On Opening Day of NHC 2018, Michael Ryan, a participant in the 2015 and 2016 tournaments, emerged with 150.80 points and a narrow win over Paul Langley (148.70 points).
However, on a day in which players made 18 plays, including 8 mandatory ones, the leaderboard is tight and littered with qualifiers who gained entry via online tournaments at HorseTourneys.com.
The over 500 participants, many with the maximum of two entries, were able to “freelance” and choose ten plays on any race from Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs, Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, Golden Gate Fields and Santa Anita.
Value was limited in the mandatory octet as winners ranged from $5.20 to $12.00 with Desert Folly, winner of Tampa Bay’s 7th race, offering the biggest reward amongst horses that visited a winner’s circle. Dublin Tinker, a 76-1 shot in Gulfstream’s 11th race, provided the few NHC players who chose him with the tourney maximum 22.00 points despite his place payoff of $48.20.
Amongst those who qualified via HorseTourneys.com, John Farrar led the charge with 146.80 points, good for third place tie with 25 year old Jonathan Zvara. Keith Fenton (138.80) and Jeff Bussan (137.00) were always at the forefront after solid starts. Another group of HorseTourneys.com players were clustered on the second page of the board between 12th and 16th: Jeff Einardt (124.40), Brad Anderson (124.20), Frank Perri (120.60) and Mike Yurczyk (120.20). Notably, Perri finished strongly after declaring, “Why are you taking my picture? I haven’t gotten a thing” earlier in the day.
With the same format in place on Saturday, most players I spoke to remained hopeful they could turn around their Friday mediocrity and reach Sunday’s top 70 semifinalists group. Eighteen more swings at the handicapping plate on Saturday should encourage most or all who avoided the dreaded “Goose egg” or 0.00 points today.
@Bnastanovich, for HorseTourneys.com