It’s safe to say that It’s Tiz Time is a horse James Lisowsky will never forget.
The 66-year-old resident of the Toledo Bend area of Texas—not far from the Louisiana border—took several tries with Sunday longshots against what he thought were beatable favorites. All he had to show for those attempts, however, were three nice place returns after his price horses ran second to favorites. To make matters worse, there were only two tourney races left out of 12.
That’s when it happened.
When his wife Dana looked in on the retired investment banker (and current owner of a Charleston, S.C., molecular diagnostic lab), she asked how his contests were going, and the reply came back, “Not good.”
“I still have one big price to root for, though,” Jim told Dana. “It’s a horse of Ronny’s that I know no one will play.”
Dana offered her husband a perhaps perfunctory “Good luck.” A few minutes later, however, she heard Jim screaming.
A longtime owner and breeder who has had horse racing in his blood ever since hopping the fence at Monmouth Park when he was 14 and growing up in New Jersey, Lisowsky has long been a fan of Ron McAnally. Lisowsky had once had a couple of young horses stabled at Rancho Paseana in California where McAnally had horses at the time for Sid and Jenny Craig. The two exchanged pleasantries a few times there and, ironically, Lisowsky bumped into the Hall of Fame trainer last summer at Del Mar, where Jim was recuperating from a knee replacement.
McAnally never had any of Lisowsky’s horses (“I could never have afforded his day rate!”), but Jim admired him dating back to the days of John Henry. And so, when Lisowsky handicapped Sunday’s 6th at Del Mar, his eyes were immediately drawn to It’s Tiz Time, a 20-1 morning line outsider that hadn’t been out for a year. The horse, however, was trained by Ron McAnally, who would be saddling just his 15th starter of 2019.
“Trust me, I never said a word to Ron about the horse. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since the summer at Del Mar. I just knew that, being the horseman that he is, he would have him ready,” Lisowsky said. “It’s Tiz Time ran an 82 Beyer when he broke his maiden in his first start—and only three of the other 11 had ever run that fast. There was never a doubt as to who my play would be in that race!”
Lisowsky played the horse all right…and played him, and played him and played him.
In fact he played the same 12 horses in seven different featured tourneys. And when the McAnally charge closed down the center of the track to win under Diego Sanchez and return $150.20 to win and $40.80 to place, Lisowsky realized he was suddenly having a monster of a day.
He won the Big Bucks tourney.
He also finished first in the day’s “regular” $10,000 Guaranteed cash game (total purse: $13,633).
Then came the qualifiers. Come January, Lisowsky will head to Gulfstream (along with Neal Metzger) with a $6,000 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship entry in his pocket plus $500 for travel.
He won’t need to travel for the Flo-Cal Faceoff on February 29 since that is an online contest, but Lisowsky won a $1,500 seat to that event (his second Flo-Cal entry) as did runner up Dave Nichols (aka The Gambling Actuary). Nichols also had It’s Tiz Time as his lone winner of the day.
Jim also garnered a $1,500 entry, plus $500 travel, to the NTRA/Fair Grounds NHC Super Qualifier on December 21 in New Orleans.
He also, along with Timothy Jacobs, won a Horse Player World Series entry worth $1,500.
This victory was a tad ironic only because, just 24 hours earlier, Lisowsky had won a full package to the HPWS for finishing second behind Las Vegas resident Ron Ferrise.
Jim has now won three entries at HorseTourneys to the Horse Player World Series. He still hasn’t qualified to the 2020 NHC, though. That’s only because of Jillian Scanio.
Scanio had two wins and a place to keep Lisowsky on the outside looking in as far as Bally’s in February is concerned.
No need to feel too sorry for Jim, however. In addition to all of the above, he won four different “Del Mar-only” cash tourneys on Sunday that were worth between $100 and $1,000.
Add it all up and it was about a $30,000 weekend for Lisowsky—which more than made up for his 32nd-place finish at this year’s The BIG One, where he bet one race too many and cost himself a winning cap horse late that would have moved him up to a seat-winning position.
“Big tournaments are new to me,” Lisowsky said. “I used to just play small feeders and qualifiers here and there, but then I started doing well, so about a year ago, I decided to try the bigger ones. I guess you could say I’m late to the party…though at 66 years old, I’m pretty much late to every party these days.”
Hopefully, Lisowsky will show up on time to Fair Grounds, and the Pegasus, and the Horse Player World Series, and the Flo-Cal Faceoff…and not play too many races once he gets there! If so, he might just turn an incredible weekend into an incredible year…maybe even one that includes the NHC.
Jim Lisowsky was kind enough to leave 15 or so of last weekend’s featured tourneys for others to win. The first of those took place on Friday.
Mark Stillmock has been on a nice run of late. On Friday, he kind of pulled off a “reverse Lisowsky” by tallying just $59.10 but picking six winners. Still that final total was enough to earn Stillmock $5,380 in the day’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot of $10,761.
Joseph Rosen did Stillmock one better.
He picked seven winners in winning Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. Rosen was already double-qualified, however, so he was just playing for the Tour points. The first NHC seat went to runner up Robert Courtney…who did Rosen one better.
That’s eight winners out of 10 races for Courtney. Not too shabby. Friday’s other available NHC spot went to Alex DeVito.
Back at HorseTourneys on Friday, there was an entry-only Horse Player World Series qualifier that wound up offering two $1,500 entries.
Those went to Thomas “Nightline” Kappel and Raymond Riley—both of whom selected five winners and two runners up.
The big winner on Saturday was Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion.
Joffrion had two booms and three rattles to pocket the top money of $9,215 in Saturday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $20,568, making it the richest tourney of the weekend.
Heading to Monmouth for their last chance NHC qualifier on December 28 will be Gregory “Paint It” Balck.
Balck had three wins and four places to pick up $600 in entry fees…good for two entries at Monmouth, where he will look for more wild, and winning, horses.
Saturday’s high score was turned in by Keith Fenton in the $210 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Fenton nailed the first three races right out of the gate en route to six triumphs and two near misses.
The runner up was the recently-white-hot Kevin Smith who was just playing for points. That left the second “Bally’s Berth” to third-place finisher Anthony “ATM” Mattera. We hope the NHC seat helped carry Mattera through yet another dreadful performance by the Giants the following day. Mattera is starting to make McKay Smith look like a frontrunner for being a Dolphins fan.
If there was a “silver medalist” during what was clearly a gold-medal weekend for James Lisowsky, it was Thomas Murphy. Of the six Sunday features in which Lisowsky didn’t have a prominent role, Murphy won two of them—both at HorsePlayers.
And in actuality, Murphy not only won the regular NHC Pick & Pray on Sunday, he did so with the day’s highest score, drop-kicking his opponents with a total of $112.10, built on three firsts and one second. Here’s a look at his scoresheet:
Kudos to Wayne Tam (2 wins, 1 place) for his strong showing in grabbing the second available NHC seat.
Who had Sunday’s second highest score? Thomas Murphy!
Murphy lost a mile-an-hour or two off his fastball in this one, but he was still able to strike out his opponents in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.
Back here at HorseTourneys, we hosted a Last Chance qualifier for this weekend’s Hawthorne Fall NHC Super Qualifier.
Congratulations to this tourney’s three winners of $800 in entry fees (good for both of the single-day competitions in the Windy City): Dave Cichy, Steve “People Are” Stange and Josh Thorpe.
The weekend after Hawthorne, there’s another on-track NHC qualifier going on at Lone Star Park. So Sunday amounted to our next-to-last-chance qualifier for that one.
Here it was Gregg Kingma and Gilbert “Candy” Maldonado who emerged with the $500 entries for the Dallas Metroplex event.
From 12 races in our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, Enrique Vasquez connected on five successful gimmicks.
One of them was a $50.10-for-$1.00 collection in the 8th at Woodbine, and that led Vasquez to a triumph worth $929 in a game that closed with a pot of $1,327.
A final race victory allowed Tony Calabrese to edge past fellow $8 Pick 6 Jackpot game devotee Kirk Tesar.
Calabrese finished with four winners out of the six races. Since no one went six-for-six, next week’s Jackpot will be $3,525—yours for just $8 (and six winners).
As some of you may have noted, this was my first weekly recap since having taken a little bit of time off. It was due to a death in my family. I want to thank those of you who wondered aloud where the heck I was. And I want to thank the rest of you every bit as much for not writing in and telling McKay how much you enjoyed my absence! Anyway…it’s good to be back.