05/17/2015 7:24AM

Fornatale: Herrity leads after first day of Santa Anita Preakness Challenge


Brian Herrity is the leader after the first day of the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge. Herrity, who wins a bonus of $5,000 for finishing first on Day 1, has two entries in the contest. His second entry sits in 10th place.

Players are competing for a prize pool worth more than $95,000 in cash and entries to other tournaments. The top two finishers overall will win $10,000 seats to the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge and seats to the National Handicapping Championship. The third through fifth finishers also receive NHC seats. Additionally, they will receive $2,500 entry fees to the Breeders’ Cup BC.

Herrity's biggest score on his leading ticket came in the fifth race when Stepsun ran down Crawford the Crook with Gemmabeto third. He had the $599.20 trifecta for $10 and the $67.50 exacta for $60. In all, he collected slightly less than $10,000 on the race. He got his second entry healthy with an across-the-board wager on $57.20 winner City State in the 10th race.

"I have two entries over $5,000," Herrity said, "I'm alive going into [Sunday] and that's the key."

His plan for Day 2  is to get very aggressive with his lower ticket, but he won't hesitate to fire with either ticket.

"I'll wait for my two best plays and try to make a move to get past $15,000," he said.

From there, he will keep on swinging,

"This is a great field of players," he continued, "and I didn't fly all the way from Minnesota to sit on a ticket."

Herrity is no stranger to contest success. He ran second in the very first Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge and also has a fourth at the National Handicapping Championship on his resume. While he has  had success in a variety of contest formats, live-bankroll events are his favorite.

"I love live money tournaments because even if you finish 15th you can still break even," he explained.

The Preakness itself was not a major factor for Herrity in the contest. He keyed Dortmund, who ran out. He was very impressed with the winner.

"American Pharoah is just a monster and I don't think he's stopping in the last quarter-mile in the Belmont either," Herrity said, "I think it's great because we need the hero."

Herrity has his work cut out for him Sunday. Among his closest challengers are Robert Traynor, winner of last year's Breeders’ Cup BC, and Christian Hellmers, twice second in the same event. Another notable name in the top 15 to end Day 1 is current NHC Tour leader Ryan Flanders.

The contest continues Sunday with the full card from Santa Anita. Herrity plans to watch and play from his usual spot, at the bar up in the Frontrunner restaurant.

"I've been coming to these live money contests since they started them here," he said, "They take good care of me up there."


Rank name         score

1       Brian Herrity       $11,092

2       Robert Crowe      $9,525

3       Alan Hoffman     $8,267

4       Don Chung $8,100

5       George Chute      $7,547

6       Gary Johnson      $6,622.50

7       Pedro Pons          $5,218

8       Christian Hellmers       $5,210

9       Robert Traynor   $5,092

10     Brian Herrity       $5,045

11     Robert McIntyre $5,029.50

12     Florine Sima        $4,900

13     Ryan Flanders     $4,885

14     Thomas Arndt     $4,510

15     Paul Link    $4,370