06/22/2016 1:10PM

Moomey back on track following health scare


This year hasn’t gone according to plan for Eric Moomey, who developed a health issue early in the year. He spent 11 hours at an urgent-care facility in Las Vegas while at a tournament in March and was hospitalized while attempting to play in a National Handicapping Championship qualifier at Del Mar’s Surfside shortly thereafter.

“The doctors told me I had two choices,” said the 43-year-old lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Air Force. “You can have emergency surgery, or you can die. I decided to take the first option.”

Moomey was diagnosed with diverticulitis, a potentially life-threatening inflammation of the colon, and ended up spending five weeks in a San Diego hospital recuperating. That hasn’t prevented him from returning to his roots and playing in an awful lot of contests online. “It’s a slow and steady recovery,” he said. “I’ve missed some key on-site tournaments, but you’ve got to take care of yourself first. I look forward to hitting the tournament trail again in the fall.”

He’s strategically scheduled a follow-up surgery for October, just ahead of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. “They’re going to keep me in San Diego for a month,” Moomey said. “Hopefully, that will give me just enough time to get in shape and drive up the road to Santa Anita.”

In case you’re new to the tournament scene, Moomey has been a force on the NHC Tour over the past few years. He won it all two years ago and earned a second-place finish last year. He currently sits in third place despite his time on the sidelines. He secured his second seat to January’s NHC with a third-place finish in last Saturday’s NHCQualify event.

Moomey observed that the three players who qualified – himself, Sally Goodall, and Jim Meeks – would not have done so had it not been an all-in contest. “The longest shot on the board won the last race, but nobody had picked it,” he said. “I can guarantee you that horse would have been well covered in the live format.”

All the while, Moomey continues to handicap not only the races but himself. “You have to learn thyself,” Moomey said, “and I try to use that knowledge to my advantage.”

One thing Moomey has learned is that he doesn’t do as well at the lower end of the odds spectrum. “I’m very good at picking longshots,” he said, “and over the years, I’ve realized that I’m better at picking a longshot to come in second than I am at picking a shorter price to win.”

Knowing that hasn’t prevented him from taking favorites at critical junctures. “I violate that from time to time, always to my detriment,” he said. “It can be frustrating. How many times can you learn the same lesson?”

At the same time, he recognizes that frustrating defeats push him to be a better player. “One thing I’ve learned in horse racing is that when you’re successful, you don’t learn anything,” he said. “You only learn something from your mistakes.”

Going into Saturday’s event, Moomey was more focused on getting the outright win – and the extra tour points that would have gone with it – than he was with qualifying. “If you play well throughout the year, you’re going to qualify by happenstance,” said Moomey, noting that his main goal right now is to win $10,000 for finishing in the first five for the first half of the NHC Tour, “but qualifying for the NHC was certainly a nice consolation.”

Moomey hasn’t ruled out a full-bore attempt to regain his NHC Tour title, but he recognizes that the deck may be stacked against him. “I’m just not in the medical condition to pursue that right now,” he said. “The winner is ultimately going to have a big outright win in an on-site tournament.”

However, come the fall, if no one has spurted away, he might well find himself in the mix once again. “I’m noncommittal, but I’m keeping my options open,” he said. “There are certainly a lot of opportunities to get points.”

Friday feeders

There are three contests on DRF Tournaments on Friday. All three contests are using the all-in format, where all picks must be in before the scheduled post time of the first event.

The co-headline events are feeders for both the NHC and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. For $18, you can play in a feeder for Saturday’s NHC qualifier. The top 10 percent of finishers will advance.

The BCBC feeder costs $21, and the top 10 percent will receive their $190 buy-ins for the BCBC qualifier on Sunday.

Also on Friday, there is a $500 credit-builder contest. The buy-in is just $15, and the top three finishers will split the prize pool as follows: $250 to first, $150 to second, and $100 to third. Credit builders are the ideal way to fund your upcoming contest play.

Here are the races for Friday’s contests (all times Eastern):

3:36 Belmont 2

3:47 Churchill 7

3:54 Gulfstream 6

4:09 Belmont 3

4:19 Churchill 8

4:26 Gulfstream 7

4:41 Belmont 4

4:51 Churchill 9

4:58 Gulfstream 8

5:13 Belmont 5