On what was an All Optional Live weekend at HorseTourneys, we saw players win more than one contest, and we also saw players with two entries in a tourney collect on both. Damian Terenzio accomplished both feats.
Terenzio hit the final-race winner among his five-win, two-place day…and that last pick served to block runner up William Smith in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $11.266. Terenzio’s ability to hold onto his lead meant a payday of $5,633 for him, and $2,253 for Smith.
We mentioned that a couple of players managed to win twice during the weekend. Terenzio was the only one to spread his victories out over different days.
Not only did Terenzio lead the way in Sunday’s Stars & Stripes Challenge qualifier that offered $500 entries to the top five, he managed to get third place (and a second $500 entry) with his other ticket. So Terenzio could be feeling twice as patriotic on July 6 at Belmont…where Alexander Calzi, Thomas Holland and Blaise Guadagno will also be on hand to take on Terenzio once more.
The weekend’s All Optional Live tourneys kicked off on Saturday, and the day’s big winner was Ken Seeman.
Scores were low on what was a rather chalky day. Seeman had just two winners (and no runners up) in Saturday’s $17,500 Guaranteed tourney, which ended up with a final purse of $18,177, but he chose those winners/races wisely. One was 20-1 Friendly Lover Stakes victor Visionary Ruler at Monmouth, and that collection, plus another on a 6-1 shot, trumped Anthony Trezza’s combo of Visionary Ruler and a 7-2 shot. When the HorseTourneys accountants were done on their adding machines, Seeman had collected $9,088, while Trezza cashed for $3,635.
Thanks to the win, Seeman will have no trouble affording a pricey hotel room in Saratoga Springs —and on August 9th, he’s going to need one.
Seeman did his cash game score one better—or one place horse better, to be more precise, in our Saratoga Challenge qualifier. To his earlier tally, he added a $22.00 place collection in the 14th race at Gulfstream, which got him first place (and a $3,500 Saratoga package) over George Chute, who also won a package. Chute often opts for steadier returns in his contest play rather than shooting for the moon with big bombs. So it wasn’t surprising to see that George had seven collections (via two wins and five places) to Seeman’s three. However, Chute certainly got aggressive Saturday and it was three of his place payoffs—worth $16.80, $22.00 and $9.70, respectively—that made the difference and allowed him to grab the second Saratoga package. The $22.00 and $9.70 returns came in the day’s final two races.
So Seaman and Chute are heading to the Spa…and Tony Martin is now heading to the Spa & Surf.
Martin became the 65th to earn a $2,000 entry for the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown here at HorseTourneys by recording three wins and a pair of placings. Tappitty Tappitty, a 5-1 winner in the 11th at Woodbine wound up putting Martin over the top.
Bruce Pratt had just one winner (Visionary Ruler) in our Orleans Fall Classic qualifier.
However, Pratt added place payoffs of $16.80 and $22.00 to his total, and it added up to what was an emphatic $32.30 margin of victory that earned him a $1,000 package ($500 entry plus $500 travel) to the October 17-19 event at The Orleans.
We offered two “first-chance” qualifiers on Saturday. One was to the October 13 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.
Christopher Podratz rolled up what was a very big score for the day to be the first to secure his place at Keeneland in the fall. He had 20-1 Monmouth winner Visionary Ruler, plus two other firsts and five seconds to capture the $3,500 Kentucky package.
The other first-chancer was for a spot in the Hawthorne OTBs Summer NHC qualifier on July 20-21, and the winner was a familiar name in horse racing—and contest—circles.
Heading to an OTB of his choice in Chicagoland will be NHC Hall of Famer Stephen Wolfson (some may know him more readily as Steve Wolfson, Sr.). The son of Affirmed’s owner Louis Wolfson and the sire of 2003 NHC Champ (and fellow NHC Hall of Famer) Steve Wolfson, Jr., Stephen used nine of his 10 plays in the All Optional Live game over the final 11 available races to win the $800 in entry fees.
Wolfson, is more than just a great handicapper and father of a great handicapper, by the way. Any of us who love tournament play owe him an extra salute for his role in developing and organizing tournaments in Las Vegas long before the NHC was even a twinkle in Steve Crist’s and Tim Smith’s eye. Without the success of those early Vegas contests, who knows if we’d have contests at all now?
Before we move on to the HorsePlayers side of the street, one quick aside about Saturday’s All Optional Live action:
We had this format in place a few years ago (before my time at HorseTourneys, actually), then decided to “pull it off the shelves” when we noticed a glitch in our system.
The glitch was that if a player had entered a pick for a race that was later canceled or declared a no-contest, the system wouldn’t let the pick be returned to the player. It would essentially get treated as a loss.
It seemed like a minor problem, but it was a really hard one to fix. Meanwhile, players were understandably asking us all the time when the All Optional Live format would return, and the answer was always something like “Soon…we hope.”
We just didn’t feel comfortable proceeding with something we knew wasn’t 100% buttoned up. Finally, the technical issue got solved, though, and the All Optional Live made its reappearance in our featured tourneys a few weeks ago. This weekend was our second go-round with it. And wouldn’t you know, one of our available contest races, the 12th at Monmouth, wound up getting canceled due to weather.
It wasn’t a shocking turn of events…just an ironic one for those of us at HorseTourneys headquarters.
Over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, the format was traditional Pick & Pray, and Jeff Bussan was another of the visionary handicappers who liked longshot Visionary Ruler.
The 20-1 Friendly Lover winner at Monmouth propelled Bussan (3 wins, 2 places) to victory and a $10,000 entry for the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
On Sunday, it was another day of All Optional Live games at HorseTourneys and, thankfully, no races had to be cancelled…especially the ones at Woodbine.
Unlike Saturday’s races which, other than the Friendly Lover at Monmouth, were pretty chalky, prices abounded on Sunday especially at Woodbine on the day after the Queen’s Plate. Races 5-11 were available for play there, and the win payoffs, in order, in those races were $6.40, $46.50, $27.40, $7.40, $47.00, $7.00 and $44.50. That worked out to an average of $26.60…and meant that those who overweighted Woodbine in their optional plays had a chance to do some serious damage.
No one did more damage than Donald Markwardt.
Markwardt had both of the Woodbine 22-1 winners—Conquest Bad Girl and That’s My Mission—plus two other winners and two places to record the day’s high score and collect top money of $6,816 in our $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, which finished up with a pot of $13,633. It was a pretty great day for Tony “The Terminator” Zhou, who ran second and third with his two entries to earn a total of $4,362.
Here’s a look (as best we could fit it in) at Markwardt’s scoresheet:
The other particularly noteworthy performance on Sunday was turned in by James Lisowsky.
Lisowsky’s two entries in our qualifier to The BIG One wound up being The BIG Two. Only one of his entries was eligible to receive one of the two guaranteed all-inclusive packages, however, based on the rules for the qualifier:
QUALIFYING PARAMETERS: TWO (2) packages are GUARANTEED. Players may only win one seat to “The BIG One” per contest. However, players may continue to play in future qualifiers in their own name and transfer any additional won packages to another individual, who must be present at the event. Any breakage entries will be returned to non-winners in the form of refund credits.
The beneficiary of this rule was third-place finisher Dave Nichols, who will be making a return trip to the Laurel Park event where he won an NHC seat (as did nine others) last year.
There were also two new qualifiers to the inaugural Spa & Surf Showdown, whose purse is $113,800 and growing with each passing week.
Woodbine races were key for both Stephen McNatton and Justin Nicholson, who each punched their cybertickets to the Showdown. McNatton (3 wins, 2 places) had both of the 22-1 shots at Woodbine. Nicholson did almost as well…he had 22-1 and 21-1 tallies at Woodbine among his four winners.
Lawrence Kahlden had two winners at Woodbine and two place collections at Gulfstream.
That earned him top honors and a $1,000 entry to the July 14 Stars of Texas Betting Challenge at Lone Star Park. Joining Kahlden in Dallas on “le quatorze juillet” will be runner up Michael Schalewskl. Last chance to qualify for this one comes next weekend!
Craig Popowcer and Joseph Karabaich were the two winners of $500 entries in our entry-only qualifier on Sunday to the Orleans Fall Classic.
Both Popowcer and Karabaich had two wins and two places. On a day replete with longshots, it was the 4-1 victor of the 10th at Gulfstream, Flora Fantasy, that moved Popowcer up into the money and to the top.
Meanwhile, in our $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney, James King had three winners to lead the way.
Since no one picked all six correctly, next week’s jackpot will be in excess of $2,000.
In non-All Optional Live action at HorsePlayers on Sunday, John Gaspar won a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry.
Gaspar had two firsts and four seconds from the 12 contest races to top the field in this Low Ratio qualifier.
In Sunday’s $210, two-seats-guaranteed NHC qualifier, Michael Caposio racked up a score of $143.90 to allow the Temecula, Calif., car dealer to close the door on his competition.
Caposio and fellow seat winner Myles Richards (an NHC final table contestant a few years ago) each had 21-1 winner Eskimunzin in the 11th at Woodbine, and they both smoked out a 20-1 winner at Monmouth as well with Rough Night in the 7th race at the Jersey Shore.
We’ll close with a reminder that free qualifiers are still being offered for our July 4th charity tournament.
The winner gets $2,000 in cash plus another $1,000 to donate to either the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund, the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance or the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. We’ll be handing out $6,000 in all (including the $1,000 charity donation) with payouts going down to 10th place. Again…you can qualify for FREE on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week, ahead of the Thursday game. If you don’t qualify, sign ups will be available on Thursday for just $50. Any proceeds from signups will be added up and distributed equally to the three above named charities.
We hope you’ll take part and have some fun in support of a good cause. You may win some money in the process. Good luck!