Updated on 11/24/2016 9:00AM

Contest sire Matties qualifies for NHC


Chick Matties, the most successful sire in National Handicapping Championship history, was among the three players to win their way into the 2017 NHC in Saturday’s headline event on DRF Tournaments. The other qualifiers were overall winner William Roth and Dane Moore, who ran second in the nearly sold-out event which filled 178 of a possible 180 seats.

Roth ($169.80) pretty much blew the field away in the 12-race, live-format contest. He started off with a cap horse, Macagone ($64 win-place combined for contest purposes), in the Artie Schiller Stakes at Aqueduct. He wasn’t done. From there he managed six other collections, running up the score with Gangster ($17.60) in Del Mar’s sixth race.

It’s a truism in contest play that big bombs early are worth more than big bombs late because fewer people are willing to go for them. Moore also demonstrated this by lifting off with Macagone, who represented a big chunk of his $116.40 final total. He also hit Hesinfront ($27) and Big Hit ($25.40) later on.

Matties, whose sons Paul and Duke ran first and fourth respectively at the 2016 NHC, showed his contest savvy by managing to get into qualifying position despite not having the early bomb. He finished with $115, just 20 cents in front of an unlucky Alex DeVito, based on six overall collections, including Hesinfront, Big Hit, and Gangster. He also benefited from the relatively new rule on DRFT allowing alternate picks. When his original pick scratched, he had received $17.20 in critical points from Odyssey Explorer in Del Mar’s fourth, points he wouldn’t have tallied under the old post-time-favorite-for-a-scratch system.

You have to feel awful for DeVito. He was on a six-race collection streak heading to the last and just came up short. He blanked and Matties got just enough back from Gangster to turn him over.

Over in Saturday’s other big event, the feeder for next weekend’s $1,000 Breeders’ Cup contest, n­ine players advanced out of a field of 92. The overall winner was contest impresario Kevin Geraghty ($106.90), a popular figure in the contest wo­­rld, who finished with $106.60 in the nine-race all-in contest where all picks had to be in before the scheduled post time of the first race. Geraghty hit the ground running with Hesinfront ($27) and Big Hit ($25.40) in the contest’s early double, which he extended to a pick three with Wildcat Wish ($17.80). He had three collections in a row again later in the contest to seal the deal.

The other seven players to receive a qualifying spot next weekend were Curtis Meyer ($102.40), Michael Ray ($88), Matthew Ache ($86.80), Anthony Mattera ($85.20), John Kolodzej ($85), Edward Reidy ($75), Sally Goodall ($71.20). Meyer also finished ninth ($70.20 on that entry) to give himself two shots next weekend.

On Sunday, Donald Gambill won his $2,500 entry to the Gulfstream Conquer the Crown content, along with $500 in travel. His score of $45.60 was awfully low, even when you consider that it was only a nine-race sequence due to Aqueduct’s cancellation because of high winds (current DRFT rules require 75 percent of the races in a contest to remain for it to be official). That meant Gambill’s starting bankroll was just $36. One typically expects 2.5 times the initial bankroll to get you pretty close in a mythical-money tournament. But players scores are limited by the horses who come in, and on a chalky day over just nine races, 1.25 times the bankroll can be enough. Gambill’s prize isn’t worth any less. He had six collections, the largest of which was Equation ($15.80) in Churchill’s ninth race.

Next weekend’s featured events are the $1,000 buy-in BCQualify event, the final qualifier for Conquer the Crown, and an NHCQualify contest as well. DRFT will be running feeders for all three, as well as credit builders and match-up contests Wednesday and Friday this week. There are no contests for Thanksgiving.

A previous version of this article misindentified one of the qualifiers for the National Handicapping Championship. It was Chick Matties, not his son Paul Matties, the 2016b NHC winner.