From a National Thoroughbred Racing Association release
Eric Moomey, a 42-year-old (b. Jan. 11, 1973) lieutenant colonel in the United States Air Force, won one of the final brick-and-mortar National Handicapping Championship (NHC) qualifier of the year at Monmouth Park on Dec. 27 to clinch the title of 2014 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour Champion and the $75,000 first-place prize that goes with it. The victory became official upon completion of a 10-day review period and audit conducted in the days following the final Tour-eligible contest.
Should Moomey go on to win the 16th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas, set for Jan. 23-25 at Treasure Island, he will receive a $2 million bonus in addition to that event’s first prize of at least $750,000 (the complete purse breakdown will be announced prior to NHC 16).
“I’ve got as good of a chance as anyone,” Moomey said. “The one thing I have going for me is that I tend to run on hot streaks of about six to eight weeks.”
Moomey finished the year with 16,830 points, 669 clear of runner-up Brett Weiner, who earned $15,000 for his 16,161 points.
Known as one of the NHC Tour’s most aggressive players, Moomey earned points in 65 separate 2014 contests, mostly online. For scoring purposes, though, only a player’s top six scores (including at least one onsite tournament) count in the full-year standings. Moomey earned first-place points twice – the June 21 Belmont Handicapping Challenge (3,238 points) and the season-ending Monmouth contest (3,106). He added to those with strong finishes in a June 29 NHCqualify.com tournament (sixth place; 1,964 points); an Aug. 2 HorseTourneys.com competition (second; 2,126); a Sept. 13 NHC Tour free online contest (eighth; 2,370); and a Sept. 28 Derby Wars event (fourth; 2,526).
With a background in mechanical and astronomical engineering, Moomey has an insatiable appetite for data and knows what to do with it. His win in the NHC Tour comes less than three years after he played in his first handicapping contest.
“When I got started I did some homegrown data analysis and looked for trends that are not obvious,” he said. “There are various programs out there that help provide me with the data I use but generally I’m looking for anything that’s unique or different.”
Moomey’s success is only the latest in a line of NHC and NHC Tour winners whose methods go well beyond the basic angles and adages that guide casual handicappers. The newer generation of data-obsessed players mines for trends that are only available and visible to those who know where to look.
“Most of my career I did space acquisitions – satellites, airplanes – procuring systems for the Air Force,” Moomey said. “I’ve always been good at math and I find it intellectually stimulating. So I can sit there with data and crunch it all day long. It turns out I have a hobby that pays me money. Other people like to go golfing or watch sports; I like to manipulate data. I’m looking for inefficiencies in the marketplace. It’s hard to find in the stock market but there are opportunities within horseracing.”
Should Moomey parlay a win at the NHC, he will be in line for a $2.75 million payday ($750,000 grand prize plus $2 million bonus as NHC Tour winner) on top of his NHC Tour and individual tournament earnings.
The NHC Tour top five was rounded out by Bill Shurman (15,927 points; $10,000), Jacqueline Sukanick (15,586; $5,400) and Paul Hoffman (14,956; $5,000).
Prize money for the NHC Tour season totaled $200,000. The top 150 finishers earned automatic berths to the NHC.
A record 4,875 NHC Tour members participated in 2014 handicapping qualifiers along with thousands of other racing fans who participated in free contests and satellite events held throughout the year. As a result of the Tour’s growing popularity, the Jan. 23-25 NHC will offer a record purse and the upcoming 2015 NHC Tour will carry $250,000 in prize money, also a record.
The NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. Tour members receive NHC Tour points for top finishes in NHC qualifying events held during the year. In addition to potential prize money and berths in the NHC, benefits for NHC Tour members include automatic enrollment in the Horseplayers’ Coalition. The Coalition seeks legislative and regulatory solutions to tax and business issues that impact pari-mutuel racetracks and their customers and provides grass roots support for the NTRA’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Tour members also are automatically eligible to participate in NTRA Advantage, offering preferred pricing on products and services from leading suppliers, including John Deere, Sherwin-Williams, UPS, and OfficeMax.
The 2015 NHC Tour kicks off Monday, January 26. Tour membership is $50 and participants can sign up at http://www.ntra.com/en/nhc/become-a-member.