Jobby Blevins hit five of the first six contest races—including the tourney’s two highest prices—and then closed things out with Travers winner Code of Honor to report home first and collect $26,459 in Saturday’s $65,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which finished up with a total purse of $66,149.
The 53-year-old retired auto worker—who now lives with his wife Lisa in Brookings, Ore., after many years together in Kentucky—had an exciting start to the tourney when his selection Mind Control took the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes at 10-1 in a blanket finish over Hog Creek Hustle and the 1-5 favorite Shancelot.
“I don’t know if I got first or third there,” Jobby said to Lisa at the finish.
He got first…and at $22.80 to win and $8.60 to place, it was the highest return to be had from the 12 contest races all day.
Blevins—now a full-time contest player—whiffed in the second contest race, the 7th at Monmouth, but then reeled off four victories in a row including Significant Form (the second-longest winning price of the day) at 7-1 (after some serious late action) in the Ballston Spa, runaway 2-1 winner Flan at Monmouth, Midnight Bisou in the Personal Ensign (Blevins’s second happy head bob of the afternoon) and Camp Creek ($7.70, $4.40) in the 7th at Woodbine.
Lisa Blevins is of the pretty-sound opinion that in order to win a big contest, you have to win your head bobs. After Jobby went five-for-six, including those two fortuitous bobs, she had a good feeling.
“You’re having a Jay Trotter kind of day,” she told her husband, referring to the Richard Dreyfuss character in “Let It Roll.”
Call it woman’s intuition if you like, but Lisa wasn’t wrong.
Jobby cooled off somewhat from there, scoring with just a 3-2 winner at Monmouth over the next five races, but he still held the lead heading into the final contest races The (Runhappy!) Travers. Though his lead by now was down to $12.80 over Brian O’Kane.
Blevins, who had two entries in the tourney—one earned on Friday, the other won early on Saturday—had originally selected Code of Honor for that final race, but now he was having second thoughts and decided to review the race again. Owendale and Looking at Bikinis suddenly looked quite appealing to him as longer-priced alternatives to the Shug McGaughey trainee. Ultimately, Jobby decided to stick with his original selection, however, and it was a good thing he did.
O’Kane had also gone with Code of Honor in the finale and would have taken first place had Jobby strayed from his original opinion on the Travers.
Jobby and Lisa stood side by side, yelling at their TV set as Code of Honor came charging down the center of the track. Then, remembering this year’s Kentucky Derby, they remained calm until the race was declared official. And when it was, they immediately popped the cork on a bottle of champagne.
“It was a wonderful evening, sitting on our deck, watching the comments come in from our Twitter friends,” Lisa said.
It was an evening undoubtedly made more wonderful with the notion of $26,459 coming in to Jobby’s HorseTourneys account.
In preparation for this recap, I asked Jobby to send a picture of himself. This, not surprisingly to those who know him, is what I received:
“I couldn’t do what I do without Lisa’s support and encouragement,” he said.
That was the highlight—but not the only exciting moment—of a Travers weekend that left 15 other players Runninghappy with featured-tourney triumphs.
Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion had victorious 9-1 proposition Super Tigress (Monmouth race 8) among his 3 firsts and 1 second.
That earned Joffrion $4,708 in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final pot of $9,416. Joffrion closed things out by hitting closer Curlin’s Legacy at 6-1 in the nightcap at Saratoga.
Over at HorsePlayers, the stars on Friday were Albion Benton and Nick Kochanski.
Benton finished fast by hitting the final two contest races at odds of 7-1 and 6-1. That got him the top spot—and an NHC seat in Friday’s $75 qualifier. Kochanski registered four winners and two placers to grab the other available cut-rate Bally’s berth.
Similar to Jobby Blevins, Al “Forward” Roehl had both Mind Control and Code of Honor at the Spa.
Roehl added four other winners to those two, and that earned him a $3,500 package to the October 13 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.
Dan McCormick was formidable at the beginning…David Johnson got stronger as the tourney got longer. Both wound up winning $1,000 Orleans Fall Classic packages.
McCormick got zeroes in the final five heats, but he had 3 wins and 2 places before that to secure one package. Johnson, like Al Roehl, had six Saturday winners, including those in the last two contest races—at odds of 4-5 and 4-1—to sneak into that second prize-winning position.
In the 1960s, one of Richard Nixon’s campaign slogans was “Nixon’s the One”.
In Saturday’s BCBC qualifier at HorsePlayers, Nixon WAS the one…and David Burke was the two.
G.T. (not Richard) Nixon picked seven winners to take top honors by $3.30 over David Burke.
As you can see, Burke was the two not just because he finished second. Also…it almost never seems to work out this way…but Burke improved his score by switching off the two horse in those two instances. His first dalliance brought him 10-1 winner Mind Control in the H. Allen Jerkens Stakes. He lost with his other departure from the “2 norm”, and a 2-horse, Flan, wound up winning that race…appropriately enough at 2-1. So overall, Burke gained ground with those two alterations. Though, with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight (always popular at the track!), one could say that if Burke had stuck with the 2 in that 8th at Monmouth, he would have beaten Nixon…in which case, Nixon wouldn’t have been the one.
Here is a look at Nixon’s Saturday scoresheet, brought to you by Runhappy:
Just kidding about Runhappy. (The scoresheet is actually sponsored by Star Guitar.)
After winning the 2011 NHC (and a successful IBM career before that), John Doyle was rich enough that he didn’t need to court any corporate sponsors. A sponsorship of Doyle at the BCBC might be a wise move, though, as the Scottsdale, Arizona (by way of the Bronx) resident will have a lot of visibility at the year’s most prestigious live-bankroll contest.
Doyle had Mind Control and Code of Honor among his 3 winners and 1 place. Doyle also seems to exert some sort of mind control over these Low Ratio BCBC qualifiers at HorsePlayers.
Saturday’s tourney was Doyle’s third BCBC Super Low Ratio victory of the year.(Note that this one went off at no takeout to the players.) He also has a BCBC Low Ratio (as opposed to Super Low Ratio) triumph to his credit this year (thereby showing off his versatility). Should the BCBC elect to bring back those Ultra Low Ratio (1 per 5) qualifiers, all eyes of the racing world would no doubt be on Doyle to see if he could pull off an unprecedented Low Ratio Triple Crown. As it is, Doyle has four BCBC entries in his 2019 portfolio—two more than he is legally allowed to play in his name. Though BCBC entries ARE allowed to be transferred…provided that Doyle and his tranferees agree to each wear ankle bracelets and not come within 200 feet of each other during Breeders’ Cup weekend.
While Friday’s featured cash tourney went to Jeff Joffrion and Saturday’s went to Jobby Blevins, Sunday’s belonged to another top-flight cash-gamer, Lucas Van Zandt.
The “Connecticut Connoisseur” had 3 wins and 2 places, the most important of which was Roaring Forties ($17.20, $7.70) in the final contest race, the 10th at Woodbine. The victory was worth $5,953 (that should cover several cases of good wine) in a $10,000 Guaranteed tourney that finished up with a pot of $11,907.
Time is running out to qualify for The BIG One at Laurel on September 21-22. In fact, just three weekends remain to do so. Sunday’s two-seater went to Paul Scott and Eric Bodley.
The final race was key for both winners, and they accomplished their mission via two different horses in that final event. Scott (3 wins, 2 places) connected with Roaring Forties. Bodley (2 wins, 2 places) booked his ticket to Maryland thanks to an $18.80 place collection on Coleyville, who finished second behind Roaring Forties.
Surprisingly enough, Sunday’s high score of the day came in our entry-only Orleans Fall Classic qualifier.
Wayne Eigelbach did the honors here with 6 firsts and a couple of seconds thrown in for good measure. Eigelbach won a $500 Fall Classic entry as did 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers Michael Marlaire and Raymond Gallant Jr.
Gallant was also the winner of Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney.
Gallant had four winners out of six, having missed a couple of 5-2 shots that would have given him the Jackpot. Since no one got all six races correct, next week’s Jackpot will be $2,666.
Shifting our sights over to HorsePlayers, NHC Hall of Fame member Steve Wolfson Jr. will be at the 21st NHC to try and become the first-ever two-time winner of the big dance.
Wolfson, who has gotten as close as the final table in his bid for a second NHC win, hit winners paying $4.80 and $17.20 in the final two races to jump up and grab first place in Sunday’s NHC qualifier. Russell Priola had no places, but he had 6 winners and that got him second-place (and the other Bally’s Berth) narrowly over Raymond Gallant Jr. who, despite a generally great day, may have felt more like Goofus than Gallant after coming up short in this one by just 70 cents.
In the other HorsePlayers featured tourney on Sunday, Max Schnepf drove his 28 rivals mad with his total of $98.80, built on the strength of three wins and another three places.
No one could come within $32.00 of Max at the end, and that meant the $10,000 BCBC entry was his in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier.
Back over at HorseTourneys, Ted Apple turned in a shiny performance in Sunday’s entry-only Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier.
Apple had a place payoff in the next-to-last race, then polished things off with Roaring Forties in the final race to finish with four winners, one runner up and a $3,000 Keeneland entry.
Adam Lewis was trailing by $64 going into the last race of our $1,000 guaranteed Exacta tourney…
…but he was the only contestant to land the $169.40 (for a buck) exacta in the final race, the 10th at Woodbine, and that meant a first prize of $1,084 for Lewis—in a game that closed with a pot of $1,548.
The first shall be last. Sunday was our first qualifier to the September 7 Colonial Downs Handicapping Classic, where two NHC spots will be at stake.
David Bloom secured his $500 entry to suburban Williamsburg with a four-win, one-place performance that was good for a narrow, $2.00 margin of victory.
Congratulations again to Jobby Blevins, and stay tuned for word of our next, special, big-money tourney. We hope we can spend part of your Labor Day Weekend with us. Sadly, it’ll be our last weekend of Saratoga/Del Mar racing for about 44 weeks. At least the gap is a little shorter than it used to be. Have a great week ahead.