On a weekend featuring predominantly live-format featured tourneys, typical format tendencies held up insofar as the winners were well spread out among the 16 top competitions. But there’s an exception to every rule and last weekend’s exception was Karl Barth.
It’s always impressive when someone wins a pair of contests on one day. But it’s even more impressive when the two wins come in two of the day’s richest tourneys. It’s further impressive still when one is a cash game and one is a brick-and-mortar qualifier. And impressive on top of the previous impressiveness is when one is a live-format game and one is a Pick & Pray.
Barth led the parade of three NHC qualifiers in Sunday’s live-format HorsePlayers qualifier that saw Scott Boudreaux finish second and Edward Lohn run third.
And Barth put up an even better three-digit score in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which used slightly different races compared to the NHC contest.
Barth nearly added a third victory to his Sunday…
…but he couldn’t overcome John Nichols’s blistering start in the Del Mar Handicapping Challenge qualifier. John recorded six wins and one place from the game’s first eight races. And it’s a good thing, because John didn’t get a sniff in any of the last four tourney races, but no one could catch him. Not even Barth.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Carson Bird won our qualifier for The BIG One over John Gaspar.
The two of them receive all-inclusive packages to the September 23-24 high-expectation event at Laurel. For Bird, the win represented the continuation of a hot streak that began last Sunday when he took the $5,000 first prize in the $10,000 Guaranteed event.
Christopher Podratz registered a nice victory on Sunday in our last-chance qualifier to the Santa Anita closing weekend tournaments.
By virtue of his win, Podratz won a $3,000 entry to his choice of Saturday, July 1 or Sunday, July 2. Last week, Jonathon Kinchen won the Santa Anita qualifier and announced on Twitter that he would play his entry on July 1 since that was his birthday. We can’t argue with that kind of karma. But imagine the strategic opportunity presented by a scenario whereby you get to choose your contest date.
Who among us hasn’t played in a multi-day contest and said to himself something along the lines of, “Gee, there aren’t as many good horses to play today as there were yesterday.”?
Perhaps Podratz will choose his date based on his personal schedule. Or perhaps he is celebrating a birthday that weekend as well. But wouldn’t it be fun, even almost just as a laboratory experiment, to handicap two days of racing, and then decide which day you like best, and then play a $3,000 entry in that preferred tourney? It might even be fun just to root against all of one’s lukewarm picks on the day you chose not to play. In any event, Podratz could do exactly that later this week.
The weekend got off to a fast, early start on Friday with a three-seat-guaranteed NHC qualifier on Friday.
Don Speaks, Brent Johnson and Sammy Richman ran 1-2-3 in HorsePlayers’ $50 three-seat NHC qualifier. Robert Schintzius Sr. was the tough-luck fourth-place finisher. But Schintzius’s luck wasn’t so tough after all. That’s because Johnson (who owned 2004 Breeders’ Cup Turf winner Better Talk Now) was already double qualified for the NHC, and so Johnson was playing Friday for NHC Tour Points only. And, as a result, Schintzius can now look forward to participating in the NHC.
Saturday’s richest game was the $25,000 Guaranteed event won by Kevin Engelhard.
Engelhard won his $12,500 first prize with the somewhat modest score of $77.30. But that score is more impressive than it may have looked. There were a lot of short fields that day which led to a lot of short prices. And the day’s featured schedule was only comprised of 10 races compared to the more customary 12. And last but certainly not least, Engelhard actually missed one of his allotted 10 plays in the live-format contest. Regardless of whether Engelhard would have used that play on a winner or a loser, it’s always nice to learn of a situation where someone makes a significant tactical mistake like that and has no need to kick himself thereafter. Most of us are not so fortunate.
The last featured tourney of the week that we’ll look at was Saturday’s Surfside qualifier won by Wayne Collier with a score of $100.10–$9.00 better than runner up Bill Robelen.
Let’s take a look at Collier’s scoresheet.
You’ll note that two of Collier’s winners were 1-5 shots that yielded total win-place returns of $9.70—which, in Collier’s case, made the difference between winning and losing. When Saturday’s featured schedule was negatively impacted by some scratch-marred short fields, Collier, like everyone else, had to decide whether to ignore the heavy favorites or to accept the short prices and look for higher returns in other races.
The Surfside qualifier, at least in this one instance for Collier, served to support the old saying that a short price beats a long face.
Thanks to all for playing last weekend. We hope there weren’t too many long faces out there. We’ll be back again this coming week, with more featured tourneys, more of our new feeder-style cash games, and our first qualifier to the September 16 Woodbine Mile Handicapping Tournament. Have a great week.