Anthony Trezza, an optometrist with a practice in Denville, N.J., had been on a self-imposed break from horse race handicapping of late. Given how much Trezza enjoys watching and wagering on NFL action, the first week of the playoffs did not seem the likeliest time for him to get off the horse racing “sidelines” but that’s what he did, and it proved to be a prescient move.
Of course, it probably didn’t hurt that this past weekend featured plenty of Pick & Prays—Trezza’s preferred format. On Sunday, Trezza took the rubber bands off his wallet and fired away with gusto, entering both the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney and the more traditional, $195-buy-in, $10,000 Guaranteed game as well.
Contest-race winners came in at a variety of payoff points—not too much chalk, no gigantic bombs. It meant that there were many conceivable routes to victory. Trezza had five of those winners plus three runners up to amass a total of $90.40—good for a narrow Big Bucks victory worth $10,686 in a 15-entry game ultimately worth a total of $15,266. The most momentous of Trezza’s tallies came in the last race with an appropriately named 7-2 shot, All Out Blitz. That gained Trezza the yardage he needed and left Jon Petoskey ($3,053) sacked in second place.
Trezza’s same 12 selections also found paydirt in Saturday’s “regular” (Little Bucks?) $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Here, the victory was worth a winner’s share of $6,557 to Trezza—from an overall pot of $13,095. What it perhaps somewhat interesting to note here is that, unlike in the Big Bucks tourney, Trezza was leading heading into the final race of this one. And he wound up winning this one by a greater final margin—even though there were more than five times the number of entries here (76) as opposed to in the Big Bucks game (15). At any rate, Trezza’s total combined earnings in these two Pick & Prays: $17,243. Not a bad day of watching racing…and football.
Lawrence Kahlden was third behind Trezza in the $13,095 game. On Friday, however, Kahlden took a back seat to no one in the day’s featured cash tourney.
Kahlden had just two winners (plus three places) out of 10 winners. But one of those winners was the 21-1 Sand Drift who captured race 7 at Gulfstream. Sand Drift proved to be a nearly essential horse to have all across Friday’s featured events, and here the longshot helped lead to a $4,035 payday for Kahlden in a Pick & Pray worth a total of $8,071. Kahlden, in fact, was the only player of 45 to have the South Florida bomb.
Friday’s high score was put up by Steven Culhane.
He had Sand Drift plus four other winners en route to a total of $112.30 and victory in our Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier.
As you might expect, all the top finishers had Sand Drift (#4 in the 7th at Gulfstream) in our $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
The two players who did the best job of padding their totals around the Sand Drift hit were Travis Foelsch (4 wins, 1 place) and Timothy Vatne (3 wins, 2 places). As a result, both got their tickets punched to Vegas.
Back here at HorseTourneys, Friday’s Treasure Island NHC Last Chance tournament qualifier proved that there is always an exception to every rule.
Scott Cavalieri didn’t prove that—because he, too, had Sand Drift among his three winners. However, runner up Michael Tomatz was the one top-prize winner to miss Sand Drift and live to tell about it. Five winners and one place in a 10-race tourney can certainly make up for a multitude of sins!
On Friday, it was Sand Drift. On Saturday, it was another Gulfstream Park turf winner, Casa Creed ($27.40, $8.80), who was instrumental in the victories of many. David Sullivan was one of those “many.”
Sullivan had the turf debuting Casa Creed plus two other winners and three places to earn $9,836 in our richest cash game of the weekend, our $17,500 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a purse of $21,859.
In our Horse Player World Series full-package qualifier, it was Joseph Muzio who showed the way.
Muzio’s four winners all came consecutively in mid-tourney and left his competition behind. There were enough entries for three entry-hotel-and-travel packages, though, so Ted Hanna and Todd Love were presumably just fine with finishing second and third, respectively, behind Muzio.
Casa Creed…and Joseph Muzio’s mid-tourney streak…notwithstanding, a recurring theme throughout Saturday’s featured action was outstanding “late game” handicapping that helped several players reach their objectives.
Frank McCloud had 2 wins and 3 places, but none of those five collections was more important to him (or so it seemed) than Cleopatra’s Strike’s gutty runner-up perfomance in the San Gabriel Stakes, the final race of the Saturday featured events. The place payoff of $5.80 in the three-horse photo meant a $3,500 package to April’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble for McCloud.
There were also four guaranteed NHC seats on the line on Saturday—two here and two at HorsePlayers. Mike Martin (5 wins, 2 places) and Bruce Pratt (3 firsts, 4 seconds) were the only two Saturday players to turn in triple-digit scorecards.
That got each of them NHC berths in Saturday’s Lower Ratio qualifier. Three of those seven collections for Pratt came in the final three contest races.
Jorge Cruz-Aedo had a very similar “running line” in Saturday’s NHC “Maiden Special”.
In this event restricted to those without a 2019 NHC berth, Cruz-Aedo recorded a win and two places from the final three races to rise from the seeming dead and take home the NHC seat. Overall, the Texan had 3 wins and 3 places.
Saturday’s other NHC qualifier was a $500 buy-in, Low Ratio tourney.
Competition was lighter (numbers wise) due to the entry fee, but Gary Sutton left no doubts by posting a formidable score of $94.90 (via 4 wins and 3 runners up), which allowed him to win by daylight here. Good luck at the NHC!
There were Sunday fireworks in addition to Anthony Trezza’s exploits (and Cody Parkey’s missed field goal attempt). Perhaps the most notable of those others came in our Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier where the Saturday theme of strong finishes continued.
There was a large turnout of 87 entries in this one-winner-per-30 tourney. We added in a third $12,500 Pegasus package, and that was good news for “show” finisher Ryan Flanders. Ahead of Flanders, and also earning five-figure packages, were Edward Enborg (5 wins, 2 places) and Dennis Montoro (6 wins, 1 place). Let’s just say, though, that things weren’t looking too good for Enborg after the first five races of the 12-race contest. Here’s his scoresheet:
I would call this a Silky Sullivan performance (even if that horse was a bit before my time). Those a bit younger than I might prefer to call it a Forego performance. Those younger still might be more comfortable with “a Zenyatta performance.”
Anyway, for those who don’t know, Silky Sullivan was one of the biggest stars of the late 1950s in Southern California. He came from 26 lengths behind under Bill Shoemaker to win the 1958 Santa Anita Derby. He won another race coming from 41 lengths out of it. He was pretty much the toast of the town back then.
Perhaps Silky Sullivan’s biggest contribution to fans everywhere—one that lives on today—is the introduction of the “split-screen” shot in televised sports. Since Silky Sullivan was the 1958 Kentucky Derby co-favorite (along with Tim Tam) and since everyone knew he’d be way behind early, CBS saved a corner of the screen during the race for an unprecedented, separate-but-simultaneous shot focused only on Silky Sullivan. Alas, screen 2 never quite met up with Screen 1 as Silky Sullivan finished 12th behind Tim Tam. But the split-screen endured—and so, we hope, will Edward Enborg’s run of good fortune.
The Treasure Island NHC Last Chance tournament is a hot ticket lately with the event now just a month away. We had a whopping nine winners of $500 entries in our most recent qualifier to it on Sunday.
Congratulations to Jared Black, Bart Powell, Chris Williams, John Vogel, Joe Johnson, Mark Sano, Lorne Weiss, and Michael Kavana who won two entries for finishing 7th and 9th.
Competition has also been fierce for Horse Player World Series spots. On Sunday, we awarded the fourth, fifth and sixth such prizes of the weekend.
Joseph Karabaich led the pack thanks to five wins and a runner up. Behind Karabaich—and also winning $1,500 entries—were Robert Courtney (4 wins, 2 places) and Brett Wiener (4 wins, 1 place).
No Sunday recap is complete without mention of our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which was won this week by Grier Bibby.
Bibby connected on three exactas—most notably a $109.90-for-one-dollar hit on the 10th at Gulfstream, that led Bibby to the top prize of $929 in a game that closed with a pot of $1,327.
As has been the custom of late, Sunday also offered a “regular” NHC qualifier with two seats guaranteed at HorsePlayers.
This event showcased the high score of the day, courtesy of Mark Rudy and his five victories and three seconds. Not far behind Rudy was Emily Kyrillou who finished just a place runner shy of Rudy’s collection count and also earned a trip to the NHC.
We close with some out-of-town results. Justin Mustari, Tim Herboth and Joshua Thorpe were the big winners in the NHC qualifier at Hawthorne on Friday.
While Michael Mulvihill, 2013 NHC Champ Jim Benes and Don Allen ruled the day in ChiTown on Saturday.
Meanwhile, at Saturday’s NHC Super Qualifier at Santa Anita, the exacta was filled by the uncoupled Matties entry!
That’s 2016 NHC winner Paul Matties Jr. on top of the heap and “full brother” Duke Matties in second. Not only was this entry uncoupled, but the two top-flight, contest-playing siblings were separated by about 3,000 miles with upstate New Yorker Paul playing via Xpressbet and West Coaster Duke participating live onsite at The Great Race Place. Interestingly (in the minds of some perhaps), Donald Allen finished third behind the Matties brothers playing live at Santa Anita on Saturday, while Don Allen finished third playing live on Saturday at Hawthorne.
Rest assured, they are not the same person. That would have required one truly magical split screen.