02/13/2017 1:20PM

Fornatale: Turner earns spot in Del Mar Handicapping Challenge

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Steve Turner had a weekend to remember on DRF Tournaments. He won a seat worth $7,000 to the July Del Mar Handicapping Challenge plus $500 for travel by posting a score of $91.90 in a qualifier, more than $17 clear of second-place finisher Brian Johnson.

Turner collected points in seven of the 12 contest races. After missing in the first, he went on a tear, cashing in four of the next five races with scores of $26.40, $17, $14.40, and $12.40. Later, in the penultimate contest event, he put things away with Star Contender ($14.20 win-place combined) in Gulfstream’s 12th race.

Last Saturday also saw two players win into the Wynn Challenge, another of the summer’s most prestigious contests. Veteran player George Chute took top honors; he cashed in 10 of the 12 races. His biggest price came in Tampa’s ninth, the fifth contest event, with $14.40 from Inspector Lynley in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay. That was the first of a remarkable eight collections in a row to close out the sequence in style with a total of $92.70.

Eric Liebmann will also be going to the Wynn contest. He did his damage early on with scores in four of the first five races. His biggest price came in the second contest event with Tapa Tapa Tapa ($26.40), who upset the highly touted Elate in a first-level allowance at Tampa. Two races later, he connected with Dickinson ($17) in the Suwannee River, followed by Inspector Lynley. He needed points from Over Achiever in Santa Anita’s sixth race to improve his total to $87.60, enabling him to just hold off the hard-charging Robert Crowe and David Snyder.

On Sunday, the Horse Player World Series took center stage with three players winning their $1,500 entries out of an all-in-format event. The HPWS takes place March 30 to April 1, and a purse of $1 million is expected, based on 750 entries.

Howard Johnson ($105.40) was best, buoyed by three big collections, with two smaller scores to back them up. He hit with Incoming ($36.60) in Oaklawn’s fourth to close out the first third of the contest and closed things out with Miss Sunset ($20.60) in Santa Anita’s fifth and Someday Soon ($27.60) in Oaklawn’s eighth. In a live-format contest, he might have been accused of playing those price horses at least in part because of where he was in the standings, but in an all-in format, you know that those were just the horses he liked from the get-go.

Robert Losier ran second, and he did Johnson one better, closing out the contest with three straight winners, adding Dramatic Entry ($16.20) at Tampa to Miss Sunset and Someday Soon. He ended up with $97.20 and a shot at big money at the HPWS.

Third-place finisher Randy Bauer [http://www.drf.com/blogs/fornatale-bauer-goes-nhc-high] is well known in contest circles. Just a few weeks removed from a second straight semifinal appearance at the National Handicapping Championship, Bauer will be back in Vegas at the end of March. He got to his total of $96.60 largely on the strength of Incoming and Someday Soon, with four other collections mixed in.

Contest action returns to DRF Tournaments on Wednesday with feeders for six important tournaments. In addition to the three mentioned above, DRFT offers players a chance to win into the Ultimate Betting Challenge at Gulfstream and Santa Anita in March, Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble in April, and Monmouth’s Pick Your Prize contest in June.

For more information, check out tournaments.drf.com.