02/04/2015 9:43AM

Fornatale: Witt keeps picking winners on Publichandicapper.com


Charley Witt, aka “charley” on Publichandicapper.com, has won the Winter of Our Discontent Holiday Handicap, a free, nine-week contest on Publichandicapper.com that concluded last weekend. Witt will receive $500 and a three-month subscription to DRF Formulator past performances.

“I loved the four races that they had on Saturday, especially the two-mile turf race, the Allen Jerkens,” said Witt. “Between that and the Las Virgenes at Santa Anita, those were my two bets of the day.”

Witt cashed in both, getting back $5.40 for Unitarian in the Jerkens and $7.20 for Callback in the Las Virgenes. In the end, it was just enough for him to prevail in a seesaw battle with “larryskyblue.”

Witt topped a record field of 2,864 for the winter contest, one of three contests regularly offered throughout the year on the site. The Public Handicapper Prep begins this weekend. And the main contest, the Public Handicapper Challenge, with two National Handicapping Championship seats on the line, starts Kentucky Oaks Day and runs through the Breeders’ Cup.

Over the nine-week span, Witt picked an impressive 12 of 36 winners for a score of $92.60. Unlike many contests, on Publichandicapper.com, losing bets cost players $2. Winning mutuels are simply added to one’s score. The contest consists of four races a week, and players make $2 win bets only.

Witt is a dyed-in-the-wool Daily Racing Form reader. “I pick my horses solely from the Racing Form – it’s all I need,” he said. “I’ve been reading Racing Forms for 50 years, since I was 13 years old. My folks used to go to the tracks in Chicago, both harness and Thoroughbreds.”

One of the things Witt likes about the Publichandicapper.com contests is the quality of the races on offer. “Getting these good races on the weekend means that these crazy bombs are less likely to come in,” Witt said. “I’m not looking to play the chalk necessarily, but there are lots of throw-outs.”

Witt is no stranger to contest success. His home track is Turf Paradise, and Witt won an event there in December 2003, taking home $22,560. But his biggest win came in 2014 in his native Chicago.

Back in October, he strafed the field in the Hawthorne Betting Challenge, crushing the trifecta in the Grade 3 Woodford Stakes at Keeneland on both his entries. On one ticket, he collected more than $7,000, and on the other, he got back more than $14,000. The other contestants never knew what hit them, and Witt ended up running first and second.

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His “bad” ticket ended up with $7,841, nearly twice as much as the third-place finisher. It was a remarkable return given that the starting bankroll was just $350. For his efforts, Witt received two entries to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, though he had to transfer one of them, according to BCBC rules.

“I said to myself before the contest, ‘If I really like something, I’m going to play it on both entries,’ ” he said. “And that’s what I did. I keyed the favorite over two longshots, and my 50-1 shot only lost the race by half a length.”

Witt’s been to the NHC five times, though he didn’t play in the 2015 running. But if he keeps picking winners like he did during the Publichandicapper.com winter contest, it’s a near certainty that he’ll be back out in Las Vegas come January.