With 20+ featured tourneys every week, you’d think a somewhat monotonous “sameness” would set in, with one contest playing out pretty much the same as the next one. However, high volume can yield a wider range of outcomes, and we certainly saw an unusual one on Friday.
A cursory glance at the leaderboard might suggest that the headline of Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers was the dominance of those already double qualified to the Las Vegas extravaganza. Under different circumstances, the points-gathering exploits of Dylan Donnelly (who will extend his 2020 Tour lead once everything is tallied up), Kevin Engelhard, John Gaspar, Christopher Olsson and Gregory Lewis would, indeed, merit top billing.
However, “XXX” marks the spot of the show stealer because 4th-place finisher Edward “Savings and” Lohn not only did the best among the non-dual qualifiers, he did so despite not managing to enter a pick in the final three races of this 10-race Pick & Pray.
As it turned out, he could have skipped the last five races! Once Anydayisherday ($69.00, $29.00) took the 10th at Aqueduct, all that was left for Lohn to do was root for short prices to com in the rest of the day—and that’s basically how things played out. (Lohn was far from the only Friday winner who did most of his/her damage early in the day.)
To those thinking of trying to match Lohn’s feat, we say, “Don’t try this at home!”
Ernest “Say” Hey Jr. took a more conventional approach on Friday, opting to enter selections for all 10 of the contest races. That keen attention to detail helped Hey grab the other available NHC spot by just a dollar. He, too, had Anydayisherday.
The featured-tourney week began on Wednesday, and a familiar name held sway in the day’s top cash-game.
Mike Yurczyk had Forever Marta ($27.40, $10.20) in the 7th at Gulfstream Park West plus just one other winner to land the top prize of $1,797 in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed, live-format cash game, which closed with a purse of $3,594. It was just 40 cents back to another Mike…“The Coach” Mike Goodrich in second.
Scores were a bit higher in Wednesday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff Pick & Pray.
Ben Clayton racked up 4 firsts and 2 seconds to pull clear in this one and pick up a $1,500 entry to the January 9-10 get-together that will be worth at least $150,000. Ilan Cuellar came up with 3 winners to hold second by a dollar and lay claim to the other available $1,500 prize.
Returning to Friday action, Dale Hatfield was the Real McCoy in the day’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Hatfield had Anydayisherday, and that made it Dale’s day. His 3 “on top” got him a payday worth $6,658 from a total final pot of $14,796.
Remember how we said that Edward Lohn benefited from the fact that most of the good winners in the Friday contest races came early on? That was in full display in our Del Mar Fall Challenge qualifier.
Frank “54-40 or Fight” Polk got the top spot with 3 wins and 2 places. Dennis Hubbard also got a $4,000 entry thanks to 3 wins and no places. Peter Rinato is also headed to TVG after logging 2 wins and 3 places.
Both Polk (a Flo-Cal winner last week) and Rinato had the first two winners at odds of 7-1 and 9-1. Hubbard did all his scoring in the first 3 races. Rinato grabbed 3rd-place by 30 cents as a result of catching a $5.20 place payoff in the final race.
Eddie Inman took Friday’s Lone Star qualifier by a fairly comfy margin of $21.40 on 5 firsts and 2 seconds.
For Inman, it was his second $500 Lone Star entry won over the past three weeks. Look for him to be dangerous in Grand Prairie on December 5th.
The two players to crack triple digits were the two to go home with $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entries on Friday.
They were Judie Rogers (4 wins, 3 places) and Brendan Fay (5W, 1P). Rogers collected in 6 consecutive heats from contest race 2 through contest race 7.
Timothy Jacobs was the big winner of a $6,500 package ($6,000 entry plus $500 for travel) to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship on January 23rd.
After hitting on 3 winners and 2 runners up, Jacobs has the option of playing the Pegasus at Gulfstream or at Xpressbet (in which case he can pocket his travel stipend!).
That triumph was one of two very nice ones on the week for Jacobs.
On Sunday, he earned the winner’s share of $9,241 in the day’s $15,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. The big horse for Jacobs was Champagne Toast ($29.00, $12.40) in the 8th at Laurel. Finishing second behind him on Sunday was another who had a big day on Friday—Dale Hatfield.
The winner of Saturday’s richest event—and the day’s high scorer—was Amy Brantley.
She nailed three winners in a row—at odds of 8-1, 11-1 and 6-1—en route to 4 wins and 1 place and a victory worth $12,632 in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney (final purse: $28,072). Here was her scorecard:
Saturday’s sold-out Big Bucks Pick & Pray ($10,000 Guaranteed) paid out a total of $20,355. Given the 70% payout that goes to the winner in these Big Bucks tourneys, though, it meant that the day’s biggest payoff went to Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza.
The Pick & Pray (and eye care) specialist doped out 6 winners and a runner up, and he finished particularly strongly, sweeping the final three races. Trezza’s biggest return came with Paradise Pride ($25.00, $12.20) in the 8th at Laurel.
The other featured cash game on Saturday was our $15 Jackpot Pick 4 tourney.
Wolfgang Lucki almost pulled off a fortuitous masterpiece, hitting the first three races before having the “wrong” 6-1 shot in the finale. That one sour note in leg 4, combined with a “snow out” of the Sunday Pick 4 game, means that $1,871 will the Jackpot starting point when Pick 4 play resumes on Saturday.
Three players (the three who topped $70 in scoring) picked up $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff berths on Saturday.
Scott McFaden led the way with 6 wins (including the final 3) plus a place. Seth Morris (3 wins, 4 places) checked in second….and Edward Enborg (3W, 1P) held on for third despite coming up empty in the final five races.
Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Challenge qualifier had a twist to it as it was conducted not on Aqueduct, Laurel, Woodbine and Del Mar like the other features, but just on the full 9-race card from Del Mar.
Big prices were nowhere to be found that day where the Turf meets the Surf. Timothy Lee had the right idea. He just strung together a bunch of short ones.
Daniel Edwards (6 wins, 1 place) and Tim Herboth (4W, 2P) also did a nice job of making do with what was available, and they too earned $4,000 entries for this coming Saturday at TVG.
The Saturday featured tourney at HorsePlayers was an NHC qualifier restricted to those who had yet to earn a 2021 seat.
The winner of the “Maiden Special” was Peter “Sharp Dressed Man” Dresens who recorded 3 winners at 8-1, 11-1 and 6-1 followed by 3 runners up.
Earlier we mentioned strong Friday/Sunday performers Timothy Jacobs and Dale Hatfield. Another was Dylan Donnelly.
Forty-eight hours after inching his way closer to the 2020 NHC Tour Championship (and the $100,000 that goes with it), Donnelly led a field of 79 in our Last Chance qualifier to Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Challenge. His biggest returner was his final victor—Loud Mouth ($28.00, $10.60) in the 8th at Del Mar. Third-place finisher Thomas Labordo (5 wins, 2 places) also had Loud Mouth. Meanwhile Nicholas Hemmingsen (3W, 5P) and Harlan Malter (4W, 2P)—the second- and fourth-place finishers—also garnered $4,000 entries for the event that will be hosted exclusively at TVG.com.
Loud Mouth was one of three Sunday horses that scored within a rather tight odds range of between 12-1 and 13-1. Chris Grutsch had Loud Mouth and also Ain’t Da Beer Cold ($26.00, $12.40) in the 7th at Laurel.
Those two prices plus another winner and a runner up earned Grutsch a $6,500 package in Sunday’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier.
What was the other great winner to have on Sunday? We mentioned this one briefly earlier, but we’ll say it again—Champagne Toast ($29.00, $12.40) in the 8th at Laurel.
Both Kenny McMahan and Michael Somich had Champagne Toast on the way to snatching NHC seats in Sunday’s $210 qualifier at HorsePlayers. Paul Yaffee finished in between McMahan and Somich, but he was already double qualified, so he was just playing for Tour points.
The other Sunday featured tourney at HorsePlayers was a Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray.
Kevin Newell (4 wins, 1 place) was the winner of the coveted $10,000 entry in this one. His 12-1-or-better winner of choice was Ain’t Da Beer Cold at Laurel.
Sunday’s featured schedule wound up getting knocked down from 12 races to nine, of course, due to a late-developing snowstorm in greater Toronto that nixed the second half of the Woodbine card. That made Philip Edell’s score all the more impressive.
Edell had 4 winners—including all three of the really good ones—to run away and hide in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in. Here’s how he did it:
Edell’s score was the day’s best, but Amy Elsass (3 wins, 2 places) did pretty great in her own right to lock up second place and the other available $1,500 Faceoff entry.
Each of the three cashers in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game had Loud Mouth in the finale.
By 60 cents, Kevin Willett did the best of the “Loud Mouths” and that got him the top prize of $7,836 in a tourney ultimately worth a total of $11,195.
Loud Mouth was also a common contributor within the scorecards of Kirk Tesar and Trey Stiles in Sunday’s Lone Star qualifier.
Tesar (3 wins, 2 places) will be flying down to Dallas from Indiana. Stiles (4W, 2P) will be driving over from Houston. Both will have paid-up $500 entries in their pocket while doing so.
Adam Lewis made excellent use of the Ain’t Da Beer Cold race.
That 7th race at Laurel provided Lewis with a $1 exacta box worth $105.70. That was all the scoring that Lewis would need to capture the $700 first prize in the $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney that went off with no takeout to players and (after racetrack and deposit fees were factored in) at a loss to HorseTourneys. Kudos to Lewis and the seven others for knowing value when they saw it!
Kudos to all of you actually—for contributing to another fun weekend around here. We’ll ramp up the featured-tourney week again on Wednesday, and we’ll have an enhanced holiday slate on Thursday. In the meantime, may you all have a Happy and safe Thanksgiving…and may you all successfully get picks entered for all of your contest races!