05/04/2015 3:06PM

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


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.

Family More than 1 year ago
A BIG CONGRATS to Richard Goodall for once again qualifying to the NHC.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Pete.Let's have a ladies only tourney.Make it live no outside contact.Put them in a room give them 10 races at that time and turn them loose.Maybe once we will find out who is good and who is a beard.Yes even the good ones have bad day's.The ladies even if they are beards deserve the chance to prove what they can do.The ladies who are bears go to the contests and put up with us for a day or 2 or 3.A true girls night oe 2 away from the men is the least they are owed.With you behind this it might happen.Thanks again for your endless work.
Edward Wright More than 1 year ago
By my definition of a handicapping team there are only a handful of people who play together on the contest circuit that deserve to be called a team. Those REAL team members share the handicapping legwork and have the ability to play as individuals in a live contest without all day phone calls and text messages. Groups with one member doing all of the legwork means the other members are only cheerleaders. Those cheerleaders have the potential to become real team members if they have the desire, learn the game and make a true contribution. If not, they are welcome to remain in a group. In 2013 I played the Kentucky Derby online while in the hospital only 2 days after spending 5 days in ICU. This year I had a flare up of my 2013 health issues the Friday before the NHC, couldn't eat any solid food for 8 days, including the first 2 days of the NHC, fought to stay awake due to taking muscle relaxers and painkillers for my back and lost 10 pounds that week but none of that deterred me. In 2013 and this year my brain and arms were fully functional and I stepped up to the plate. There are very few illnesses that would prevent a handicapper from participating in the sport we all love and I hope whatever kept Brett Wiener from participating last Saturday is short lived and he returns to full health, and the game, as soon as possible. There is no sports, Olympic, chess, math, workplace, editorial or other team with members who do not contribute their part to insure the success of the overall team. You can be the worse member on a team but at least you know the game you’re playing and make the best contribution possible. If not, you'll get traded, cut, fired, sent to the minors or quit because you truly can’t do the work or come to the realization that it’s not your cup of tea. A real handicapping team is created when a group of people share goals (winning a handicapping contest), design a plan to get there (handicap and plan strategy), and are able to work together with everyone contributing to achieve those goals (teamwork). It’s a result, not a title bestowed on a group of people with one handicapper and one or more props. Members of a REAL handicapping team ALL know how to “handicap”. They are pros, not props. I’m not against couples, siblings, relatives and others who “play together” as a group because the introduction of others to horse racing is something we all should put on our “to do” list. But the reality is those groups are not teams and anyone who believes they are do a disservice to the real teams whose members actually know how to handicap and week in/week out dedicate the time, work and energy necessary to make their “team” successful. Hopefully many of the props will become pros or learn to love the game and enjoy both team and individual successes going forward. To name a few, Judy and Brian Wagner, Sally and Richard Goodall, Cara and Mike Yarusso, Lee and Kevin Geraghty, Stephanie Davis and Joe Sciano, Barbara and John Buckley, James Michelson Sr. and Jr. and Cheryl McIntyre, Michael McIntyre and Gary Johnson are REAL handicapping teams and they deserve their “props” because they are truly “pros”.
mikey More than 1 year ago
Yes you are right on.I have known and seen ladies win a contest without getting out of their seat.The ruls allow this to a limit.There are true players that have had 6 or 7 seats at the NTRA and WS.They give the beards a free trip and a few days of fun.This is what it is .I feel as you do but as they said in the GODFATHER THIS IS THE BUSINESS WE HAVE CHOSSEN.Hope you stay well and keep playing.