10/12/2015 12:46PM

Fornatale: Trezza has 20-20 handicapping vision in NHCQ win


Anthony Trezza bested a field of 192 players on NHCQualify.com on Sunday to earn a seat to the National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Trezza, who finished with $124.70, is a Brooklyn-born eyecare professional. He collected in six of the 12 contest races, picking five winners ranging in price from $6 to the odds-cap of $42.

His big winner was cap horse Shaken Not Stirred, who proved to be more than just a hunch bet for James Bond fans, winning at first asking for Bill Mott and returning $46 to win on the tote. Shaken Not Stirred was also mentioned as a live longshot on DRF.com by tournament player Joe Koury, marking it the second weekend in a row a key contest bomb was identified as a potential play on the DRF Tournaments blog.

Joining Trezza in Vegas will be John Ferraro and Jeff Arthur, both of whom managed to qualify without backing the longest-priced winner in the sequence. That’s not something you see every week.

Ferraro collected in four of the first five races to get into good position. From there, he hit with Towering Moon ($28.80) at Belmont. He needed a winner in the anchor leg and he found one in Sweet as a Rose, whose $18.60 win-place combined gave him $119.80, good enough for second place. Without that winner, he’d had a great bad-beat story but fallen $0.40 short.

The story was similar for Arthur in that a hot start was the key to his success. He did even better out of the gate, however, hitting the first three winners cold and cashing in each of the contest’s first six legs. He topped up late with Whatawonderfulworld ($10.40 to win) at Belmont and shortie Ladies Man ($3.80) at Santa Anita. Things got scary at the end as eventual fourth-place finisher John Kolodzej appeared to be drawing live with Sweet as a Rose, but in the end her combined win and place pay was $1.40 short of what he needed. Arthur held third with $103.

On Saturday over at BCQualify.com, the final five online qualifiers for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge won their full $10,000 buy-ins plus a travel allowance for that event. Overall winner Steve Jaffe ($133.50) chipped away early, with two short-winners and a place collection through the first half of the contest. He got a couple of prices later on including a mid-card stakes double, with Messi ($10.20) in the Knickerbocker at Belmont and Her Emmynency ($40) in the QEII at Keeneland. He still needed Stays in Vegas ($17.40) in the anchor leg, to secure his spot at Keeneland while topping the field of 342.

The other qualifiers were Tim Gasaway ($125.40), David Nelson ($122.10), Francisco Palacios ($118), and John Fisher ($117). The common link for all four was Her Emmynency. Gasaway and Nelson needed Stays in Vegas in the last, but Palacios and Fisher had done well enough throughout – each picking up multiple shorter-priced winners – that they were able to hang on to their spots despite not having the last winner.

Speaking of Fisher, he and Todd Cady won the final two qualifying spots for next weekend’s Santa Anita Autumn Championship contest on DRFQualify.com over Saturday and Sunday in two separate events. Players can still buy in for $4,000 for the live-bank contest. Of that money, $1,000 goes to the prize pool and the remaining $3,000 will act as a real-money bankroll, all of which can be invested at any time. At the contest’s end, players may keep any unused portion of their bankrolls. The prize pool is expected to be slanted toward Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats as it will be the final opportunity to qualify for that event.