For all of the rich and exciting featured tournaments that took place last weekend, one contest—and one winner—stands above the rest: Saturday’s winner of HorseTourneys’ first $100,000 game, Victor Mendes Sr. of Boca Raton, Florida.
The 66-year-old jockey’s agent turned professional handicapper started off slowly in Saturday’s big game. But he gained great momentum on the strength of a pair of Monmouth winners, including 15-1 shot Spring About in the 11th race.
Mendes, predominantly a head-to-head and high stakes cash-game player at Horse Tourneys, preserved the lead from there to capture the $40,000 first prize. Bill Shurman finished second and earned $17,500.
Here is a look at Mendes’s winning scoresheet.
It was a great day of handicapping for Mendes, who played two entries and just missed cashing with his other ticket, finishing 16th with that one.
Interestingly, none of the top 16 in the standings heading into the last race had the winner (Mohican) or the runner up in the final race (the 13th from Saratoga). That was good news for Mendes and most of the other cashers.
We’ll get to know Mendes in greater detail in an upcoming blog.
Another notable Saturday performance was put forward in that day’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier won by Clay Sanders and John Nichols.
For Sanders, it was his second victory in a HorseTourneys Keeneland qualifier in just six days. (He won on Sunday, August 20 as well—the same day that he also finished third onsite at the Ellis Park Bluegrass Tournament.) That’s the kind of quick turnaround that even Linda Rice would be proud of.
The other featured event on Saturday was our Orleans Fall Classic qualifier, in which Ben Clayton, Gary Brous and Joe DeLuca all won $500 entries. But check out that score registered by Clayton!
A terrific performance here by Clayton. And Victor Mendes Sr., to name just one, is undoubtedly pleased that Clayton didn’t take his business elsewhere!
At HorsePlayers on Saturday, our first-ever BCBC Super Qualifier, with its one winner per 13 ratio, was a quick and early sell-out.
Ken Jordan completely whiffed on the first seven contest races, but he nailed the last three winners to take home a $10,000 entry along with James Metzger.
Peter Strauss also got hot late.
He hit the last two contest races to win an NHC berth in Saturday’s HP qualifier. Bob Gianquitti, who did all of his scoring in the first seven races, finished second and also won an NHC seat.
The big weekend got off to a flying start on Friday at both HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers.
Pittsburgh physician Ed Reidy, who won the Woodbine Mid-Summer Handicapping Tournament on July 29, earned a BCBC seat for just $50 in Friday’s qualifier. His final score was $102.10
Speaking of medical professionals, eye doctor Anthony Trezza didn’t score all that high in Friday’s $6,000 Guranteed cash game (final purse: $7,062.45). But his performance was, in some ways, the most remarkable of the weekend.
With his two entries, Trezza finished first and tied for second. His winning score of $72.40 (good for the first-place check of $3,531.15) was rather modest by 10-race HorseTourneys standards. And his co-second-place score of $60.30 was good but not great. But notice that he used different horses on the two entries in every race. Plenty of people have won doing this. Few have run second—or even finished in the money—with their lesser ticket. Safe to say that on this day, Trezza’s vision was, ahem, 20/20.
Sunday brought a robust featured schedule of 10 races and, in most cases, the contests were determined by the final race—race 6 at Del Mar, the Torrey Pines Stakes—which saw Kentucky Oaks favorite Paradise Woods backup through the stretch at 1-5. This left the victory to near-cap horse #8 Munny Spent ($38.60 to win, $14.20 to place), but only after she was moved up via disqualification from 2nd to 1st.
Don’t be fooled by the #4 listed as Rick Broth’s last pick in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed game.
The 4 horse was a late scratch and Rick’s alternate selection was Munny Spent, so he did, indeed, collect the $52.80 in mythical money that meant $7,000 in real money.
Tony Calabrese and Jose Raphael (4th on Day 2 of the Saratoga Challenge) had Munny Spent.
That propelled Calabrese and Raphael to berths in the 2018 NHC.
It was quite a blanket finish in Sunday’s Horse Player World Series qualifier.
The results of the photo showed Edward Wright, Jared Black and David Snyder as the possessors of $1,500 HPWS entries. (And Wright did it without the benefit of Munny Spent!)
Geno Kraska also passed on Munny Spent and lived to tell the tale. He won Sunday’s Woodbine Mile Handicapping Tournament qualifier.
A close second was $15,000 game winner Rick Broth, who had Munny Spent as his main selection in this game (rather than as his alternate selection).
Pat Nufrio’s name might ring a bell, and not just because he won a $2,000 entry Sunday to the Sept. 30 Gulfstream Pick Your Spot tourney. As some may recall, the retired firefighter from Belleville, N.J., was the leader after Day 1 of this year’s NHC (for which he won a BCBC entry).
Michael Kavana did not have the big-balloons exacta in the 6th at Del Mar.
But it mattered not as his score of $312.75 was sufficient to take the $1,400 top prize in Sunday’s $3,500 Guaranteed Exacta game.
At HorsePlayers, Munny Spent meant money won (or at least entry fees won) for Tom Boyd and John Ukleja.
And good money it was–$10,000 entries to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in Sunday’s low-ratio qualifier.
Matthew Trommer opted for the regular BCBC qualifier ration of 1 per 65…
…and that was just fine given the fact that he opted for Munny Spent.
But for every delighted winner that Munny Spent created, there was also a tough-luck loser. One of the most dramatic such was Mike Martin in Sunday’s Santa Anita Autumn Championship qualifier at HorseTourneys.
The winner of the $5,500 Santa Anita package was Aaron Bernstein with a final score of $97.80. But going into that final contest race (race 6 at Del Mar), Mike Martin had to be a 1-9 favorite to win.
By picking favorite Paradise Woods, he had effectively locked out most of his closest competitors. The only horse that could beat him was Bernstein’s Money Spent, and also the 7 horse (26-1 odds), but only if the 7 paid at least $19.40 to place (never a given when there is a 1-5 shot in the field).
When Munny Spent was held off by the 3 horse at the wire, Martin had to be heaving a sigh of relief. Until the inquiry sign began flashing, that is. And, for Martin, things obviously only got worse from there.
It was an end-game strategy well played by Martin—even if the result he had hoped for failed, against all odds, to materialize.
In the end, we send out a big “Hang in there” to Mike Martin. A big “Congratulations!” to Aaron Bernstein.
And a big, and very sincere, “Thank you!” to all of you who contributed to one of the biggest weekends in HorseTourneys history.