07/24/2017 12:36PM

Gianforte makes big middle move for Del Mar


Pat Gianforte was the big winner on DRF Tournaments on Saturday with a win in the last-chance qualifier for the two-day Del Mar Handicapping Challenge. Gianforte wins his $7,000 seat to this weekend’s live-bankroll event plus $500 in travel.

One-third of the way through the 12-race contest, things were looking bleak for the tournament vet, as he was sitting on zero. But from there, he caught fire, cashing in six consecutive races before cooling off and going into protection mode. His longest price came courtesy of Firenze Fire ($37.40) in Saratoga’s ninth. He followed that up with An Ocala Ten ($23.40) in Del Mar’s third.

Also on Saturday, David Watts ($64.70) won his way into the Wynn Handicapping Challenge, a mythical-money event Aug. 4-5 at the Wynn Las Vegas. Watts has been enjoying a breakout year in tournaments and is a player to watch whenever he purchases an entry.

Congrats are also due to Nick Masesso, who won a Wynn seat on Friday in a special all-Saratoga DRFT contest with a total of $91.90, double the second-place finisher in the 10-person event.

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On Sunday, Wesley Burks ($94.30) and Christopher Inman ($92.70) won into the Wynn Challenge in a $108 buy-in event that attracted a full field of 54.

Burks collected points in five of the contest’s 12 races, including Ginger N Rye ($34) in Saratoga’s ninth race. Later in the day, he hit back-to-back races at Del Mar to put him on top: 2-1 favorite Patentar ($10.40) in the fifth and 7-2 Secret Touch ($16.60) in the sixth.

Inman’s biggest hit also came with Ginger N Rye, and he also connected with Tainted Angel ($19.30) in Saratoga’s seventh and Major Force ($21.80) in the Spa nightcap. But the real key to the contest for him was the place mutuel he got back for Lull in the anchor leg, Del Mar’s seventh. That $4.20 was just enough to push him ahead of unlucky third-place finisher – and 2016 Horse Player World Series champ – Dan Kaplan, who ended up with $92.90.

Tournament action returns to DRFT on Wednesday. The featured contest this weekend is a Grade 1 qualifier for the World Championship of Handicapping. The WCH is a $5,000 online contest with a purse of $1 million and no takeout in its finals. For $580, players can purchase a spot for the Grade 1, where one in 10 will win their $5,000 entries for the WCH. Alternatively, players can participate in first-round contests for $95 on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday, where one in seven will advance to Saturday’s Grade 1.

On Sunday, players will have an opportunity to win into the Saratoga Handicapping Challenge on Aug. 9-10. There will be feeders for that $108 buy-in contest from Wednesday through Saturday.

For a list of everything happening at DRFT, go to tournaments.drf.com.