For every big score that we are fortunate enough to experience as horseplayers, it seems that there are a dozen (conservatively) that just elude our grasp. On the pain scale, James Snyder’s close call on Sunday had to be worth at least two dozen.
On Saturday, the longest winning streak to start the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney was the string of four put up by Kimberly Moffatt in a game ultimately won by Michael Foster. That left $25,281 in the pot for Sunday, and Snyder took dead aim on it.
The challenge was to navigate six short fields at Santa Anita, and when the favorite won leg 1, 107 of the 206 entries were still alive.
A 5-2 second choice took leg 2 and, somewhat surprisingly, only seven entries were still standing…though one player had three of those seven.
Leg 3 was a little weird. The 4-5 favorite won in the “bulky-for-the-day” field of six. However, it was one of those races in which there were two 9-5 co-favorites as the horses loaded into the gate. Then one got with one getting hammered in the last flash, and the other drifting up dramatically to 3-1. Just two players survived this leg. The player with three live entries was not among them. He put all three of his tickets on the longest shot in the field, 17-1 Portando, who finished next to last.
A winning 4-5 chalk advanced both survivors to Leg 5, but only Snyder was left when 9-5 second choice First Empress emerged victorious. Now all that remained was the final leg, race #7 at Santa Anita, the 5-horse California Flag Stakes going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf.
The favorite, both in the morning line and at off time, was Galilean who left the gates at 3-2. In a bold move, Snyder went for 9-2 4th choice Ultimate Bango (who was 10-1 on the morning line).
Anyone who checked Snyder’s pick right after the start and thought he must be crazy, thought he was a genius when Ultimate Bango made a seemingly winning move up the rail turning for home and opened up a daylight lead on the field. But Galilean wasn’t quite done yet. He charged hard late and got up to win by a head according to the charts (though, frankly, the margin seemed closer to a nose!).
It wasn’t exactly Country House-Maximum Security, but this one took a very long time to adjudicate. In the end, no change was made—and if the final result wasn’t difficult enough for Snyder, they explanation at the bottom of the chart may have added a few extra grains of salt to Snyder’s wound.
In any event, Snyder was the winner…
…and he—and you—can shoot for the $25,706 that will be in the Jackpot next Saturday. We salute him for a memorable—and thoroughly gutsy—attempt at what was almost a great score.
The featured-tourney week kicked off on Wednesday. The always-dangerous Mike Yurczyk only picked two winners out of 10 contest races…but they were good ones.
Yurczyk (2 wins, 1 place) had Jungle Juice ($30.80, $7.00) in the 6th at Keeneland and Groovy Lemon Pie ($55.80, $12.80) in the 8th at the Lexington, Kentucky oval to earn $2,177 in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash game which closed with a purse of $4,354.
Bryan Teel had Jungle Juice as one of three consecutive winners in mid-tourney (races 4-6) of Wednesday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
That was all the scoring Teel did, but it was enough (barely) to secure a victory worth a $1,500 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed event on January 9-10.
Over at HorsePlayers, there was a special Keeneland-only, full-card, Low-Ratio qualifier to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
Duncan Courtney utilized the 8-1 Race 4 winner Matt’s Key plus Jungle Juice in the 6th as his two producers in picking up the sought-after $10,000 entry.
There was another BCBC Low Ratio qualifier on Friday…this time of the more-traditional multi-track variety.
John Holmes was the winner here. His winning margin of $23.20 was more than provided for by Tizhotndusty ($21.80, $9.00) who won the final contest race, the 7th at Santa Anita. Balasundaram Sridhar finished second to pick up a $5,000 partial entry.
Back here at HorseTourneys, Steve “The Admiral” Nemetz (3 wins, 2 places) and Stephen McNatton (3W, 3P) prevailed in Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
Both Steve and Stephen had Tizhotndusty to get up and grab the $1,500 Flo-Cal seats.
We’ve already documented James Snyder’s tough weekend beat. Jim Trepinski had one of his own in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Adam Lewis had 3 winners—at 9-1, 10-1 and 11-1—to edge Trepinski by 10 cents and snatch the top prize of $6,658 in a game that had a final pot of $14,826.
What was painful (at least to our eye) for Trepinski was that he had Tizhotndusty in the nightcap while Lewis got blanked in the race.
That meant that Trepinki had to pace around waiting for the final-race payoffs, hoping that his 9-1 winner would yield $31.00 to win and place. He came up just short, and had to settle for $2,959.
Friday’s high score was posted by Bob Gianquitti, who topped the leaderboard in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier.
Both Gianquitti (3 wins, 3 places) and fellow Bally’s Berth winner Ken Jordan (4W, 1P) had a pair of Belmont longshots—10-1 Forza D’Oro in race 8 and 11-1 Our Troubadour in race 10.
Here’s a look at Gianquitti’s best-of-Friday tally sheet:
Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza is on the record as being among those who prefer Pick & Prays to Live-format games. So it’s no surprise that the NJ/PA eye doctor liked the looks of Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed tourney.
Trezza (3 wins, 5 places) started so fast, cashing in the first five races, that it didn’t really matter that he whiffed on the last three. For his exploits in the first nine races, Trezza saw his bank account grow by $11,700. The game closed with a purse of $26,001.
Trezza didn’t fare as well in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, but he still managed to hold third behind Robert Rosenzwieg, who eked out an 80-cent triumph over Evan Trommer.
The 80-cent difference turned into a difference of $7,100 for Rosenzweig, who cashed for $9,973 in the high-end game that finished up with a pot of $14,248.
Despite the delay to August, the NHC will have a little more Joy to it in 2021.
David Joy (3 wins, 4 places) collected on the final three races—including place returns of $4.60 and $10.00 in the last pair—to get up late and win Saturday’s “Maiden Special” restricted to those yet to earn a 2021 berth.
Prices were hard to come by in our Saturday featured tourneys. The highest win price of our 12 contest races was $12.90 (which means you know it came at Woodbine!). The high score of the day was $95.50 in the $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Jeannie King and her 6 firsts and 1 second were responsible for the $95.50 number. King caught a $10.00 place payoff with Time for Ebby in the final race, the 6th at Santa Anita, to get up for the win over Nancy Sprnce, who had to settle for a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.
A score of $58.50 got it done for Frank Gryboski Jr. in Saturday’s $1,000 Super Low Ratio BCBC play in.
Gryboski chipped away and chipped up with 4 wins and 2 places to earn the $10,000 seat for next month. His biggest collection came with Broadway Lady ($13.00, $6.60) in the 6th at Keeneland.
Top scorer on Sunday was Andrew Walker who won $8,853 in the day’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a final purse of $19,673.
Walker had 4 winners and a runner up, with those winners paying off between $16.50 (Woodbine again!) and $33.00.
The other big Sunday cash game was the $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks event.
Steve Duffield took this one with two winners—a harmless $4.40-to-win returner and a dangerous 15-1 shot, Second of July ($33.00, $10.80) in the 7th at Belmont. He also added three runners up to finish with $60.80—good for top money of $10,686 in a game ultimately worth a total of $15,266.
Michael “Copa” Kavana had 5 winners to dance off with the $700 first prize in Sunday’s $1,000 guaranteed Exacta tourney.
Kavana’s biggest hit was his final one—a $54.40-for-$1 return on the 4-9 gimmick in the 11th at Woodbine.
David Wolff finished first in Sunday’s $165 NHC qualifier, but Wolff was already double qualified…
…so the two available seats fell to Rock Edwards (3 wins, 3 places) and 2012 NHC Champ Michael Beychok (3 wins, 0 places). Edwards and Beychok each had One Flint ($16.50, $6.50) in the 11th at Woodbine to move up from 5th and 11th places, respectively.
Even if Beychok does become the NHC’s first two-time champ next August, we imagine it would be hard to top the feeling he had during that initial trip to the winner’s circle. He certainly picked a great year to finish first!
Three new people added their names on Sunday to the list of those who can finish first in the $150,000 guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff on January 9-10.
Congratulations to James Morgan (5 winners, including the last 3, plus 2 places), Sarah Wiener (2W, 2P) and Craig Hom (3W, 1P). They were the three players to break $80.00 in scoring.
Similar to Rock Edwards and Michael Beychok, Joseph Rumfolo nailed One Flint in the 11th at Woodbine.
The 7-1 shot propelled Rumfolo (3 wins, 4 places) from 4th to 1st at the end of Sunday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers. Brian “BC” Chenvert finished second and picked up a $5,000 partial entry.
On Columbus Day, Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion lived up to his name at HorsePlayers.
Joffrion selected Sunset Empire ($37.20, $8.60) in the 7th at Gulfstream Park West and Dr. Devera’s Way ($13.60, $5.90) in the final race, the 9th at Belmont which, along with two place collections, got him the $10,000 seat in the Monday BCBC Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.
Of course, they don’t call Joffrion “Boom Boom” for nothing.
He lost one of his above-mentioned place collections here, but Sunset Empire and Dr. Devera’s Way were still in tow, and that got him his second BCBC entry of the day in this Super Low Ratio qualifier.
Fortunately for Joffrion, Steve Pavich restricted his Monday play to HorseTourneys.
Pavich put up the best score of the day ($97.20) in capturing Monday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. For his total of five winners (including each of the last three at odds of 2-1, 2-1 and 5-1), Pavich received $8,500 in a game that went off with a takeout rate of just 9.5%.
The 17-1 Sunset Empire was the key contributor for both Mark Vitaliano and Daven Turner in Monday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
Thanks to Sunset Empire plus several other collections that each enjoyed, Vitaliano (4 wins, 1 place) and Turner (3W, 3P) will now be…facing off…in the Flo-Cal.
Whether you’re working on your second million like Michael Beychok or still seeking your first tourney victory, we hope you enjoyed yourself here over the Columbus Day weekend. Don’t look now, but the weekly featured-tourney fun starts right back up again tomorrow. Good luck!