A four-day, Pick & Pray holiday weekend afforded lots of opportunities for multi-tabling, and several players successfully did just that—including Gary Machiz, who wasted little time in setting the tone for the weekend.
Fluent in both Thoroughbred and Standardbred racing, “The Macho Man” did not let himself be deterred by chalky Friday prices. (He’s used to seeing that most nights at Yonkers anyway!) What he lacked in tonnage, he made up for with frequency by posting five firsts and one second out of 10 races to pick up $5,969 in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a total purse of $11,938.
Machiz’s victory was made possible by two correct picks in the final two races—and that meant not one victory…but two.
Here, using the same selections, he picked up a $1,500 entry to the $100,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Face-off on February 29-March 1. He will be joined then in cyberspace by runner up Jon Van Niel, who had even more collections (5 wins, 3 places) than Machiz.
It was another eight-cashes-out-of-ten-races performance that accounted for the high score of the day on Friday.
It was turned in by Edward Yosowitz (6 wins, 2 places) in our Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier. Given the low parimutuel returns, it also took eight collections to grab second place…which was done by G.T. Nixon, who also earned a $1,500 HPWS entry for his efforts.
Here’s how Yosowitz did it on Friday. Little did he know that his first winner would be the big “bomb” of the day.
In Friday’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier, “all” you needed to do was score in the 50s, and you won yourself a $6,500 “Peggy Package”.
Congratulations to Mark Stanton (4 wins, 4 places), Kenny Peck (also 4 wins, 4 places) and Dan Shugar (5 wins, 0 places) who did just that.
With the power of 20/20 hindsight, we see that the bar was set even lower in Friday’s qualifier to the NHC Last Chance tournament.
Here, you only needed to turn a flat-bet profit on your 10 mythical $2 win-place plays to snatch a $500 entry for NHC eve. Congratulations to in-the-black finishers Karen Richards, Flo-Cal seat winner Jon Van Niel, Stephan Gravina, Gregory Lewis, Peter Rotondo, Jon Kimove, Anthony Garafalo and Kevin Willett.
We had another dual first-place finisher on Saturday—Paul Cush.
Cush picked a couple of nice tourneys to win…most notably the weekend’s richest affair, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $24,620. Cush’s share of that was $11,079 after booking 4 wins and 4 places.
Those same picks will also send Cush to Lexington, Kentucky…
…for the Keeneland Grade One Gamble, where he will already be staked to the $3,000 entry (plus another $500 for his travel costs).
Scores were a touch higher in Saturday’s Full Package Horse Player World Series qualifier.
Mark Bair had five winner’s circle visitors and one near miss to grab a full ride to The Orleans along with runner up Jonathan “JV” Vomeihn, who had five winners and no places.
Things weren’t looking too good for Vomeihn for most of Saturday…but then he hit the “late pick 4”:
What was somewhat notable about Cush’s two Saturday wins and the Horse Player World Series qualifier is that there were a combine 181 entries in the three events, and not a single player had 50-1 winner Blue Pigeon in the 8th at Tampa.
The turf bomb did not go unselected, however, in Saturday’s $100 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
The event served as the final opportunity for 2019 NHC Tour Points, though most of the 546 entries were probably more attracted by the five guaranteed Bally’s Berths. Several players here had Blue Pigeon, including first-place finisher Anthony “ATM” Mattera and “show horse” John Vogel. Congratulations also to Christopher Ahl, Jeff Long and Linda Scott, who came in 2nd, 4th and 5th, respectively, despite not having the Wilmer Garcia-ridden cap horse.
Mattera, of course, had Blue Pigeon by virtue of the fact that he picked the 8 horse in every race in which there was an 8-horse. (He used the 7 horse in the other two…and he played two other entries with different numbered horses in the various races.) This attracted a fair amount of attention and commentary on social media. Attracting less attention and commentary was the player who played three entries and used the 4 in every race on one, the 5 in every race on another, and the 6 in every race on the other.
Some people out there definitely get upset when a player doesn’t seem to display an acceptable level of “study” in submitting his picks—at least when the said player wins. Sometimes, too, a deadline is approaching (especially with Pick & Prays, as was the format here) and you’ve paid your money but—for one reason or another—are not prepared when the time comes. Such a notion may seem far fetched to some…but on Saturday at least five of the 546 entries entered no picks for the last five or six races…and six entries submitted no picks at all. Suddenly, some random picks seem like a pretty good alternative! And in all seriousness, it’s why we do recommend that people enter all their picks ahead of time even in live-format games…just so you don’t get deprived of a pick or two should something “come up”. Obviously you can always change those picks later, but you can’t un-miss a missed race.
Sunday had a couple more double-winners, led by Chuck LeFevre.
LeFevre will hope to continue the winning fever this Sunday thanks to his triumph, on 3 wins and 3 places, in our Last Chance play-in to the Sam Houston NHC qualifier.
LeFevre also led the way among 10 Sunday winners of $500 entries to the NHC Last Chance contest.
Congratulations as well to Steve Arrison, Gary Gristick (a double winner in his own right since he also came in 9th), Tony Calabrese, Bob Gianquitti, Robert Tocher, Matt “The Fly” Tietze, Frank Perri and Karen Richards.
The big cash winner on Sunday was Peter Osella, who parlayed a score of $65.10 into a victory in our $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney.
Osella had 2 winners—including Elizabeth Bay ($24.00, $10.00) in the 11th at Gulfstream—to pocket $7,836 in a high-end game that closed with a purse of $11,195.
In our other $10,000 Guaranteed cash Pick & Pray…the one with a $195 entry fee…a higher score was required in order to visit the winner’s circle.
Brian O’Keefe was equal to that task, and then some. He had three firsts and three more seconds to win the grand prize of $7,066 in a game ultimately worth $15,704.
Three wins and three places also got Steve Nemetz home first in Sunday’s Horse Player World Series qualifier.
Joining Steve at the venue with the poker room that received a “Best of Las Vegas” award as the best among off-Strip properties will be David Tunin (4 wins, 2 places). Both Nemetz and Tunin receive $1,500 entries to the March Major.
Speaking of $1,500 entries, Joe Johnson and David Barnier each won one of those on Sunday as well.
Johnson (5 wins, 1 place) and Barnier (2 wins, 2 places) will be redeeming their $1,500 ducats at the Flo-Cal Faceoff. The $100,000 Guaranteed event featuring just Gulfstream and Santa Anita racing takes place on February 29-March 1 (Fountain of Youth weekend). Johnson and Barnier were the only two to break triple figures on Sunday—and Barnier did all of his scoring in the second half of the tourney, getting up to grab second by just $1.60.
This was the final weekend of qualifying for the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship, and Sunday’s next-to-last chance play-in saw three punch their tickets to Hallandale, Fla. for this coming Saturday.
Congratulations to Ryan Steigmeier, Patrick “Gino” Gianforte and Jim Lisowsky. Good luck next weekend!
NHC Tour points for 2019 are no longer on offer, but seats for the 2020 event certainly still are.
Marc Racenstein grabbed one of those thanks to four Sunday winners—at odds of 5-1, 5-1, 16-1 and 10-1—in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier.
Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney wound up being a rout.
Jim Trepinski’s $174.20 collection in the 9th at Tampa left his opponents doubled up in agony and tripled up on the scoreboard. Trepinski earned $929 from a total purse of $1,327.
Frank Fosbre took top honors in Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney…
…but no one got all six races right. So next Sunday’s Jackpot will check in at $4,624 (plus whatever sum gets added to it that day).
Sunday’s high score came over at HorsePlayers.
Terry Jerge collected on 5 winners and a runner up en route to an NHC seat in the day’s $210 live-format qualifier. There were enough entries to award a second NHC spot and that went to Joseph Johnson, who followed up a $3.00 place payoff with three nice-priced winners.
Here’s a look at Jerge’s best-of-day scorecard:
We had featured action on Monday as well since it was Martin Luther King Jr. Day and most of the top tracks were open. The five marquee events were the setting for several noteworthy performances. Two of the five winning performances was turned in by an NHC Champ and an NHC Hall of Famer.
The 2012 Champ Michael Beychok was on the outside looking in where the 2020 NHC was concerned…until Monday. “Million Dollar Mike” whiffed on the first five tourney races, but hit four of the final seven—including Carressa ($10.20, $5.00) in the next to last race and Derby Storm ($20.40, $7.40) in the last race—to punch his ticket to the big dance, where he hopes to make magic happen one more time.
Meanwhile it may be bad news for the rest of the 2020 NHC field that Hall of Famer Paul Shurman appears to be hitting his best stride.
Shurman had 7 winners and a place to pick up $7,610 in Monday’s $10,000 Guaranteed No Limit Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $16,912.
The way things have been going lately here at HorseTourneys, it seems like the field for the NHC Last Chance tournament may exceed that of the NHC, itself.
We’re joking, of course, but Monday did send another nine to Bally’s armed with $500 entries. Congratulations to Gregory Lewis, Jim Sebes (second to Shurman in the $16,912 game), Frank Foss, Jimmie O’Nail, John Fisher, Rock Tocheri, Bob McIntyre, Bob Gianquitti (his second NHC Last Chance entry in two days) and Dan Richards.
We had three winners of $6,500 packages in our Last Chance qualifier to Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship.
Dennis Montoro had five winners (including Derby Storm) and two places to lead the way. Todd Cady took second with five wins and three places. Those five winners of Cady’s came in the first five tourneys races! And Wilson Anthony got the third and final berth thanks to eight winners!
Believe it or not, Anthony wasn’t the only player on Monday with eight on top.
Robert M. Moore did it too, in capturing Monday’s Horse Player World Series entry-only competition. Jacob “Captain” Phillips (4 wins, 1 place) accounted for the other $1,500 Orleans entry. But…credit where it’s due…let’s get back to Moore. Having eight winners out of 12 races when you’re stepping out occasionally with some non-chalk picks is pretty incredible. Here’s a look at Moore’s Monday:
We have an extra exciting week coming up thanks in part to our first-ever Thursday featured cash tourney (not counting Thanksgivings, of course)…
…and our first qualifier to the 2020 The BIG One at Laurel in store for Sunday.
Thanks to all of you for making the four-day, 25-featured-tourney holiday weekend as much fun as it was. We hope you can join us for a game or two next weekend as well.