11/25/2014 1:00PM

Fornatale: Shurman scores in BCBC lid-lifter


A familiar name became the first qualifier to the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as 2011 NHC Tour champ Paul Shurman bested all his competition with $96. Shurman originally planned to play in both the BCQualify.com contest and the NHCQualify.com contest on Saturday but the latter sold out before he purchased.

Instead, Shurman decided to play in another online event where he went on to win the $8,000 first prize instead. Shurman, ever philosophical, still wasn’t upset about getting shut out. “I don’t know how that might have affected how I played the BCQ contest,” he said. “It’s possible it would have changed how I played for the worse.”

Shurman’s general approach to “multi-tabling” – playing multiple contests at once – is to play his strongest opinions across all contests and reach for different price horses where his opinion isn’t as strong. “It was just one of those days for me,” he explained. “In three races I split my picks and my two horses hit the exacta, all for large amounts. I didn’t have a penny on any of the exactas though I realize I’m not really in a position to complain.”

Shurman attributes the specific run of the races in question to his dominating efforts. “Sometimes the races fit you. These races fit me. They were full of angles that I like to play.”

Going into the last BCQ race, Del Mar’s third, the pack was tight. Shurman had initially liked a horse whose price was greater than he theoretically needed at that point, so he briefly considered playing defensively and going with a lower price. In the end, he stuck with his gut. “You’ve got to play the horses you like,” he explained. “There’s a lot that can happen and you can go crazy if you second guess yourself.”

He went ahead and played Persuasive Paul, who was an easy winner.

“Somebody joked with me, ‘You only played that horse because of the name.’ The truth is, I didn’t even know his name until Trevor Denman said it.”

The same horse put him up by more than a cap horse in his other contest – meaning he could win without making a pick. This situation is known is contest circles as a "Goodall," named after 2008 NHC winner, Richard Goodall, who was up by more than a capper in his championship run.

Shurman was over-the-moon happy about the result. “I’m thrilled,” he said. “This keeps me from having to try to qualify for the BCBC the rest of the year. It’s such a great tournament. I play in it every year.”

Also winning their way into the BCBC in Saturday’s contest were William Sadoo ($89.40) of Central, S.C., and Blaise Brucato ($89.20) of Highland Heights, Oh.

For a full leaderboard, check out: http://www.bcqualify.com/leaderboard.aspx


Over on NHCQualify.com, its sold-out contest sent five players to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. The field was led by Russell Priola of South Wales, N.Y., who finished with $91.

Priola started off slowly, with no points in the first five races, but he didn’t let that stop him. He backed Strike Charmer ($26.60) in Churchill Downs’s ninth. But his real success came late in the game when he hit his own personal rolling Pick Three with Tiz Futurity ($18.80) in Del Mar’s fifth, Sunbean ($3.80) in Delta Downs’s fourth, and Persuasive Paul.