The Tournament leader at the end of Day 1 was Thomas Mooney, a 55-year-old financial analyst from Lindenhurst, N.Y., who qualified through his second-place finish in the Aqueduct Fall Handicapping Challenge.
Lods, a 33-year-old English teacher from Rockville Center, N.Y., was in 46th place and $71 behind Mooney when play concluded on Friday.
“It’s been an emotional roller coaster from race to race,” Lods said. “I’ve been so up and down. I win one, and then I lose one. The whole experience has been better than I ever anticipated…[and] I think I can make a run at it [Saturday].”
Finishing solidly in the middle of the pack after Day 1 in 154th place and $109.30 behind the leader, Jerry McClenin, a 51-year-old printing press operator from Staten Island, N.Y., was hopeful he might also be able to repeat his come-from-behind victory in local Aqueduct competition.
“It’s been a little rough for me so far,” McClenin said. “I’ve only had one winner and two seconds. Most of my horses have been running, but I’ve had a lot of thirds and fourths. [Saturday] there are going to be a lot of wide open races, and usually the leader has a rough day of it on day two, so I’m staying positive.”
The winner of the DRF/NTRA NHC will take home $500,000 and the “DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year” title.
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Next Saturday’s feature race will be the 69th running of the $65,000-added Correction for fillies and mares, three and up, at six furlongs on the inner dirt track.
Jeff Singer’s A Rose for You makes her seasonal debut here after a solid three-year-old campaign that produced a 4-2-2 record from 12 starts for trainer Michael Trombetta.
Fox Hill Farm’s Blowing Kisses ran third here in the Interborough Handicap on New Year’s Day, but the 4-year-old Vindication filly had an excuse as she stumbled at the break. Trained by Jeff Barkley, she has a lifetime record of 2-2-4 from nine starts.
Coli Bear, owned by G. Chris Coleman and trained by Bruce Levine, tired as the pacesetter in the Interborough to finish fifth. The 6-year-old Formal Dinner mare has two wins from five inner track starts.
Training well at Belmont Park is Gulf Coast Farms’ Distorted Passion, who will bring a two-race winning streak to the Correction. The Todd Pletcher-trained Distorted Humor filly was able to transfer her solid form on synthetic surfaces to a neck victory on the inner track on December 14.
Runner-up in the Interborough, Edward P. Evans’ 5-year-old Intentional Fever, will likely complete the field. Trained by Anthony Dutrow, she has not won in six starts since a Delaware Park victory on September 7, 2007.