09/04/2017 3:16PM

Holmes, Bowley impressive in qualifying for WCH finals

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John Holmes and Barbara Bowley became the latest tournament players to add their names to the roster of those competing for their share of $1 million at the World Championship of Handicapping.

The WCH, as it is known, is a $1 million, no-takeout online handicapping contest slated to take place early next year. Entries to the finals, which are limited to 200, can be purchased for $5,000, but most players are focused on winning their way in, as Holmes and Taylor did in a DRF Tournaments live qualifier on Saturday

Holmes nearly qualified last weekend when second to Kenneth Taylor. This time around he went one better, finishing with $121.10, a total he built almost entirely in the contest’s first third. He started with Slim Shadey ($11.50 win-place combined) in Saratoga’s fourth. After missing in the second race, he hit with three more in a row: Bourbon Resolution ($15.70) in Saratoga’s sixth, Warrior’s Club ($23.90) in Saratoga’s seventh, and the near-cap horse Red Carpet Cat ($62.80) in Del Mar’s first. From there, he was able to play defensively, covering longshots that might allow others to get into the mix. He collected only one more time, with place points on Grateful ($7.20) in the Glens Falls, but still finished $38.10 clear.

Bowley’s journey to qualification was a little different. She blanked in the first three races before connecting with Warrior’s Reward. Next she got place points from Thais ($3.90) in Saratoga’s eighth, and a crucial $21.80 from Voodoo Song in the Saranac. Two smaller collections after that put her in an enviable position. All she had to do to qualify was be right in the last leg, Del Mar’s sixth, where she selected Brimstoned. When the Unusual Heat gelding just held off 38-1 pacesetter David’s Memory, Bowley was WCH-bound.

On Sunday, tournament veteran Chris Larmey won his seat to the Woodbine Mile Tournament with a final score of $81.20. Larmey held off a double-barreled challenge from Ed Reidy, who finished second and third. Reidy had two shots to catch Larmey in the anchor leg, Del Mar’s fifth, but whiffed. Larmey accrued his bankroll via six collections, the longest of which was Engineers Report ($22.70) in the Saratoga nightcap. The Woodbine contest takes place on Sept. 16 at Woodbine and Larmey is one of several U.S.-based tournament players who will be making the journey north.

Contest action returns to DRF Tournaments later this week. Next weekend’s featured contests include one-day qualifiers for both the Keeneland Challenge and the Santa Anita Autumn Championship. Every operating day this week will also have Round 1 events for the World Championship of Handicapping. One in seven entries from the Round 1 contests will advance to the next Grade 1 WCH qualifier, which takes place Saturday, Sept. 16. From that event, one in 10 entries will win $5,000 entries to the WCH finals.

For more information, go to tournaments.drf.com.