There was no shortage of winning long shots on Saturday and Sunday, which meant many paths to victory and a pretty even distribution of grand prizes even though it was a predominantly Pick & Pray weekend. Prices were harder to come by on Friday, however, which depressed scoring but did not depress the spirits of those who came upon the right horses.
John “The Clocker” Nichols displayed good timing on Friday…in terms of when to post a score of $51.00.
Nichols had just two wins and two places, but one of those winner’s circle visitors was Majestic Slew ($14.00, $7.10) in the 7th at Woodbine. Nichols’s final tally of $51.00 didn’t break any stopwatches, but it got him to the wire first and earned him top money of $4,455 in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $8,911.
David Snyder had Friday’s high score in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier…and he was just playing for fun!
Or actually for NHC Tour points, to be more precise. Snyder’s five firsts and one second got him his wish as far as those tour points are concerned. The NHC spots slid down to second and third places, which were occupied by Darwin Labordo (3 wins, 3 places) and Scott Fitzgerald, who may have had Traci Richards muttering “F.” when he finished just 20 cents ahead of her for that last seat.
What did you need to do to win Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier? Just turn a profit!
Only Paul Cush managed to do so, registering two wins and two places. Three of those collections came in the first three contest races.
Scores were considerably higher on Saturday. Just showing a profit wasn’t going to cut it.
Mike Mulvihill (4 wins, 2 places) and Bob McIntyre (3 wins, 0 places) each used Laurel Race 11 14-1 winner Trois Points to grab two of the remaining trois spots left for next weekend’s The BIG One at Laurel.
For Edwin Herr, his influential horse was Affluential.
The 8th race Monmouth long shot reported home first at odds of 19-1 to help give Herr (4 wins, 3 places) a victory in Saturday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. Herr’s share of that pot was $7,708. That’ll buy a lot of potato chips.
When last we caught up with Pat Stich, the youthful Chicago horseplayer was winning June’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament.
Stich won a BCBC seat that day, and on Saturday, he won a spot in October’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.
Stich’s longshot du jour was Salieri ($56.50, $19.30) in the final tourney race, the 11th at Woodbine.
Scores were a touch lower in Saturday’s Orleans Fall Classic qualifier.
Jack Gruska and Damian Terenzio were the two who emerged with $1,000 Fall Classic packages in this one.
Saturday’s high score was put up by Alan “The Godfather” Levitt in the day’s NHC Pick & Pray.
Salieri at 27-1 was an offer Levitt couldn’t refuse and so was Affluential and Trois Points. Here’s a look at Levitt’s scoresheet:
Joining The Godfather at the NHC will be The Gambling Actuary, Dave Nichols (no relation to The Gambling Clocker, John Nichols). After reviewing all of the relevant tables, Nichols (2 wins, 0 places) determined that a sound investment would be El Tormenta…the 44-1 upset winner of the Woodbine Mile over Got Stormy. Nichols also picked up a nice check for finishing second behind Edwin Herr in this day’s $15,000 Pick & Pray.
It was a good day for Brian Chenvert on Saturday over at HorsePlayers.
He won the regular, $179, live-format qualifier with a score of $130, built on three winners.
Chenvert also played in the Super Low Ratio BCBC Pick & Pray for $1,000, and one might have guessed that he would have won that one as well, but his score here dipped slightly to $108.10 (2 wins, 1 place) and that provided just enough room for Jeff Ho (3 wins, 2 places) to sneak past and grab the $10,000 entry. Chenvert did get a partial ($5,000) BCBC entry for finishing second, though. It was simply a day when a lot of longshots gave a lot of players opportunities to zoom forward.
Prices-wise, Sunday was sort of a cross between Friday and Saturday. Winning scores tended to be about $100…which made Paul Scott’s victory all the more remarkable.
Scott had two wins and two places to finish best of 15 in Sunday’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge entry-only qualifier. No one showed a flat-bet profit in this 12-race affair—but therein lies the beauty of Low Ratio qualifiers. You don’t always need to knock it out of the park. Sometimes you don’t even need to get it out of the infield. Here’s how Scott secured his $3,000 entry to Keeneland.
Sean Nolan took a more conventional route to success in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed tourney (which went off with just 10% takeout to players).
Nolan’s victory was worth an even $5,000. Here’s a look at his scorecard…
…which he used to equal success in Sunday’s $210 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
This one was a live-format tourney, but Nolan obviously played it like a Pick & Pray. If you’ve got a set of 12 nice picks, you might as well flaunt ‘em!
Also winning a Bally’s Berth here was runner up Cheryl Tayala, whose big winner—same as Nolan’s—was Morning Breez ($38.80, $15.40) in the 9th at Belmont.
Morning Breez was also key for Ron Bowden in the other Sunday feature at HorsePlayers, a Low Ratio BCBC qualifier.
Bowden had just $6.00 in collections after the first six races, but had two wins and a place over the final six to complete the comeback.
There were enough entries for us to award a $5,000 partial BCBC entry here, and the winner of it was the same person who won a partial entry–as well as a full entry–on Saturday…Brian Chenvert. So that adds up to two $10,000 entries for finishing first or second in three different BCBC qualifiers this weekend. Well done, Brian!
Morning Breez also proved to be the difference for Howard Johnson in our first qualifier to the first-ever Flo-Cal Faceoff, a $100,000 Guaranteed online cash tourney to be held February 29-March 1 right here at HorseTourneys.
HoJo had five winners in all, but it was that $54.20 total win/place collection that paved the way to his victory by a margin of $26.40. Johnson is, thus, the first to earn a $1,500 seat to the all-Gulfstream/Santa Anita event next year.
Frank Gryboski Jr. was the last to earn an all-inclusive package to The BIG One.
He had Morning Breez plus Abscond, a $21.00 winner of the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine to complete the field of qualifiers for the high expectation competition at Laurel where 10 NHC seats, five BCBC entries, five Pegasus World Cup entries and $75,000 will be won. Two buy-in entries in the overall field of 57 still do remain available at a cost of $7,300 each. If interested, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our performance of the day on Sunday came, somewhat surprisingly, in our Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier.
Fred Meseke won this—and the $500 entry that went with it—by connecting on eight (!) winners and another two runners up. Nothing fancy in those winners…just collection after collection. Finishing second to grab the other $500 Fall Classic entry was Bob Montgomery—an Orleans “horse for course” after having won the Horse Players World Series there in 2018.
Saturday’s $10,000 Big Bucks tourney was a nail biter.
Shad Walton and James Lisowsky each had four firsts and one second, but Walton prevailed by 20 cents…basically a hanging Shad. The difference for the two of them came in the next-to-last race when Walton had a winner worth a win/place total of $6.40 while Lisowsky had the place horse who returned $4.30 in the 2-hole. (Both whiffed on the last race.) Consequently, Walton cashed for $7,124 and Lisowsky settled for $2,035.
William Smith hit just two exactas…
…but one of them was the $44.65-for-a-buck gimmick topped by Abscond in the Natalma Stakes at Woodbine, and that earned Smith $700 in a $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney that went off as a 12.5% overlay to players.
Paul Fishman won Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney.
He did so with just two winners, however. Since no one had all six winners, next week’s Jackpot will be $2,887.
Jon Van Niel had five wins and one place, but he needed $21.00 in collections over the final two races to edge past Karl Barth and win Sunday’s Santa Anita “Win and You’re In and Sunday Tournament” qualifier, which offered a total of $3,500 in entry fees.
In the last contest race, the 11th at Woodbine, Van Niel needed 4-1 shot Fast Scene…who was passed in deep stretch by Bayerly Seen…but then Fast Scene came back on again on the inside to reclaim victory over Bayerly Seen. It was a finish that Barth probably found ob-scene.
The Monday weekend recap, and the Thursday weekend preview, will go on a one-week hiatus this coming week as we head to Laurel to work The BIG One. Apologies in advance to all of next weekend’s winners…though we trust you won’t be TOO upset. Do note that the first direct qualifiers to the 2020 Horse Player World Series will be held this Saturday and Sunday.
Good luck to everyone playing in The BIG One. We look forward to seeing and spending time with you there. And good luck to everyone else who will be playing the many “pretty-big ones” available here at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers all week long.