It was a predominantly Pick & Pray week last week with no fewer than 35 featured events. The high volume—combined with some pricey winners—made for an extra-large helping of noteworthy performances.
As usual, the week’s marquee games got underway on Wednesday.
Gary Gristick nailed Wednesday’s first three winners (which returned $3.40, $5.60 and $21.80) but his big hit came in the final contest race, the 11th at Parx, when Fed Policy paid $43.40 to win and $18.20 to place. The four winners landed Gristick the day’s $2,500 entry to August’s $300,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.
Thanks also to Fed Policy, Donald Markwardt now has the funds to buy up more bonds if he wishes.
With 3 wins and 3 places, Markwardt took home the winner’s share of $2,700 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash game. His score was the day’s best.
The other Wednesday feature was a Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.
Marc Wlodkowski (2 wins, 2 places) and Mark Stovall (1W, 1P) were the first two of 12 $500 Bally’s entry winners this week. They each owed a big thank you to Thank You Ricketts ($59.40, $17.80), another lucrative Parx longshot that reported home first in the 8th race at the Bensalem, Pa., oval.
On Thursday, a $500 Bally’s First Chance/Last Chance seat was a slam dunk for Todd Faro thanks to King James.
The equine Chosen One paid $15.80 to win and $4.90 to place in the 3rd at Belmont and was one of 4 wins and 3 places that filled up Faro’s box score.
There was also a full-card, Belmont-only Bally’s qualifier on Thursday.
Kirk Rockwell must not be a LeBron fan. He didn’t pick King James, but he had 2 other winners (paying $12.00 and $7.10) plus 2 places to get the job done with a score of $42.60.
Thursday’s $4,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $6,428, was captured by Alistair Wallbaum.
Wallbaum went down the aisles and put 3 winners and 3 places into his cart, including Introspection ($13.40, $5.60 in the 8th at Delaware). The six collections earned Wallbaum the top prize of $2,892.
On Friday, the fine Crystal was again on display.
Last week, Crystal Andaur captured both the Thursday and Sunday featured cash tourneys. This week she finished first in arguably any given week’s most difficult tourney to win—the Friday $75 NHC qualifier. She did it with 4 wins and 2 places, besting fellow seat winner Vincent Achillare (4 wins, 1 place) by $18.40. They both had Silent Musketier ($20.60, $6.20) in the 6th at Los Alamitos.
Andaur actually improved on her winning NHC qualifier score by adding a place collection in Friday’s Bally’s First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.
That was bad news for all of her opponents except for Gregory Lewis (4 wins, 1 place), who finished 2nd and grabbed the other $500 entry.
Special Friday kudos go to Frank Vento, Jr., who managed to conquer Andaur in the day’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which went off with just a 1.3% takeout rate to players.
Vento (4 wins, 2 places) finished very strongly here with a $12.00 winner in the 9th at Gulfstream followed by the aforementioned Silent Musketier at 9-1. He bagged top money of $6,750. Andaur didn’t score quite as well in this one as in her two victories, but she still walked away with a very nice consolation prize of $3,000.
Count Thomas Labordo (2 wins, 2 places) among Friday’s Silent Musketier fans.
Labordo earned himself a $1,500 entry to this Saturday’s Xpressbet Summit of Speed Challenge.
Paul Aussenhofer survived a nailbiter to win Friday’s Lone Star Summer NHC Finals qualifier.
Aussenhofer held on for a $1.30 victory despite whiffing on the last two races. He’ll have action on July 10th in Texas.
Daniel Goldstein will have action on August 14-15 in the $300,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.
Goldstein (4 wins, 2 places) moved up from 3rd-place to 1st after the final-race victory by Silent Musketier at Belmont.
No one had Silent Musketier in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray.
The player who did the best job of piecing things together was Ken Jordan, who only had 2 winners (with the top price of those two being just 7-2), but he chipped up repeatedly with six important place collections to snatch up the coveted $10,000 BCBC entry.
Prices seemed to come in in just about every featured-tourney race on Saturday. Pete Acocella didn’t have them all…but he had a good many of them.
The rare $200+ scorecard got Acocella a July 17th $1,000 entry in our Monmouth Park Haskell Challenge Pick & Pray.
Joining Acocella in the Xpressbet contest will be runner up Brian “BC” Chenvert and Edward Wright.
Chenvert’s scorecard contained 3 winners—which served him well in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
Those three Chenvert winners came in the first four races. He didn’t collect a thing thereafter…and didn’t wind up needing to. Also earning a $2,500 Showdown entry was Peter Osella (6 winners). Like Chenvert, Osella had Rosey’s Peach ($22.00, $9.50) in the 6th at Belmont.
Jim Burrell had 4 winners—including 3 that paid $35.80, $42.60 and $29.00—plus a place.
That got Burrell the grand prize of $11,804 in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $26,231.
Three players earned $500 entries on Saturday to the Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament.
Congratulations to Scott Cavalieri (4 wins, 1 place), Muggsy Kreiser (3W, 3P) and Tony Trotter (4W, 1P).
Michael “The Coach” Goodrich got off to a fast start on Saturday by scoping out Contained ($35.80, $9.20) in the first tourney race, the 5th at Belmont.
Goodrich added two more winners thereafter en route to a triumph worth $7,124 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.
In Saturday’s $100 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers, runner up Alan “Flo-Cal” Levitt was already double-qualified so he was just playing for Tour points. That left the NHC seats to winner Chris Cupples (3 wins, 0 places) and 3rd-place finisher Shawn Turner (3W, 2P).
Cupples had a couple Monmouth Park bombs—Concrete Charlie at 22-1 in race 9 and Viking Queen at 20-1 in race 11. Turner also came up with Viking Queen.
Neither Philip Webber (2 winners on Saturday)…
…nor G.T. Nixon (2 winners on Sunday)…
…managed to go 4-for-4 in our weekend $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys. So that means a carryover of $8,056 into next Saturday’s test. Nixon’s Sunday performance was particularly interesting. He had the 9-1 and 5-1 winners of the middle two races, but missed the even-money and 5-2 victors of the 1st and 4th legs, respectively.
The other Saturday feature on which to report is the Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier won by Gregg Kingma. He had 5 firsts and 1 second. The winners included 10-1 Rosey’s Peach at Belmont and 22-1 Concrete Charlie at Monmouth.
We saved Kingma’s Saturday victory for last because it makes for a convenient segue into Sunday’s action.
Muck like home runs for Dave Kingman, contest victories seem to come in bunches for Gregg Kingma. On Sunday, he connected on Calibogee ($20.40, $9.00) in the final tourney race to wrap up a 4-win, 2-place day and bag the top money of $10,561 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with a purse of $23,470.
Kingma played those same picks back in Sunday’s Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier.
This was a no-doubt-about-it, $45.80 tape-measure victory for Kingma over Michael Sussman, who also got a $4,000 Del Mar seat for running second. Sussman had 3 wins in the first 4 races plus a later place collection.
Here’s a look at the scoresheet that allowed Kingma to go deep twice on Sunday.
The Sunday NHC qualifier was right here at HorseTourneys, a Live-format two-seater.
The two to top the century mark were the two to secure berths to the 2022 event: Mark Wilgard (4 wins, 2 places) and Wayne Tam (also 4W, 2P). They both had Don’t Losemymoney ($34.00, $11.80) in the 8th at Monmouth and, happily for them, the horse complied.
Wilgard’s score of $117.20, by the way, was Sunday’s highest.
Adam Lewis prevailed by 20 cents over Ken Seeman in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed, Live-format Big Bucks game (just 6.8% takeout in this one).
They both had Fox Rox ($20.80, $10.00) in the 8th at Monmouth. Neither used the 5-2 favorite (who wound up running second) in the final tourney race.
The same picks allowed Lewis to double his pleasure in Sunday’s qualifier to The BIG One.
Lewis will now be one of no more than 57 competing right here for cash and 10 seats to top tournaments (BCBC, NHC, Pegasus World Cup) come September.
Stephen Nieswiadomy pulled off a difficult feat on Sunday.
He had 2 winners (including Don’t Losemymoney) followed by 3 places to win a $1,000 entry in Sunday’s Guaranteed Lone Star Summer NHC Finals qualifier. Nieswiadomy also finished second (just 20 cents behind) with his other entry—despite the fact that he used two different horses in all 12 contest races.
Thomas O’Connor (3 wins, no places) is another who didn’t lose his money with Don’t Losemymoney.
The three non-losses meant a $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown entry for O’Connor.
Lucas Van Zandt made the Low Ratios work for him in Sunday’s Low Ratio Spa & Surf Showdown play-in.
Van Zandt hit three winners in a row late in the game (at odds of 5-1, 5-2 and 4-1) to finish with 5 wins and 1 place and prevail by $3.10.
Bob Bandzwolek was Sunday’s winner of a $500 seat to the Colonial Downs Handicapping Challenge on July 26th.
Bandzwolek had 3 wins and a place, topped by Fox Rox ($20.80, $10.00) in the 9th at Monmouth.
Fox Rox was also a common denominator for Sunday’s three earners of $500 entries in our Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.
Congratulations to Michael McEvoy (2 wins, 1 place), Howard Blumberg (4W, 1P) and Jimmie O’Nail (5W, 1P).
Nicholas McMurdy was the winner of Sunday’s Canterbury Big 10 BCBC Handicapping Contest qualifier.
He earned his $3,000 spot in the September 16th event by coming up with 3 winners (including Don’t Losemymoney) in the first 4 races…and then 4 runners up over the final five heats.
Nick “529” Fazzolari (or “Nicky Fazz” as some prefer) and Sean O’Malley were Sunday’s two winners of $1,500 Xpressbet Summit of Speed entries.
They both had 3 wins and a place, and they both liked Don’t Losemymoney.
Over at HorsePlayers, John Holmes recorded 2 wins and a place in the final three tourney races.
Holmes finished with 5 wins and 2 places…and a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in his pocket.
Thanks to all for a fun and frenetic week. Expect more of the same with Fourth of July weekend coming up next.