08/10/2015 7:29AM

Fornatale: Three win return trips to NHC


On Sunday, three contest players won their way back into the National Handicapping Championship. The field of 106 players was topped by Allan Schaffer, who has played in the NHC several times.

Schaffer, who lives in Toronto, collected points in only four races. Two of them were short place prices. The other two were Majestic Minister ($19 to win) in Del Mar's first and the lone cap horse in the sequence, Expected Ruler in Monmouth's 11th. Expected Ruler paid $96.60 on the tote, but that was limited to $42 for contest purposes. With the overall scores being very low, those winners were enough for the win.

Second-place finisher David Nelson will be making his sixth straight appearance at the NHC. The Exton, Pa, resident finished with $92.10 on Sunday. He did not have Expected Ruler but made up for that by cashing in nine of the 12 races. He had four of the first five winners, all at low prices, and then struck later on with Jersey Joe C ($11.80) in Monmouth's 12th and Greywalls ($21.60) in Saratoga's 10th.

William Holmes’s path to qualification was more like Schaffer's than Nelson's. Holmes, now a three-time NHC qualifier, scored in four races. He had Expected Ruler and Jersey Joe C. Holmes once played professional baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ system.

To see the full results, go to http://www.nhcqualify.com/myresults.aspx?ccid=2192&cid=285&ticket=1.

On Saturday on BCQualify.com, 30 players advanced to this month's Round 2 contest, which will be held on Travers Day, Aug. 29. There will be another Round 1 contest held on each of the next two Saturdays. Players finishing in the top 10 percent in Round 1 will advance to Round 2, where up to eight players will win their full $10,000 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge seats.

The overall winner was Steve Tartaglione, who demolished the 300-player field with a score of $162.10 – the next-highest was $124.20. Tartaglione picked winners in half the races, ranging in price from Bella Kateri ($5.30) in the nightcap at Saratoga to Warrensdollarsigns ($24) in Del Mar's second race. Unfortunately for him, there's no extra credit for being the outright winner in this type of contest.

Among the many recognizable names to advance this week were Gary Johnson and McKay Smith. Johnson just collected a $10,000 bonus for finishing in the top five for the first half of the NHC Tour. Likewise, Smith is running very hot right now. Last weekend, he won the Wynn tournament in Las Vegas. Now he's looking to secure a BCBC seat.

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

Also last weekend, Craig Kaufman won his way into the fall Santa Anita Betting Challenge, and Randall Cote secured his entry into the September Gulfstream Park contest. Check out DRFQualify.com for a full schedule of qualifying tournaments.

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