With fewer people traveling for Thanksgiving this year, perhaps it afforded people more quality time to spend with their computer or hand-held electronic device. Whatever the reason, things were busy around here with 26 featured tourneys during the holiday week. The first of those took place on Wednesday.
Just five days after grabbing $6,658 in the November 20th feature, Dale Hatfield won another cash-game feud, catching a $4.20 place payoff with Suleman in the 10th at Gulfstream Park West to edge past Michael Caposio and win $2,350 in the Thanksgiving eve $2,000 Gtd, tourney, which had a final purse of $4,700.
It was still very much a winning Wednesday for Caposio, however.
The Temecula, Calif., car dealer played the same picks in Wednesday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier and this time his 5 wins and a place were second to none. Finishing behind Caposio—and ahead of himself—was Curtis Meyer who, thus, picked up two $1,500 Flo-Cal entries. And Ryan Knottek also picked up a berth in the $150,000 Guaranteed event here on Jan. 9-10 for finishing fourth.
Thanksgiving Day was a little strange in terms of how the 10-race features (all Pick & Prays) played out. Winning scores were all over the map.
On the high end, there was Colin Roach.
He was a $32 winner and easily cracked triple figures in capturing Thursday’s 18-player Lone Star qualifier.
Thursday’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier also attracted a field of 18. Scores were at the other end of the spectrum here, though.
The only player to show a flat-bet profit, Evan Trommer walked away with a $6,500 Pegasus package after putting together a 3-win, 2-place score of just $41.80—almost $60 less than what Roach tallied in winning his $500 Lone Star seat. Again—same races, same format, same number of entrants. It’s just one of the vagaries of contest play that we see here from time to time.
In fairness, the other winning scores were closer to Roach’s than Trommer’s on the Thursday Score-O-Meter. In fact, they fell within a very narrow range given that they were won by three different people.
A score of $90.80 got it done for Richard Gorzkowski in a special Thursday Big Bucks Pick & Pray ($7,500 Gtd.). He had five winners, capped off by Gangly ($28.20, $12.20) in the 7th at Del Mar to pocket the top prize of $7,124 from a total final pot of $10,177.
The leading tally was just a dollar more in the Thanksgiving Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in.
Joe Johnson also had Gangly among what were his 4 wins and 2 places. Runner up George Bosch (2W, 3P) will be joining Johnson in the Flo-Cal starting gate. Bosch’s big horse was Awesome Pal ($30.40, $10.80) in the 8th at Laurel.
Robert Schintzius Sr. needed $92.40 to earn the top slot in Thursday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Schintzius finished strong with Gangly in the next-to-last race and Gregdar ($15.00, $5.40) in the final race, the 8th at Del Mar, to wind up with 5 winners in all and top money of $8,930 in a game ultimately worth a total of $19,486. Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce picked up $3,572 for checking in second.
So on Thanksgiving we saw a relatively normal scoring day in which Ryan Trommer’s Pegasus win was flukily low.
There were no flukes on Friday. Scores were low on Friday because, well, no long shots were coming in.
The already-double-qualified Phil Hoedebeck led the way in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. That left the Bally’s Berths to Robert Little (4 wins, 4 places) and Mike Sylvester (4W, 2P).
Hoedebeck had the high score of the day ($63.40) and, under different circumstances, we might be tempted to crack that the honor was comparable to that of Larry “Pinto” Kroger having the highest mid-term GPA (1.2) of the Delta pledge class.
But Hoedebeck’s score was actually quite good considering the paucity of prices.
Just three winners in the 10 contest races paid more than $10.00 to win—and Hoedebeck had the two longest-priced ones—Skole and Lucy’s Town.
Robert Little’s second-place finish may be even more illustrative of what a scrambled-up mess (in a fun way) the Friday contests were. With two races left, he was in 15th place. From there he caught a modest 7-2 winner in the next-to-last race and an even-more-modest $3.80-to-place collection in the nightcap. That normally-pedestrian rally shot Little all the way to second place and into the NHC.
Mind you, these were the HIGH scores of the day. So several others won quite a bit with even less.
Like Robert Little, Stephen Luca also had the 7-2 winner and the $3.80 place horse in the last two races. That upped Luca’s total to $58.50—good for $9,725 in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a purse of $21,612.
Stephen Lerma’s 3 wins and 2 places added up to $50.10.
That got it done for Lerma in Friday’s Lone Star qualifier. He’ll take a paid-up $500 entry with him into Grand Prairie this coming Saturday.
You didn’t even need to reach $50.00 to win a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry on Friday.
Ryan Knottek (3 wins, 2 places), Jimmie O’Nail (4W, 3P) and Ronnie Ogle (3W, 2P) did so, but 4th-place finisher Rudolph Hardin did not. All four will move on to the January 9-10 Faceoff with a guaranteed $150,000 purse, a possible $1 million or $2 million bonus and BCBC/NHC/The BIG One seats (as part of the Tourney Triple series) waiting in the wings.
During a 16-year NHL career, U.S. Hockey Hall of Famer Eddie Olczyk certainly knew that hard-fought victories count the same in the standings as blowout ones. His latest such triumph came on Friday.
The popular NBC Sports hockey and horse racing analyst pieced together three winners (that paid $9.80, $7.40 and $9.00) and two runners up to get out of town with a $6,500 package to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship on January 23rd. The winning margin over Ed Peters was just 80 cents.
(Photo courtesy of NBC Sports)
Olczyk now has the option of playing the Pegasus onsite or at Xpressbet. We wouldn’t be surprised if the Chicago native travels to Gulfstream Park, though, because he has had good success in that building. He was the first-ever winner of the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship back in 2018, taking home more than $203,000 plus BCBC and NHC seats.
As if making up for lost time, longshots were out in full force on Saturday and Sunday.
Mark Stillmock had 4 wins and 2 places to be the high scorer of the day—and yet his margin of victory was still just $1.40 over Vince LaRocco ($5,550) in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a final purse of $30,833.
Stillmock’s share of that was $13,875 thanks, in no small part, to him having three winners that went off at 13-1 or more.
Kevin Kilroy (5 wins, 0 places) and James Morgan (2W, 3P) were the two to punch their tickets to Vegas in Saturday’s live-format, $165 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Both Kilroy and Morgan had Kansas Kis ($33.00, $11.40) in the 8th at Aqueduct and Meal Ticket ($94.00, $33.80) in the 3rd at Del Mar.
Dane Moore (Saturday) and Kasey Rivera (Sunday) were the two winners of the week’s $15 Jackpot Pick 4 tourneys.
No one on either day got past the first two races (let alone all four) without a blemish. That means that next Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot pool will start out with a carryover of $2,745.
One of the biggest gluttons on Thanksgiving Day was Robert Schintzius Sr., who piled $8,930 onto his plate. On Saturday, he was back for seconds.
This time he took even more than on Thursday. He had 3 wins (including the appropriately-named Meal Ticket) plus two places to pocket another $12,823 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed with total prize money of $18,319.
Actually, Schintzius wound up going back for thirds.
He was one of five Saturday winners of $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entries, finishing ahead of all but the previous day’s high scorer (in the $75 NHC qualifier) Phil Hoedebeck. Shane Irish, Rich Nilsen and Jeff Sandler were the other three to secure their spots in the $150,000 Guaranteed Faceoff.
Another enthusiastic Thanksgiving consumer who did more of the same later on was Sunday Big Bucks victor Evan Trommer.
On Thursday, Trommer landed in a soft spot in which he was the only one of 18 Pegasus hopefuls to show a flat-bet profit. He had no such luck on Sunday with five of the 11 in the $7,500 Guaranteed tourney finishing in the black. So Trommer made his own luck, hitting Beer Can Man ($41.20, $14.80) in the final contest race, the Cecil B. DeMille Stakes. It made for a Hollywood ending that paid Trommer off to the tune of $6,411 in a game that closed with a purse of $9,159.
Another player who was ready for his close-up was Ken Jordan.
He, too, hit the Cecil B. DeMille with Beer Can Man. And before that, he nailed Oxide ($42.20, $20.40) in the 8th at Laurel. Those two served as the highlights of a 4-win, 1-place day that earned Jordan the first prize of $10,250 in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $22,779.
Basil DeVito also landed the potent Oxide-Beer Can Man combo.
That plus two other firsts and three seconds allowed DeVito to lead the way in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Also snatching $1,500 entries in the well-attended play-in were Steven Meier, Brian Graziano and Frank Perri.
The Sunday Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier went to Jared.
Jared Henry, that is. He also had Oxide and Beer Can Man among his 4 wins and a place. Tough to beat someone who has two $40+ horses in a Pick & Pray!
No one pulled that off in Sunday’s Lone Star qualifier. So the two grand prizes went to one player who had one and one who had the other.
Oxide created a nice reaction for Kirk Tesar (2 wins, 2 places) while David May (3W, 2P) was a happy patron of the Beer Can Man.
Matt Tietze had 2 winners to capture the $700 top prize in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.
The biggest collection for “The Fly” came when he stung his opponents in the 9th at Laurel with a $1 three-horse-box worth $78.00. Sensationalist—at 23-1—made that happen by defeating shortshot Pardon the Pun.
Over at HorsePlayers, Christopher Podratz got up in time in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.
Podratz hit the last two races, the 6th and 7th at Del Mar, to finish with 3 wins, 1 place…and one $10,000 BCBC entry.
Matthew Nixon took the lead with one race to go thanks to an $8.40 place collection in the 6th at Del Mar.
Nixon whiffed on the last race but still hung on for a narrow, 30-cent decision in Sunday’s Low Ratio NHC qualifier.
Cents can mean a lot in these featured tourneys. So can sense. We wish you plenty of horse sense in next week’s action. We’ll be here again next Monday to sum things up and (hopefully) provide a small sense of humor to it all. (Apologies in advance to those who don’t get my obscure 70-year-old movie references.)
One quick, additional note to report:
Our daily Survivor Jackpot tourneys don’t typically get much (okay…any) love here because it’s a $7 game. But David Chown, David Johnson and Ronald Richardson split $4,132 on Thanksgiving Day for successfully hitting the board in each of the 12 contest races from Del Mar and Charles Town. The pot had grown for two weeks, and we’re pretty sure it’s the largest prize we’ve ever paid out in one of these. Just one more thing to keep an eye out for in case you have a taste for Survivor games.
Congratulations to all of the Thanksgiving-week winners and thanks to all for playing. On to December!