05/04/2015 3:06PM

Fornatale: Sarah Wiener steps up to take free NTRA Derby Day qualifier

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A familiar name topped the free National Thoroughbred Racing Association contest held on NHCQualify.com on Kentucky Derby Day. Sarah Wiener, the wife of 2014 NHC Tour second Brett Wiener, bested all comers with a total of $116.20.

Sarah Wiener often plays in events herself, but it’s no secret that the Wieners typically play as a team with Brett doing the handicapping legwork. But on Saturday, with Brett so ill he couldn’t make it out of bed to play in the Treasure Island National Handicapping Championship qualifier, Sarah did 100 percent of her own picking and ended up on top of a field of 1,800-plus players. She ended up with six winners, highlighted by four cashes in the first five races, including Tepin ($20.20 to win) in the Distaff Turf Mile and strong place points on Nates Mineshaft ($19.80) in the Churchill Downs Stakes.

Players looking for a price in the Derby itself – the contest’s anchor leg – ended up very disappointed when American Pharoah got the job done at just under 3-1. Wiener, who played Frosted in the Derby, held on for a Tour points bonanza. With her work schedule, however, it sounds unlikely that a full-on Tour chase is in the cards this year.

Also earning NHC berths from the free qualifier were Edward Lambert, Joe Steinberg, and Mike Brady. The NHC Tour returns to NHCQualify.com, the official qualifying site of the NHC, next Saturday with an event limited to 135 players where up to five seats will be awarded. Buy-in for the limited-field qualifier is $400.

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

NHC Tour update

With three contests held at Treasure Island in Las Vegas, home of the 2016 NHC, there was a flurry of activity on the NHC Tour over Derby Weekend. Full results will be posted when the contest vetting is completed, but several big names in the contest world earned NHC qualifications and NHC Tour points out in the desert, including 2014 NHC champ Jose Arias and 2008 NHC champ Richard Goodall.

Also notable from a Tour perspective from this weekend was Jonathon Kinchen’s win on Derby Day in an online qualifying event. Kinchen is still a few points behind Ryan Flanders for the overall Tour lead, but keep in mind that Flanders has six qualifying scores to Kinchen’s five. Kinchen has yet to receive a score in an on-site contest. Tour scores are awarded to players finishing in the top 10 percent of NHC qualifying events. For the full year Tour leader board, up to six scores are used, with one having to come from an on-site contest, otherwise, as in Kinchen’s case right now, only five scores are used.

Longshots aid Brownfield

On Sunday on DRFQualify.com, David Brownfield wasted no time in putting the contest to bed – he backed cap horses in two of the first three races with Bobrovsky (who paid $50.80 to win but was limited to $42 to win for the tournament) and Financial Pathway ($99 to win but also limited to $42). In a live-format contest, where picks can be adjusted throughout, cap horses hitting so early might have driven other players to reach for longer prices, but in the all-In format, where all picks are in before the first race goes off, everything was locked. Brownfield caught two more bombers to place in the middle of the sequence, so it really didn’t matter when he blanked on the last third.

Joining Brownfield at the May Santa Anita contest in two weeks will be Jason Avila. Avila also got things started with a bang by backing Bobrovsky. He was cold in the middle of the contest – at one point he whiffed in five events in a row – but he finished strong with a cold double, Pocketfullofgreen ($5.40) in Santa Anita’s fifth and Fast Track ($15.80) in the anchor leg, Santa Anita’s sixth.

Next weekend, DRFQualify.com will offer two final chances for players to win their $4,000 buy-ins to the May 16-17 live-bankroll Santa Anita contest for only $90. For more details, go to DRFQualify.com.

Saturday NHCQualify.com
Rank Name Total

1 Sarah Wiener $116.20
2 Edward Lambert $109.50
3 Joe Steinberg $106.60
4 Mike Brady $102.50

All four receive seats to the NHC, plus a travel allowance.

Sunday DRFQualify.com
Rank Name Total

1 David Brownfield $170.00
2 Jason Avila $127.80

Both receive $4,000 berths to the May 16-17 live-bankroll contest at Santa Anita.