Like packages of toilet paper during a pandemic, grand prizes at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers last week were essentially limited to one to a customer. The only player to skirt the guidelines and sneak two into his shopping cart was Evan Trommer.
Trommer’s acts of self-interest were both committed on Sunday. He had 3 wins and 2 places to take home $17,098 in the sold-out Big Bucks tourney, which ended up with a purse of $24,426.
Trommer had one additional winner (4 wins, 2 places) but a slightly lower score in Sunday’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier. Nevertheless, he prevailed in that one as well.
Two winners common to both entries for Trommer were back-to-back Belmont winners—One and Done at 9-2 in the 8th and Therapist (8-1) in the 9th. (Therapist survived a lengthy inquiry that may have led many backers of 11-1 Majestic Dunhill to book an appointment with their therapist.)
And that was it as far as multiple featured-tourney winners were concerned. From 25 featured events, there were a total of 37 grand prizes…won by 36 different people.
What’s a little ironic about all of this is that 17 of the 24 featured games were Pick & Prays—which are usually conducive to multiple-victory performances. And to take the irony one step further, Trommer’s two triumphs both came in live-format contests. So go figure.
What did make a little more sense, however, is that there seemed to more short-priced horses than usual during the week—especially on Wednesday and Sunday. So being wonderfully right a time or two wasn’t going to get it done for the most part.
Daniel Mah was wonderfully right a time or two or six.
Mah’s six winners, including the first five right out of the gate, led to Wednesday’s highest score…and a victory worth $2,177 in our $2,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a pot of $4,354. Among Mah’s winner’s circle visitors was the day’s “bomb”—Value Proposition ($11.20, $5.80) in the 8th race of Belmont’s opening day card.
Value Proposition was among Fred “Xpress” Betesh’s 5 firsts and 3 seconds on Wednesday.
That performance led to Betesh winning our special “Welcome Back NYRA”, $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which was contested solely on the 10-race Belmont card. Betesh’s share of the pie worked out to $3,990, from a total prize pool of $7,980.
There was also a “Welcome Back NYRA” Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. A lot of sweathogs cut class here. Only 13 showed up…meaning that $1,469 in entry fees were attracted for an event that guaranteed a $2,000 Showdown entry.
Lucas Van Zandt (2 wins, 4 places) led most of the way in this one, lost the lead, then got it back thanks to a $4.20 place collection in the last race with Beach Front. His single biggest collection came with a maximum place payoff of $22.00 with the 42-1 runner up in the 7th, Our Troubador.
Tony Calabrese (3 wins, 3 places) also had that $4.20 place payoff with Beach Front in the Belmont finale.
It wound up making the difference in his $1.00 victory in Wednesday’s other Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. (The HorseTourneys accounting staff wasn’t as angry about the turnout in this one.)
Michael Jordan was walking on air after picking up his second NHC seat in just four days.
After capturing last Sunday’s Low Ratio qualifier despite not having a winner above 9-2, Jordan set the bar even…lower? Here, in Wednesday’s $75 play-in, his highest-priced victor among five paid $9.90.
The shot selection may more closely resemble that of Michael Olowokandi, but the results have certainly been Michael Jordan all the way!
Friday’s featured-tourney races offered a generous helping of long-priced winners, yet 12 grand prizes still went to 12 different players.
The star of the day was Lorne Weiss, whose 5 wins and 2 places added up to the high score of the day (and week). He led the way over at HorsePlayers in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier, which had enough entries to award three spots. Those other two went to Eric Gielata (4 wins, 0 places) and, by just 10 cents, Amy Brantley (3 wins, 1 place).
Here’s a look at Weiss’s imposing scorecard:
David Browning had a pretty strong Friday score in his own right.
Browning had 16-1 Ready and Rich early (Laurel’s 6th) early and 20-1 Lost Ticket late (Belmont’s 8th) late en route to a 3-win, 2-place day that netted him a $10,000 BCBC entry in today’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Alistair Wallbaum also had Ready and Rich and Lost Ticket.
They were among his 3 wins and 1 place that earned him a $7,780 payday in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which had a final purse of $17,280.
Through six races, Steve Nemetz had an underwhelming score of $4.00.
He finished with a rush, though, recording 2 firsts and 2 seconds in the final four races to take home a $2,000 Spa & Surf Showdown entry.
We also had a special, one-day-only feeder on Friday to the following day’s Santa Anita Derby Challenge at Xpressbet.
Dylan Donnelly, Amber Butler, Tim Herboth, Kevin Jones, Mike Martin and Gary Wright were the earners of $3,000 entries to the online contest. Special congratulations go out to Tyler Hoffman who won the following day’s competition at Xpressbet.
On Saturday, believers in “Blinkers Off” were grinning from ear to ear when Grinning Tiger took the Crystal Water Stakes (Race 7) at Santa Anita at odds of 90-1. It created a bit of a “feast or famine” situation across our six featured tourneys given that there wasn’t much else above 8-1 to have that day. In four of the tourneys, you needed Grinning Tiger to win. In the other two, no one had Grinning Tiger.
As you might expect, plenty of people had the Anthony Saavedra-trained longshot in Saturday’s 1,429-player, 15-race free NHC qualifier. Congratulations to the three who did the best job of putting winners together in the other 14 races: Allan Rose, Wolfgang Wissig and David Sullivan. Sullivan held on to third by 70 cents over an unlucky Stephanie Davis, who didn’t enter a selection for the 15th and final race of the tourney.
Grinning Tiger was also the heavy lifter among 4 wins and 2 places recorded by Richard Meister.
Meister outdueled the other Grinning Tiger-haver (Ken Jordan) in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray to walk away with the $10,000 entry.
Mike Yurczyk found that a pair of 8-1 winners paired very nicely with Grinning Tiger.
The three Yurczyk winners amounted to a victory worth $14,174 in Saturday’s $25,000 Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $35,435.
Regular readers of this blog know that we do not use this space to engage in any sort of societal or political discourse. Let it be known, however, that we vigorously defend Americans’ right to protest peacefully—as long as they get their HorseTourneys picks in before they head out.
Before exercising his rights, Howard Welsh performed the even higher calling of entering the Saturday Big Bucks Pick & Pray. His faithful execution of those parallel duties wound up paying off to the tune of $15,673.
In the sold-out game that finished with a purse of $22,390, Welsh finished with 2 wins and a place. That right there tells you that he had Grinning Tiger.
Sharp-eyed readers may have noted that Welsh also ran 2nd to Mike Yurczyk in the $35,435 game. So Welsh’s total earnings for the day were $21,372.
In our other two Saturday features, no one selected Grinning Tiger, which left the door open to anyone who could string a few winners (or even placers) together.
Brian “Where Are You” From won a $2,000 Spa & Surf Showdown entry with a score of $58.60. To reach that total, he racked up nine (count’em nine) collections.
They say it’s bad grammar to end a sentence with a preposition, but we’re going to do it anyway: Congratulations to Brian From.
Josh Thorpe used 3 wins and 3 places to capture a $1,000 entry in the Grinning Tiger-less Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge qualifier.
Thorpe was the only contestant of the 28 to turn a flat-bet profit for the day. The other available Lone Star entry went to Bob McIntyre, who earned four of his five collections (1 win, 4 places) in the final four races.
On Sunday, we were back to the prevailing weekend theme of short prices.
Frank Scott connected on 7 winners—none of them paying more than $9.40—to win Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray by 30 cents over Raymond Riley. Riley had to think he had a big chance when he hit a 5-2 winner in the nightcap, a 7-2 shot ran second and Scott’s horse ran third. But Riley’s horse paid just $7.20 to win and $3.80 to place. Anyway, Scott cashed for $11,415 from a total purse of $25,368. Riley had to settle for $4,566.
Like Frank Scott, Mike Kappel also nailed 7 winners. Unlike Frank Scott, he also added a pair of runners up.
The result was a win in NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers and the high-score of the day. Karen Richards hit that 5-2 shot in the 5th at Golden Gate (Give Me the Lute) to get up for second and earn the other available berth. Here’s a look at Kappel’s Sunday splendor:
The low winning score of the day was also recorded at HorsePlayers.
David Nelson (4 wins, 3 olaces) can cry all the way to the BCBC. He had a win and a place in the last two races to get up and grab the $10,000 entry in the Low Ratio affair.
Scores in the 60s took home the big prizes in Sunday’s qualifiers to The Big One and the Spa & Surf Showdown.
The BIG One “regular” Joel Wincowski tabbed six winners—all at odds of 7-2 or less—plus a runner up to add his name to the roster of 2020 qualifiers.
And technically speaking, you didn’t actually need to reach $60.00 to taste success in the Spa & Surf Showdown play-in.
Paul McClelland did so, thanks to 5 winners that were topped (and concluded) by the 8-1 winner of the First Defense Stakes at Belmont, Therapist. Geoffrey Schutt also picked up a $2,000 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed tourney with a score of just $56.40. Schutt’s only winner came in the very last tourney race (the 5-2 shot at Golden Gate), but Schutt preceded that with four very solid place collections that returned, in order, $22.00, $5.60, $7.20 and $10.60.
Even Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney was a close, low-scoring matchup.
David Bloom put together three successful three-horse boxes to land the $700 top prize…by a slim margin of $2.85. His “windfall” of the day was a $48.25 pickup in the 8th at Belmont that was won by the 9-2 One and Done.
It was four and done for Sunday’s players in the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney.
After three races, there were six tickets alive (out of 258) for the Jackpot. Three of them were held by Kirk Albin who showed some derring-do in tripling up with One and Done. But Therapist knocked Albin’s three and the other three out. Picking up the slack later on was Mike Forzano, who hit the last three races and finished with four wins of the day—good for top honors. Since no one went 6-for-6, next Sunday’s Jackpot will start out with $13,166 in the kitty.
Thanks to all of you for contributing to another fun week around here. The lucrative featured-tourney action begins anew in less than 48 hours.