10/15/2015 12:09PM

Fornatale: Santa Anita hosts its final live-bankroll contest of season


On Saturday and Sunday, Santa Anita will host the Autumn Championship, the track’s final live-bankroll contest of 2015. The popular series, which features events in March, May, June, and now October, grew to new heights this year.

The success of the series can be partially attributed to the overall growth of the contest world and a partnership with Daily Racing Form to run qualifiers on DRFQualify.com. But it’s also a testament to the continued hard work of Santa Anita’s Nate Newby and Tom Quigley, who have made it their mission to make sure every player in a Santa Anita contest feels like a VIP.

This weekend’s event requires a $4,000 buy-in, with $3,000 acting as a live bankroll that can be wagered in the win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta pools in any Santa Anita races over the two days. The whole bankroll can be wagered at any time, and players keep any remaining portion of their bankroll at the tournament’s end.

The previous 2015 contests were won by Steven Wells, Gary Johnson, and Phil Bongiovanni, all of whom may return to look for a second win in the series. A strong Southern California contingent is expected to be on hand, including Christian Hellmers (twice second in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge), Dennis Decauwer (twice second in the National Handicapping Championship), and Mark Streiff (2012 NHC Tour champion), as well as an all-star cast from around the country, including Jonathon Kinchen (NHC Tour leader) and Damian Roncevich (dominated the Santa Anita series in 2014).

With the Breeders’ Cup two weeks away, the prize pool is expected to slant toward BCBC seats, but seats to the NHC will be in the prize pool as well, making this one of the few contests in which one can win both NHC and BCBC seats. The prize pool will be finalized late in the day Saturday. If you’re playing, make sure to get a look at it as soon as possible since it might influence your tactics.

Santa Anita also will be open as a satellite facility for the BCBC in two weeks. By that time, live racing will have moved to Del Mar, which also will be an option for BCBC players, but a small group of regulars will be on hand in the Eddie Logan Suite, treated to the hospitality they’ve come to expect. The best place to be in racing Oct. 31 will be Keeneland to watch American Pharoah square off against Beholder, but the Eddie Logan Suite isn’t a bad second option.

For information and to sign up for this weekend’s contest, click here or contact Newby directly at (626) 574-6391. Players are welcome to sign up the day of the contest if they pay cash. Stop by the Eddie Logan Suite before noon and ask to speak with Newby.

Players who aren’t in California this weekend but want to get out there for a mid-November trip during the live-race meet should play on DRFQualify.com this weekend. For the first time, DRFQualify.com will offer a qualifier to a Del Mar live-bankroll contest.

“We are excited to offer low-priced-buy-in contests for players to win a $4,000 entry into the Del Mar championship event,” said DRFQualify.com contest director Ken Kirchner. “It’ll be a fun contest for our players to qualify and travel to.”

The buy-in is $125, and up to two $4,000 seats for Del Mar will be on offer. All qualifiers will receive $500, and a bonus of $500 will be awarded to any qualifier who plays Saturday in both the Del Mar qualifier and the NHCQualify.com event (see below). Multi-tabling already is the hottest trend in the contest world. Why not get paid to try it? Click here to sign up to win your way to Del Mar.

The NHC Tour returns Saturday to NHCQualify.com. The buy-in is $165, and up to four seats to the NHC, the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest, will be awarded. Two seats are guaranteed. The NHC purse is expected to be north of $2.5 million for 2016. To sign up and win your share, click here.