We normally proceed in chronological order with our weekly recaps, but to start anywhere other than Sunday would be an injustice to George Chute.
The 68-year-old Dedham, Mass., retiree had a yearmaker of a day, finishing first in five different featured tourneys—and all five were live-format events. It wasn’t as though Chute entered the same set of picks across the board. There were decisions to be made…and opportunities to get off some of his winners by hedging.
Chute didn’t play the exact same horses in all of the events, but his selections were largely similar from one tourney to another. Here was his best performing entry.
It came in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a pot of $12,252. Key to Chute’s success was the Kiaran McLaughlin trainee Romantic Pursuit, who won Saratoga’s 10th race and paid $37.20 to win and $15.40 to place.
This is just my observation, but Chute seems to have had his best days in the past when scores were on the lower side. He is especially good at nailing horses in the 4-1 to 6-1 range…but the 17-1 Saratoga longshot was on each and every one of his winning tickets—including his BCBC Low Ratio entry at HorsePlayers.
He also added his name to the list of those who will be competing in next weekend’s Spa & Surf Showdown.
Joining Chute in the Showdown starting gate will be the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers Frank Fosbre, Bradley Abell and Sean O’Malley. (You may have already noted that Chute and Fosbre also ran 1-2 in the $12,252 cash game.) The Spa & Surf Showdown is up to 88 entrants, and the total guaranteed purse now stands at $155,760. Qualifiers will continue through Friday.
Come September, Chute, along with Kevin Engelhard, will be making a return trip to Laurel for The BIG One, where $75,000, 10 NHC spots, five BCBC entries and five Pegasus World Cup entries will be on offer amongst just 57 competitors.
If Chute wins an NHC seat at The BIG One, it will be his second to the 2020 event, because he won one on Sunday along with Anthony Trezza (who had Romantic Pursuit to begin a string of four consecutive, late-tourney winners).
Adding up Chute’s entry fees (he played three tickets in the featured cash tourney), the Sunday star invested $1,715 and collected $6,126 in cash plus seats worth approximately $23,000. And, of course, Chute essentially now has free rolls to the NHC , the BCBC, The BIG One and the Spa & Surf Showdown. So who knows what his ultimate payoff for this special day will be?
It didn’t take a big score for Dave Cichy to receive the big payoff of the day on Friday.
Cichy had five winners—all at 6-1 or less—including Mister Bobby ($7.20, $4.70) in the final contest race (SAR 10) to pocket $5,801 in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $11,002.
Ellen Patrick also had five winners at 6-1 or less to win Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier.
Also picking up a “Bally’s Berth” was runner up Travis Foelsch, whose two wins at odds of 4-5 and 3-1 were nothing to get excited about…but his three place collections were. Two of them paid the maximum $22.00 for contest purposes.
On Saturday, we had a whopping six winners of $2,000 entries to next weekend’s Spa & Surf Showdown.
Congratulations to Craig Popowcer, Sean Nolan, Peter Kovic, Joe Johnson, Brendan Fay and Thomas Blosser.
What’s even better than some Spa & Surf? Some Spa & Surf with an extra helping of Spa thrown in.
That will be the case for Sean Nolan and Brendan Fay, who also earned $3,500 packages to the August 9-10 Saratoga Challenge. At the Spa that weekend as well will be NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles, who will make the trek to upstate New York from his native Texas.
The richest tourney of the weekend was Saturday’s $17,500 Guaranteed event. It ended up with a pot of $19,558 and was won by Daniel Mah.
Mah had four firsts and one second…led by Channel Cat, the 13-1 winner of the wildly competitive Bowling Green Stakes at Saratoga on Saturday.
Kevin Willett scored no points in any of the first three or the final four races.
But he did some big damage in between with four winners from five races—good for a $3,500 package to the October 13 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.
Dave Durkin’s six wins plus a place allowed him to coast to a $22 victory in Saturday’s Orleans Fall Classic package qualifier.
Durkin won his $1,000 Fall Classic package despite not having Channel Cat. In fact, the biggest win payoff among his six winners was $13.60.
Over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, Evan Trommer had a very similar day to that of Willett.
Like Willett, Trommer had six firsts and one second. Like Willett, none of the winners paid more than $13.60. For Trommer it all meant a seat to the BCBC, and it was Cistron, that $13.60 winner in the final contest race, that put him over the top in this live-format Super Low Ratio qualifier.
Meanwhile, Blake Courtney saw his luck improve in the day’s other Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge “play in”.
Second behind Trommer in the BCBC Super Low Ratio contest, Courtney had Channel Cat plus Jim Dandy 9-2 winner Tax among his six winners here to take home top honors—and a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry—in Saturday’s “Regular Ratio” Pick & Pray. Had he used these picks in the live-format game, he would have won that one as well.
Getting back to Sunday tourneys not won by George Chute, our $8 Pick Six Jackpot tourney was won by Frank Fosbre—who finished second to Chute in both the $12,252 game and the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
There’s a bit more to the story in this one, though. Fosbre came pretty darned close to winning the jackpot here. He got five out of six right.
The only one he missed—in Del Mar’s 3rd race—was a 3-1 shot who was making his first start under the care of Peter Miller. So not an impossible one to have…especially given a couple of the others that he DID have. Anyway, it was nice to see Fosbre enter the winner’s circle after playing Alydar to George Chute’s Affirmed.
Sunday was our first qualifier to the August 24 Monmouth Super NHC/BCBC Qualifier.
Frank Perri (2 wins, 2 places) and Gary “Macho Man” Machiz (2 wins, 1 place) were the victors here—in no small part thanks to the efforts of Romantic Pursuit, who was a very important horse to have on this day. Both receive $1,000 packages ($500 entry + $500 travel) for August 24 when Machiz will be bidding for a “Monmouth double up”, He won an NHC seat at Monmouth in a qualifier there on June 29.
The Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier went to Justin Thompson (not the former lefty-hitting first baseman for the Tigers, we don’t think).
Thompson swung and missed at the last four contest races, but he had Romantic Pursuit along with another winner and four place collections to prevail by $24.40.
The winner in our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney was Tony Calabrese…
…though before the contest started, all seven of the entrants were theoretical winners since the game went off at a 14% overlay to the players. As for Calabrese, he did all his scoring in a single race, hitting a $1 exacta in Saratoga’s 10th to the tune of $195.25.
Last weekend Steven Meier hit a couple of line drives in posting triple-digit scores and earning seats to the NHC and Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge. This past weekend, one of his bloopers fell in for a base hit as well.
Meier (2 wins, 1 place) spotted himself very shrewdly in this week’s version of the Keeneland qualifier. Not a single player of the 13 Low Ratio contestants turned a flat-bet profit. However, Meier picked Time Skip ($15.20, $5.20) in the final contest race, the 12th at Woodbine and, in doing so, channeled Mary Tyler Moore by taking a nothing day and suddenly making it all seem worthwhile.
Very few of us are able to turn the world on with our smile, but we’re all capable of having a big day at HorseTourneys. And isn’t that really what it’s all about? Hope to see you back here again next weekend.