01/25/2015 2:05PM

NHC: Larmey erases some bad memories


Horseplayers complain about bad beats all the time. But how about Chris Larmey? The man knows how it feels to lose out on winning $1 million by a nose. But he exorcised a demon Saturday during the second day of the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.

"I still have painful memories of watching my friend, and handicapping contest partner, Dave Flanzbaum, lose to Michael Beychok when Michael’s horse barely got up to win the last race of the day by a nose," said Larmey, now the head of the NHC Players' Committee.

That last race in 2012 was the Day 2 final race at Golden Gate Fields, before the advent of the Final Table format. Saturday, Larmey was in a similar position, albeit with a lot less at stake, going into the ninth race at Golden Gate.

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"I was sitting in 70th place about $11 outside the cutline with one last chance," he said.

This time, the outcome was more favorable for Larmey, a Kennewick, Wash., resident.

"I played the 8 horse, Presidentsky," he said. "He broke alertly, tracked the early leader and then went to the front as they turned for home. He had horses coming up from the inside and the outside but battled gamely through the stretch to hold on and win."

Presidentsky added $21.40 to Larmey's score to put his total at $150.40, which was well above the cut line from 2014. However, he still had to sweat things out until they posted the final leader board because it was quite possible that enough of the players ahead of him had also played the same horse and left him blocked.

"Fortunately, I vaulted up the leader board all the way to 38th place," said Larmey. "And now I am one of only 50 people left with a shot at $800K."

It must be noted that. Beychok is also one of the competitors Larmey will face in the Final 50 today. Just one of the many great storylines developing at the 16th annual NHC.

Former champ impressed by Troop and Kinchen

As both a former NHC champion and one of only two players last year to qualify two entries into the Final 50 tournament, Jamie Michelson Jr. is the perfect guy to comment on the two biggest storylines heading into Championship Day..

"I don't know Beychok or Conte but Brian Troop is a smart player," he said. "He's sitting 21st and he has a pretty good sense of what it's going to take to make top 10. He's going to take his swings."

Michelson was impressed that Jonathon Kinchen, a rookie NHC player, currently has two entries in the top 10. Last year, players delivering two entries to the final 50 were paid a bonus, but only one entry continued on. This year, both entries will remain live.

Should Kinchen keep both of his entries in the top 10, his higher one will continue on, and he will receive 11th place money for the other, with the 11th place finisher advancing to the final table

"I was so proud just to get two entries in the top 50 last year," said Michelson, the 2005 victor. "With a short slate of races and having two entries and some chalky looking races, he should be able to get one of them in [to the Final Table]."

Kahlden goes from zero to hero

The highest score on Day 2 went to Lawrence Kahlden, who started the day with zero but rallied to sixth overall on his Saturday total of $193.60. In the process, he earned a $5,000 payout, as well as a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry fee, along with travel expenses. Also receiving day money from Day 2 are Dan Weisenberger ($4,000), overall leader John O’Neil ($3,000), Joseph Muzio ($2,000), and Phil Lam ($1,000).