More Stories from NHC 20

Live coverage of Championship Sunday will resume at 2 ET/11PT. Follow along with me and Steve Byk

Other stories of note from the NHC.


This should be a whole column in and of itself. Former Tour champ Paul Shurman (pictured) just made the cut, and he sent me a text explaining how. It’s phenomenal and I’ll reprint it in its entirety.

“What’s the lowest odds I’ll take on a horse in this contest?  How about Bellafina at 1/9.  With a lot of picks left I thought that the $4.30 would get me above the cut line. If the 16-1 doesn’t come in the last mandatory, I would have been fine.  But after that race I went from 34th to way out of the money.  Although, I was more than $4.30 above the cut line at the finish, without that $4.30 I don’t play the winning favorite in the last at Golden Gate who put me over the top.”

That’s Hall-of-Fame thinking from the Hall-of-Fame player.


Cheryl Tayala was ready to change her plane ticket and head home after a dismal first day where she only had a single horse come through. A pep talk from her daughter encouraged her to persevere and the Ohio resident responded with a big run – including having 27-1 shot Paintergone in the eighth at Oaklawn – that now has her eighth overall with a total of $230.80.

“I called my daughter and she told me to keep trying so that’s what I did. I did a lot better today,” Tayala said. “I saw (longshots) were happening around me and I was missing some so then I just decided to take a shot. I look at the breeding and the body language and that worked out. Luck was with me today.”

She will attempt to parlay that success into a seat at the Final Table.

“I’m still in shock,” she admitted. “I hate to say it but I usually don’t have two good days in a row. Hopefully I can change that.”


Steve DeCaspers, currently in 17thwith $215.60, Mike Muvihill, in 40thwith $196, and Joe Rosen, 45thwith $193.30, are all still alive for $1 million bonuses should they go on to win the whole event. Extra attention will be paid to that triumvirate, not least by the firm that insured said bonuses.


Great to see Chris Fallica make the cut. He’s in a tie for 50thwith $190.40. Better known as The Bear from ESPN College Gameday, Fallica adds a touch of star power to the semifinal round.

“The first thing I look at in any race is the pace scenario,” Fallica told me in a 2017 interview.

“I’m looking for the obvious situations where a horse might get an advantage because the only speed, or because there’s a lot of speed and he’s the best closer.”

If the pace doesn’t give him a way into looking at the race, Fallica turns to various angles, tried-and-true nuggets he’s gleaned over the years in his handicapping that have yielded dividends.

“There are a lot of them,” he said, “like a maiden getting off the rail or a speed horse stretching out on turf.”

He prefers maiden races and turf races, and he’ll no doubt be looking for those throughout the early part of Sunday.





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