12/29/2014 1:52PM

Fornatale: Moomey takes down NHC Tour title

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Eric Moomey, a lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, has won $75,000 for winning the 2014 NHC tour. Moomey won it in style, finishing first of 198 unique players on Saturday in a live-bankroll event at Monmouth Park.

For his tour win, Moomey will receive $75,000 in cash and also a shot at a $2 million bonus – in addition to the $750,000 first prize – should he go on to win the National Handicapping Championship in January.

He had a very specific plan going in and he stuck to it. “I knew that I needed to turn some magic on,” said Moomey, “and I had visualized exactly how I was going to win.”

The fifth at Tampa Bay ended up being the pivotal race. Moomey’s plan involved going all in on an 11-1 shot named Lake Drive South. When he won, all he had to do was hang on.

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Holding off the field was a little easier for Moomey as he needed only a top-five finish to secure a tour win – the contest win was merely icing on the cake. “It was pretty awesome,” Moomey said, “and it was great to have my 75-year old dad there with me. Ten years ago I taught him how to use a computer. Now I’m teaching him how to play handicapping contests.”

Moomey was regarded as one of the most consistent online players going into the 2014 NHC tour season. But that wasn’t enough for him – he was disappointed by some tactical errors that had led him to several sub-par performances in live contest events. This year, he vowed to improve his weaknesses and he did – he won Belmont Park’s big contest back in June. After that win, Moomey set his sights on winning the tour.

The process wasn’t without a few missteps. Moomey has been known as a “leverage” player – he plays in a lot of contests and will often take the maximum amount of entries allowed. At a Monmouth tournament earlier this year, he bought 14 entries, only to come away empty-handed.

“I’ve noticed that when I try to muscle my way in, I’m not successful,” said Moomey. “When I try to finesse my way in, I do a lot better because I play more decisively. I had only one entry at Belmont, and just two at Monmouth.”

The decision to play at Monmouth was a simple matter of geography. “I knew for a while I’d make my final stand at Monmouth,” Moomey said. “I didn’t want to play over Thanksgiving weekend, and I didn’t want to fly to California over Christmas.”

Moomey’s competition was impressed with him throughout his run. Brett Wiener, in first place on the tour going into last weekend, flat-out predicted Moomey would win a tournament this weekend and pass him.  “He plays the game well,” said Wiener, “And he doesn’t play scared like many others on the tour. He stays aggressive and that’s what you need to do to win.”

Filling out the top five on the tour are Brett Wiener ($15,000), Bill Shurman ($10,000), Jacqueline Sukanick ($5,400), and Paul Hoffman ($5,000).

Full results for the tour will be posted on the NTRA website later this week after a full audit of results.