12/05/2016 1:19PM

Double-qualifiers leave the door open

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Peter Dresens won Saturday’s NHC qualifier outright on DRF Tournaments on Saturday with a score of $118. The good news for the other players in the tournament is that Dressens was playing for NHC Tour points only as he’s already double-qualified. That means George Bosch ($91.60), Louis Licata ($88.80), and Wendy Long ($78.40) will advance to the NHC finals out of the 123-entry event.

Dresens, a 56-year old anesthesiologist who lives in north central Massachusetts, was already atop the standings on the NHC Tour rookie leaderboard. He now seems to have a stranglehold on the top spot, though longtime second-place contestant Daniel Zaretsky can’t be ruled out just yet. The winner of the rookie tour gets a $5,000 bonus, second $4,000, third $3,000, fourth $2,000, and fifth $1,000.

He was in an enviable spot with two races left to go in the tournament, up $30 and able to use his picks to try to block others because he already had the protection of the lower-priced runners. He happily watched Vale Dori and Annals of Time win, knowing he was home free. “Hopefully this clinches the rookie tour for me,” he said.

Dresens also has a big shot to finish in the top 40 overall on the tour, where he can earn a shot at the tournament-within-a-tournament at the NHC and a $25,000 bonus. He can still up his total significantly by adding a live score in one of the few remaining on-site NHC qualifiers this year.

A run at the NHCQ/Cyberstars bonus is also a possibility for Dressens. The NHC Tour member accumulating the highest number of NHC Tour points in 2016 via NHCQualify contests will receive $10,000 and be eligible to receive a $1 million bonus if she or he also wins NHC 18 in January. The second through fifth finishers will also receive prize money, from $6,000 down to $2,000. Updated standings for all tour contests should be out later this week.

On Sunday, Long topped a sold field of 210 entries with a score of $121.40. Long, 58, is a former sportswriter for the Vancouver Sun. She was already double-qualified, thanks to that fourth in Saturday’s NHCQ event, and was playing for tour points only. Long is in good position to participate in the Top 40 tournament and has a great shot at finishing in top five for the second half of the tour as well. The top five finishers for the second half each receive a $10,000 bonus. Long collected in eight of the 12 contests events, the longest-priced of which was Whip N Nay Nay ($42.60 win-place combined) with Da Wildcat Girl ($39.40) not far behind.

The three qualifiers from the Sunday contest were Robert Crowe ($115.40), George Nixon ($113.40), and fifth-place finisher Steve Turner ($104.20), all getting their first NHC qualifications for 2017.

Bob Gilbert ($105.20), also already double-qualified for the NHC, was third in the event. He was 23rd on the overall tour heading into the weekend and third in the Cyberstars contest. He has very much solidified his position in both events.

Gilbert was also active in a BCQualify contest on Sunday on DRF Tournaments. He played a very similar card to the NHC contest, with his first nine selections being identical. From there he mixed things up, catching extra points on Pachamanca ($9.80) in Gulfstream’s 11th for a final score of $115 and a Breeders’ Cup seat for 2017. It was a great day for the 65-year old retiree from Yardley, Pa., who served in the Air Force and was a high school teacher for many years.