“It was the most exciting tournament I’ve ever won!”
That was how contest veteran Eric Moomey described the thrill of victory after prevailing in a hotly contested edition of this past weekend’s $10,000 featured tournament.
The tension in the tournament chat was palpable as the contest wound down. Tournament stalwarts, including Moomey, found themselves well within striking range of Nikita Rochelle’s tenuous lead; poised to strike were close competitors Scott Pulcini, second in the previous day’s High Stakes, and defending $10,000 Tournament champion David Palmer.
“It all came down to the 9th at Keeneland [the Raven Run Stakes],” noted Moomey.
That race was positioned as the ninth of twelve contest races in the high dollar affair, but it was an obvious game changer from the onset. The original field of 16 was cut to 14 when two scratches occurred, but the complexion of the race was altered significantly when one of those two also eligibles was allowed to enter the field.
When the selection chart fired for the race and players picks were exposed to foes, Moomey and Pulcini were on board with #16 Madame Cactus, while Rochelle had selected fellow outsider Eden Prairie; the top three were each selecting live longshots.
The excitement hit a fever pitch in the stretch as Eden Prairie would slingshot to the lead in the lane while Madame Cactus kicked into high gear despite being fanned extremely wide on the far turn. It was only in the final yards that Madame Cactus was able to reel in Eden Prairie to secure victory in the Raven Run, slightly reshuffling the top three but further distancing that trio from the rest of the pack.
“It was so exciting because all three [leaders] had the one-two in there,” Moomey explained in slight amazement.
That would be the race that put Moomey into the lead, but he still needed to hold on for three more races. A win by 3-2 favorite Saratoga Snacks a couple races later would give him the padding he needed to hold off a small last minute rush from Rochelle to win the weekend’s featured contest.
Rochelle, always an upbeat personality even in defeat, playfully lamented his tough case of second-itis.
“I was really unlucky! All those second place finished!” Rochelle recalled. “The Raven Run was especially difficult. Madame Cactus was my alternate, I just thought she would be too wide.”
Both Moomey and Rochelle will go onto compete in next weekend’s $25,000 Breeders’ Cup Saturday Tournament, one of the richest tournaments ever to be held on the DerbyWars contest platform.
“It’s tough with all the good competition,” laughed Rochelle. “But why not play the big game for the money! I’m looking for another $475 Token!”
$475 Tokens are something Moomey is also collecting, having already twice qualified for the $25,000 contest since his win in the $10K last week. He’ll go into the $25,000 with three entries and an enviable hot streak.
Moomey is no stranger to winning when the stakes are highest, having preceded his $10,000 tournament win with a victory in Friday’s $5,000 High Stakes Tournament, besting out rival Scott Pulcini, who had opened up an almost insurmountable early lead after four races only to fall just a few dollars shy of Moomey in the end.
“It would have been easy to give up in that contest,” admitted Moomey. “I dug in, strategized, crossed my fingers and was able to pass him.”