It’s a sinking feeling when a bomb wins a contest race, and you don’t have it. There were no such feelings in featured tourney action at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers this weekend—because no bombs won!
In Friday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $9,584, the two highest priced winners (both from Laurel) from the 10 contest races paid $21.80 and $11.60.
John Meyer had both of those “giant for this day” winners. And he added a couple of other winners and runners up to eke out the top prize of $4,792 over Greg Gass ($1,916). Five of Meyer’s six contest collections came in the first six races, which kept Meyer on or near the lead the whole way. It’s always a little less nervewracking to win tourneys that way!
We took a day off from high-prize featured tourneys on Saturday with most people focused on the Derby. But we were back at it on Sunday—a day that, by comparison, made Friday look like a parade of longshots.
From 12 featured-tourney races on Sunday, the highest win payoff was $11.40. Kevin Willett didn’t have that 9-2 shot.
But there weren’t many others that Willett missed in our 2-seat-guaranteed qualifier for The BIG One. The 59-year-old property developer from Hastings, Neb., selected eight winners in the Pick & Pray to win an all-inclusive package to the September extravaganza at Laurel along with runner up Mike Sylvester, who punched his ticket to The BIG One with five winners and two places.
Regardless of payoffs, getting eight out of 12 races right is no mean feat. And it makes for a beautiful looking score sheet.
Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier was a live-format tourney, and Kevin Willett took a shot in here as well. Here, he didn’t do quite as well, picking “just” four winners and two runners up—but that was good enough.
The low returns meant that you only needed to score in the 60s to win one of the three available Monmouth seats, and so Willett will be joined at the Jersey Shore on June 2 by Steve Nowicki and Blaise Guadagno.
Scores were even lower in Sunday’s live-format qualifier for the Belmont Stakes Handicapping Challenge.
Contest veteran Ken Seeman prevailed here to win the $10,000 Belmont weekend entry. (He and Anthony Mattera were the only two to post a flat-bet profit.) Seeman also won an additional $500 for the travel expenses he will incur on what will be a 15.6-mile journey to Elmont from his residence in Wantagh, N.Y.
In our qualifier for the Saratoga Challenge, Aaron Bernstein and Christopher Fischer finished atop the heap to earn the $3,500 packages—good for each of the two, single-day tourneys at the Spa.
Bernstein had five winners and four places. Fischer selected more winners, six, but fewer runners up, one, to grab the second spot. Both Bernstein and Fischer had the winners of the last two tourney races to secure their grand prizes.
Hitting the last two races might seem like child’s play to Frank Fosbre.
Fosbre hit the last four to give him five victories on the day and take the $1,000 first prize in Sunday’s $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney. This event was run with a takeout rate of just 0.8%.
The richest tourney of our weekend was Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a total purse of $23,470.
Sam DeCicco racked up a score of $88.00 (Only Kevin Willett scored higher during the weekend) on the strength of six winners plus a runner up. Those cashes allowed the Kingston, N.Y. paving contractor to roll to victory and pocket $10,561.
DeCicco did more winning over at HorsePlayers.
Sunday’s 2-seats-guaranteed NHC qualifier was a live-format event, but DeCicco used the very same 12 horses as in the $23,470 tourney to grab an NHC berth along with runner up Jeff Arthur.
Here’s the 12-pack of runners that led to DeCicco flattening his competition:
The other Sunday featured event was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.
Vic Stauffer broke like a shot, opening up daylight on the field with winners in the first four races. With a win and two places thereafter, he remained straight and strong to the wire to earn the big $10,000 BCBC entry. Just eight days earlier, Stauffer won an NHC seat for his top-9 finish at the Treasure Island Wager to Win tourney.
So that was Derby weekend (minus the Derby) at HorseTourneys. You won’t have to worry about a Preakness weekend without the Preakness, though. The middle jewel of the Triple Crown will be the highlight of a large menu of tourneys, including a special up-to-$150,000 event.
Of course, there will be plenty of excitement between now and then, including several lucrative live-format games next weekend. Maybe we’ll even see a longshot or two come in! Thanks for being a part of last weekend’s fun, and may you have a great week ahead.