It’s a HorseTourneys first—a Weekly Recap blog that actually covers a full week!
That’s because demand has been very high for qualifiers to the Spa & Surf Showdown—whose purse is now up to $263,730. So we have started offering single-track qualifiers any day that Saratoga and Del Mar runs. And since Del Mar ran last Monday…
…it meant that three more players earned $2,000 entries to the online cash game here on August 15-16. Congratulations to Mark Stillmock (4 wins, 2 places), Jack Schwartz (2 wins, 2 places…including a 12-1 winner in the last race) and Michael Bryan, who got up for third in the last race by virtue of a $3.40 place collection.
The next featured-tourney action—including two more Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers—came on Wednesday.
Robert Ricci (2 wins, 2 places) and Eric Kurzhal (3W, 1P) were the winners here. Both had 23-1 winner Whistlinginthtedark in race 2 of our Spa-only Spa & Surf qualifier. Ricci added Readyforprimetime ($24.60, $11.60) in the 7th, while Kurzhal needed a 7-1 last-race winner in Zero to Sixty to get up for the other $2,000 entry.
The 2nd race at Saratoga was too early for our multi-track features on Wednesday, but the 7th wasn’t.
Readyforprimetime was among the 4 winners and 2 places compiled by Mark “Santana” Tabakman…and among the 4 winners and 1 place racked up by Adam Eisner as they captured their Spa & Surf entries.
Turner West also came up with 4 winners (plus a pair or runners up).
That earned West the top prize of $2,039 in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which had a final total purse of $4,078.
Another four Spa & Surf entries went out the door on Thursday.
Dave “The Gambling Actuary” Nichols and Mark Simonovic got theirs the old fashioned way…in a multi-track qualifier that saw each connect with Hollywood Hoopla ($79.00, $25.60) in the 6th at Laurel. For Simonovic, it was his only collection all day!
Rob Henie and Dale Hatfield got their Spa & Surf entries by concentrating just on “Spa.”
Henie (5 wins ranging from 2-1 to 18-1 and no places) and Hatfield (3W, 2P) obviously didn’t have the Laurel bomb at their disposal, so they each made do—quite nicely, as it turned out—with Fed Funds ($18.20, $5.90) in Saratoga’s 7th.
On Friday, Adam Lewis joined Henie and Hatfield and all the rest in the Showdown thanks to some sharp Spa scoping.
Lewis had 4 wins and 2 places when all was said and done, but his best hit by far came early on with Vincero ($53.00, $21.20) in the 2nd.
Another three secured their spots in the Showdown in our multi-track qualifier.
Thriving best on the more diversified landscape that Monmouth and Del Mar helped provide were Mike Yurczyk (2 wins, 2 places), 2013 BCBC Champ Peter Behr (4W, 2P) and Lawrence Kahlden (4W, 0P).
Mark Aylward selected 3 winners and 3 runners up from 10 races on Friday, but he got particularly hot at the end of the day’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Aylward clicked with winners at odds of 29-1 and 19-1 in the final two races to walk away with top money of $8,004 out of a total pot of $17,788. His score of $144.00 was the day’s best.
The other Friday feature here at HorseTourneys was an Xpressbet Travers Online Challenge qualifier.
“Battlin’” William Smith (5 wins, 1 place) laid a vicious slash across the ankles of his foes in the last race (the 7th at Del Mar) when his pick Appreciated reported home first and paid $40.80 to win and $12.80 to place. Word has it that after Smith picked up his $3,000 Travers Challenge entry, he went immediately to the dressing room and refused to shake hands with any of his opponents.
Over at HorsePlayers, Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion let 10 big slapshots fly, and he found the net with four of them.
Two of Joffrion’s twine ticklers came in the final two races, and that earned him a seat to the NHC in Friday’s $75 qualifier. Also earning a “Bally’s Berth” in the cut-rate qualifier was “Captain” Frank Sorensen, who also had a score in the $120s…built on 3 wins and 2 places.
Rocky Hardy only had 2 winners on Friday, but they were nice ones.
Hardy landed a $23.60 winner in the 10th at Saratoga and came back with a $61.40 totebuster in the 6th at Del Mar to capture the coveted $10,000 entry in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.
While most of the Saturday attention was focused on the Whitney Day card at Saratoga, the horse you really wanted to have in our featured tourneys that day was Taleskip up at Woodbine.
Scott Pulcini had Taleskip ($52.60, $19.70) plus two other winners and three runners up to cash for $12,736 in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. The pot closed at $28,292. Pulcini’s score of $158.10 was tops on the day.
Another Timeskip “haver” was Ken Jordan.
Jordan combined Timeskip with three other victors and a place to take home the grand prize of $14,248 in Saturday’s sold-out $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which wound up with a purse of $20,355.
Jordan’s score of $126.50 also put him in good stead in Saturday’s multi-track Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
Jordan beat all but The People’s CFO, Joe “JK” Koury, who had himself a day with 3 wins and 3 places. Also earning $2,000 packages were the third- and fourth-place finishers John Kimove and Jeff Sandler.
Koury didn’t do as well in Saturday’s qualifier to The BIG One…but he still won.
And he won with room to spare—$29.40 to be exact. Koury will now be one of no more than 57 in The BIG One field, which will compete for 15 seats to top tournaments plus a cash-prize pool of at least $108,000.
There were also a pair of single-track Spa & Surf qualifiers on Saturday.
Tyler Hoffman squeaked out a $2.00 victory in the Del Mar version, thanks to 4 firsts and 3 seconds.
Meanwhile Jim Lisowsky (3 wins, 1 place) and Linda Peters (4W, 2P) took the Saratoga-only qualifier.
Lisowsky and Peters both had Vexatious, the 9-1 upset winner of the Personal Ensign over Midnight Bisou.
Lisowsky also enjoyed success on Saturday in a BCBC game at HorsePlayers.
Similar to Joe Koury, Lisowsky dropped about 30 bucks from victory 1 to victory 2, but he’s not complaining. A win is a win, and when you step up to play in a Super Low Ratio game, you often can reap the benefits of a smaller-than-average sized field. Here, Lisowsky needed some final-race heroics from Cariba ($10.40, $5.70) in the Caress Stakes at Saratoga to achieve the triumph.
The “regular” BCBC qualifier on Saturday went to Jared.
Jared Henry (4 wins, 2 places) managed a $4.00 triumph here thanks to a $10.00 place payoff at the end with Caress Stakes runner up Jakarta in race 12 at Saratoga.
Scores were tight between the top two in Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. Fortunately for them, this was a two-seats-guaranteed affair.
Congratulations to $120+ scorers “Get” Christy Moore (4 wins, 2 places) and John Moran (3W, 2P). They’ll both be headed to Bally’s next year.
There is one more Saturday feature on which to report. It didn’t exactly go the way we expected.
Ed Sehon claimed the top spot in Saturday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot with 3 winners. The six-race sequence had a total of 34 betting interests…including 1-5 post-time favorites in the first two legs. So what happened? Both 1-5 shots (Midnight Bisou and Honor AP) lost and no one got through those first two races unscathed. That meant a carryover of $17,524 into the Sunday Jackpot Pick 6.
Seven people cleared the first two hurdles, but no one cleared the first three. “The Commissioner” Tim Smith was one of those seven, and he added two more winners later to take top honors. Due to the lack of perfection, next Saturday’s $8 Pick Six tourney will start out with $17,941 already in the kitty.
We mentioned earlier that William Smith and Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion skated off with Friday victories. Well they were both ready when the puck dropped on Sunday as well.
“Battlin’” William punched his ticket with 3 wins and 3 places in Sunday’s qualifier to The BIG One. To win, however, Smith needed to throw his Form in the trash and get lucky with a wild, last-race stab in the live-format game. He went with PR Radio Star ($2.60, $2.20), which proved to be an effective choice.
The second “Boom” for Joffrion came in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed cash game.
Joffrion was smart enough to have the real price horse on the day—English Affair ($31.80, $11.60) in the 9th at Ellis. That was his top contributor among 3 wins and 2 places which, collectively, brought him a winner’s share of $8,930 in an event ultimately worth $19,845.
Joffrion had the day’s top score. Here’s how his Sunday went:
The day’s other big-money tourney was the $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks competition.
John “The Clocker” Nichols took this one with 2 wins (including English Affair) plus 2 places. All four of his collections came during the first six races. The end result was a first prize of $9,261 out of a total prize pool of $13,230.
There were three Spa & Surf Showdown play-ins on Sunday.
The multi-track edition saw four earn $2,000 berths for August 15-16. Congratulations to Steve Abelman, 2017 NHC Champ (and 2020 final table reacher) Ray Arsenault, Jay Row and Christopher Dewey.
The Saratoga-only Spa & Surf game went to Chris Grutsch,
Grutsch was one of three who had Simply Ravishing ($30.20, $10.00) in the Sunday Spa lid lifter…his additional winner and runner up thereafter brought the $2,000 entry home for him.
In the Del Mar qualifier to the Spa & Surf Showdown, Alan Levitt blasted out of the gate with the first three winners.
His fourth and final winner was the real coup de grace, however—15-1 shot Roll Up Mo Money in the 7th.
Sunday also featured our first qualifier to next weekend’s Club Hawthorne OTBs contests.
Matthew Kroska recorded 3 firsts and 5 seconds to leave with the $800 in entry fees (good for both days) for the Chicagoland tournaments.
It took a score in the 70s to succeed in Sunday’s Xpressbet Travers Online Challenge qualifier.
Seth Morris (2 wins, 2 places) and John Gaspar (also 2W, 2P) fit that bill to take home the available $3,000 entries for next Saturday’s online get-together. Not only did Morris and Gaspar each have 2 wins and 2 places…they had the same 2 winners—Armistice Day ($13.10 at Woodbine) and longshot English Affair at Ellis.
Speaking of scoring in the 70s, Steven Banks did that twice.
Two of Banks’s three successful exacta boxes returned $70+ for a buck, and that got him the top prize of $918 in our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which finished with a pot of $1,312.
English Affair was key to the outcomes of the two featured tourneys at HorsePlayers on Sunday.
It was the only winner Ron Ferrise had in Sunday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier, though did add a pair of placings. Ferrise, a Las Vegas resident, will look to improve upon his 2017 BCBC performance by one position in 2020. He finished second in 2017.
Both Timothy Hughes (2 wins, 2 places) and Stephen McNatton (3W, 3P) had English Affair on Sunday.
Having that Ellis 14-1 shot in the 9th at the Pea Patch served each of them well in Sunday’s “regular” NHC Pick & Pray. (Side note: Ellis Park is known as “The Pea Patch” because they used to plant peas in the infield there. They no longer do that. They plant soy beans in the Ellis infield now instead. The “Soy Bean Patch” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, though.)
Before we say farewell for now, we want to send out special get-better-soon wishes to top contest player Bill Shurman who had a nasty bicycle accident not too long ago that forced him to spend about four weeks in the hospital. Bill’s out now, and is doing much better according to his brother Paul, but he did suffer a broken clavicle, several cracked ribs and a punctured lung.
Not that we contest players don’t keep ourselves in tip-top condition at all times, but that’s a lot to recover from. Here’s hoping that good health—and many winners—help brighten his coming days. And yours too.