06/30/2016 2:10PM

Cettina rides credit builder to BCBC spot


On Sunday, he got his season back on track with a qualification for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, the world’s most important live-bankroll contest, on the DRF Tournaments website. Cettina funded his entry with money he won in a credit builder on DRF Tournaments.

One of the secrets to Cettina’s success is that he doesn’t just decide to play in a contest randomly. “I always look at the races first to see if it makes sense for me to play,” he said, “and when I looked at Sunday, I thought most of the races looked good, so I decided to take a shot.”

Cettina chose to play two entries in the contest. His typical approach to playing two entries is pretty common. He splits his tickets early, and once he has a hit on one, he’ll focus his strongest opinions on his “good” ticket and play longshots on the other.

This nearly bit him Sunday because of Greengrssofyoming, a 5-1 shot he loved. He played the horse only on his better ticket when he probably should have played him on both. Shortly thereafter, a longer price won at Santa Anita, his other ticket became his “good” ticket, and he was perfectly split. “I’ll usually play a bomb I like on both tickets,” he said, “but I’m really glad it didn’t come back to bite me.”

Another strong opinion later on the card helped put him over the top: Louisville First at Belmont. “I’m a big proponent of when 3-year-olds race against older horses earlier in the year and then they drop back in against their own generation,” he said. “I think it gives them a good leg up because I think that the older horses still have an advantage at this time of the year.”

He got another little piece at Santa Anita and was in qualifying position heading into the anchor leg. “There were two horses I really liked, but I decided to stick to my guns and go with the longer price,” said Cettina, who abhors betting favorites. “Having two scratches may have actually helped me because the favorite’s price dropped so low.”

In the end, the favorite won, but because of the aforementioned price drop, no one else in position to pass Cettina used the horse, and now he’s headed back to the BCBC. “I was happy to see nobody passed me in the last leg, so that was good,” he said.

Cettina has played in the BCBC a few times, but last year was the first time he had a good showing. “I hit Mongolian Saturday and ran my bankroll up to $31,000,” he said. “I got cold after that and ended up with $15,000.”

Cettina recognizes that live-bankroll contests are a whole different animal than the NHC and the mythical online formats where he has excelled. “The live-money contests are so much different, and I don’t have as much experience as some other players,” he said. “The guy who won at Santa Anita over the weekend [Hasham Ragab] said it right. He called himself a gambler, not a horseplayer.

“It’s not in my nature to bet $5,000 on a horse at 2-1,” he said. “Could I bet $2,500 to win and place on a 10-1? That I could do.”

He had two nice-priced winners at the BCBC last year, and after each he asked himself the same question: “Why didn’t I bet more?”

Despite the learning curve, Cettina loves the contest. “The Breeders’ Cup has always been great, and the Breeders’ Cup contest is great because of the quality of the racing,” he said. “How many times do you see a 12-horse field with seven or eight trainers who win 20 percent? You have the best of everything, so somebody has to be a good price.”

Cettina plans to play in the BCBC at a simulcast location. His parents live in Florida, so he and his friend Frank Sorensen plan to head down to Gulfstream.

Saturday preview

There are seven contests at DRF Tournaments on Saturday using a mix of live and all-in formats.

The main event is a qualifier for the BCBC. It costs $190, and up to two $10,000 BCBC entries will be won. There’s also a BCBC feeder for the July 9 qualifier that costs just $25. The top 10 percent will advance.

There are two NHC feeders. Both cost $26, one is live and the other all in.

There are two credit builders, both all in. One costs $21 and will award $1,008 in credit to the top five finishers. The other is a winner-take-all that costs $15 and pays out $150.

Lastly, there is a $21 feeder where players can win into the July 3 qualifier for the Santa Anita Autumn Championship.

Here are the races (all times Eastern):

4:09 Belmont 6

4:26 Gulfstream 9

4:30 Santa Anita 1

4:41 Belmont 7

4:58 Gulfstream 10

5:00 Santa Anita 2

5:13 Belmont 8

5:30 Gulfstream 11

5:45 Belmont 9

6:00 Santa Anita 4

6:02 Gulfstream 12

6:17 Belmont 10