First Chance” event at Treasure Island.

“I’m very excited,” she said. “It means a lot to me to have qualified more than anybody.”

Later this year, several players likely will catch up to her when they earn their 15th NHC berths. But her husband, Rich Goodall, will not be one of them. “She never lets me forget it,” said Rich Goodall, the 2008 NHC champion. “Even when I qualify this year, I’ll still be one year behind her.”

The Goodalls go way back in contest play. “On one of our very first dates, I took her to Penn National for a contest,” Rich said. “Back then, Sally didn’t know the front end of a horse from the back end of the horse.”

Over the next few years, Sally began to play under her own name, but it was Rich calling the shots. That relationship has evolved over time. At first, Sally would occasionally say to Rich, “Hey, wait, I want to play this horse,” and after she had a few winners, he told her, “You’re pretty good. Do your own picks.”

“I look at trainers, jockeys, and workouts,” Sally said. “I make a lot of picks based on percentages.”

“She started to get into it,” Rich said, “and for the last three or four years, she’s been totally on her own, and she’s damn good at what she does.”

“At the beginning, it was Rich’s hobby,” Sally said. “Now, it’s our hobby. We travel all around and see friends and family.”

Her favorite tournaments include Santa Anita, The Wynn, Saratoga, and, of course, the NHC, which is a home game for the Goodalls, who live in Las Vegas.

“NHC is special because you feel like you’re playing against the best players, and if you win, you’ve really achieved something,” Sally said. “And if we do well, we can have all of our friends and family come over right away to celebrate.”

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

Two contests Sunday

There are two contests in the Daily Racing Form universe on Super Bowl Sunday. DRFQualify.com is running a qualifier for the Ultimate Betting Challenge, to be held at Gulfstream and Santa Anita on March 19-20. The buy-in is $110, and up to two $4,500 entries will be on offer, along with $500 in travel.

Over on BCQualify.com, there is a $21 feeder for the Feb. 14 one-day Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. The top 10 percent of entries will advance to the Feb. 14 event, where up to four BCBC spots will be awarded.

Here are the races for Sunday’s contests (all times Eastern):
2:15 Tampa Bay 4
2:23 Gulfstream 6
2:35 Oaklawn 2
2:45 Tampa Bay 5
2:55 Fair Grounds 5
3:15 Tampa Bay 6
3:23 Gulfstream 8
3:38 Oaklawn 4
3:45 Tampa Bay 7
3:53 Gulfstream 9
4:15 Tampa Bay 8
4:25 Fair Grounds 8

It’s a lightning-round contest that will wrap up in just over two hours so as not to interfere with the big game. Five turf races are scheduled, and the field sizes look good.

To win your way into the Ultimate Betting Challenge, go to https://www.drfqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.

To start your journey to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, check out https://www.bcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.