05/27/2014 9:02AM

Fornatale: Kinchen on a roll


Jonathon Kinchen of Austin, Texas, is on a roll. He played in his first online contest just three weeks ago, he’s played each Sunday since, and he’s now 3 for 3 in his qualifying tournament attempts.

Kinchen took two entries into Sunday’s BCQualify Round 2 event and got one of them to advance to the $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, to be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 1 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif. Said Kinchen, “It started out rough, but it picked up and kept rolling.”

Kinchen blanked on the first three races but got some momentum going in Monmouth’s 8th race with Couldawouldashoulda, who paid $26 to win and $10.80 to place and ended up being the second-highest price to come in during the 12-race sequence. Kinchen thought the 5-year old bay gelding would be the lone speed.

“He also had some back races that fit with these,” Kinchen said. “He was 30-1 morning line but was bet down to 12-1. I planned to play him on both my tickets, but my second choice drifted up to 10-1. I figured I had to split tickets and play both. I’m just glad Couldawouldashoulda turned my day around.”

Kinchen caught short-priced winners in the next two races, Belmont’s 7th and Woodbine’s 8th, and picked up place points in Belmont’s 8th and Monmouth’s 10th. He was in the hunt, but with three races left, he knew he’d have to close out strong to hold his spot.

“Looking at Belmont’s 9th, I really think Dale Romans is a great horseman, and Joel [Rosario] showing up on Cashmere Cat gave me the confidence. She won and kept extending me.”

A delay at Arlington meant that its 8th race, originally scheduled to be the penultimate race in the sequence, became the anchor leg instead. “Because of everything I’ve been reading about tournament strategy, my main focus at first was what horses couldn't beat me – I knew I didn’t have to worry about them,” he said. “I was looking at a few possibilities when I did the math and realized a couple of my top contenders couldn't knock me out of the top six anyway, so it was an easy choice to play Dynamic Royal. When he won, I knew I was safe.”

Kinchen ended up with $111.40 in the end, good enough for second place overall. He described his overall experience: “It was awesome. I feel like I have been missing so much with the tourney scene. It’s safe to say I am hooked.”

For more on Kinchen, click here.Jonathon KinchenJonathan Kinchen shows his Zenyatta tattoo to Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.

The contest was limited to players who had finished in the top 10 percent at one of the three Round 1 events held this month. Of the 75 entrants from Sunday’s event, six advance to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. The overall winner’s name should be familiar to all contest players: John Doyle of Scottsdale, Ariz., won the 2011 National Handicapping Championship and has been a fixture in the contest world, both at live events and because of his association with the online contest site Derby Wars. Doyle finished with $111.60 on the day, including the largest price in the sequence, Sea Queen in Belmont’s 8th race ($39.60 to win, $11 to place).

The other four qualifiers were Joey Normand of Brusly, La. ($109.70); Lawrence Kahlden of St. Petersburg, Fla. ($89.30); John Dougherty of Henderson, Nev. ($87.20); and Ming Meyer of Parker, Colo. ($85.10). Qualifying scores were about what one would expect overall, with 1.8 times the initial bankroll of $48 being enough to get through to the BCBC finals.

• On Saturday via NHCQualify.com, Jacqueline Sukanick of San Anselmo, Calif., was one of four players to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island in Las Vegas on Jan. 24-26. Sukanick picked an impressive seven winners overall, including the winners of four of the last five races, all at double-digit win mutuels. Her biggest winner of the day came in the anchor leg, Santa Anita’s 7th race, where Fire With Fire won and paid $16.60. She finished with $115.50 overall, 2.4 times the initial bankroll of $48.

The other qualifiers were James Connors of Pleasanton, Calif. ($105.30); Dennis Seagle, Marion, N.C. ($92.40); and Alstyne Dilts of Las Vegas ($82.50). Like Sukanick, the other four qualifiers did their best work in the later half of the card, where a string of mid-priced horses came in. Overall scores were low, with just 1.7 times initial bankroll being enough to qualify.