02/23/2016 10:14AM

Fornatale: Picking winners nothing new for Tour rookie Dresens


We’ve seen this phenomenon before. Some contest players just go on runs. Whether it’s a case of just a hot streak or their “seeing the ball” well, the effect can be undeniable, and it can lead all the way to the winner’s circle on the National Handicapping Championship Tour.

Pete Dresens is as hot as they come right now. He has won seats to the NHC in each of the past two weekends, putting him at the top of the Tour leaderboard as well as the Cyberstar standings. The Cyberstar contest is a year-long event that will award $10,000 – and a shot at a $1 million bonus – to the player who earns the most NHC Tour points on NHCQualify.com.

Impressively, Dresens is also an NHC Tour rookie, making him eligible for a $10,000 prize as Rookie of the Year should he accrue the most Tour points on NHCQualify. Dressens, 56, is an anesthesiologist who lives in north central Massachusetts.

“I originally started playing the harness races at the bygone Foxboro Raceway, where Gillette Stadium and the New England Patriots now reside,” he said.

He and his friends quickly gravitated to Suffolk Downs after a minor dalliance with the dogs at Raynham and Taunton.

It was the logic of Thoroughbred races that compelled them. “We realized that the information from the past performances in the Daily Racing Form actually provided valuable insight into the potential outcome of a horse race,” he said. “This appeared to be in stark contrast to the programs for the harness and dog races.”

His interest in racing continued throughout the next two decades to a certain point but one thing held him back: money. As a student, he didn’t have much. But around 1994, buoyed by actual work income, he started regularly attending Rockingham Park, only 30 minutes from where he was working in Lowell, Mass.

“Over the years, I have hit some very nice pick six scores,” he said, “and have regularly attended Saratoga, Breeders Cup, and Triple Crown events. Needless to say, both the races and the subsequent acquaintances we've encountered have been truly special.”

Successful handicapping starts from within, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t listen to what other sharp people have to say. A big part of Dresens’s recent achievements has been his ability to listen and process valuable information he gets from others. He’s a regular listener to Steve Byk’s At the Races radio show, where last week he heard the likes of trainer Tom Amoss and DRF’s own Marcus Hersh and Jay Privman talk about horses he ultimately used in both contests and his cash betting, led by 74-1 bomber Venus Valentine. He’s also a regular listener to the Saturday Dave Johnson-Bill Finley radio show.

“I simply try to gain some additional insight from these resources to complement my analysis,” he said, “which can probably be best described as similar to what [NHC champion] Paul Matties has said his dad uses – more of logic-angle approach. I look to play certain tried-and-true situations, and obviously hope for some good luck.”

How is this 56-year old dyed-in-the-wool fan still a rookie on the NHC Tour? “I considered the NHC in the past,” he said, “but time issues prevented play on a consistent basis. Now, with my son off to college and an alteration in the work schedule, I do appear to have more opportunity to play, and am just going with it.”

This approach is paying big dividends so far. In addition to his two NHC seats, Dresens also cashed for over $9,000 on a pick four last weekend. This rookie with a lot of experience is clearly taking his game to a new level.

“Overall I’m just having a blast,” he said. “Since getting more involved and reading The Winning Contest Player and Six Secrets of Successful Bettors, I have really noticed a far greater perception and awareness of potential longshots. As one of your interviewees stated, you have to be able to pick out 20-1 shots. It’s never easy, but incredibly rewarding when successful.”