07/25/2016 12:56PM

Harrod wielding a hot hand in contests

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Things are clicking right now for Shea Harrod. Last weekend in a BCQualify event on DRF Tournaments, Harrod won his $2,500 buy-in for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge by finishing third. He’ll still have to provide his $7,500 bankroll for the prestigious handicapping event.

On Sunday, he upped the ante, finishing first in an NHCQualify event and winning his way into the National Handicapping Championship. His previous best finish in an NHC Tour event this year was a seventh in an NHCQualify contest in April.

Harrod ($163.40) collected points in six of the 12 contest races Sunday, with the biggest hit being Derby Champagne in Saratoga’s nightcap, the penultimate contest event. Derby Champagne had to survive an inquiry after rubbing shoulders with third-place finisher Yowl in deep stretch, but when his number stopped blinking, he returned $60 to win and $27.80 to place. For tournament purposes, those prices were limited to $42 and $22.

In the contest’s anchor leg, Harrod ran up the score with Big Score, the 8-1 winner of Del Mar’s fifth race. He qualified by $32.10, so he didn’t even really need the extra $26.20. Big Score proved critical for second-place finisher Michael Tomatz ($142.40), however. Tomatz earned his second NHC qualification for 2017 on the back of five collections after getting nothing in the first five races.

Also qualifying for the NHC was William Holmes ($131.30). Holmes also had Big Score, but his biggest hit came with Gap Year ($61.60) in Saratoga’s ninth. None of the three qualifiers used Songbird in the Coaching Club American Oaks. Had the field been more tightly bunched at the end, they may have regretted that. Holmes did collect $2.30 in place points on Carina Mia. In a cruel twist, had fourth-place finisher Stephen Diaz used Songbird, he’d have gotten the bob over Holmes.

Robinson scores at Del Mar

There was a fantastic finish at the Del Mar Handicapping Challenge over the weekend. Ed Robinson won the two-day live-bankroll event by building his $5,000 starting bankroll to more than $21,334. Robinson’s big race was Del Mar’s eighth, where he cashed for more than $13,000 on the exacta and trifecta.

In addition to his bankroll, he gets $75,000, including seats to the BCBC and NHC. Robinson also is eligible for a $1 million bonus should he win the BCBC, joining recent Santa Anita contest winners Vic Stauffer and Hesham Ragab for a shot at a seven-figure score. The winner of Santa Anita’s Autumn Championship also will play for the BCBC bonus.

Robinson nipped Charlie Davis ($21,305), a professional player who made a deep run at the 2016 NHC, by a mere $29. “It was the sickest I’ve ever felt on a day I won this much,” Davis quipped on Twitter.

The top eight finishers receive NHC spots, and the top five also get their BCBC seats. Here are the rest of the top eight: Dennis Decauwer ($18,840.70), Ray Arsenault ($17,646), Joe Masino ($16,460), Roger McDow ($14,117), Brian Chenvert ($12,500), and Day 1 leader Matt Baiungo ($11,164).

Crist on Players’ Podcast

On this week’s DRF Players’ Podcast, we’ll be joined by special guest Steven Crist. Crist, who announced his retirement from DRF last week, is an influential figure in the world of handicapping contests in addition to his many other achievements. You can find a link to the conversation once it is posted at www.drf.com/blogs/341840.