05/01/2017 12:42PM

Twenty advance to next level in WCH


Contest players have spoken: The new Daily Racing Form World Championship of Handicapping is a hit. In three round-one contests conducted Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 20 entries advanced into the Derby Day Grade 1 qualifier. Out of that event, one in 10 entries will win their $5,000 seats to the $1 million, no-takeout finals to be held online in January.

On Friday, the first six players punched their tickets for the Derby Day game led by Eric Moomey. He was followed by Robert Gilbert, Robert Crowe, Jerald Segall, Jeffrey Pesot, and Douglas Draper.

Saturday’s contest saw five players advance six entires: David Mullin, Robert Smith (who was also fifth), Adam Thoutt, Draper (his second), and Brian Johnson.

On Sunday, the eight winners were Richard Sugimoto, Thomas Murphy, Kirk Albin, Al Roehl, Mark Henderson, William Holmes, Daniel Churilla, and Mario Baker.

The round-one events cost $95 to play and one in seven entries made their way to the Derby Day qualifier. DRF Tournaments will be hosting additional round-one contests this week starting Wednesday with the same buy-in and ratio. Players can also buy in directly to Saturday’s featured Grade 1 contest for $580.

There were also three free contests to allow players to start their journey to the WCH this past weekend and they proved wildly popular, with nearly 4,000 entries across the three days. The biggest winners were Bruce Meyer and David Beckstead, each of whom won his $580 buy-in to the Derby Day game on Sunday. The next free contest on DRFT will be held Oaks Day, a one-day, winner-take-all where one player will attempt to emulate Meyer and Beckstead by receiving his or her buy-in to Saturday’s Grade 1.

Among the weekend’s biggest winners on DRF Tournaments was Tony Zhou. Zhou, a relative newcomer on the contest scene, had a big year in tournaments in 2016 and is backing that up with a run of success in 2017. On Saturday, he won his way into Sunday’s Belmont contest and won that event going away, ensuring a spot in the Belmont Betting Challenge in a five weeks' time. It’s a day that holds special significance for Zhou.

“I can’t wait,” he said. “It’s my favorite betting day of the year. I was introduced to this great game on Belmont Stakes day in 2010, so will always have a special day in my heart and a permanent block each year on my calendar.”

Zhou’s score of $133.90 was more than $40 clear of second-place finisher Roger Cettina, who also won a seat to the Belmont contest. Zhou built his score with seven collections, the longest of which were I. Damiana ($43) in Tampa’s eighth and Excluded ($33.60) in Belmont’s sixth.

Contest action returns to DRFT on Wednesday with feeders, credit-builders, match-ups and round-one contests for the WCH. Wednesday’s contest races will include a mix of late-card Belmont and Churchill.

As for the rest of the week, Thursday will feature a similar slate to Friday, then Oaks Day’s featured contests will include the aforementioned big-field round one and free contest.

Saturday is the Grade 1 qualifier for the WHC as well as a host of other options, and Sunday there will be an opportunity to win into the Santa Anita Preakness contest, as well as a qualifier for the Wynn Challenge in August.

For a full schedule, go to tournaments.drf.com