As with trainers in Grade I races, this weekend’s featured tourneys saw many of the same names pop up on the leaderboard over and over again—and not just always on the same day.
On Friday, the player who did the best Brown/Pletcher/Asmussen/Baffert impersonation was Peter Osella. Last week, the New Jersey native won a Keeneland Grade One Gamble seat. On Friday alone, he outdid his previous week’s effort, starting with our $6,000 Guaranteed game.
Osella registered winners at 10-1 and 11-1, and added three nice place payoffs to take the $4,624 top prize in the Pick & Pray that ended with a final purse of $9,284. Osella wasn’t done, however.
Utilizing the same selections, Osella placed second at HorsePlayers in the $75 NHC qualifier there. Only NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman outscored Osella, and the result will send both East Coasters on a return trip to the NHC. For Shurman, who won $4,473 six days earlier in a $25,000 game, it will be a record 17th NHC appearance.
Meanwhile the first three of 17 Horse Player World Series entries to be won over the weekend were up for grabs in Friday’s entry-only qualifier.
Michael Brown caught a $15.40-to-place runner up in the final contest to move up from out-of-the-money to top-of-the-heap. Also winning $1,500 entries, and free escalator rides to the second floor of The Orleans, were Sheldon Usprech and Peter Deys.
Saturday’s Star of the Day was Evan Trommer.
Trommer had five winners, including 21-1 shot Dancing Donut in the 8th at Gulfstream to pocket the up-top dough of $11,493 in the day’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray that finished up with a pot of $25,561. There certainly were a lot of recognizable names in the money including last week’s Exacta winner Kyle Fitzgerald (2nd), Paul Shurman (4th), Peter Osella (6th) and NHC Champ Chris Littlemore (9th)
Saturday’s NHC qualifier was run with a live format, and Trommer did even better there.
Here, Trommer had six winners and a final score of $102.10 to lock up an NHC seat along with Bob Gianquitti and John Agnello. Over the course of the two contests, Trommer had seven different winning horses, which certainly served to overcome the inherent difficulty of emerging victorious across two different formats. Formats are always important, of course, but there’s no substitute for great handicapping.
While Trommer was piling up winner after winner, Lawrence Kahlden took a different “approach” in Saturday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier.
Kahlden led a quartet of grand prize winners with his score of $82.40. Also winning $3,500 packages were Tyler Whisman, John Ukleja and recent NHC Champ Chris Littlemore—who still seems to be on a heater and who had revealed to us after the NHC that the two tournaments he really hoped to play in during the rest of 2018 were Keeneland and Saratoga One down, one to go!
Getting back to Lawrence Kahlden, his win in the Keeneland qualifier had a somewhat unique quality to it. His score sheet showed just two winners—and they were very well…um…separated.
Grand entrances and big finishes are always effective tactics in show business—and apparently also now in handicapping contests. It’s also somewhat interesting to note that, in a contest with 97 entries, Kahlden was the only player to have 21-1 winner Dancing Donut in that first tournament race (Gulfstream Race 8).
Sunday was a new day, but it, too, had a familiar ring to it.
Peter Osella continued his torrid stretch, snagging third place and a $5,000 package in the day’s qualifier for the TSG Ultimate Betting Challenge on March 11. The two who finished ahead of Osella, Adam Aiken and Kevin Jones, also won packages and, like Osella, now have the option of playing on March 11 from either Santa Anita or Gulfstream.
Aiken, meanwhile, furthered the weekend theme by playing his TSG Ultimate Betting Challenge selections in the qualifier for the March 3 Laurel Champions tournament.
It suddenly looks like it will be a busy next couple of weeks for Aiken. Joining Aiken at Laurel will be fellow $300 entry winners Tim Averill, Stacey Rynn, Edward Wright and Tarik Kouchtaf.
As well as Aiken played, he wasn’t the only, nor even the most lucrative multiple winner of the day. That honor went to Brendan Fay.
Fay accumulated the high score of the day ($105.20) en route to a daylight victory over Edward Enborg in Sunday’s qualifier for The BIG One. With two all-inclusive packages guaranteed, Fay and Enborg thus became the seventh and eight to qualify for what will be an eventual field of no more than 57 for the September showdown at Laurel.
Fay also had the second highest score of the day.
Fay may have missed out on a $5,00 place collection that he had in the qualifier for The BIG One, but it mattered not in the NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. His score of $100.20 was still good for first place, ahead of fellow NHC package winner Greg Bone, who sneaked into the second spot thanks to a winning 4-5 shot he used in the final race of the Pick & Pray event. Some don’t like using chalk at the end of a Pick & Pray. For Bone, however, it proved to be essential to his success.
Another familiar name popped up in Sunday’s $12,000 guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Rick Vasquez rode three wins and two places to a victory worth $6,678 in the pool-style game that ended up with a pot of $14,841. It was a nice result for Vasquez, who had been close-but-no-cigaring in some other Sunday tourneys.
And check out who finished second…and fifth. There’s Evan Trommer again. To Trommer, Sunday may not have held a candle to Saturday…but $3,858 (for his two top-five placings) isn’t a bad consolation prize. And his relative (?) Drew nearly won an NHC berth behind Fay and Bone.
Drill just a little farther down, and you’ll once again see the ubiquitous Peter Osella in the money as well.
Sunday was also Horse Player World Series Entry-Only Blowout Day, and we wound up with enough winners to fill up one of those McCarran Airport shuttle buses to The Orleans.
Congratulations to Carm Adimondo, Chris Piper, David McCarty, Joe Koury, Robert Childress, Daniel Mandarino, Tom Hofner, Edward Wright (who also won a Laurel entry), Patrick Larson, Scott Mauer, David Bloom, David Tunin, Adam Thoutt and Kyle Radawetz. Good luck in Vegas, and try to avoid the seats over the wheel on the shuttle!
Blake Courtney and Jeff Bussan prevailed in a closely-fought contest…
…and as a result, they’ll be visiting the Jersey Shore in June for the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament.
John Gaspar picked two winners and two runners up…
…and that got him the $500 entry for the April 7 Wood Memorial Challenge at Aqueduct.
And Michael Gotkin proved in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney that it’s not “How many?” but “How big?”
Gotkin had just two winning exacta plays. Runner up Elizabeth Canning had six. But bigger paid better–$1,401 for Gotkin, to be precise. The final purse totaled $2,803.
Speaking of big, next weekend promises to be an important one with our Fountain of Youth Day up-to-$75,000 tourney on Saturday. It’s a Pick & Pray (rare for such a big money game) with $50,000 Guaranteed. Low cost feeders will run throughout much of the week leading up to Saturday.
We hope you will be a part of it. And we thank you for participating this past weekend. Have a great week.