07/14/2014 11:22AM

Fornatale: High scores at weekend contest


New names and high scores were the order of the day in Saturday’s contest at NHCQualify.com. Four players earned berths to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas, to be held in January at Treasure Island.

The overall winner was James Nace, from Egg Harbor Township, N.J., who almost quadrupled his initial bankroll of $48, putting up a score of $189.40. To put that into perspective, the typical winning score in this format – 12 mandatory races where players must make 12 $2 win-place bets – is more like $120, or 2 1/2 times the initial bankroll.

Also earning trips to Vegas were Pat Oshea, of Mandeville, La. ($176.40); John Trabulsi, of Easton, Pa. ($157.50); and Eric Lange of Harrisburg, Pa. ($155.90). Lange was $12 clear of the fifth-place finisher, Vancouver’s Steve Nemetz – a tough beat for Nemetz, to be sure, but not quite as painful as some of the near misses we’ve seen in recent weeks.

As you might expect with such high scores, there were a couple of cap (or very near cap) horses in the sequence. All four qualifiers had both of them.

The first came in Gulfstream’s ninth race, the eighth contest event, a 2-year-old sprint stakes race. Sing Praises had a great angle for a cap horse – he was a speed horse who had broken poorly at first asking. One could see from the way he was bet in that first race that he was supposed to be okay – he was 2-1 in there and ran well enough to be second despite that awkward beginning.

On Saturday, with a clean break, he won at almost 21-1. This is a good angle to look for with 2-year-olds at the upcoming Saratoga and Del Mar meets.

Another big bomb dropped in the contest’s anchor leg, Gulfstream’s 11th race. This was a cheap claiming event, but once again, finding the speed was the key.

There was other speed in the race, and it certainly didn’t seem likely before the race that Distinctive Pic would be good enough to wire the field. But his PPs showed that he always at least tries to make the front – a huge asset, especially in cheap dirt races where a lot of the field has no interest in passing other horses. He also was getting a weight break. At almost 20-1, he certainly was a smart contest play, and on Saturday, he did the business. Distinctive Pic wired the field.

For a look at the leaderboard, including a chance to see whom every player in the contest picked in each race, check out the full standings here.

Action on NHCQualify.com returns Saturday with a card that hopefully will include plenty of action from the opening Saturdays at Saratoga and Del Mar. On Sunday, there is a one-day qualifier at BCQualify.com. Make your weekend contest plans today.

Mike More than 1 year ago
Pete - can't a contest be designed that prevents these broken down players from playing and hoping for a hopeless long-shot?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Sounds like you might prefer either a live bankroll format or a contest where all the picks have to be in ahead of time. There are plenty of both of those out there. Good luck!
James Nace More than 1 year ago
Mike a "hopeless long shot " is REALLY not hopeless if it wins,duh
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
OH and don't forget I got DQ'd out of the 1st winner at Delaware.That is always fun to start a contest 3-1 winner DQ'd for doing nothing.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
BRUTAL stuff, Dan. I am hoping you stick with contests despite this horrid run of luck you've been having in them. They can be really rewarding and fun.
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
I cant believe I had $120 w a race left and had to change my pick and try a bomb cause my top pick was 4-1 and won but I couldn't get there with him. I would have finished w $135 and still missed it was a crazy day The 2nd time starter was pretty easy to have really for maiden players but the 2nd 20-1 was impossible to have unless you were way out of it and just trying to strike lightning and it happened , every qualifier had that crazy result which is why I only play these tourneys on boring days. Any fake money tourneys is just about striking lightning . I would love to see a tourney like Boxing with no score board and you just need to pick winners and see how it falls. Not every tourney just one to see how different people would play .
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Ouch. There are plenty of contests out there where all picks must be put in advance -- definitely check those out. Though be warned -- there are horrid beats in every format!
James Goodman More than 1 year ago
Peter: Just to show you what near-cap horses can do, look at my score. I had 8 winners and a place and finished 6th! Jim Goodman
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Wow, that's a rough one. . .just one of those days. If you keep picking like that you'll be a winner in the long run, that's for sure!
Judy Wagner More than 1 year ago
Results are on AP website under Handicapping Tournament tab. JWW
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Tx Judy! Indeed, here's a link to the standings: http://www.arlingtonpark.com/sites/default/files/u18/final-standings.pdf
Philip Conforti More than 1 year ago
peter, any idea what happened at Arlington sunday in there real money tourney?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
I have a couple of emails in to find out about that very issue. I'll post when I get it. If anyone reading has the info, feel free to post here. . .
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
This is what is lacking right now , Mon morning should be Arlington Huge contest winner blahblah, and even you are having trouble finding out. It is a shame and tracks are missing the boat.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Fear not! I have interviewed the winner and will be running a piece on him on Friday.