06/23/2014 12:33PM

Fornatale: Moomey wins NHC spot in Belmont challenge


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.

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

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.

Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
I never said there was anything wrong with what Cox does or any other TEAM does, but anyone including Cox that says he is not controlling the picks and ALL 4 entries worked as a team is just not telling the truth. It is allowed at this time so many people do it to improve their mathematical chances of winning. If it didnt then people wouldnt do it. There is a reason Cox and others do it . If 200 people play and you have 1 entry you are 200-1 if Cox has4 entries then he is 50-1 . its simple numbers . There is a reason guys and Teams are splitting winnings walking out the door...All I am saying is just say it YES I have 4 entries. Me and my wife. More power to you . But dont say hey my wife qualified . Then if thats true send her by herself with no phones or emails and let her play herself. We all know who is controlling and making the picks. And by that , since I am not married can I just put 3 more entries in fake names and sit my 16yr old next to me? Lets face it everyone is looking for an edge, from partnering up to splitting with guys if you win its not something new. I have nothing against what Cox did and nothing against him sharing time with his wife good for them . The tourney structure and controlling entries is what needs to be looked at not just Cox. I bet half the people in that contest had side deals with 23 4 different people. When I play I do the same thing. Just like on Horseplayers when the guys were making deals,it happens in every tourney.
paul Caltagirone More than 1 year ago
good gosh! obviously the math goes more in your favor when you have more entries. when a husband and wife take 4 entries together, that's great. It puts more in the pool. belmont did not stop at 200 entries. They helped put the anticipated 1st prize from 35,000 to over 41,000. Celebrate the FACT that Belmont gave ALL the pleyer's money back to them AND gave 3 seats to Vegas. Where else can you play with a plus takeout. Do you prefer the on-line contests that offer a seat for only $165 per entry. When you add that up the seat comes to over $12,000per seat in some cases. the key to making money at the races is money management .Buy all the entrys you want at saratoga. i'll be there for the plus takeout.
paul Caltagirone More than 1 year ago
to the guy who believes it is a stabfest and having a dozen entries will be the key to sucess, why not bring all YOUR friends and take the money. Twelve entries at Saratoga is only $12,000. Come find out how easy the stabfest will be. guys like you are what poker players call "dead money".
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
LOL, exactly. . .not as easy it looks. I'm not eligible for the NHC anymore but would welcome folks who want to give it a go. Sure, they'll win sometimes, but as long as it's not an unfair advantage, bring it on.
Mike Elsass More than 1 year ago
Your blog is totally refreshing and a much needed addition to the tournament scene. Anyone serious needs to buy your book ASAP &'read several times for the many nuances. Keep up the effort and multiple posts!
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Thanks a TON, Mike. I really appreciate it. Been seeing your name all over the place on leaderboards and I'm sure I'll be interviewing you soon!
Burton Shapiro More than 1 year ago
why don't you do an article on best places to qualify for nhc. I qualified at Suffolk Downs Last year entry fee was free had about 60 drf members and Suffolk gave away three seats ank 5k in prize money all funded through them this year due to there financial issues they are not doing a contest the thing is any body could team up to enter a much better deal than Belmont and the online contests. I turned my free entry into 38th place last year but, I saw how a partner could help because if I knew someone I could have gone partners and maybe have picked the right longshot in the last mandatory on Saturday and have made the top ten that I see is a big benefit of partners burt Shapiro
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
It is a benefit, but as I've written many times, it's one that's bought and paid for. As for the best places to qualify, it depends on how you look at the question. From a straight convenience point-of-view, you can't beat NHCQualify.com, if you are looking at value and value only, that will change the equation. I probably won't do a full exposition on the topic here for various reasons (including conflict of interest), but if you take a look at THE WINNING CONTEST PLAYER where I break down how to sort out the value of various contests. It also very much depends on what your preferred playing format is. A live bankroll format might have 100%+ payback but if you're not a live bankroll player that still might be a terrible place for you to try to qualify. . .
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Moderating all comments is, I don't know, commu nism?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
No way, man, about as far from communism is it gets. I'm a benevolent dictator ;)
Kenny More than 1 year ago
Why does DRF moderate some of my comments?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
In my area, I moderate all comments. To me, unmoderated comments are a joke, best ignored internet-wide -- the general lack of civility and presence of trolls renders them unreadable. Therefore, I moderate.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
They moderate comments that presses the issue of horse racing gambling corruption. Makes drf uneasy and nervous....... BOO!!! Hahaha
Kenny More than 1 year ago
Thought this tourney was well done although if I had to nit pick I just wish Woodbine was the 3rd track over Churchill....the win pool at CD is so small this time of year those odds were really changing...... as far as multiple entries....Cmon they paid the fee which increases the pot, plus Kevins wife is right there with him helping and rooting their picks.... besides multiples might help you get on the board but you still gotta pick the the right races to get involved in, then the right horses and then the right ticket or you end up with a bunch of middling scores
JorgeCruzAedo More than 1 year ago
Can you give an example of team tactics in a live bankroll tourney and how would that differ than teaming up with other people and splitting entries in a fixed bankroll tourney?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Sure, Jorge. I'll address this in an ASK PETE, coming soon. . .
J_Dinks More than 1 year ago
I feel like as long as the entry fee is paid, it doesn't matter. Everyone has the same opportunity to bring a spouse/partner/etc. and do the same exact same thing should they so choose. One key point often lost with this particular complaint is that the player has a better chance to win and it's not fair. Yes, it improves their odds. However, the increased amount paid by these parties also means they have a different risk/reward scope with increased pressure to cash to make sense of their collective entry fee cost (in this case, $400 per). Of course it increases odds of qualifying/cashing, but the other side of it is just as important to note. Further, the Cox's, Wagner's, Goodall's, and countless other teams/tandems on Tour help fuel purse money and seem to have a great experience spending time together with people they love, doing something they love.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Check out Gwen Houston this guy has a bigger bench than the Yankee's
Jeff More than 1 year ago
Dear Mr. Fornatale: I am a relative newcomer to the NHC, and I would like to know how the top players, in this Belmont tournament, actually made their picks. I went to the NYRA website but they only had a summary of the top three players. I routinely review the leaderboards on both NHCqualify, and BCqualify, to try to learn how the leaders play the game. In this regard, having never participated in a live tornament, I am interested in how the top players arrived at their respective totals. Thank you for your response.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
That is a good question, but one that would take book length to answer. The good news is I have written just such a book, THE WINNING CONTEST PLAYER. In there I dive deep on a lot of the specifics. You should really but a copy today. There is a link embedded write in this very piece.
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
Does anyone really believe Kevin Cox's wife won that seat, lets call it what it is ,he used his wife's name to have more entries then allowed in the tourney so he had a better chance to win mathematically. Lets just tell the truth.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
I'll say this: there's nothing in the rules against what the family Cox did this weekend at Belmont. In the past, he has said they play as a team and that he is the captain of the day given his experience. I'll see if I can get him to chime in here.
Eric More than 1 year ago
Let them buy as many seats as they want I say. Just brings more prize money for the winner. I had 4 entries in the hpws last year and it did me no good. I had just one in Belmont and ended up on top. Sometime having multiple tickets can work against you. I'll give Kevin a lot of credit though. Between him and his wife they had 2 top 5 finishes using different selections on each ticket. Quite impressive if you ask me.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Thanks for chiming in Eric. And that is a great perspective. As long as extra entries are bought and paid for on the square and can't manipulate the contest itself, I don't have a problem with them. Assuming the rules are followed. While it worked out for the Cox family this weekend, I've heard (and experienced) enough stories like your HPWS to want to paraphrase Biggie in this instance: Mo tickets, Mo problems.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
All the same picks except for a few shots Kevin took on his account.
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
80 different bets from 80 possible bets.
JorgeCruzAedo More than 1 year ago
First to have both entires in the top 5 is really impressive. Second it is not against the rules and impossible to police. It brings more money in the pot and in no way guarantees victory. You can just easy spilt picks between entries and miss the money. But didn't he complain about other players doing the same thing on horseplayer.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Jorge, if I recall correctly, Kevin was upset in horseplayers when he thought Christian Hellmers and another player were employing team tactics in a live bankroll event. I agree with him that that should not be allowed because it manipulates the contest in a more fundamental way. However, and this is important, I researched the matter myself and determined that Christian did absolutely nothing wrong at the BCBC -- he was not partners with the guy Kevin assumed he was.
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
Thank you, Jorge. Most people that have multiple tickets usually play the same horse on multiple tickets at times during the course of the contest. Usually multiple entry participants attempt to whittle down their tickets to one good one, so it's nearly IMPOSSIBLE to do well on more than one. We made EIGHTY different bets over the 2 days !! Not ONE repeat bet amongst the tickets ! Whew !
pshurm More than 1 year ago
Kevin Cox and his wife are always together at tournaments. Sitting together. Rooting together. I don't know if Kevin makes some of the decisions or all of the decisions. But I have no problem with a husband and wife team taking two entries each as long as they are both at the contest. What I don't like is a husband and wife team taking multiple entries under both names and the wife goes out shopping while the husband plays all the entries (or visa versa I guess). I know this type of thing does go on but don't know what can be done about it. Having multiple entries doesn't necessarily give you a great advantage. It gives you an advantage as far as hitting your first play because you can spread early, but after that, you have to keep hitting on that same ticket....or whatever is your best ticket at the time. Otherwise you end up with a bunch of mediocre scores. I must say that no matter how many entries you have, coming in second and forth is a tremendous accomplishment. I assume he had to have doubled up on some of his plays on the correct tickets. By the way, the winner of the tournament, Eric Moomey, did so with only one entry. Also, food for thought with regard to tournament strategy...both Moomey and Cox played the same horse with their double bets in the last race. An 8-1 shot to win. The horse just misses and takes second. If Cox plays the horse to place, instead of to win, he wins the contest.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Great stuff as always, Paul. I particularly like your point about the last race -- that's a unique thing about the BEL contest rules that can work to your advantage, knowing when to play (or even use your double) on place or show as opposed to win. O/C, if the same horse wins and doesn't place, Kevin would have had some serious second guessing to do!
pshurm More than 1 year ago
If the same horse wins....Kevin still ends up behind Moomey because he was behind him to start and they both would have collected the same amount....and Kevin would have still collected on the place bet, to have at least a little protection from someone passing him from behind with that horse. Of course, they didn't know beforehand what each other was playing. And also, of course, there are so many possible variables that no matter what you do, you always leave yourself open to second guessing. Players just have to remember that in the NYRA contests, with that double bet that can be used on win or place or show, there are a lot of options available other than just trying to pick a horse to win.
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the kind words, Paul, My wife and I take great pride in the fact that we do everything together. Am I going to sit here and tell you that she understands the intricacies of Ragozin numbers, deceleration, and what not ? Well, MANY people don't. But we made EIGHTY different bets this weekend, and she was on top of each and every one. Minutes to post in upcoming races, dismounted jockeys, odds fluctuation, getting proper bets in, etc. While my forte is as a numbers cruncher, she has developed an excellent understanding of body language, and that has come in handy on more than one occasion. As for the last race, the 2nd place ticket had no bets left, so there was no way of passing Moomey with a place bet.
michaelcancilla More than 1 year ago
kev, 80 bets in the contest?
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
Yeah, 4 tickets each day @ 10 bets per ticket x 2 days.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Nobody knows and plays the game better than you.Every year i make you one of the favorites to win.Hope this year is the year.P.S. I saw a player have 43 spots in the NTRA he 2 his wife one.Only she was there but never got out of her chair all day.Those are the guys who hurt the contest's.Keep up the great work and hope to see you with the big check.I would be happy to be 2nd to a real horse player like you.
Kevin Cox More than 1 year ago
Well Dan, it shouldn't be a a shock that she won the seat, as she won two seats last year as well. Unless, of course you're implying that she didn't win those either.Does your train of thought only apply to those with the same last name, as in EVERY live tournament there are groups of friends, fathers, cousins, whatever, that come out for the contest, and are "partners". Shall we sequester 276 people into cubicles at these events and hire lip readers to say what each one is saying during the course of the event ? Or maybe we can interrogate entrants before registering as to their horse racing knowledge ? That would bring fans to the sport. We made EIGHTY individual bets from SIXTY overlapping races, with gate scratches, MANY late odds fluctuations, and a couple of jockey changes to boot. Anyone who says that I could've done 4 LIVE tickets on my own should have their head examined. There were several instances where she corrected me or pointed something out, along with being an active part of all pre race banter going back and forth, ( Tip to 'cappers : If you have a good partner, it always helps to think out loud to her/him, as they may offer more assistance then you might think. ) and she was only able to do that with the increased knowledge she's acquired from attending these events and watching the races with me at home. Funny thing is I've never heard anyone say : " Kevin, you and your wife have lost $4,600 at NYRA contests since your Belmont win---I feel so bad for you." Two more sidenotes to this : We had another ticket that finished 30th, just a fer dollars from 25th, and a THIRD check, and our "Double" bets for the weekend ? 4 for 8 with 3 of them $25 and up. That's "The Truth".
Dan Cronin More than 1 year ago
Kevin you actually just made my point, she helped YOU, so it was your ticket and your seat that was won with the help of your wife. Like a head coach and asst coach, nothing wrong with it, I said just call it want it is. Not that I have anything against it . You had 4 entries and your wife helped you . The rules allow it , I was not attacking you or your team at all, everyone does it like you said just dads or friends etc etc
Kenny More than 1 year ago
There is nothing wrong with what Kevin and his wife did or have done in these tournaments.....they paid the entry fee of 400, 4 times......and its no easy task getting whatever winners you come up with on the same entry anyhow.....the thing everyone should be complaining about in this well run contest was picking Churchill Downs as the 3rd track............Woodbine would have been a much better choice
Bill Duncliffe More than 1 year ago
I was at the Belmont contest this past weekend and have also been to previous Belmont and Saratoga contests where Kevin and his wife have played multiple entries, as have people like Paul Shurman and, candidly, myself - although I would not consider myself in their league of play. Playing two tickets has obvious advantages but it also can lead you to end up splitting tickets. It doesn't take a degree in rocket science to see that. I'm not enough of a mathematician to do the probability analysis on the change in winning chances of having 4 tickets. It certainly increases your splitting possibilities but also giving your more opportunities to have a key ticket or multiple key tickets has to have some effect of increasing probabilities. All that aside, however - managing 4 tickets with odds changes, your own odds vs. chance analysis and then placing each bet on the correct ticket? That is mind-bogglingly difficult. I have a tremendous amount of respect for anyone that can manage that. And if they have the scratch to do so? More power to them! This is still America, right?
Paul Hoffman More than 1 year ago
Lots of discussion surrounding one rule which is routinely worked around. Simple solution, raise entry limits.