01/09/2017 1:28PM

Time winding down for NHC qualifiers

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It was an important weekend for National Handicapping Championship qualifying on DRF Tournaments. There are less than two weeks until the NHC and just one more weekend to qualify online, causing some players looking to win in to horse racing’s richest contest to enter desperation mode.

In two events this past weekend, six players won their way in. On Saturday, Jeremy Dresch, Michael Marlaire, and Matthew Ransdell got seats. On Sunday, Rich Pawlowski, Evan Trommer, and Thomas Reed punched their tickets for Las Vegas.

Eight was the magic number on Saturday – all three qualifiers had eight collections in the 12-race contest. Dresch got back $9 or more in six of the races he hit. It was an impressive performance by the semi-pro poker player who has been a racing fan for two decades. His biggest price was Ruffolo ($23.60 win-place) in Tampa’s eighth.

Marlaire made a big run at the first-half NHC money back in 2015 but had a quiet 2016 on the tour overall, though he did manage several top ten percent finishes in tour events. He’s heading back to Vegas on the strength of six scores in a row in the middle of the event.

Ransdell’s name might be familiar to contest aficionados as he ran third in the 2014 NHC. He started well and finished well on Saturday, catching money in the first three races and the last two races, including critical place points in the anchor leg, Santa Anita’s sixth, on Boone Docks.

Pawlowski won Sunday’s contest going away. Three of his five collections were for $25 plus including near-cap points in Gulfstream’s 10th with Major Key, who returned $57.20.

Trommer played three entries in the event and he hit pay dirt. His winning card was running on fumes at the quarter pole, but he closed like Zenyatta, hitting with both Major Key and Francesco Flier ($35.60) in Gulfstream’s 11th to secure position.

It was the same story for Reed on his one entry – Major Key and Francesco Flier were enough to carry him home.

Also on Sunday, there was a round one Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge contest where 12 players advanced to round two later this month. There will be more round-one BCBC contests, as well as another NHC doubleheader, next weekend.

Credit builder and feeder contests return to DRF Tournaments on Wednesday, with many opportunities to win into the big weekend events for as little as $11. Go to tournaments.drf.com to check out what’s available.