12/15/2014 10:35AM

Fornatale: Short prices rule in weekend contest


Eight more players punched their tickets to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas on NHCQualify.com this weekend. A field of 330 players signed on to play in the third-to-last NHC Tour event of the year.

Overall scores were low. The winner, William Holmes, of Burlington, Ontario, ended with a score of $88.60, just 1.8 times his initial bankroll of $48, a result of the copious amounts of chalk in the sequence (a typical winner will end up with at least 2.5 times the initial bankroll).

Chris Noguchi, of Bakersfield, Calif., had the best story among the qualifying players. He finished third with $73, but he almost missed the contest entirely. After not making a selection in the first race, he received a courtesy call from NHCQualify.com’s Kelley Kirchner, reminding him he was supposed to be playing in a contest. This is standard operating procedure on NHCQ. Noguchi got his act together and backed five of the remaining 11 winners.

As for Holmes, he was hot early and late. He had the first three short-priced winners: Mshawish ($5 to win) in Gulfstream’s eighth race, Wind Chill Factor ($8.40) in the eighth at Fair Grounds, and Liam’s Map ($4.20) in Gulfstream’s ninth. Starting in the 11th at Fair Grounds, he put together four more winners in a row, with the biggest price being Fighter Squadron ($16.80) in the sixth race at Los Alamitos.

Holmes was well clear of second-place finisher Joel Wincowski ($74.40), of Granville, N.Y. Wincowski was lights out at Los Al. His largest single mutuel was $12.60 to place on Sheer Talent in the sixth at Los Alamitos, and his most significant winner was Good Proof ($10.40) in the previous Los Al race. He hit the last two Los Al contest races cold with Roman Tizzy ($6.80) and Take Charge Brandi ($4.60), securing his Vegas seat.

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Joseph Cucci, of Bloomingdale, Ill., built a score of $72 by playing five winners overall, including Marbre Rose ($8.40) in Gulfstream’s 10 and Fighter Squadron.

Allen Klayman, of Shelbyville, Ky., finished with $71.60 and didn’t have a single winner with a double-digit mutuel. He backed two horses who paid $8.40, Wind Chill Factor and Marbre Rose.

The other three players advancing were John Perrotta ($69.60), of Pasadena, Calif.; Brooks Schuler ($68.80), of Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Michael Warren ($68.40), of Chandler, Ariz.

George Chute of Dedham, Mass., was notably unlucky not to qualify. He missed by just 20 cents despite having Take Charge Brandi in the Starlet. He just needed her to pay one tick more.

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Qualifying action returns to NHCQualify.com on Saturday. Entries cost $165, and up to six NHC spots will awarded. Sign up now.