There were lots of Pick & Pray features last week, so it’s not too surprising that several players multi-tabled their way to more than one victory. However, a couple of those “two timers”got things started on Wednesday and didn’t conclude their winning ways until a couple of days later.
Scott Fiedler has been winning more than his share of events lately, and on Wednesday, he used Tampa Race 8 longshot Talako ($46.00, $16.60) to propel himself to victory in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier. The Jorge Abreu first-time starter was one of three winners for Fiedler, who also added a runner up collection.
Fiedler had a very good score on Wednesday. On Friday, he had the very best score.
Fiedler’s total of $171.80 — built on 5 wins and 2 places, including a 17-1 hit in the final race — resulted in a payday of $10,174 in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a final purse of $22,610. Here’s how Fiedler conducted his second day of winning:
Who had the best score of the day on Wednesday? It was Rhonda Graziano.
Graziano made things rocky for her opponents in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, flooring them with four consecutive winners that began with Talako on the Tampa turf.
Graziano left the ring with $2,550…out of a total pot of $5,668.
“Rockin’ Rhonda” can do more than throw haymakers, however, She can also land one-two combinations…as she showed on Sunday.
No fewer than five of the fighters in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney had the $189.60 (for $1) exotic in the 6th at Gulfstream. So Graziano had more work to do in the 10th and final round to make it to the top of the judges’ scorecards, and she did just that thanks to a $60.20 punch in Gulfstream’s finale that earned her another winner’s purse of $1,454. Final pot here was $2,078.
The winner of the other Wednesday feature, our Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, was Mark LoneTree.
Actually, the score was a tie between LoneTree and David Nelson. However, LoneTree won the tiebreaker over David Nelson because LoneTree had three winners while Nelson had just a…LoneWinner.
Steve Arrison was not a lone winner on Friday.
He was one of three NHC seat earners in Friday’s $75 2-seats-guaranteed qualifier, along with first-place (and now double-qualified) Sarah Wiener and third-placer Gary Wright. Wiener had 4 winners, all over the final six races. Arrison checked in with 5 firsts and one second. And Wright snagged the third and final available prize thanks to 3 wins and 2 places.
When we said that Arrison wasn’t a lone winner on Friday, it’s not because he shared the NHC stage with Wiener and Wright, it was because he was also the grand prize winner in Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
Friday’s twin killing for Arrison, however, was far from a typical one-day Pick & Pray double-up. It wasn’t even typical for a Steve Arrison one-day Pick & Pray double up.
Just five days earlier, on Sunday May 3, Arrison used the same picks in two Pick & Prays and won seats to the NHC and The BIG One. He used a different strategy this past Friday, though.
In the $75 NHC play-in, Arrison had 5 wins and 1 place.
In the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, he picked 4 winners and 3 runners up.
What some may find particularly impressive or interesting in all of this is that only two of his winners and one of his place collections were common to both tickets. If you combine his two entries, he cashed in 9 of the 10 races and had 7 winners…including the last 6 in a row (without the benefit of much chalk). Had this been a best-ball golf tournament, Arrison would have probably broken some sort of world record. Incredible handicapping! We sometimes worry about splitting our winners across two entries…Arrison basically did that and still won with both.
In Friday’s other featured tourney, Max Schnepf’s big move came at the very end.
Schnepf (3 wins, 2 places) connected with Noble Alma ($36.00, $13.20) in the final race to get by John Cilia and capture Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier by $27.20. Schnepf received a $10,000 entry to the year’s most prestigious live-bankroll event, while Cilia had to settle for a $5,000 partial entry.
There were two double winners on Saturday, including a sweep of the features at HorsePlayers by newly-inducted NHC Hall of Famer Roger Cettina.
To most, Areyoutalkingtome would bring to mind Travis Bickle, To Cettina, it will henceforth remind him of the 6-year-old Tapizar gelding whose 27-1 victory in Saturday’s 11th at Gulfstream put him over the top in both the day’s NHC qualifier (in which Tom Wood also parlayed Areyoutalkingtome into a Bally’s Berth) and also in…
…Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. These two events at HorsePlayers were both live-format tourneys, so Cettina didn’t use the exact same horses in each. Here’s a look at his NHC scorecard…his “good” ticket:
The two richest Saturday events at HorseTourneys were also swept…by John “The Clocker” Nichols.
The two biggest prices during the day came in the first race of our tourneys and the last—and in each contest, Nichols (3 wins, 4 places) had them both, starting things off with Do What It Takes ($37.20, $15.40) in the 5th at Tampa and closing things out with Areyoutalkingtome. In Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash game, Nichols wound up with a winner’s share of $14,726 from a prize pool of $36,816.
Nichols was one of two NHC seat winners in Saturday’s 2-seater here at HorseTourneys.
He will be joined at the 2021 event by 2020 Flo-Cal Face-off champion Tom Blosser (2 wins, 1 place), who also had the same two big book-end winners as Nichols.
One could make an argument that—in its own way—Blosser’s runner-up finish was the most unbelievable thing to take place here in a long time.
Blosser obviously won his NHC seat on Saturday thanks to the 27-1 upset win at the end by Areyoutalkingtome.
What was Blosser’s final winner in the 2-day Flo-Cal Faceoff tournament that earned him $88,000?
Alistair Wallbaum was the only player among 18 in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier to select Areyoutalkingtome…
…and that allowed him to pick the shelves clean and check out with the coveted $2,000 entry in a game that went off at a loss to HorseTourneys.
Areyoutalkingtome also played a pivotal role in Saturday’s Lone Star Park Spring Betting Challenge qualifier.
Charley Witt was the only contestant among 14 to have Do What it Takes, and so he led all the way until the last race—where Eddie Inman (who failed to get his pick in for the previous race) was the only one to choose Areyourtalkingtome. That sent victory—and the June 27th $1,000 entry—Inman’s way.
Turning our attention to Sunday, typically the day’s high score comes from one of the most highly-entered tourneys. So which was it on Sunday? The $12,500 Guaranteed game with 135 entries? The NHC qualifier with 178?
Try the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney with 19.
To be fair, those Big Bucks games do attract some truly tough competitors. Here, “Battlin’” William Smith turned back all 18 opponents sent his way thanks to 4 wins and 2 places that added up to $110.00. Here’s a look at the scoresheet that earned him $13,536 in the $19,337 event.
Smith also picked up an NHC seat over at HorsePlayers for finishing second behind Chris Fallica.
Fallica had the day’s two real prices—R U Royalty ($27.40, $12.40 in the 6th at Gulfstream) and All Around ($23.00, $9.80 in the 10th at Gulfstream).
(I guess I don’t really need to specify the track on this day since ALL the Sunday featured races came from Gulfstream this week.)
Smith had All Around in his Big Bucks win, but not here. However, he had the next-best thing in the finale, catching a $5.20 place payoff with Front Loaded, who lost by just a nose. That $5.20 made the difference in getting Smith that second seat.
Despite not hitting a thing in the first 5 races and not having anything in the tourney finale either, Frank Story still had a happy ending.
He had 2 winners and a place in races 6-9 to survive the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers by 60 cents.
The 135-player, $12,500 Guaranteed cash Pick & Pray was with a score of $75.20 by Vineet “Please Don’t Squeeze the” Sharma.
It actually was something of a tight squeeze for Sharma, however, as he prevailed by just $1.40 to pick up the grand prize of $10,483 in a game ultimately worth a total of $23,297. Sharma had 3 wins and 4 places, and it was one of those very harmless looking place payoffs ($2.40 in the 9th with favorite Frosted Grace) that wound up providing the margin of victory.
David Wolff had both R U Royalty and All Around.
Those two Gulfstream price horses, plus one other winner and runner up, got him the all-inclusive package to the September 19-20 The BIG One at Laurel.
Michael Bailey had a very similar 2-win, 1-place afternoon…
…and that served him well in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
Nick Kochanski missed All Around in the last race.
But he had an all around good day prior to that, racking up 2 wins and 4 places to take Sunday’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier by $26.40. Kochanski was a bit fortunate, however, that none of his five closest pursuers heading into the final race took All Around. In fairness to those five, though, All Around’s odds did drift up from 8-1 to 10-1 late in the betting.
As the field sizes grow for our $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourneys, the competitions seem to get more and more noteworthy with each passing week.
Glenn Bechtel had three entries in the field of 295. Two of them were among the three to survive the first two races—and one of those two was the only perfect entry after three races. Unfortunately, Bechtel’s dreams of a perfect game (and a five-figure Jackpot) ended soon thereafter. But rather than spit the bit, Bechtel came back with one of his “lesser” entries and captured first place after All Around took the nightcap at 10-1.
The quest for perfection never ends, of course, and so next week’s Jackpot will start out at $10,854.
In closing, we want to thank all of you for sticking with us through some slimmer-than-normal schedules of late. We look forward to having Golden Gate Fields rejoin our featured-tourney mix next week. Charles Town should be hopping back aboard too. We racing fans seem to be the most fortunate sports fans of all these days—though many of us have probably always felt that way!