According to The Harris Poll, Christmas is America’s favorite holiday, followed by Thanksgiving. But clearly horseplayers were under-represented in that survey. Otherwise Thanksgiving would have won by open lengths—because it combines all the fun of food and family with the very important fact that the tracks are fully open for business.
What it meant for us at HorseTourneys was a veritable five-day weekend that saw many notable performances. And similar to the various ways some of us attack a Thanksgiving feast, this weekend displayed a multitude of ways to win a contest. Take Christian Orscher, for example.
In Sunday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers, in which Orscher and runner up Derek Isenberg each won seats, Orscher was like a Thanksgiving guest who gets so filled up on the pre-meal snacks and hors d’oeuvres that he has little room for the main course. He gorged himself on winners early on, hitting the first four—all at odds of 5-1 or 6-1. Then he seemed to loosen his belt and pass more dishes than he dug into, before finding room for one more winner and two more places that would leave him as the tourney’s most satisfied indulger.
A nearly identical approach was “employed” by George Henning who won a $12,500 package on Sunday to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship.
Henning also hit the first four races—and five of the first seven—before calling it a meal…err…day. But a satisfying repast it was!
In Thanksgiving Day’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayer, winner Richard Meister was another who seemed to subscribe to the “Fill up early in case they run out of food” philosophy. He hit three of the first five races to win his seat. But he wasn’t the most finicky eater at this particular table.
That honor went to runner up, and fellow NHC seat winner, Kevin Cox. Most would have assumed that Cox really doesn’t think much of the traditional Thanksgiving Day fare. Because after seven servings of the 10-race bounty, he hadn’t touched a thing. His total was $0.00. Cox was not ill, however, He was merely saving himself for dessert. And like Buddy in the movie “Elf,” Cox really gorged himself on those sweets, hitting each of the last three races at odds of 9-1, 7-1 and 7-1.
In Thursday’s $20,000 Pick & Pray, Nicholas McMurdy pulled a modified Kevin Cox.
McMurdy just nibbled at the early offerings. And he passed on the blueberry pie. But he hit the apple pie and pumpkin pie hard, cashing those last two 7-1 shots that added a total of $47.80 to his final score and earned him first money of $9,163 in the sold-out affair.
Gary Blair was like the Thanksgiving Day eater who skipped most of the courses, but crammed it in on the turkey and stuffing.
In Friday’s $10,000 Pick & Pray, Blair filled himself up on two longshots—Curlin’s Image who wired ‘em on the Gulfstream Park West turf in the 7th at odds of 21-1, and Blended Citizen who sated his backers in the 5th at Del Mar at odds of 13-1.
Of course, when you eat in such inconsistent fashion, you always run the risk of offending your hosts, who may feel that you were turning your nose up at one or more of their dishes. So perhaps we were remiss in waiting until now to recognize Charles Myers, the winner of our $2,000 Guaranteed game on Thanksgiving eve.
Myers didn’t make a spectacle of himself by overeating. His final total of $66.60 got the job done without painting him as a glutton. But he certainly won big points at the table by tasting a little something of everything that everyone brought—even Aunt Gertrude’s fruit cake. When all was said and done, he had collected in all 10 contest races, leaving no one wondering if he didn’t like their cooking.
There were plenty of other noteworthy victories and performances during the long holiday weekend.
Muggsy Kreiser has a name right out of “The Adventures of Sam Spade” and on Thanksgiving, he made off with a $1,500 Horse Player World Series entry. The authorities (Debbie Flaig & Associates) have been alerted.
When it comes to stealing, Edward Osterhout is building up a pretty long rap sheet in his own right. On Black Friday, he and “Scramblin’” Randall Cunningham emerged with NHC berths when they finished third and second, respectively, behind the already-double-qualified Bob Gilbert in the special $50 qualifier at HorsePlayers.
It was the second time this month that Osterhout put up a pittance and emerged with a valuable prize. Just two weeks ago, he won his first seat to the 2018 NHC in a $75 qualifier.
Saturday was the one day of the long weekend that saw some lofty scores posted. And no one’s was loftier than Phillip Millstein’s.
He and Bob Montgomery each won NHC seats in Saturday’s qualifier. Fortunately for Montogomery, two seats were up for grabs, because Millstein ran away and hid.
But it was going to be a winning day for Montgomery no matter what.
He and Lucas Van Zandt were the two players who topped the $120,00 mark (really the only two to break triple figures), and they both won top prizes in our full-package qualifier to the Horse Player World Series.
And Van Zandt took his $120.60 score over to Saturday’s $20,000 Guaranteed tourney…
…where he garnered second money of $4,371 behind winner Michael Goodrich ($9,836). Goodrich edged Van Zandt by just 80 cents for the win.
The last time we saw Ron Ferrise, he was out at the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge crushing a Stormy Liberal-Bar of Gold Daily Double.
Ferrise finished second in the BCBC. And despite the fact that daily double wagering was not permitted, he destroyed the field in Saturday’s NHC Super Qualifier at HorsePlayers.
On Sunday, Charles Browning registered five winners and prevailed by 50 cents…
…in our $12,000 Guaranteed pool-style game that finished with a total pot of $14,974. That 50-cent margin for Browning earned him the top prize of $6,756.
Another close one took place in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.
Keith Castleberry prevailed in what Kurt Becker might have described as a “multiple horse photo.”
Jason Hill, Jim Meeks and Anthony DeCaspers were the three big winners in what was another very popular Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier.
Meeks caught an $11.80 place price in the last race to move him “into the money.” And that could be bad news for his HPWS opponents. Meeks won the 2015 World Series, a victory worth $262,240.
Last but not least, James Hom and Matthew Rentze will be heading to the Gulfstream Caribbean Classic and Surfside, respectively, after their victories in Sunday qualifiers.
We hope your Thanksgiving weekend was a happy one no matter how the horses treated you. The upcoming weekend won’t be as lengthy, but it should be very momentous with our big $100,000 game set for Saturday. See you then!
It is a shame John Hawkins did not win the Sunday HPWS contest. He hit the first three races ,all for double digit payouts and led most of the way. Hawk deserves honorable mention.