It was a live-format weekend at HorseTourneys and, as usual, that paved the way for plenty of post-parade study, last-minute checking of the odds and topsy-turvy finishes in which nothing was certain until the final race was over.
The one featured tourney that was a Pick & Pray was Friday’s up-to-$10,000 tourney, and even that one came down to the last couple of races.
This event was sold out for the third consecutive week, and while the final standings may give the impression that John Walters (winner of $5,044) had everything his own way, he actually had to do some pretty fancy shootin’ at the end to claim his bounty.
So did Alfred MacPhee on Saturday.
MacPhee picked six winners out of 12 races in the $20,000 Guaranteed tourney that wound up with a final pot of $28,072. (Ignoring last week’s blog, he didn’t bother with any runners up!) However, it was the last two victories that made the difference for MacPhee.
In the next-to-last contest race, MacPhee inched past Alan Baze with 7-2 winner Mesa Sky in the 9th at Santa Anita. Then in the nightcap, Santa Anita’s 10th, MacPhee blocked Baze by selecting the same horse that he did—Aquaphobia, who reported home first at 2-1.
For the 30-cent victory, MacPhee took home $12,632, while Baze had to settle for $5,053.
Over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, the always-tough Kyle Fitzgerald captured an NHC berth.
Fitzgerald recorded four wins and a place—slightly better than the four wins and no places of “The Commissioner” Tim Smith. However, Smith’s score was good enough by about $11.00 to capture the second available NHC berth since third-place finisher Jobby Blevins (and also the fifth-place Joe Johnson) was already double qualified and simply playing for NHC Tour points.
There was also a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier on Saturday at HorsePlayers that turned out well for G.T. Nixon.
Nixon wasn’t playing checkers in this tourney. He tried to steal the $10,000 entry early by reeling off three consecutive winners at 14-1, 8-1 and 18-1. Nixon is not a crook, though. He added a 7-2 victory later in the game to hold the top prize safe from runner up Ken Seeman.
Sunday was another day of live-format featured tourneys, and on this day it was a 20-1 shot—not a 2-1 shot—that captured the final tournament race. That made for some late-game leapfrogging, including in the day’s richest tourney, our $12,000 guaranteed event that finished with a purse of $13,115.
Travis Pearson’s selection of Hot American ($42.20…reduced to $42.00 for contest purposes….to win and $18.00 to place) sent him from 8th to first place—good for $6,557. Kirk Tesar (winner of a $75,000 tourney last year) closed from 18th to be 2nd. The leader going into the last race was Adam Thoutt, winner of last weekend’s $100,000 Guaranteed contest. Thoutt wound up finishing 4th and 5th—with the entry that had been ahead finishing one place behind his other entry, which DID have Hot American.
Hot American wound up biting Thoutt a second time in the BCBC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Thoutt was leading this one as well entering the last race, but was passed by a pair of Hot American backers including victor Jim Meeks. Through 11 races, Meeks had three winners and three places. His single biggest return from any of those six race collections was $8.40 ($4.90 to win and $3.50 to place) prior to the $60 win-place windfall in the nightcap.
In the other HorsePlayers featured event on Sunday, Nick Cochanski didn’t have Hot American and it didn’t matter one bit.
That’s because his rampage of six winners and three places left all but Kenny McMahan and Tim Stupka more than a capper behind. Fortunately for Cochanski, neither McMahan nor Stupka chose the Santa Anita bomb.
Back at HorseTourneys, there was another featured event on which Hot American wound up having no impact.
It was the last-chance qualifier for next weekend’s Santa Anita April Challenge. Winning $500 entries to that competition were Daniel Kaplan, Christopher Podratz and Chick Matties.
On February 10th of this year, Chris Littlemore won the NHC. Shortly after the momentous victory, Littlemore told me that two of his main objectives for the balance of 2018 were to qualify for the Keeneland Grade 1 Gamble and the Saratoga Challenge.
Two weeks after the NHC, on February 24, Littlemore won a seat to the Keeneland event here at HorseTourneys. The Grade 1 Gamble was this past Sunday (won by another Canadian, John Kimove). Littlemore didn’t finish highly in that muddy Lexington event but, while there, he opened up his laptop (telephone?) and took a shot in that day’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier at HorseTourneys.
Sometimes it pays to multi-task and, as George W. Bush and Donald Trump might say, “Mission Accomplished!” for Littlemore in terms of his 2018 Keeneland and Saratoga goals. Joining Littlemore at the Spa will be Temecula, Calif., auto dealership owner Michael Caposio…who, like Littlemore, caught Hot American in the final contest race.
Bob Gilbert was another who rode Hot American to a qualifier victory.
Gilbert will be joined at the June 2 Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament by Howard Blumberg, who tallied $85.10 without the benefit of Hot American.
Last but not least, Robert Hannan was the winner of Sunday’s $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which finished with a pot of $2,485.
Robert connected on four exactas out of 12 races, including a $123.90 hit (for a buck) in the 8th at Keeneland.
Whether you played from Keeneland or your living room, we thank you all for participating in another exciting weekend at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers.