11/16/2015 12:33PM

Fornatale: Massis puts the hammer down again


“You can’t win ‘em all,” says the old cliché. Try telling that to Tommy “Hammer” Massis, who smashed up the Del Mar November Handicapping Challenge, defeating a field of 81 other players, just two weeks after capturing the world’s most important live-bankroll event, the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Massis’s key bet in winning the BCBC was a $4,000 exacta box with Found and Golden Horn. This weekend he kept it even simpler when he made a $9,000 win bet on even-money favorite Anthonysgotgame in Sunday’s fifth race.

Anthonysgotgame was claimed out of his first run by Doug O’Neill from Phil D’Amato. The horse had taken money first out – he was 6-1 in a 12-horse field. He had a serious trip in that race, breaking slowly, pulling, and coming wide. In the end he managed second to odds-on winner Ladies Man, but was four lengths clear of third. Massis, a dedicated replay watcher who is never afraid to fire, saw his chance and took it.

In the end, Massis ran his $2,500 starting bankroll up to $18,064, winning an additional $32,000 in prize money. Earlier this year, Massis won Keeneland’s April live-bankroll contest as well. With just three of the six allowed qualifying scores on the NHC Tour, Massis is already probably around 40th overall (scores will be vetted and updated later this week over at http://www.ntra.com/en/nhc/nhc-tour-leader-board/).

It’s probably too late for him to make a run at the top spot on the Tour, but he is in good position to try to finish in the top 20 and join the Tour leaders’ contest-within-a-contest at the NHC. An additional $25,000 will be awarded there. In the past, Massis has been reluctant to play in online events saying they don’t suit his style, but perhaps he’ll be tempted to change his mind given the run he’s on.

The first five finishers were meant to receive NHC seats in the Del Mar contest, but because Massis had already earned the maximum two NHC qualifications, the second through sixth finishers will be going to Las Vegas. They are Brooks Schuler, Linda Rodriguez, Brian Herrity, former NHC champ Jose Arias, and Justin Larsen. The seventh- and eighth-place finishers, Louis Constan and Tom Quigley, received cash prizes in addition to their bankroll winnings.

For a full look at the Del Mar leaderboard, check out https://www.dmtc.com/media/news/547.

Canadians rule

It was a good day to be from Thornhill, Ontario in the DRF family of contests on Saturday. The first and third finishers on NHCQualify.com both hail from the Canadian city, and the top finisher on BCQualify.com was Ray Arsenault, who also resides there.

The overall winner on NHCQ was Lorne Weiss, one of four players who won an NHC berth. Weiss put up an impressive total of $150.40 by selecting six winners, each one of them double digits. Weiss’s biggest score came with Duval St. ($27.40) in Churchill’s eighth. He was already well clear going into the anchor leg but picked the winner there as well to close out the card with his own personal rolling double. It was a rare instance where an online contest had had three qualifiers who did not have the longest-priced winner in the sequence but made it up it with consistent play.

NHC Tour veteran Bill Wilbur was second with $128.80. Wilbur was blanked in the first five races before getting on the board with Duval St. He was the only qualifier to have the cap horse Isabella Sings in Churchill’s 10th. She paid $56.60 to win on the tote but that total was limited to $42 for the purposes of the contest.

The other Canadian NHCQ winner was Michael Gotkin, who finished with $117. He collected in six races, including three winners in a row in the first half of the contest. It was a tight field going to the last and he needed the place points on Match Up ($4.80) to put him over the top.

The fourth and final qualifier was Michael McKay, who got to his score of $114.10 with five winners and a place collection. The key horse for him was Love de Car ($20) in the contest’s penultimate race, Del Mar’s fifth.

The BCQualify.com contest on the same set of races featured a new format that proved to be wildly popular. Nearly 400 players put up $21 each in the feeder event for a chance to win their $190 buy-ins to next weekend’s direct qualifier to the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. Arsenault won the day, and 39 other players all won entries as well. To see the full list, navigate to http://www.bcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx. For the full NHCQ leaderboard, go to http://www.nhcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx.