10/03/2016 12:33PM

Meyer goes back-to-back to earn NHC, BCBC spots


Curtis Meyer has been playing like a man possessed. Last weekend, he qualified for a National Handicapping Championship seat on DRF Tournaments. This weekend, he added a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat from a sold-out BCQualify event.

Meyer, 56, has been playing in tournaments since 2011, when he met that year’s NHC winner, John Doyle. Meyer got off to a hot start to his tourney career, winning two contests in a single weekend at Fairplex Parx.

At that point, tournament vet Tom Noone suggested he chance the second-half tour bonus.

"I had no idea what he was talking about,” Meyer said. “I thought it was a joke but went on to finish third on the tour that year behind Mark Streiff.”

Meyer has been going to the tracks of Southern California since he was six years old with his father, Don. “We would even venture down to Agua Caliente,” Meyer said. “Santa Anita and the Fairplex bull ring were always my favorites.”

He’s been to both the NHC and BCBC four times. This time around, he hopes to exorcise some demons from the last Santa Anita Breeders’ Cup. “My wife and I were second with three races left and we were thrilled,” Meyer said. “I made what I thought I was a conservative bet -- $40,000 to show on Shared Belief. Everybody knows what happened after a 30-minute inquiry. The non-takedown of Bayern was the difference of $300,000 in prize money.”

The game-theory aspect of contests is a major part of their appeal to Meyer. “I love contest play because of the additional math involved as you near the wire,” he said. “I play horses that have what I consider the best chance at winning with odds high enough to get me the win.”

His handicapping is nearly all inclusive. “I use pace handicapping, look at race setup, sheets, notes in Formulator, and triple payoffs,” he said before adding in his secret weapon. “I also have a great right handed whip with my form. You will know when I am in the race.”

Meyer finished second on Sunday with $106.90 built on eight collections. Joining Meyer at the BCBC will be overall winner David Mullin ($107.50), third-place finisher Tim Wenzel ($95.50), and fourth-place finisher – and former BCBC champion – Peter Behr ($83.10).

The top three all had Filibustin in Belmont’s sixth, who returned $35.60 win-place combined. Behr got to his total with eight collections also, five of which reached double digits. He needed the $15.80 to place he received from Texas Ryano in the anchor leg to just get up over an unlucky Gordon Larson, who had used Messi in the turf stakes.

Also on Sunday, two players won their way to the NHC on DRF Tournaments. Overall winner Thomas O’Connor ran up the score, finishing with $124.60. He got points in nine of the 12 races, including collections in the last six races.

Second-place finisher Henry Uffmann ($86)also gets a seat – by a mere 10 cents. He got there without the benefit of Filibustin. Instead, he collected in an impressive 10 races, the last eight in a row. He needed every last bit of the Texas Ryano place money. If you have a heart, you feel for bad for Peter Deys ($85.90). He went with Ralis, a longshot, in the anchor leg. Ralis made a little move in the stretch but was outfinished. Buddy can you spare a dime indeed. For his trouble, Deys gets $600 in site credit.

On Saturday, in the final online qualifier for the Santa Anta Autumn Championship, William Wolf ($113.70) narrowly got the win over feared live-bankroll specialist Damian Roncevich ($112.90). In the end Roncevich needed a little more drift in the odds on Avenge in the Rodeo Drive. The Mandella filly returned $18.40 win-place combined, just 90 cents short of what he needed.

Also on Saturday, Robert Smith won a seat to the Dec. 3 Gulfstream Park Conquer the Crown event. Smith dominated the contest, finishing up with $107.70, more than $17 clear of second-place finisher John Nichols. Smith had back-to-back winners in the middle of the contest with Hootie ($30.40 win-place combined) and Josdesanimaux ($26.80) to get in great position. From there, he saw out the trip with four further collections, the longest of which was D’yer Ma’ker for Nick Zito in Belmont’s nightcap.

Contest action resumes on DRFTournaments on Wednesday with feeders, credit-builders, and match-up contests where you can win your way into the big weekend qualifiers for small money. This weekend’s big events will be the BCBC qualifier (expected to sell out) on Saturday, and the Gulfstream and NHC qualifiers on Sunday.