On Memorial Day, Gary Machiz won both our $12,600 Pick & Pray and our NHC Lower Ratio qualifier. Little did we know he was just getting warmed up.
Machiz picked up $4,000 for finishing second in Saturday’s $20,000 cash tourney, then won seats to both The BIG One and the Saratoga Challenge on Sunday to cap a seven-day period that resulted in cash and prizes worth about $26,000 to him. Machiz, however, was far from the only big winner during the weekend that began on Friday, June 1.
Neal Thomas hit cap horse Secret Passage (BEL6) and 9-1 shot China Rider (BEL8) among his three winners and one runner up to capture top money of $5,044 in Friday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray that ended up with a final purse of $10,089. Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza had more winners, four, but his prices weren’t quite as big overall, and he settled for second money of $2,017.
On Saturday, everyone who took part in our $20,000 Guaranteed tourney were theoretical winners in that the event was run as an 11.4% overlay to the players. But before expected value becomes realized value, you have to pick some winners, and it was Mark Aylward who did the best job of that.
Aylward connected on three winners and three runners up to defeat the aforementioned Gary Machiz and claim the first prize of $9,000.
Saturday also featured the year’s first qualifier to the 2018 Orleans Fall Classic (October 11-13) and participation was robust.
The happy result of attracting so many entries was that we were able to award three $1,000 packages ($500 entry plus $500 travel). That meant a victorious day not just for winner Mr. Lindsay Hurst, but for second- and third-place finishers Howard Johnson and Sammy Toups.
At HorsePlayers on Saturday, Charles Still selected an impressive six winners out of 12 races…
…to earn a $10,000 entry in our BCBC qualifier. Still missed on the last-contest-race 16-1 winner at Monmouth, and it didn’t matter one bit.
Rich Nilsen, meanwhile, had to turn it on late in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier.
He hit Catholic Boy ($10.80, $2.90) and Anna May Our Queen ($34.80, $8.60) in the final two contest races to leapfrog the competition and earn an NHC berth along with runner up Samuel Homiack Jr.
On Sunday, the Gary Machiz assault continued.
Machiz had four winners and one place horse to rack up a score of $104.80 and win an all-inclusive package to The BIG One along with Steve Arrison, who won his seat by hitting the first two winners and then not collecting a thing until the next-to-last race when a $15.20 place payoff punched his ticket to Laurel.
Machiz didn’t finish first in our qualifier for the Saratoga Challenge, but he came out a winner nonetheless.
Just as he had done on Memorial Day, Machiz used the same picks in a live-format game as he did in a same-day Pick & Pray and won on both. Here, his score of $104.80 beat all but Cory Hodskins and his tally of $116.40. Both Hodskins and Machiz will move on to the Spa.
Hodskins didn’t score as well in our first qualifier for the 2018 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge, but it didn’t matter.
His slightly lower score here of $106.40, boosted significantly by Monmouth Race 7 winner Papadopalous ($36.00, $18.00), earned Hodskins a $3,500 package to the October 14 Keeneland tournament…to go along with his $3,500 package to the August 10-11 Saratoga tournaments.
Speaking of NYRA tournaments, Sunday offered our last-chance event for this Friday’s two-day Belmont Stakes Betting Challenge.
Congratulations to Darwin Labordo, whose three wins and two places got the job done for him with a score of $86.20. Darwin moves on to The Big Apple with a $10,500 package during what promises to be an extremely exciting weekend.
Sunday’s $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney was won by Jorge Cruz-Aedo.
If this result has a familiar ring to it, it should.
This time around, Cruz-Aedo only had three winners—compared to five the week before—but thanks to a $1 exacta payoff of $185.60 in the 7th at Monmouth, Cruz-Aedo was able to more than double up his opponents. Tune in next Sunday to see if Cruz-Aedo can pull off the Triple Crown…the day after that other Triple Crown attempt.
The richest tournament of Sunday was our $12,000 Guaranteed cash tourney which, this week, finished with a final pot of $12,597.
NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman recorded five wins and two places—including cashes in each of the last four contest races—to take the top money of $6,298.
Those same picks worked pretty well for Shurman over at HorsePlayers.
Even though both the $12,500 game at HorseTourneys and the NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers were live-format tourneys, Shurman played them like Pick & Prays, and that strategy paid off, given that his score was the highest of the day in a featured event. The only “catch” here was that Shurman, like the Hall of Famer that he is, was already double qualified for the NHC, so he was playing purely for the NHC Tour Points. (That’s kind of like when a horse runs for purse money only!). As a result, the NHC berths in this 2-seat-guaranteed tourney went to 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers Kevin Engelhard and John Gaspar.
James Zaccagnino scored almost as well as Shurman.
His five winners and two places (including winners in each of the final three races that added $54.00 to his total) resulted in a score of $119.40 and a $10,000 BCBC entry for Zaccagnino in our Low Ratio qualifier.
Thanks to all for playing and following along last weekend. We hope you can take part in a tourney or two during this upcoming week that will be highlighted by our $75,000 Guaranteed tourney (with no limit on how high the purse can grow) on Belmont Stakes Day. It should be exciting, lucrative and, from a racing standpoint, maybe even historic.