09/11/2017 1:06PM

Players post big numbers in qualifiers


Gregory Raab was among the biggest winners on DRF Tournaments on Saturday. He finished with a total of $94.10 and won seats to both days at the upcoming Santa Anita Autumn Challenge (a $5,000 value) plus a two-night hotel stay. Raab saved his best for last in the 12-race, all-mandatory $2 win-place contest. Through the first two-thirds of the contest he’d managed just three collections, all under $10. Then he hit with nice place points on Happy Mesa ($17.20 win-place combined) in the Kentucky Downs Ladies Sprint, Hogy ($10.20) in the Kentucky Downs Turf Sprint, and Outrageous Bet ($49.80) in Belmont’s nightcap.

Saturday’s other main event saw two players, Daniel McCormick and Thomas Owen, win their way into the Keeneland Challenge with big days.

McCormick was best in the field of 24 with $125.60. He built that total cashing in just four races, two of which were small. After taking a zero through the first four races, he got off the mark in a big way with the near-cap horse Queen of Spades ($63.20) in Belmont’s seventh. That put him in position, and Outrageous Bet vaulted him to the top of the leaderboard.

Owen, aka Tommy Oger, has an interesting claim to fame in the contest world. Back in 2015, when Gulfstream’s Raise Your Game contest had to be canceled because of rain, he was leading at the time. He’s also gained some fame as an owner. In fact, the horse Ogermeister was named after him. After an impressive maiden win back in 2013, Ogermeister went on to compete in the Windsor Castle Stakes at Royal Ascot. He finished 15th of 24 but was beaten less than five lengths.

Owen ended up with $101.40 on Saturday, more than $10 clear of third-place finisher Thomas O’Connor. He got things going with Speighal ($14.40) in the third contest event, hit Dark Arden ($22) in Kentucky Downs’s sixth, then added Hogy and Outrageous Bet.

Speaking of Keeneland, Pete Acocella ($116.40) won his way into the Challenge with a victory in a special added Keeneland qualifier on Sunday, just touching off an unlucky Tony Zhou ($109.80). Acocella started strong with Love on Tides ($38.80) in Kentucky Downs’s third. Normally that type of hit in the first race of a 10-runner event would stand you in good stead, but amazingly, two other players had the same horse, and Zhou wasn’t even one of them. Acocella added Tyler U ($10.80) and Abiding Star ($25.60) back to back three races later and still needed Big Bend ($25.60) in the anchor leg to secure his spot. Low-scoring contests (especially in matchups) are derisively called “pillow fights” in the contest world. This Keeneland contest was gladiatorial by comparison, with half the field finishing over the $72.50 mark.

Contest action returns to DRFT on Wednesday, with most roads leading to the next Grade 1 qualifier for the $1 million, no-takeout World Championship of Handicapping. The next Grade 1 takes place on Saturday, Sept. 16, in conjunction with Woodbine Mile day. Players put up $580 and one in 10 will win their $5,000 buy-ins to the online WCH finals, scheduled to take place early next year. Rather than buy in to either the finals or the Grade 1, players have the option to win in for small money. Go to tournaments.drf.com to see all the possible qualifying paths, as well as a full list of available contests. Contests are typically posted 48 hours in advance.