03/19/2016 8:28PM

Fornatale: Gulfstream players one-two in Ultimate Betting Challenge

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We’re halfway through the Ultimate Betting Challenge and so far we have a Gulfstream exacta. Brian Gross of Chicago is in first with $16,474.60 and Will Nefzger of Louisville, Ky. is second with $12,324.

Gross jumped out to an early lead on Day 1, jumping up to more than $17,000 after the seventh at Gulfstream Park when My Wish List won and paid $46 to win and keyed a whopping $1,306.40 exacta with a 40-1 shot. Nefzger was down to a mere $312 at one point but clawed his way back into the mix. After hitting the last, won by 15-1 shot Cardiac, he jumped into second.

Two well-known players from Santa Anita ended the day in third and fourth. Former National Handicapping Championship winner Jose Arias is in third place with $8,632.30 and former NHC Tour champ Mark Streiff is third with $8,186.40.

The rest of the top 10 are: Kevin Jones (Gulfstream, $7,730.50), Ross Gallo (Gulfstream, $6,888.80), Tom Arndt (Santa Anita, $6,500), Richard Mills, (Gulfstream, $6,430), Jim Patterson (Santa Anita, $5,824), and Hesham Ragab (Santa Anita, $5,231.60).

A total of 128 entries are playing in the Ultimate Betting Challenge - a live-bankroll handicapping contest held at both Gulfstream and Santa Anita. Gulfstream is hosting 54 entries, Santa Anita 74.

The final prize pool totals $192,000, including eight prizes packages to the National Handicapping Championship, and three prize packages to the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge. 

The distribution of the prize packages is a little unusual. Starting with first place, leaders have their choice of an NHC seat or BCBC seat. NHC packages come with a four-night stay at Treasure Island and a $500 travel allowance. BCBC packages include $500 in travel.

The cash will be distributed as follows: $40,000 to first, $20,000 to second, $15,000 to third, $11,000 to fourth, $9,000 to fifth, $8,000 to sixth, $6,400 to seventh, $5,200 to eighth, $4,500 to ninth, and $4,000 to 10th.