04/23/2015 1:28PM

Fornatale: Making default picks will be key in Saturday contests


Last weekend, Tim Moline pulled off an impressive double, winning a National Handicapping Championship seat and his buy-in to next month’s Santa Anita $100,000 Handicapping Challenge on NHCQualify.com and DRFQualify.com, respectively.

Moline played the same set of picks in both contests and didn’t have to do any extra work to essentially double his reward. This weekend, horseplayers around the country have a chance to emulate him.

On Saturday, there is a $165 buy-in contest on NHCQualify.com, where up to four players will win a chance to compete for the more than $2 million that will be offered at next year’s NHC. Also on Saturday, for $90, players can play on DRFQualify.com and win their $4,000 buy-ins to next month’s Santa Anita $100,000 Handicapping Challenge. Qualifiers coming out of either contest also will receive $500 travel vouchers.

Here are the races for Saturday’s contests (all times Eastern):

3:55 Aqueduct 6

4:26 Aqueduct 7

4:30 Gulfstream 8

4:57 Aqueduct 8 (Grade 3 Excelsior)

5:00 Gulfstream 9 (Grade 3 Miami Mile)

5:00 Santa Anita 4

5:28 Aqueduct 9

5:30 Gulfstream 10

5:30 Santa Anita 5

6:00 Gulfstream 11

6:00 Santa Anita 6

6:30 Santa Anita 7

It’s a mellow slate of races for a Saturday, which makes sense given that this is the calm before the Derby storm. The good news is that as a group, the races look competitive and feature full fields, highlighted by the Grade 3 Excelsior at Aqueduct and the Grade 3 Miami Mile at Gulfstream Park.

Even more than most weeks, this week it’s important that players put in default picks before the start of the contest since many of the post times are right on top of each other. Many of the best contest players have a Plan A and a series of contingency plans, depending on how things go in the contest. The smart move is to put in those Plan A picks and adjust as the contest progresses. It’s also useful to have an idea of who the Plan B and Plan C horses might be ahead of time.

To sign up for NHCQualify.com, go to www.nhcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx. To play on DRFQualify.com, check out www.drfqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.

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

Final weekend of Prep

In other news in the Daily Racing Form contest universe, this is the final weekend of the Public Handicapper Prep. Incredibly, Dan Camaro, who won an NHC seat at last year’s Public Handicapper Challenge, is leading the current contest. This is no small feat since each of these contests has had thousands of participants. Camaro, who plays under the name FourBongHits, currently has a bankroll of $131.80, based on picking 11 winners in 44 races. His nearest competitors are at $129.60 and $119, so the contest is far from over, but no matter what happens, it’s been a great job by Camaro. Picks on Public Handicapper must be published in advance, so you can follow along with the action via www.publichandicapper.com/standings.cfm. The races being used for this contest are: the Excelsior at Aqueduct, the Miami Mile at Gulfstream, the San Francisco Mile at Golden Gate Fields, and the Last Tycoon at Santa Anita.

Next week, the main Public Handicapper contest, the Public Handicapper Challenge, begins. It is free to play, and two NHC seats will be awarded. Players must be members of the NHC Tour to be eligible for the seats. You can sign up now at www.publichandicapper.com/signup.cfm, and there will be advance coverage of the contest on www.drf.com next week.