08/06/2015 9:41AM

Fornatale: Moomey tops NHC Tour first-half standings


The more things change, the more they stay the same. At least that's true on the NHC Tour first-half leaderboard, where Eric Moomey, last year's tour champion, finished in first place once again. Moomey and the rest of the top five each receive a $10,000 bonus.

First-half scores are tabulated using a player's four best scores through Aug. 1, with at least one of those scores having to come in an onsite event.

Players get scores by finishing in the top 10 percent in contests that award National Handicapping Championship seats, with events featuring larger fields worth more than smaller ones. Outright winners are rewarded with bonus points.

Moomey a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force, got to the top by winning two online contests, finishing third in another, and running second in a live event at Treasure Island in Las Vegas over Kentucky Derby weekend. Two of his scores came on NHCQualify.com, the official online qualifying site of the NHC. Moomey also received a $10,000 bonus for finishing in the top five for the first half last year before going on to win $75,000 for topping the standings for the whole year.

Bill Shurman, the second-place finisher for the first half, experienced some déja vu last weekend. Like Moomey, he also won a $10,000 bonus for the second year in a row. But in both instances, Shurman was on the outside looking in heading into the last weekend. Last year, he grabbed a fourth at Del Mar to secure the bonus; this year he needed a high finish in the Wynn contest, and that's exactly what he got, running second to McKay Smith and nearly winning the whole thing.

Shurman's other scores came from an online 10th, a third in the March Santa Anita Betting Challenge, and a win on NHCQualify.com.

Like Shurman, Sean Nolan needed a late score to propel him into the top five. Nolan's big result came at Monmouth Park on July 25 with a win in a live-bankroll contest. Nolan also got another score earlier this summer at Monmouth as well as points from one of the free NTRA online contests and a win on DRF Bets on July 4. Nolan has qualified for the NHC 10 times.

Gary Johnson needed a late online second to secure his place in the top five, but he'd been a player to watch on the tour since May, when he won two contests: the Preakness Betting Challenge at Santa Anita and the Kentucky Oaks Day contest at Treasure Island. Johnson, a former trainer, won 1,295 races in his career.

Tony Kite just made the cut for the $10,000. He got three of his scores this spring on NHCQualify.com, with a first, a second, and a sixth. His fourth score came at Monmouth on July 5, a 10th-place finish. Kite will be playing in his second NHC in 2016.

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Rank Name Points
1 Eric Moomey 11555
2 Bill Shurman 11086
3 Sean Nolan 10912
4 Gary Johnson 10808
5 Anthony Kite 10780
6 Wayne Kwan 10655
7 Ryan Flanders 10597
8 Joe Jarvie 10553
9 Cheryl Knepper 10426
10 Garett Skiba 10312
11 Jonathon Kinchen 10078
12 Jeff Arthur 10020
13 Michael Marlaire 9981
14 James Henry 9946
15 Bob Engelhard 9904
16 Bernard Reilly 9708
17 John Nichols 9647
18 Matthew Rentze 8920
19 Mike Ferrozzo 8852
20 Robert Crowe 8500