07/07/2014 10:27AM

Fornatale: Plenty of online qualifying action


There was a flurry of contest activity this past weekend, especially online, with the 2015 National Handicapping Championships in Las Vegas adding several new contestants.

In the second round of the DRFBets Summer Challenge on Saturday, four players advanced to the NHC in Las Vegas. Sean Nolan won the event with a final bankroll of $603. Michael Guadagno was second with $574.50, and also earning seats were Cheryl Kaufman ($489), and Karen Richards ($467.25).

Starting bankroll was $150, so these scores were a bit higher than some observers used to playing on NHCQualify and BCQualify might have expected (typical winning scores on those sites are around 2.5 times initial bankroll). However, there are two reasons why one would expect higher scores in the DRFBets format. For one thing, contestants make 10 $15 win bets, no place bets. Win-only contests have higher totals because place prices do not dilute final scores. Also, while typical online contests consist of all mandatory bets, this contest consisted of all optional races across four tracks, meaning players were not locked in to playing any particular races and could search for prices. Given these factors, scores were right where one would have guessed, between 3 and 4 times initial bankroll.

To advance to round 2, players had to finish in the top 20 in one of two round 1 events, held the previous two Saturdays. Then the final 40 competed for the four NHC spots. Given that the round 1 events attracted right around 200 entrants, this contest marked an excellent chance for players to qualify for the NHC: essentially they just had to finish in the top 10 percent in two successive contests, a format that rewards consistency. Players serious about qualifying for Las Vegas should keep their eyes out for other opportunities on DRFBets throughout the remainder of the year.

New format has debut

NHCQualify debuted its new format on Saturday, a “low-roller” contest where players could buy in for $25 to try to win $10,200 in credit at NHCQualify.com, BCQualify.com or DRFBets.com. The contest paid down to 20th place.

Jackie Jenkins of Gainseboro, Tenn., finished first of 448 contestants to win $2,550 in credit. Jenkins won in near wire-to-wire fashion, picking the first three winners and topping up with Mr Speaker in the Belmont Derby, who paid the full cap price of $42 for contest purposes. He cooled off after that but managed to get two more winners late in the day to secure the win. He picked C. Zee ($13.80) in Gulfstream’s ninth race and scratched into a winner in Gulfstream’s 10th. His initial pick didn’t make it to the gate but the favorite, Mr. Baker, won and paid $4.60, enough to keep him in front.

There will be another $25 buy-in contest on BCQualify.com on July 12, and, on the same series of races, NHCQualify.com will host a $165 buy-in one-day event where players can win in directly to the NHC.

Three qualify through BCQualify.com

Also on Saturday, three players earned seats to the $10,000 buy-in Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge via BCQualify.com. Joe Pettit of Sugarloaf Key, Fla., finished first overall with $132.80 from three winners: Mr Speaker (cap, $42), Zivo in the Suburban ($29.40) and C. Zee in Gulfstream’s ninth ($13.80).

Former trainer Gary Johnson of Maple Heights, Ohio, who values the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge above all other contests, won his third qualification to this year’s event. He’ll have to give up two of them under the one-per-customer rules of the BCBC, but players are allowed to transfer entries to others. Johnson ended up second overall on Saturday with a score of $100.40, on the back of four winners including Mr Speaker.

The third seat went to Sergio Ramirez of Reseda, Calif. Ramirez also picked four winners, the longest of which was Zivo. He held off the fourth-place finisher, an unlucky Anthony Acierno of Staten Island, N.Y., by just $3.90.

It was a feast or famine sequence for all three qualifiers. Among them, they backed 11 winners, but had no place points from any of the other races.

* Other notable names to earn NHC seats this weekend in various online arenas included former NHC Champ Ron Rippey, last year’s NHC Tour champ Brent Sumja, and notable up-and-comer, Emily “Mayhemily” Gullikson, one of the players who contributed to The Winning Contest Player.

Jamaal B More than 1 year ago
Congrats to Emily on qualifying! Good job, best of luck on your maiden voyage to Vegas
Mark Midland More than 1 year ago
Emily nabbed one of 2 NHC spots and $10K first prize in the DerbyWars game - but congrats to Jamaal as well on a great third-place finish!
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Two of my favorite young players I've interviewed. I'm hoping Jamaal makes it down for the Saratoga contest!
Mayhemily1 More than 1 year ago
Thanks Jamaal! Congrats as well. Pete, without a doubt Jamaal will be hungry and a fierce competitor in Saratoga.
Jackie Jenkins More than 1 year ago
My buddies are not going to let me live this article down for awhile...LOL
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Don't worry, Jackie, we got that fixed!! If it makes you feel better, I spelled Emily Gullikson's name wrong in the initial piece, too! One of those days for me but all fixed now.
Ray Sousa More than 1 year ago
trainers should not be allowed to participate period. just like employees of a company are not allowed to enter when the company has a raffle for customers. The trainers have access to jockeys and other trainers that the average player does not have.an inside information situation which goes a long way to explaining why they do so well in these tournaments.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
There are very strict rules about industry folks competing in contests, at least as far as the NHC goes. If you're curious about them, contact the NTRA or ask me to. I don't believe Mr. Johnson is currently training so it's a nonissue in this case.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Ray, I decided to do a little digging myself. Here is a response from NTRA honcho, Keith Chamblin: Peter, We have a player declaration rule at the NHC, which primarily comes into play with the “Mandatory” races that are part of the National Championship. It is left to the individual qualifying sites to address the eligibility requirements of owners and trainers. Obviously, they can legally wager at a track, so they should be allowed to participate in qualifiers in our opinion although a declaration similar to what we use at the NHC should probably be considered for use. The online tourneys are trickier since it’s harder to identify contestants. Keith From National Championship Rules: PLAYER DECLARATION Any Contest Player who is currently licensed by a racing commission or other governmental agency (including, without limitation, state, federal and National Racing Compact) (“Licensee”) shall identify himself/herself to tournament officials prior to the first Contest race. For purposes of the Official Rules, a Licensee includes, but is not limited to, an owner, trainer, track official, jockey agent and any licensed track employee. A Contest Player must also declare in advance of tournament play if he or she is an immediate family member of a Licensee. For purposes of this Contest, "immediate family members" shall be defined as mother, father, spouse, children, step-children and siblings. Failure to disclose as provided herein may result in disqualification from this Contest and forfeiture of any Contest prizes. A Contest Player who has an interest – ownership or otherwise – in a horse entered in any of the races designated as part of the Contest in accordance with these Rules will be ineligible to use such races in the Contest. Any Contest Player with an interest in a horse entered in a Contest race shall identify him/ herself to NHC Officials who will determine if the Contest Player's interest(s) preclude him or her from using the race in the Contest. If the Contest Player is precluded from using a Mandatory Race (see "Wagering Procedures"), NHC Officials will assign the Player an alternate Mandatory Race. Failure to disclose as provided herein may result in disqualification from this Contest and forfeiture of any Contest prizes.
Dan More than 1 year ago
Peter, They had a tournament giving away a couple of seats out at Los Al on Saturday. $300 buy in with $100 of that as a live bankroll. I believe the format was had to bet 5 races at $20 each...WPS and exactas. Whatever earnings you make you keep but you could also use your winnings to pad your roll and overall score per se. Did you hear anything about this at all? Was curious as to winning number as well as number of players. Lefty
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Yes, I wrote about the contest on Thursday. I would have done a little follow up but I don't have any info. I'll try to get it.