06/23/2014 11:33AM

Fornatale: Moomey wins NHC spot in Belmont challenge

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Eric Moomey won last weekend’s Belmont Park Challenge, beating 276 other entrants and earning a berth in the National Handicapping Championship, to be held January 2015 in Las Vegas.

Moomey, a 41-year-old lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, took home $42,500 for his efforts. A renowned multi-tasker, he also won $2,000 in an online contest he was playing simultaneously.

For the Belmont contest, as in all of the current NYRA events, each player must make 10 selections a day in the two-day tournament – nine $20 plays and a single $40 play to either win, place, or show on races from three selected tracks. Half the plays must be made at Belmont.

Moomey, a player known for his consistency, lived up to that reputation this weekend. He finished Day 1 in seventh place with $640, and added $586 on Day 2 for a winning score of $1,226. That winning number, 2.8 times the initial bankroll of $440, is remarkably similar from tournament to tournament in this format.

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Also advancing to the NHC is Nicole Cox of Oceanside, N.Y. Cox’s husband, Kevin, won this tournament last year and was a familiar face on the contest scene in 2013. He gained fame as “the Brooklyn Cowboy” in the television show “Horseplayers,” and made a big run at the NHC Tour title, ending up third overall. Kevin Cox finished fourth this weekend, just $18 away from third, narrowly missing a second NHC seat for the Cox household.

The third seat went to Day 1 leader Noro Healy of Elizabeth, N.J. Healy, a popular figure who generally limits his play to the New York contests, earned his first trip to the NHC after many years of trying. Healy finished Day 1 with $1,114 and a $266 lead. He was ice cold on Sunday, blanking on all 10 bets, but still managed to grimly hold on for the trip to Vegas despite several late challenges.

The event also will have major NHC Tour implications. Due to the complexity of the scoring system, it will be tricky to figure out exactly who will end up where until the new leaderboard is posted later this week, but it seems likely that Brett Wiener, currently in second place, will move very close to current leader Ken Seeman.

The top five on the leaderboard as of July 31 all receive $10,000. Jacqueline Sukanick seems poised to grab one of those slots after adding a live event score to her impressive online résumé. Paul Shurman, whose brother Bill currently sits in fifth, is in the opposite situation. He may also be able to make a late run at the first-half money if he can get a strong online score between now and July 31.

Here is a look at the overall top twenty finishers:

Eric Moomey $1,226

Nicole Cox $1,168

Noro Healy $1,114

Kevin Cox $1,096

Robert Felty $1,094

George Chute $1,035

Joe Aurello $1,016

Paul Calatagirone $952

Ronald Williams $890

Mark Danbom $868

Jacqueline Sukanick $862

Ron Richardson $859

Gina Cozza $850

Scott Eyraud $848

John Ferraro $848

Paul Shurman $845

Russell Weber $840

Brett Wiener $836

Tim Schram $814

Mitch Schuman $814

27 move on in BCQualify.com

In other action this weekend, 27 more players qualified out of the Round 1 contest on BCQualify.com. They will join the rest of the field next weekend to compete for six $10,000 seats to the Breeders Cup Betting Challenge, plus a $500 travel voucher. Jamaal Barnett, of Ajax, Ontario, won with a score of $113.60 in the 12-race, all-mandatory, win-place contest. The last qualifier was Bruce Dagostini of Gilbert, Az., who finished with $85.

Other notable names to advance to round two include last year’s BCBC winner Peter Behr, contest maven Christopher Larmey, and David Snyder of Mission Viejo, Calif., who earned two entries into the finals. For a link to the full leaderboard, click here.

The round 2 event will be held on Saturday, June 28, at BCQualify.com. If you want to win a seat to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, the one-day format returns next month with events on Saturday, July 5 and Sunday, July 20.