For the second straight Saturday, we offered a big-money game centered around the day’s key Kentucky Derby preps. High-quality racing certainly afforded us that opportunity, and HorseTourneys players once again took advantage of it.
Taking the biggest advantage was Adam Thoutt, a construction executive from Northglenn, Colorado who picked up the top prize of $24,633 in Saturday’s live-format, $50,000 guaranteed tourney that closed with a total pot of $54,741.
Not only did Thoutt win this by daylight with his four winners from 12 races, he basically had scored enough to finish on top after just the first four races.
Of course, the complexion of a live-format game can take many twists and turns, with the results of one race often having a bearing on which horses people select later. But opening up a big lead and putting your opponents in chase (panic?) mode is always a good idea. (If it were only that easy to execute!)
Mark McClyment ($10,948) finished second and Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion ($6,569) checked in third.
The featured-tourney weekend action got rolling on Friday, as per usual, and the day’s big winner was Gary Blair who selected four first-place finisher—with win mutuels ranging from $14.40-$19.20—to win…
…$5,044 in the day’s sold-out $10,000 Pick & Pray. All five of this contest’s cashers had #7 Movie Moment ($14.40, $7.40) in the anchor leg, race 8 at Santa Anita.
Scores were considerably lower in Friday’s qualifier for the Keeneland Grade 1 Gamble, but the tourney saw a signature performance turned in by Jonathon Kinchen, who won by just 60 cents, defeating…himself. Stephen Thompson was just 30 cents farther back in third, ahead of Norris Bristow, who got leapfrogged by the Movie Moment backers at the end.
What was unique about Kinchen’s victory—and rather specific about his style of playing multiple entries—is that he played two entries in the 10-race contest and used eight common horses across the tickets.
Many will recall that Kinchen, using much the same strategy, placed two entries in the 2015 NHC top ten, forcing the NTRA to later change the rule that prevented a player from having two entries advance to the final table.
This puts Kinchen in good company with others who have caused a league or organization to change its rules due to the performance of a single competitor. They include Bob Gibson, whose microscopic earned run average during the 1968 “Year of the Pitcher” led MLB to lower the mound; Martin Brodeur, whose stickhandling acumen led the National Hockey League to draw a trapezoid behind the net, marking the only legal area within which a goalie could handle the puck; and, perhaps most notably, UCLA hoops star Lew Alcindor who caused the NCAA to temporarily institute a no-dunking rule.
As a small child, I saw Alcindor play on television, and in tribute to him, I have continued to abide by the no-dunking rule when participating in pick-up games.
There was a very tight finish in the Friday feature at HorsePlayers.
Christopher Olsson came out on top in the 10-race, $75 NHC qualifier thanks to five winners, including each of the last three, at odds of 6-1, 7-2 and 6-1. The all-knowing HorseTourneys stewards had to determine the winner of the second NHC package when Robert Engelhard and Dane Moore each finished with $100.30. Because Engelhard had a higher top win payoff than Moore, Engelhard got the nod—which was actually a function of HorseTourneys tiebreaker rules rather than the decision of any august panel.
There were several big winners on Saturday in addition to Adam Thoutt.
Noel Pink racked up six smaller-priced winners to take the top spot in our penultimate 2018 Keeneland Grade 1 Gamble qualifier. Joining the hot Pink in Lexington will be second- and third-place finishers Edward Reidy and Ross Sziasa.
Have you qualified yet for the 2019 NHC? Jobby Blevins already has…twice.
Blevins registered four wins (including Keeneland longshot Warrior’s Club) and a place to prevail in this two-seat guaranteed tourney that drew enough entries for us to award a third NHC package. David Snyder reported home second and William Holobowski took advantage of the large field by grabbing the third berth.
Earlier we marveled at Adam Thoutt scoring enough after just four races of our 12-race $50,000 Guaranteed tourney to effectively (with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, of course) sew up the win. In Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers, Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion did something perhaps even more amazing.
We don’t know if Jeff likes hockey, but we have taken the liberty of dubbing him “Boom Boom” because his last name evokes memories of hockey legend Bernie “Boom Boom” Geoffrion, who scored 371 career goals—most of them for the Montreal Canadiens in the 1950s and 1960s.
Geoffrion got his nickname because he was one of the early pioneers of the use of the slapshot—which later became commonplace thanks in part to his success with it. During his 16-year career, Geoffrion accounted for 14 hat tricks—and on Saturday, Joffrion emulated Geoffrion with a hat trick of his own.
After those first three races, Joffrion’s opponents were left gasping for air. In the final nine races, it was Joffrion who was running on fumes. But as they say in baseball, a win in April counts the same as a win in September. (The NCAA tournament selection committee says much the same thing sometimes…see Oklahoma this year.) At any rate, Joffrion achieved in three races what his foes couldn’t accomplish in 12, and, as a result, he earned—very deservedly—the $10,000 BCBC entry.
Sunday was a typically busy day at HorseTourneys with eight featured events, including one that crowned the 13th and 14th qualifiers to the 2018 The BIG One at Laurel.
Dan Kovalesky (5 wins, 1 place) and Edward Enborg were the bi-weekly winners of all-inclusive packages to the September 22-23 “high expectation” event that will offer a $1 million bonus should its winner also go on capture the NHC. The BIG One field will number no more than 57, and up for grabs will be cash, 10 BCBC entries, 10 NHC seats and another 10 Horseplayer World Series entries (or $1,500 cash if the player prefers). The next qualifier for The BIG One comes on April 22.
Another high-end qualifier was won by Brett Wiener.
Wiener had three winners, including 22-1 shot Married By Now in the 4th at Santa Anita, to grab the $10,000 package to Big Sandy on Belmont Stakes weekend.
Leo Vukmanovich was the big cash winner of the day, and he did it by following the stylistic lead of Adam Thoutt and Jeff Joffrion.
Vukmanovich hit four winners in a row in races 3-6 of the contest to wrest command and take the $7,066 first prize in our $12,000 guaranteed Pick & Pray that wound up with a pot of $15,704.
Sunday’s other featured cash tourney was our $2,000 guaranteed Exacta game.
Geoffrey Billet recorded four victories from 12 races in this $1, three-horse-box game to win the $1,000 first-place money. Most of his $165.90 total was won in the 4th at Santa Anita where the $1 gimmick paid $117.00.
Getting back to qualifying action, our last-chance qualifier to the Keeneland Grade 1 Gamble took place on Sunday.
Ryan Flanders earned his second Grade 1 Gamble in as many weeks by edging Brian Herrity by just 80 cents.
Herrity will still be going to the Grade 1 Gamble–because he won our March 31 qualifier by a narrow margin over…
…Ryan Flanders! Flanders got the better of the overall deal since his second-place finish was good for a $3,500 package while Herrity’s was not. Nevertheless, tune in to Keeneland next Sunday for Flanders-Herrity III.
Jeff Higgins picked just two winners out of 12 races on Sunday.
However, Higgins padded his score considerably with four placings and that secured him a $3,500 package to the Saratoga Challenge this August.
Brent Sumja and Daily Racing Form New Jersey correspondent Kenny Peck (2nd in Sunday’s $15,000 event) were the winners of Sunday’s Monmouth Park Pick Your Prize qualifier.
Each won $2,000 entries plus $500 for travel. Look for Peck to spend some of his travel stipend at Max’s Hot Dogs…and the rest on betting vouchers.
Every now and then, you see a very high score show up in an unlikely tourney. Such was the case on Sunday.
With a score of $118.00—amassed through four wins and three places—Dan Lytwynec compiled the day’s high score across our featured tourneys. It came in a $59, 1-in-10 qualifier for the Santa Anita April Betting Challenge and won him a $500 entry. Leo Vukmanovich and Ronald Webster also won entries for their second- and third-place finishes, respectively. Vukmanovich’s score of $116.20 was only second-best in this contest, but as sharp-eyed readers may have already noted, it was good for $7,066 in the day’s $15,704 game.
At HorsePlayers on Sunday, Ken Jordan was hoping that #7 My Man Chuckles would capture the 7th at Santa Anita, which (by the clock) turned out to be the final contest race, and propel him to victory in the BCBC Low Ratio qualifier.
My Man Chuckles complied, but leader Robert Turner had My Man Chuckles as well, blocking Jordan and securing the $10,000 prize for himself.
In the day’s co-feature at HorsePlayers, John Vogel (3 wins, 1 place) and Sean Nolan…
…captured the two available NHC seats in Sunday’s “regular” qualifier.
Thanks for participating in what was an interesting weekend of racing—both on the contest front and the 3-year-old front. We’ll assemble another fun tourney menu for you for next weekend. Have a great week ahead.