02/09/2015 1:10PM

Fornatale: Moomey, Shurman qualify again for NHC


William Shurman of Danville, Calif., will be headed to the National Handicapping Championship for the 13th time after being the outright winner in Saturday’s NHCQualify.com contest. Eric Moomey of Aldie, Va., last year’s NHC Tour winner, was third overall, ensuring that he’ll be making his fourth straight trip to Las Vegas for the NHC come next January.

The other three qualifiers were Larry Hausman of Floram Park, N.J., Bruce Dagostini of Gilbert, Ariz., and Robert Earle of Christchurch, New Zealand.

There were two big prices in the sequence, and not surprisingly, you either had to have one or the other to qualify. The first price came in Tampa’s 11th race with Malibu High. Malibu High paid $63.40 to win and $22.40 to show but those totals were limited to $42 and $22 because of the odds cap. Shurman, Hausman, and Moomey all had the 4-year old bay gelding.

Dagostini and Earle both played Solid Wager in Santa Anita’s sixth race. For contest purposes, Valid Wager was also worth $64, but he paid a whopping $138.20 to win and $48.20 to place. The results once again showed why odds caps are so important in tournaments. If not for the cap, Solid Wager would have defined the entire contest. Because of the cap, you needed to have another 30+ contest points even if you had either Solid Wager or Mailbu High. One horse should never be enough to win you a mythical money contest.

But the real story on Saturday involved Moomey and Shurman, who became friendly rivals while chasing the NHC Tour in 2014, where the two played in many of the same events. Shurman led on the Tour for a large portion of the year before being passed late by Brett Wiener and eventually Moomey. Moomey and Shurman were texting back and forth at the end of the contest yesterday.

Going into the last race, Moomey was still in “win the Tour” mode from 2014. If you’re trying to win the Tour, an outright win is worth a lot more than just a top five finish, even if the individual prize is the same for first and fifth (in this case, an NHC seat). This mindset will change the way you play. “On the final race, I found myself on the outside looking in,” Moomey said.  “And my target was to win the whole tournament, not just to qualify.” That is, he almost got off his initial pick because he didn’t want to be blocked by Shurman.

Shurman reminded Moomey that at this point in the season, securing a qualification was more important than chasing Tour points. Moomey put aside his concern about being blocked and went with his original pick – Finnegans Wake. Shurman had indeed also selected the multiple graded stakes winner, and when the Donegal Racing runner won the San Marcos both Shurman and Moomey were in qualifying position. “Now we’re heading to Vegas together,” said Moomey.

Saturday NHCQualify.com

Rank   Name      Total

1 William Shurman $98.60

2 Larry Hausman    97.20

3 Eric Moomey        96.20

4 Bruce Dagostini    95.00

5 Robert Earle         94.20

All receive seats to the 2016 National Handicapping Championship

Saturday DRFQualify.com

Rank   Name      Total

1 Myles Richards    $100.40

2 Steve Mercieca    93.80

3 Scott Pulcini         92.60

4 Frank Mustari      88.60

5 Gwyn Houston      87.40

All five win $3,000 entries to the Gulfstream Park Raise Your Game Betting Challenge on February 28.

Sunday DRFQualify

Rank   Name      Total

1 Richard Sugimoto $172.80

2 Gary Johnson       154.40

3 William Ortega     154.20

4 Stanley Bavlish    132.60

All four win $3,500 entries to the Santa Anita Betting Challenge to be held March 14-15.