Super Sundays for Michael Caposio and Lawrence Kahlden; Ed Peters Brings Home the Friday Bread; Daniel Gallagher Takes Win-Place Event on Saturday; Exacta Game on Sunday (Weekend Recap February 1-3)

It is the 50th anniversary of the New York Jets’ improbable Super Bowl victory over the Baltimore Colts. So what better time—on Super Bowl Sunday, no less—to have a Cinderella performance on the last day of online qualifying to the upcoming NHC?

Caposio began Sunday on the outside looking in as far as the NHC was concerned, but after one terrific day of handicapping, he suddenly has to be considered a top contender. The California car dealer may not be going to Disneyland, but he’s certainly going to Treasure Island.

Not only did Caposio wait until the last day to work his magic, he waited until the last contest race for it all to come to fruition. He had four wins and two places to win our NHC Lower Ratio Pick & pray qualifier—a tourney that also saw Jose Garcia grab a seat. By far, the most important of those winners for Caposio (and Garcia too) was the 20-1 winner of the 8th at Santa Anita, Campaign, who paid $42.40 to win ($42.00 for contest purposes) and $13.00 to place.

It was a heart pounding race too (kind of the antithesis of the Super Bowl). For all the world, it looked like a 45-1 shot would win as the field turned for home. Then the favorite battled back along the rail inside the 45-1 shot to put his head back in front and give contest frontrunners momentary confidence. But then, from far back, Campaign came storming down the center of the sloppy Santa Anita main track to narrowly run down the top two down.

If you think the outcome made Caposio happy, you don’t know the half of it.

He left one of his four previously mentioned winners off this HorsePlayers open Low Ratio ticket…but not Campaign. Caposio thus earned not one but two entries to the NHC thanks largely to a single race.

Of course, since he waited so long to qualify for the NHC, Caposio will probably now have to dig deep and pay top dollar to book his flight this week to Las Vegas.

No problem!

In our $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, Caposio used the same picks as in the HorseTourneys NHC Lower Ratio Pick & Pray. The result: a payday of $6,212 from an overall final pot of $12,425. For Caposio, it was the kind of day that might make even Julian Edelman envious.

On Friday, Edelman may well have been envious of fellow New Englander Ed Peters.

The Pelham, N.H., owner of a breadmaking company had three winners—at odds of 16-1, 4-1 and 13-1, including Mongolian Groom ($28.80) in the next-to-last contest race, to take the winner’s share of $5,044, in Friday’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $10,089.

Peters fared well in the day’s Treasure Island NHC Last Chance qualifier too.

Karen Richards led the way here, but there were enough players to award six $500 TI entries and Peters accounted for two of them. Joining Richards and Peters as HorseTourneys qualifiers to the NHC eve competition will be Christopher Podratz, Darryl Mays and Scott Fitzgerald.

Jayson Rockett showed a big kick at the end of Friday’s Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier.

Rockett had five wins and a place. Three of those wins came in the final three races—the biggest of which was Mongolian Groom. And Rockett had Mongolian Groom only because his initial Pick & Pray selection in the 8th at Santa Anita was a late scratch—and because Rockett had made the effort to designate Mongolian Groom as his alternate selection.

The first of the weekend’s seven final online NHC seats went to Jeffrey Pesot on Friday.

This will be the second seat to the 2019 NHC for Pesot, who accomplished the strange feat of finishing 26th on the leaderboard for the 2018 NHC Tour (17,399 points) without managing to lock in a seat anywhere along the way. Obviously, Pesot eventually got seat #1 via tour points—and now he has seat #2.

Saturday’s star on the racetrack was Harvey Wallbanger, longshot winner of the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream—and his win/place return of $61.20 ($42.00 in contests) and $20.00 made stars out of several happy HorseTourneys backers.

The happiest of the Wallbanger bettors was probably Jon Petoskey, who had Harvey among his 3 winners and 3 runners up to cash for $11,493 in Saturday’s $17,500 Pick & Pray, which closed with a robust final pot of $25,541.

Going forward, Steve Abelman must have a soft spot for Harvey Wallbanger as well.

The Ken McPeek trainee was the only winner Abelman had in our NHC Lower Ratio qualifier. But that hit, added to four earlier placings, got him the coveted NHC seat.

There were 72 entries in Saturday’s 1-per-25 full package qualifier to the Horse Player World Series. Only one entrant had Harvey Wallbanger.

That one was Steve Nemetz and the longshot score will propel him to The Orleans with his hotel and travel covered. Tim Darnell abstained from Harvey Wallbanger but hit four of the first five tourney winners to finish second. And even though we didn’t hit 75 entries, we tossed in a third HPWS package…which went to John Millili.

Our Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifiers continue to run hot even though the event is more than two months away.

On the strength of six wins and two seconds, Daniel Gallagher led the way here to claim the first of the two available packages. It was a photo for second, with David Browning getting the other $3,500 package for April 14 by 80 cents over Nick Fazzolari.

Over at HorsePlayers, Iowa hawkeye Jeff Hartz scoped out two winners and four runners up.

Those six collections earned Hartz an NHC seat in Saturday’s Lower Ratio qualifier.

Gerald Naber, meanwhile, has nine months to look forward to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Naber had four wins plus a place to secure the $10,000 entry to the November 1-2 live-bankroll major.

Eleven featured tourneys went to the post on Sunday—and Michael Caposio wasn’t the day’s only multiple winner.

Lawrence Kahlden led a trio of $1,500 entry winners in Sunday’s Horse Player World Series entry-only contest. Finishing not far behind Kahlden, and also winning $1,500 entries were George Chute and Rudolph Hardin.

Kahlden used the same picks that earned him a score of $90.30 in the Horse Player World Series tourney in our Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Here, Kahlden finished ahead of all but Rick Broth, who heated up late with Michael Caposio’s new-favorite horse Campaign. Third-place finisher Ernest “Say” Hey, Jr. also had Campaign and thus earned a $2,000 entry to the August 3-4 Saratoga/Del Mar online event as well. Already 10 have qualified to “The Showdown.”

Daniel Gallagher was also a multiple Sunday winner of sorts.

His finish atop the standings of our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney was Gallagher’s only contest triumph of the day, but it came just 24 hours after he won our Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier, so we’re counting him as a multiple Sunday winner. (Author’s license!) Gallagher recorded six successful exactas from 12 three-horse-box plays to take down top money of $1,161 in an event worth a total of $2,323. Gallagher’s biggest exacta collection came on an $81.60 hit (for a dollar) in the Campaign race.

Slow and steady won the race for James Henry in Sunday’s Big Bucks tourney.

His winning total of $69.10 was built on three firsts and five seconds from 12 contest races, and he took home the top prize of $7,000. (None of the entrants had Campaign.) Actually, all eight of the Big Bucks contestants deserve kudos for knowing a good deal when they see one. For the second time in the last three editions of the Big Bucks game, we didn’t attract enough entries to cover our $10,000 Guarantee. That, of course, is our problem, not anyone else’s and when we advertise a $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, it means we pay out at least $10,000…no excuses, no revisions. So, basically all eight players were playing in a positive-expectation game in which there were $9,200 in entry fees but payouts of $10,000 (an 8% overlay). Not bad play if you can get it!

The BIG One takes place this year on September 21-22 at Laurel Park. Frankly, it wouldn’t seem like The BIG One if Brett Wiener (and his better half, Sarah Wiener) weren’t there because they are veritable fixtures at this event. Well, we’re happy to report that, once again, The BIG One will seem like The BIG One.

Wiener connected on four winners and two places to punch his ticket to suburban Baltimore…and he did it without the benefit of having longshot Campaign in the contest finale. Well done, Brett.

Sunday’s was also our final qualifier to Thursday’s Treasure Island NHC Last Chance tournament…so it was a Last Chance to the Last Chance, if you will.

Congratulations to Tony Calabrese, who led two ballroom tables’ worth of winners in this one. Canadian stalwart Russell Wilkes accounted for two of the 15 $500 entries won. The Stovall family, Carolyn and Mark, won a pair as well. Those four will be joined in the ballroom (even if not all at the same tables) by John Farrar, Gwyn Houston, David Curry, Joe Kasperski, Dan Brockman, Tom Boyd, 2018 HPWS Champ Bob Montgomery (a Canadian stalwart as well!), Joe Rodgers, Scott Fitzgerald (who also won a TI entry on Friday) and Howard Johnson.

In Sunday’s other two tourneys at HorsePlayers, William Kennedy capped off his NHC campaign with a victory, courtesy of Campaign, in the Low Ratio qualifier restricted to those yet to earn a 2019 NHC seat.

Kennedy hadn’t cashed a thing over the first eight races, but he finished strong with two wins (led by 20-1 Campaign) and a place to punch his late (standby?) ticket to Vegas.

Charley Witt’s Sunday triumph was more like an advance-purchase ticket.

Witt’s score of $88.50 earned him top honors—and a $10,000 entry—to November’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, now just a mere nine months away.

And with all that said, the stage is now set for the 20th annual NHC.

We wish the very best of luck (and safe travels) to all of you who will be competing in it—and in Thursday’s Last Chance tournament as well.

Apologies in advance as there will be no weekend recap next week. I’ll be on vacation…in Las Vegas, of course! I hope to see/meet all of you who will be out there at Treasure Island.

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