01/02/2017 2:28PM

McIntyre hangs on for NHC Tour title

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After a furious weekend of contest activity, Cheryl McIntyre in expected to have hung on as the 2016 National Handicapping Tour champion. As champion, McIntyre will receive $75,000 and a shot at a $2 million bonus at the NHC later this month in Las Vegas. The results are still unofficial, pending a 48-hour audit, and will be announced by Thursday, along with the rest of the tour money finishers, the second-half winners, as well as the rookie and Cyberstars champions.

We do know that seven players won their way into the NHC in the last online points event on DRF Tournaments on Saturday. The overall winner was double-qualified Joseph Costello, who finished with $152.20. He managed four collections in the 12-race contests but they included two worth north of $60 in Paige ($60.40) in Gulfstream’s ninth and Ultra Brat ($64) in Gulfstream’s 11th.

The other double-qualifiers to land in qualifying position, thus helping them with their tour positioning were Bob Gilbert, Rick Broth, and the white-hot Joe Pettit. We will learn later this week how much they each helped their causes. It appears likely that Broth may receive enough points to pass Tony Zhou for second in the overall tour standings, a potential $5,000 swing (second gets $25,000; third $20,000).

Seven players won NHC berths in Saturday’s contest, led by second-place finisher Peter Osella ($151.40). This is Osella’s first seat for the 2017 NHC and it came courtesy of six collections, including four in the final six races. His biggest price was Warren’s Super Cat ($50.80) in Santa Anita’s sixth. He still needed the next winner at Santa Anita, Dead Easy ($39.80), to secure his spot.

Zach McLeod ($146.80) also earned his first spot for 2017. His biggest price was the winner of Tampa’s 10th, El Cachaco, who paid just $0.20 short of the full $64 cap price.

Gloria Kahlden ($144.40) ran fifth, good enough for a seat. She had five collections including Warren’s Super Cat and Dead Easy.

Another first-time qualifier for 2017, Craig Spencer, ended up with $143.40. He got place cap points to start the contest off right with Always Thinking, and also connected with Ultra Brat and Dead Easy.

Andrea Avila continued the parade of first-time qualifiers with a score of $128.20. She had seven collections overall the longest of which was El Cachaco.

The El Cachaco–Ultra Brat double was enough to send Robert Schwartz to the NHC. Those were his only two collections in the sequence but they combined to return $127.80.

Perhaps the best story in the bunch belongs to 11th-place finisher Stephanie Davis. Davis had qualified for the NHC nine times previously but it was beginning to look like she might miss out on the 2017 event. She will be headed back to Vegas, however, after El Cachaco, Warren’s Super Cat and Sheer Flattery ($12.20) connected for her.

On Sunday, Edward Peters ($113) and David Wilganowski ($104.80) won their $10,000 buy-ins to the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. Little Cherie ($30.60) was on each man’s ticket.

Also on Sunday, 15 players won a $21 entry to a Wednesday feeder in a free contest. Over 1,300 players signed up to participate. If you missed your chance to play, don't worry. There will be more low buy-in and free contests throughout 2017 on DRF Tournaments.

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The tour season is in the books but there are still plenty of opportunities to qualify for the NHC on the DRF Tournaments website. Go to tournaments.drf.com to check out the full schedule, including feeders and credit builders that allow you start your journey to the $2.5 million NHC for as little as $21. There will be two NHC contests next weekend.