04/25/2016 2:52PM

Fornatale: Longshots get Trezza home

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Dr. Anthony Trezza was back at the top of the NHCQualify.com leaderboard on Saturday, besting a field of 219 with a score of $114. He was one of three players to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship along with Mike Coutu and John Nichols.

For Trezza, the day didn't start as planned. He missed completely on the first eight races. But he didn't let that discourage him. "One thing I have learned in my second year of handicapping is patience and when to make adjustments," he said, "so I stayed on game plan."

He knew he needed to hit somewhere near 100 points to get in the game. "I approached it as if I needed two very nice longshots in the next four races," he said.

His default pick in the ninth race at Laurel was 14-1 Boon Companion, so he left that selection alone. "Thankfully he won and gave me life [$38.80 win-place combined]," said Trezza, who didn't get anything out of the next at Keeneland and was down to two races on the card.  "I knew I needed a big one and was lucky to connect with Cody's Notes, who had shown some closing ability in what looked like hotly contested pace. He won at 30-1 and put me in sixth place."

The final pick required some thinking. Trezza was in sixth and needed to finish top three. "Normally I would be looking for a 5-1 or better but the five players ahead of me were separated by just a dollar or two and I was only $7 out of first place," he explained. "In my head I said there is no way all five will block me regardless of who I pick. So my goal was just pick the winner.  I landed on Trevor McCarthy and Rose Brier and he won pretty easily."

Trezza's weekend was nearly a lot better. On Sunday, he was in position to win a second NHC seat and a Belmont Challenge seat -- until a 70-1 shot won the last leg and displaced him. To rub salt in the wound, one of the players in the NHC event, which required all picks to be in prior to the first race, had simply selected the "1" horse in every race and gotten really lucky in the last leg. "What a way to lose," Trezza said. "It was the most brutal double beat in my two-year career but at least my handicapping was spot on."

Kaplan scores at LosAl

On Saturday at Los Alamitos, five players won NHC seats at a live-bankroll event, led by recent Horse Player World Series winner Dan Kaplan. He bet $160 of his $200 bankroll on Lexie Arleen in the fifth race. He fell into the second when an opponent hit the eighth race and then he keyed the favorite, Secret Chords, in the last. "A 50-1 ran second and I had a $40 exacta which returned me $1,064," said Kaplan, who survived a controversial finish at the end of the HPWS. "That put me on top with no inquires this time."

Also getting seats were Alexis Quiroz, Bill Wussow, Hesham Ragab, and Dave Weaver.

Undertaker back from the dead

Wrestlemania may have been earlier this month but it was the Undertaker who took center stage on BCQualify.com on Sunday. Stephen Thompson, aka The Undertaker,  finished the day with $135.70, but after the last race, he was pretty sure he was skunked when that 70-1 shot, War Fan won.

"I couldn't believe it," Thompson said, figuring at least two players in behind him would have played the cap horse. "All the hard work and game planning down the drain. It is always the last race and today it was my turn to take a bad beat."

But no one in range played the horse and Thompson stayed up. "I waited 15  minutes and two beers after it was official to check the board," he said. "I felt like I hit the lottery when I saw the results."

Thompson got to the front with a strategic play on the favorite in Woodbine's ninth. "I just wanted to pass the leaders going into the last because if a bomb hit at least two people in contention would have to have it to pass me," he explained.

Earlier in the card, he used his race-watching skills to find a nice-priced winner, All on Red, at Aqueduct. "He ran better than it looked on paper," Taker explained. "He had sneaky trouble in his first start that you could only see on the head-on replay."

Joe Pettit's most recent torrid streak continued in the same event. He wasn't initially planning on playing on BCQ, but when you're hot you're hot. His bet of the day was Cool Cat Jazz in Keeneland's eighth. "The horse ran great first out off the bench, sharing the lead with some killer splits going seven-and-a-half," he said. "Here he was going turf to dirt, cutting back and all the [morning-line] favorites were beaten multiple lengths in recent starts. The horse on paper looked to wire them."

There was just one problem: The race was not part of the contest he initially planned to play. "I went online to see if anyone else was using  the race and saw it was up on BCQualify.com," he said. "I jumped in there and it paid off."