08/21/2017 11:50AM

‘Pick three' catapults Vasquez into WCH


Rick Vasquez and Paul Scott are the latest qualifiers to Daily Racing Form’s World Championship of Handicapping. The WCH is an online contest with a $1 million purse and no takeout to be held in early 2018.

In Saturday’s Grade 1 qualifier, Vasquez was the runaway leader in the field of 28. He finished with a score $158.50 via three straight winners in the second quarter of the 12-race event. The run started with the Steve Asmussen-trained first-time starter Pure Shot ($61.40 win-place combined) in a hot-looking maiden at Saratoga. From there, he connected with Race Me Home ($37.40) and Chastise ($59.40) in consecutive races at the Spa. The $2 pick three connecting his three winners was an incredible $14,788.

Scott, an experienced online tournament player, built his score of $114.10 through five collections. His best price was Chastise, but he needed Calvert Street ($28.60) at Del Mar to get him into the safety zone for qualification.

Nick Fazzolari, recent winner of the Wynn Handicapping Challenge, was unlucky not to get a WCH seat. He was third, less than $2 behind Scott, but he does recoup $1,600 in site credits along with fourth-place finisher Andrew Shaginaw.

Also on Saturday, Ernest Hey Jr. just edged out Nick Tammaro in a qualifier for the Keeneland Handicapping Challenge this fall. Hey finished with $66.30. He got off to a good start at Saratoga with place points on Mills ($4) and a winner in Honorable Treasure ($13.60). His biggest cash came courtesy of Race Me Home, and he followed that with $11 from Bucky Goldstein at Del Mar. Had Speighgal, who paid $9.90 to place in the last at the Spa, paid 70 cents more, Tammaro would have won the Keeneland spot.

Saturday’s final qualifier saw two players win into next Saturday’s Monmouth Super Qualifier. Frank Foss ($105.70) and Joseph Lindemann ($89.60) won top honors. Then on Sunday, in the final chance to win spots for Monmouth, John Verdin ($83.40) and George Bosch ($79.60) won their seats. The Monmouth Super Qualifier is a $500 buy-in live-bankroll contest that takes place at Monmouth Park.

Sunday’s other tournament highlight was David Nelson winning a seat to the Keeneland Challenge. He put up a score of $90.40, thanks to nine different collections in the 12-race sequence, that put him $19 clear of second in the 10-runner event. His biggest cash came courtesy of Hawks Peak ($19) in Del Mar’s third.

Tournament action returns to DRFT on Wednesday. The featured event next weekend will be another Grade 1 qualifier for the WCH. Players can either purchase directly for $580, with 1 in 10 winning their $5,000 buy-ins to the $1 million, no-takeout finals, or players can win into the Grade 1 out of first-round contests that cost $95 and advance 1 in 7. Lower bankroll players can feed into the Round 1’s for as little as $11.

There also will be opportunities to play toward Woodbine, Keeneland, and Santa Anita contests. For a full list of all the contests happening on DRF Tournaments, check out tournaments.drf.com. Events are typically listed 48 hours in advance.