Impressive performances abounded during the sandwich weekend between the Derby and Preakness. Arguably the closest, most exciting finish, though, took place right off the bat on Friday.
Not only were John Kennedy and Bill Duncliffe in a flat-footed tie at $79.20 heading into the last race of Friday’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray (reduced to eight races due to a mid-card Pimlico cancellation), there was no good way to tell who had the edge given that Kennedy and Duncliffe had built their scores using the exact same four horses (three wins and a place). So not even the HorseTourneys stewards would have been able to separate them.
Fortunately for Kennedy (and our “stewards”), he snagged a $4,40 place collection courtesy of Prickly Kitten in the final contest race (the 10th at Gulfstream) to prevail over Duncliffe, whose final selection was off the board. That meant a winner’s share of $5,548 for Kennedy and second-money of $2,219 for Duncliffe in a well-attended game that closed with a purse of $11,097.
We offered our first-ever Friday qualifier to the Spa & Surf Showdown last week. (Look for these on a weekly basis going forward.)
David Snyder’s big horse was Majid ($28.20, $9.90) in the 8th at Belmont. That winner plus one other and a pair of placings landed him the $2,000 entry for the $100,000 Guaranteed online event on August 3-4 that will focus solely on races from Saratoga and Del Mar.
Those $75 NHC qualifiers at HorsePlayers always draw a nice crowd, and last Friday’s was no exception. Here, the HorseTourneys stewards WERE pressed into service.
James Morgan led the way in this two-seats-guaranteed affair. He had Majid along with three other winners. Behind Morgan, there was tie for second between Glen Bird and Peter Osella with $76.10. Our stewards studied the evidence for 22 minutes, then issued the following, carefully-worded statement:
“We have determined that Mr. Bird had three winners, while Mr. Osella had two winners. Therefore, Mr. Bird is the winner of the second NHC seat.”
The stewards declined to take questions from the media following their announcement.
Thankfully, the spotlight on Saturday was off our stewards and squarely on our winners…most notably, Peter Rogers.
The Summit, N.J., resident recorded an incredible nine winners—including six in a row at one point—to capture the weekend’s richest event, Saturday’s $17,500 Guaranteed cash tourney. Here’s a look at Peter’s scoresheet:
For the gaudy performance, Rogers received top money of $8,594 in a game worth $19,098. He did not do as well in Saturday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier.
Here, Rogers faltered and only had eight winners! Still, it was plenty good enough to earn a $3,500 package to the Spa on August 9-10 to go with his cash winnings.
It wasn’t the case for Rogers, but for most of the other Saturday tourney winners, a key horse was the 33-1, first-time-turf winner of the 11th race at Monmouth, Dharmaster.
The Michael Trombetta-trained, Reylu Gutierrez-ridden gelded son of Bodemeister was on the tickets of both Thoma Ealy (3 wins, 3 places) and “Minnesota Mike” Ferrozzo (2 wins, 2 places), advancing both to the NHC in Saturday’s qualifier here at HorseTourneys.
Jason Avila also had Dharmaster among his three wins (that went along with three places).
That all added up to the high score of the day, $130.10, and a $3,000 entry for Jason in the Santa Anita Spring Challenge. This was our first qualifier to the June 22 event. Look for these each week, between now and contest day.
Dharmaster was also vital to Al Roehl over at HorsePlayers.
The Monmouth longshot was one of just three collections for Roehl (two wins and a place), but it was enough in this Super Low Ratio contest to propel Al to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge with a $10,000 entry already paid for.
Joseph Maneen, Jr., meanwhile, took a different route to the BCBC.
Maneen played in Saturday’s “regular” qualifier…which meant a $179 entry fee rather than $1,000…and he got to the top without having Dharmaster. Five winners and two seconds more than made up for his Monmouth omission.
There’s a lot to unpack from Sunday’s 10 featured tourneys. One such item in the Sunday suitcase is Craig Hom’s latest cash-game score.
Two weeks ago, Hom accounted for the $17,500 Guaranteed tourney (in which he won $9,008), the $10,000 Guaranteed tourney (the first prize here was $6,730)…and also the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. When you do as well as Craig does, you can certainly afford the higher-end events, and Hom made his $1,195 entry in Sunday’s Big Bucks game count. His modest score of $63.60 was good for first-money of $9,261. This victory, though, came with a twist I don’t think I’ve ever seen before.
Hom connected in the first contest race with Treste Kanta ($30.20, $12.20 in the 7th at Gulfstream). His total collection in the race, $42.40, was more than any of his opponents mustered during the entire tourney.
At the other end of the entry-fee spectrum from the Big Bucks game was our $8 Pick Six Jackpot tourney.
Samuel Wininger won this won with three winners out of six races. And since no one got all six correct, it means a jackpot of $1,671 will be up for grabs should one (or more than one) go six-for-six next week.
Like Craig Hom in the Big Bucks game, Michael Caposio did most of his damage early in Sunday’s qualifier for The BIG One.
Check that—the Orange County auto dealership executive did ALL of his damage early. Caposio hit the first three winners at odds of 14-1, 3-1 and 17-1. Then he blanked for the last nine races, but it didn’t matter. He still prevailed by $24.30 to capture the all-inclusive package to The BIG One—an event that Caposio led after Day 1 in 2016.
The $100,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown has no back history since this year’s Showdown will be the inaugural edition of the online contest. Already 45 have earned $2,000 entries for August 3-4.
The latest two to punch their cybertickets to the Showdown are John W. Matviko (6 wins, 2 places) and Francis Drew (7 wins, 3 places!) who put quite a bit of distance between themselves and the others with their gaudy strike rates. Obviously once we get up and over the 50-qualifier mark, the purse of the Showdown will start to grow beyond $100,000. We’ll keep you apprised of Showdown purse developments as each week passes.
It seems that one track players love traveling to for contests is Monmouth Park. Perhaps it is for the accessibility that Newark Airport affords. Or it could be because Brian Skirka always puts on a well-organized event. Or maybe it’s just the wonderful, somewhat old-school Monmouth Park atmosphere. Whatever it is, the qualifiers to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament on June 1 have been very popular (especially as June draws near).
There were enough entries in this one to award four $2,500 packages, and they went to 2018 NHC Champion Chris Littlemore, Joe Scanio, Jason Alonzo and Lawrence Kahlden. Littlemore and Kahlden will, thus, be enjoying that Newark Airport hospitality (or at least convenience) from their respective bases in Ontario and Tampa/St. Pete. Meanwhile we wish Scanio and Alonzo pleasant drives down the Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway.
We’re halfway through the Sunday recap. The remaining five tourneys all have a common thread. We’ll start with the $10,000 Guaranteed cash game.
Evan Trommer (second behind Craig Hom in the Big Bucks game) had five firsts and one second here, including three winners from the first four contest races, to take the top prize of $6,126 in this live-format cash game that closed with a final purse of $12,252. Sean O’Malley came in second to earn $2,450.
You don’t often see the Sunday cash game winner play in (let alone win) the Sunday $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney. But this past weekend, that oddity was one-upped.
Replicating their one-two finish in the $12,252 event, Evan Trommer and Sean O’Malley filled out the exacta in the Exacta tourney as well. Trommer (four winning exactas) earned $1,006. O’Malley got $287.
Steve Terelak has been playing contests pretty much since horse racing contests were even a thing. After a five-win, one-place day, his next appearances will be at Saturday’s Santa Anita Preakness Challenge.
And what do you know? Look who finished second to Terelak! This time, second place was a lot less punitive to O’Malley. In fact, it wasn’t punitive at all since there were enough entries to award two $3,500 packages in this qualifier.
There were two featured events on Sunday at HorsePlayers. While the website was different, one of the day’s recurrent themes stayed exactly the same.
Lucas Van Zandt hit a $4.40 place collection in the very last race to win the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier and make a runner up out of Sean O’Malley yet again. This one was a particularly tough beat for O’Malley. Van Zandt earned a $10,000 BCBC entry; O’Malley had to settle for a $500 breakage credit.
A resident of the Nutmeg State (Connecticut), Van Zandt has been on a roll of late. Since April 20, he has won seats to the Spa & Surf Showdown, The BIG One and now the BCBC. He also won $5,694 in a cash game on April 21. Given the success, it’s not a shock that he took the same picks he used in the Sunday BCBC qualifier and played them in the Sunday NHC qualifier.
And so did Sean O’Malley! This meant that Van Zandt was again first, and O’Malley—for an incredible fifth time on Sunday—finished second. Here, Van Zandt’s $4.40 last-race place payoff moved him from third to first. And, happily, second for O’Malley here meant an NHC seat since two spots were on the table.
It could have been such a fabulous day for O’Malley…but it was still a darned good one. He earned seats to the NHC and Santa Anita Preakness Challenge plus cash/credits of $3,237.
And lest O’Malley get the undeserved reputation of being always a Best Man and never a Groom, we call your attention to the results of Sunday’s feeder for next Saturday’s $75,000 Guaranteed Preakness Day cash game.
Finally the luck of the Irish was fully with O’Malley. And maybe, by this time next week, the last laugh will have been his.