Triple-digit scores were hard to come by this weekend—a function of formful racing and, especially on Sunday, weather. But impressive tourney winners were in their usual strong supply at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers this past weekend. One of the most notable of the weekend came right off the bat on Friday.
Winning scores are usually high in a $75 NHC qualifier like we ran on Friday at HorsePlayers because they attract a lot of entries. Christopher Skotz and Christopher Olsson (the two best of six Christophers in the field) emerged victorious to take the NHC packages, but that was only half the story.
Skotz didn’t crack triple figures, but that was hard to do in a 10-race tourney in which nothing paid higher than 7-1. What Skotz did do, though, was select a remarkable eight winner out of those 10 races.
Shame on Skotz for missing the 7th and 10th at Laurel! Though they wouldn’t have added all that much to his total…they paid $5,60 and $9.80 to win, respectively.
Peter Behr of Canada won the 2013 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (thanks in large part to Ria Antonia) and he’ll try to become just the second two-time winner of the event this year at Churchill Downs thanks to his triumph in Friday’s BCBC Low Ratio qualifier.
Behr wasn’t exactly in Skotz territory with four wins, one place and a score of $57.70—but therein lies the beauty of playing in the Low Ratio tourneys. You don’t need anything approaching the day of a lifetime to succeed.
Mike Yurczyk had a similarly unspectacular yet very profitable Friday.
Yurczyk, the winner of a Keeneland qualifier two weeks earlier, recorded 3 wins and 2 places for a score of $69.40, but that was good for the first-place prize of $5,885 in Friday’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray which obviously blasted way past the guaranteed and wound up with a final pot of $11,770.
Saturday brought with it a nice mix of 12 races from Kentucky Downs, Belmont and Gulfstream, though scores were again on the low side. Of late, we’ve seen players like Darryl Lacy really have success zeroing in on cash games…and you can add Gary Machiz’s name to that list.
The former standardbred trainer (and current Thoroughbred and standardbred owner) won our first-ever “Big Bucks” tourney on Travers Day, earning $14,248, and here he $9,733 to his coffers with a victory, thanks to 5 winners and 2 runners up, in our $17,500 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a total purse of $21,269. Machiz’s recent roll should help cover the vet bills and then some, we hope.
Saturday’s high score of the day came, perhaps somewhat surprisingly, in our Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier.
It was Stephen Murray who cracked the century mark here, courtesy of his five winners and one place horse. Things didn’t start off looking to promising for Murray, but he collected in each of the final five tourney races to secure the $1,500 entry to the signature tournament at The Orleans.
Speaking of The Orleans, we had a Saturday qualifier to next month’s Fall Classic as well.
Congratulations to Steven Perreira (5 wins, 2 places) and Terrie Dean (4 wins, 1 place) who emerged with the $1,000 packages in this competition.
There was a pair of exciting Saturday tourneys at HorsePlayers—one for the NHC and the other for the BCBC. Tim Holland’s day in the BCBC qualifier went similarly to Stephen Murray’s in the HPWS event.
Holland had five winners—all of which came in the final seven contest races. Things weren’t settled, though, until he selected the winners of the final two races. That’s what enabled him to edge past Matt Bernier of Daily Racing Form and NBC Sports to grab the coveted $10,000 entry to the BCBC.
In the NHC Low Ratio qualifier at HP, Steven Simonovic proved that persistence pays off.
On Labor Day, Simonivic finished 10 cents out of third-place in a three-seat NHC qualifier when a 12-1 shot that he didn’t have crashed the party in the final contest race. The racing gods didn’t take long to make Simonovic whole. He only had two wins and three places here, but one of them was Proforma ($17.60, $8.40) in the 9th at Kentucky Downs and that was enough to pull in the NHC seat that had slipped from his fingertips just five days earlier.
Sunday was a crazy day. With Kentucky Downs canceling, our schedules stayed intact because we only used three Kentucky Downs races out of 12 (25%), which allowed us to press forward since HorseTourneys rules specify that tourneys go on as long as 70% of the originally-scheduled races take place. That left nine races from Belmont, Monmouth and Laurel, where the weather had taken an unforeseen (as of Friday) turn for the worse. The Belmont and Laurel races, in particular, had short fields, and yet players still scored well and won impressively…no one more so than Ret Grady.
The Round Hill, Va., human resources executive registered six winners (and no runners up) on Sunday to win $10,500 in the day’s Big Bucks tourney, which was run with no takeout to the players and at a 5% loss to HT after deposit fee credits were factored in. It’s been a pretty terrific week for Grady, who many will remember won $11,286 in our September 1 $25,000 Pick & Pray. But wait…Grady wasn’t done yet!
Playing the same picks that she used in the Big Bucks game, won another $5,004 in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Total for her day: $15,504. Total for her last eight days: $26,790.
There is no truth to the rumor that Grady is trying to shift her employer’s collective 401(k) assets into her HorseTourneys account. Though we wouldn’t blame her employer, actually, if it was game to do so…though there could be some compliance issues in play there.
In the day’s other cash game, Alistair Wallbaum connected on five exactas, including a $168.50 hit (for a buck) to earn $1,400 in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.
This was another tourney that was operated at no takeout to players and at a loss to HorseTourneys. We hope to see Wallbaum’s name in the upper echelon of the standings more often in the future—the name is somewhat reminiscent of a cross between a British historian and an old New York supermarket chain owner. Now that’s an outcross!
(“Everybody Loves Raymond” fans will recall Waldbaum’s as the provider of Ray’s backup set of luggage in the classic “suitcase on the stairs” episode: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7oyKzTMv1BI )
Getting back to horse racing, Tim Darnell and Jon “Hurricane” Hurd were the winners of two of the four remaining all-inclusive packages to The BIG One.
Hurd an already earned a The BIG One berth (which includes hotel, travel stipend, welcome dinner and open bar and buffet for both days at Laurel) and only one entry per player is permitted. However, berths to The BIG One are fully transferable, so look for Hurd (runner up in the 2017 The BIG One) to invite friend Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza, who figures to be a strong presence at The BIG One provided that the Pennsylvania optometrist can navigate the live format…and provided he isn’t preoccupied wagering on Sunday’s NFL football games! We can only hope the New York stewards do not play too large a role in the weekend proceedings, though things may get colorful if they do.
Just two online berths remain available for The BIG One, by the way, and those will be up for grabs next Sunday in a last-chance qualifier.
Ernest “Say” Hey Jr. and Kenny McMahan continued their winning ways on Sunday—and both in the same qualifier.
Hey won a BCBC qualifier on August 17 and McMahan took an NHC qualifier on Labor Day. Here they ran one-two to each earn $3,500 packages to next month’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.
On Sunday, we hosted our last-chance qualifier to next Saturday’s Woodbine Mile Horseplayers Tournament.
With five wins and one place, Dan Weisenburger narrowly bested Sheldon Usprech to capture the $3,500 (Cdn.) entry plus $500 (U.S.) for travel. Look for Usprech to play at Woodbine anyway, though. As the winner of the recent Woodbine Weekend Horseplayers Tournament, Usprech is near the top of the standings for the Woodbine Player of the Year Award, which offers cash and a Sovereign Award to the top points accumulator.
There were three featured tourneys at HorsePlayers on Sunday. In the day’s NHC qualifier, it was Traci Richards and Lawrence Kahlden who finished in the top two to win the Vegas berths.
For the Richards family, it has been a successful week. Traci’s husband Myles (a former final-table contestant) won an NHC seat on Labor Day at HorsePlayers.
Elsewhere at HorsePlayers, Ryan Mueller grabbed the $10,000 entry in Sunday’s BCBC Super Low Ratio qualifier…
…and Tim Haas and George Bosch squeaked out $2,000 packages in the qualifier for the NTRA/Belmont Park Super Qualifier.
For Bosch, the difference between winning a grand prize and not was his two place collections in the final two contest races. These two place returns were for $3.20 and $2.40 respectively, but that did the trick.
Every little bit counts—and sometimes it counts a lot.
Have a great week, and we hope you can join us again next weekend.