04/06/2015 3:10PM

Fornatale: Stiles wins 14th NHC spot


It was a wild and woolly weekend of contest action from coast to coast. The biggest story happened right here in the DRF universe of contests with Trey Stiles becoming the second 14-time National Handicapping Championship qualifier, joining Paul Shurman, who accomplished the feat last month. Stiles finished fourth on Saturday on NHCQualify.com. Sally Goodall is expected to join their elite club when she qualifies later this year as she will surely do.

The overall contest winner was Mark Rudy, followed by Robert Engelhard; the other “Mark R.” on the leaderboard, Marc Racenstein; and Stiles. By the way, Racenstein might just be the best-named contest player out there. If he were to win the NHC, he could be horse racing’s answer to poker champion Chris Moneymaker.

Not surprisingly, the most important horse to have in the contest was the longshot in the anchor leg, Spirit of Xian, who paid $35.60 in Santa Anita’s ninth. All four qualifiers had the horse. Before the mythical contest bashers descend from the hills with lanterns and pitchforks, however, please note the score the top four finishers already needed to have going into the last – at least $96.10.

Two placings, and seats, for McGuire

Over on DRFBets.com, two players won their way into the NHC in a very different format than the typical all-mandatory, 12-race $2 win-place one used online. Players had to make 10 $10 win bets across three tracks. Robert “Bobby” Weir was the overall winner with respected tournament veteran Mark McGuire checking in second.

That wasn’t McGuire’s only second-place finish – or NHC seat – on Saturday. He was playing out at Surfside in Del Mar in their NHC qualifier as well, and was leading most of the day – until an old friend dealt him a blow in the Santa Anita nightcap.

Brent Sumja exploded on the contest scene two years ago at Surfside. In three Surfside-run contests on a given weekend Sumja finished with two firsts and a second on his way to winning the NHC Tour that year. On Saturday, he was down to his last $64 and he bet it all in the last race – on a straight trifecta.

“I always knew that in the last I was going to use Talco and Winning Style in the first two spots but was torn between Pure Tactics and Enterprising for the third spot,” Sumja said. “I toiled for 20 minutes, no kidding, still had nothing. I walked up to the machine and decided to go with my gut, 6-4-7.”

Talco, Winning Style, and Pure Tactics crossed the line in that order for a tri that paid $50.60 for a buck, and he had it 64 times!

Tyger Tyger, burning bright

William Blake, a 23-year-old TV producer from Albany, N.Y., got the win in Saturday’s DRFQualify.com [live link] contest on Saturday, winning his $4,000 entry to the May Santa Anita Betting Challenge. Blake also won his way in to the March Santa Anita contest, where he met and became friendly with Jonathon Kinchen. Kinchen was the longtime leader on DRFQualify on Saturday.

Kinchen appeared in trouble when Spirit of Xian won, but amazingly, no one besides Blake in the top 15 played the Mandella filly and so he desperately hung on for a seat at Santa Anita too. After the contest Blake called Kinchen. “I just want you to know I wasn’t stabbing,” he told him, “I really liked the filly.”

Kinchen responded, “I know you weren’t stabbing, but even if you were, that’s fine. It’s all part of the game.”




Rank Name Score
1 Garrett Skiba $3,506.25
2 David Abrams  $1,794.40
3 Michael Rusovick  $1,365.00
4 Jim Benes  $1,296.00
5 Trey Stiles  $1,131.90

Top two receive NHC seats. Scores based off a $200 live bankroll that could be bet on any wager at any simulcast track.


Rank Name score Winnings  
1 Shawn Turner $186.60 1NHC spot + $3,000 in cash
2 Glenn Yee $129.80 1NHC spot + $1,500 in cash
3 Michelle Hartsell $120.20 $750 in cash
4 Steven Stange $113.00 $250 in cash + Alumni bonus $2,500 in cash

Entry fee was $300; $40 to wager $2 win-place; on 10 races at GP or SA.



Rank Name (Entry #) Total
1 Mark Rudy $170.20
2 Robert Engelhard $169.80
3 Marc Racenstein $149.00
4 Trey Stiles $146.10

All four win seats to the NHC plus a travel allowance.


Robert Weir $920.50
Mark Mcguire $638.50
Nicholas Alpino $298.00
Pete Sluis $270.00
Richard Seidl $264.00

The top two win seats to the NHC plus a travel allowance


Rank Name Total
1 William Blake $139.80
2 Jonathon Kinchen $131.20

Both win seats to the $4,000 May Santa Anita Betting Challenge, where the expected value of the total prize pool is expected to be over $100,000


Rank Name Total Prize
1. Brent Sumja $3,239.00 1NHC spot + $3,000 + $2500 Alumni bonus
2. Mark McGuire $1691.00 1NHC spot +$1,500 in cash
3. Ryan Flanders $1255.00 $750 in cash
4. Craig Kaufman $1012.00 $250 in cash

Entry Fee was $300; $200 to wager win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta; five races minimum from GP and SA.


1 Tom Cooper $5,088
2 Timothy Jacobs $4,844
3 Frank Mustari $4,457
4 Jay Parker $3,410

Starting bankroll was $400, all wagers at all simulcast tracks were available. Top four win NHC seats.



Rank Name Scores Prize
1. James Henry $119.20 1 NHC spot + $3,000 in cash
2. Michael Marlaire $89.00 1 NHC spot + $1,500 in cash
3. Matthew Rentze $76.60 $750 in cash
4. Craig Kaufman $67.20 $250 in cash + $2,500 alumni bonus

Entry Fee: was $300; $40 to wager $2win/place on ten races from GP or SA