It seems like only a matter of time before the FBI starts wiretapping Stephen Thompson.
Remarkably, this was the fourth consecutive weekend that the 56-year-old funeral home director from Lebanon, Pa., recorded multiple featured-tourney triumphs.
Perhaps Thompson is slipping a bit. This was the first time in the last four weeks that his weekend victories came in just one afternoon—as opposed to being spread out over two days. If only the rest of us could be faltering like him!
During this past weekend, it was Sunday on which Thompson had to offer his opponents condolences.
Thompson had four wins and three places to pocket $8,542 in Sunday’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final pot of $18,983. It was his third cash game victory in the last two weekends and his fourth since January 31. Here’s a look at his scoresheet—which was on display quite a bit on Sunday:
Thompson is also laying an exciting foundation for his future…because those same picks of his landed him an all-inclusive package to the September 19-20 The BIG One at Laurel.
He’ll also be part of the field for the August 15-16 $150,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.
Congratulations to Francis Drew and Elizabeth Canning—who danced with the Grim Reaper of HorseTourneys and lived to tell. In fact, Canning tempted fate twice.
She survived doing battle with Thompson…and she survived the final race victory by Crypto Gold ($3.40, $2.60) in the 10th at Gulfstream. Fourth-place finisher Joe Johnson had Crypto Gold—but Johnson finished 20 cents shy of Canning after Crypto Gold got whacked from 6-5 to 3-5 in the last couple of flashes.
Getting back to Thompson, here are his recent featured-victories:
February 1: $10,768 first prize in cash tourney
February 21: Flo-Cal Faceoff entry
February 21: Horse Player World Series entry
February 22: NHC seat
February 22: $9,088 first prize in cash game
February 28: Flo-Cal Faceoff entry
March 1: BCBC seat
March 6: $6.068 first prize in cash tourney
March 7: $10,975 first prize in cash game
March 15: $8,542 first prize in cash game
March 15: The BIG One package
March 15: Spa & Surf Showdown entry
What a month and a half for him. We apologize, sort of, if we missed any!
As was the case on Sunday, there were three winners of $2,000 Spa & Surf Showdown entries on Friday.
Winners Michael Goodrich, Daniel Edwards and Jim Lisowsky all had Raging Blaze ($45.00, $15.40 in the 6th at Laurel) as their big horse. Goodrich also nailed 9-1 winner Oneshotatforever in the 9th at Aqueduct.
Another Raging Blaze beneficiary was Michael Brown.
Raging Blaze was the most lucrative of Brown’s three firsts and one second…and that resulted in a lucrative $6,433 in Friday’s $7,500 Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $14,297.
Scott Pearson led the way in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier.
Pearson booked 4 wins and 2 places to earn his NHC berth. Not far behind Pearson was the always-dangerous G.T. Nixon (3 wins, 2 places), who also secured a seat to the prestigious February 12-14 contest.
Ed Peters has been heating up recently.
The Pelham, N.H., bread distributor saw his 2 wins and 3 places rise to a score of $107.30—good for a victory (by more than $43.00) in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers. Peters, it should probably be noted, pulled in $275,000 while finishing third in the 2017 BCBC.
On Saturday, there was one big longshot hiding out there within the 12 featured-tourney races, Stephen Wagner had him.
The bomb in question was Skipin on Orchard ($65.50, $15.60) in the 6th at Aqueduct. That winner helped Wagner amass an imposing total of $104.00 after just four races, and that propelled him to a victory worth $13,978 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final pot of $31,063.
As brilliant as Wagner was early, his first-four-race total was exceeded over at HorsePlayers by Mike Ferrozzo.
Ferrozzo had 3 wins and a place over those races (Wagner had a “mere” two wins and two places) to rack up $105.20 en route to a day-best final total of $145.60, which got him an NHC seat along with runner up Brett Wiener (4 wins, 2 places). Both Ferrozzo and Wiener had Dance Till Dawn ($22.20, $12.20) who got elevated to first via DQ in the final tourney race, the 12th at Gulfstream. Ferrozzo would have gotten his NHC seat anyway—even without the stewards’ involvement—but the takedown was particularly painful for Doug Bredar, who would have gotten the other seat had the the original winner, Yako, not gotten goofy in the stretch.
Anyway…here’s a look at Ferrozzo’s ferocious Saturday scorecard:
Another Skipin On Orchard backer at HorsePlayers was Jeffrey Schmitz.
The Aqueduct price horse was Schmitz’s most productive of four winners plus a place, and helped him pick up $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Saturday’s “regular” Pick & Pray.
You can’t spell Simonovic without “SOO” and SOO (Skipin On Orchard) was central to his Saturday victory.
Simonvic added one first and four seconds to his Aqueduct tote rocker, and that earned him a $1,000 entry to the Lone Star Park Spring Betting Challenge.
Some players get hot and start winning everything in sight (see Stephen Thompson). Others focus on specific games that are to their liking. For Howard Welsh, that typically means cash tourneys—especially the now-weekly Big Bucks events.
Welsh won his second Big Bucks event in the last three weeks. In the previous one (when the grand prize was $7,124), he rolled home by $60. This past Sunday, he squeaked home by 30 cents. The added tension was worth it, though, because this event was sold out, That meant that Welsh’s share of the purse was exactly double ($14,248) what it was on March 1.
Things started slowly for Welsh (3 wins, 3 places), but he collected in the final four races to get up. That last collection came to place with 27-1 runner up (behind Crypto Gold) Castillete in the 10th at Gulfstream.
The Big Bucks game was good to Welsh, and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier was good to Welch.
Charles Welch, to be precise. Welch’s 3 wins and a place put him just behind winner Ken Jelin (4 wins, 2 places) and just ahead of Gwyn Houston (4 wins, 1 place). All three received $2,500 packages to the June 1 Jersey Shore competition.
On Friday, Scott Pearson captured an NHC seat for $75. On Sunday, he took another shot at a low-risk/high-reward prize.
Pearson didn’t earn the 6-for-6 Jackpot, but he swept the middle four races to take top honors. Inspired perhaps by the $6,195 Jackpot entering Sunday, 186 players showed up to take an $8 swing at the big prize. On paper, things looked ripe for action. Fields were short, and none of the six heats wound up with more than seven horses. (We try not to go too heavy on big fields in this event.) So wouldn’t you know that only one player (16th place finisher Brett Wilburn) managed to win even the first two races? Oh well. Next Sunday’s Jackpot will be up to $6,579.
In our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, Jack Musha connected on an amazing 7 winning gimmicks from just 12 races.
Actually, it was 7 wins out of just 11 races. Apparently, Musha felt he was doing so well that he could safely skip a race and allow his opponents to catch up a bit.
We’re joking, of course. But despite the omission, Musha still pocketed the first prize of $1,148 from an overall purse of $2,296.
Are you impressed by Musha successfully picking seven exactas out of 11 three-horse-box plays? It’s not an apples-to-apples comparison…but Musha’s feat may have been topped in Sunday’s free NHC qualifier—not once but twice!
Winner Edgar Rayner had a shocking 10 winners (plus 2 places) out of the 15 contest races.
Third-place finisher (and fellow NHC seat winner) Daniel McKeehan had an even more shocking 11 winners on top.
Thanks to having both the 15-1 Freedom Prince at Aqueduct and the 9-1 Stated at Gulfstream, David Matheny was able to split the above mentioned pair (who only had one apiece) and also take home an NHC berth.
Last but not least, Frank Story and Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza were the two (thanks to 46 entries) to go home with $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries in Sunday’s 12-race, Low Ratio qualifier.
Victory seemed an unlikely story for Frank after he got blanked in the first five races. But four winners and a runner up thereafter made for a happy ending. In fact, it was a doubly happy ending for Story given that he had a close-but-no-cigar second in Saturday’s BCBC qualifier. Trezza, meanwhile, had 3 wins and 2 places to finish second. His horse racing skills have apparently been made even more keen by the shortage of other sports on which to wager.
Of course, the number of operating racetracks out there right now is not exactly plentiful either. And not all tracks that ARE still running allow us to use their races in our contests. As of this writing, Aqueduct is planning to resume racing, as scheduled, on Friday. Keeneland had scrapped its entire Spring meet, Monmouth has delayed its opening until May 23, and Churchill Downs will announce tomorrow (Tuesday) at 9:00 am what its plans are for the Derby.
The opportunity to play in online handicapping tournaments is not the most important thing right now…but it IS a fun thing…and as long as we can continue to bring them to you, we will do so. Thank you for your support last weekend and for your patience going forward.