With 37 featured tourneys spread out across six days of Fourth of July week, there were plenty of opportunities for top HorseTourneys players to show their mettle.
And Charles Myers wasted no time in doing so.
Charles Myers hit the last race (blocking runner up Peter Osella in the process) to finish with 4 wins and a place and grab the top prize of $2,923 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed with a purse of $6,497. As things turned out, Triple Jeopardy edged Creative Choice in that 8th at Gulfstream and then survived a claim of foul from that one that arguably could have gone either way. Daniel Mah probably feels it went the wrong way, while Myers and Osella undoubtedly applauded the no-call.
Forty-eight hours later, Myers was at it again.
Here, Myers (4 wins, followed by 2 places) needed no stewards’ decisions to earn himself a $2,500 seat in Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. Also picking up a berth to the $300,000 Guaranteed event here on August 14-15 was Alexa Zepp, who had 5 winners, but nothing over 3-1. Sometimes it pays to just chip away!
Getting back to Wednesday action, Matthew Bickey reeled off six straight collections (3 wins and 3 places) in tourney races 2-7.
That run earned Bickey a $1,000 spot in the July 17th Monmouth Park Haskell Challenge.
John Northern went on quite a Wednesday run of his own.
He nailed the first 5 race winners on the way to a 6-win, 1-place day that netted him a $2,500 entry to the final leg of the 2021 Tourney Triple, the Spa & Surf Showdown.
Albion D. Benton (5 wins, 0 places) stood out in Wednesday’s Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier to become the week’s first of 16 $500 seat winners to the NHC Eve contest.
He did so by being the only player in the field to show a flat-bet profit. Benton’s biggest collection came with Sweet Lemon Drop ($16.40, $4.80) in the 7th at Thistledown.
There were a couple of close contests in the Thursday featured events.
Michael Kiatipis (3 wins, 1 place) and Bruce Rossi (3W, 2P) both had Slip Slidin ($20.00, $8.20) who came from another zip code to get up late going 5 1/2 furlongs in the slop in the 9th at Delaware. That propelled Kiatipis and Rossi into the $500 seat-earning positions in Thursday’s Bally’s First Chance/Last Chance Pick & Pray.
That $6.10 victory by Kiatipis looked like a blowout compared to Mark McCollough’s triumph in Thursday’s $4,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
McCollough also had Slip Slidin to close out a 5-win, 2-place day in which he prevailed by 50 cents over fellow Slip Slidin fan Robert Grace. McCollough pocketed the first prize of $2,768 in a game ultimately worth a total of $6,152.
Speaking of cash, the biggest such winner on Friday was Sherry “Also Hit ‘em Where They” Arndt.
Arndt hit ‘em where they were—in the winner’s circle—6 times, including one stretch of five straight winners in mid-tourney. The biggest of those was Screamin’ By ($14.20, $5.30) in the 8th at Belmont. To the half-dozen firsts, she added one second, and that allowed her to take home $7,182 in Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which had a final pot of $15,960.
Arndt’s score of $78.60 was the day’s best.
And that wasn’t all the winning that Arndt did last week.
Arndt (4 wins, 2 places) had the highly-fitting-for-the-Fourth-of-July Freedom Matters ($9.80, $5.40) in the final contest race (Gulfstream’s 11th) to get up late and win Sunday’s Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier. There were enough entries to award a pair of $4,000 entries to the July 31-August 1 tournament, and the other one went to 2017 BCBC runner up Ron Ferrise, who misfired in the Freedom Matters race but held on for 2nd by 10 cents over an unfortunate Gregg Kingma.
Friday was the first of three final qualifiers to this Saturday’s Lone Star NHC Summer Finals.
The Friday winner of the $1,000 Lone Star entry was Steve “People Are” Stange. He posted 5 wins and 2 places on the day.
Jim Murphy (4 wins, 4 places), Hubert Gaffney (4W, 2P) and Michael Foster (3W, 3P) comprised the group of three who earned $500 Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance berths on Friday.
Appropriately, Murphy got the day off to a quick and lucky start thanks to having A Bit o’Irish Sass ($8.60, $3.90) in the first contest race, the 6th at Belmont.
Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier was a very tight affair with the top 13 finishers all within $10.00 of the top spot.
When the dust settled, it was Gary Lyons (5 firsts followed by 2 seconds) and Dennis Dusenberg, who emerged with the low-cost 2022 NHC seats. They both had Screamin By ($14.20, $5.30 in the 8th at Belmont) as their highest-yielding selections. Six of their 10 respective selections were held in common.
We mentioned earlier that Alexa Zepp earned a $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown seat on Friday for finishing second behind Charles Myers. Zepp played those same picks back in Friday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier, and it was celebration day all over again.
The song remained the same for Zepp here. On a day when prices were in short supply, Zepp’s five winners—all at 3-1 or lower—got the job done, earning her the coveted $10,000 entry…and leaving longshot hunters swinging on the gallows pole.
On Saturday, Ryan Knottek captured a pair of tourneys.
Knottek led the way in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier by picking 5 winners (and no places). Runner up Rick “I-65” Broth also gained a $2,500 Showdown entry with 5 wins plus 3 places. Broth really came to a boil late, hitting the last three winners which paid $7.40, $25.60 and $17.80.
In Saturday’s Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier, Knottek also blazed the trail with his same 5 winners.
Left in Knottek’s wake—but also garnering $500 NHC Eve spots—were Brett Wiener (4 wins, 2 places), Martin Scarminaci (3W, 0P) and Wendy Long (3,0). The top three finishers all had Suburban upset winner Max Player ($25.60, $6.80) in the 10th at Belmont.
G.T. Nixon was the one in Saturday’s Monmouth Park Haskell Challenge play-in.
Brett Wiener, meanwhile, was the two and Sean Michele was the three. Each of them had Max Player to help bring to fruition their $1,000 Monmouth seats.
There were two players alive for a possible $8,637 Jackpot in Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 tourney. Alas, Robert Jones and Glenn Fromel each missed the last leg and wound up tied for 15th place.
Robert Schneider didn’t miss the last leg. He had Rogue Affair ($17.80) in the 10th at Woodbine as his third of three winners to snatch victory from the…ahem…jaws of defeat.
The $15 Pick 4 Jackpot also went unhit on Sunday.
Robert Buck came up with the 9-1 and 6-1 winners in the middle to take top honors, but he missed the single-digit victors at the beginning and the end. Since no one went 4-for-4, next Saturday’s Jackpot will begin with a carryover of $9,144.
We’re not done recapping Saturday’s action. Not by a longshot. The big winner of the day was Michael “The Coach” Goodrich, who used this scoresheet to rake it in.
Goodrich and his 6 wins and 2 places romped by a whopping $80.90 in Saturday’s $10,000 Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $13,230. The Coach’s cut of that was $9,261.
Of course, victorious Big Bucks scores seldom hold up in “open company” events with bigger fields. But this one did…in the Live-format Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers.
The three biggest games on Saturday, in terms of prize pool, were the BCBC qualifier, the Big Bucks game and the $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Could Goodrich pull off a clean sweep? If he could, just think of how proud his family would be of him.
Well…the script didn’t exactly have a Hoosiers or Miracle ending…it was more like a Rocky ending, because it took a heck of a performance to beat him.
John Kennedy deprived Goodrich of the hat trick and the $11,907 top prize in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney (final pot: $26,461) by just 80 cents. And by that same 80 cents, Kennedy’s score was the best of the day on Saturday.
As for Goodrich, we’re sure his family is still proud of him nonetheless. And the 2nd-place payoff of $4,763 couldn’t have been too bitter a pill for him—or them—to swallow. Goodrich’s total haul for the day, including the $10,000 BCBC seat, amounted to $24,024.
Goodrich’s vanquisher, John Kennedy, hails from…where else?…Massachusetts. On Sunday morning we imagine he was saying to himself. “Ask not what HorseTourneys can do for you. Ask what you can do to win again at HorseTourneys.”
And on Sunday, that’s exactly what he did.
Sunday’s triumph was in the day’s qualifier to The BIG One in September. Kennedy achieved it on the strength of 5 straight winners followed by 3 place collections. His biggest hit came via speedy turf sprinter Warrior’s Pride ($21.00, $12.20) in the 9th at Gulfstream.
High-returning horses like Warrior’s Pride were at a premium on Sunday. The high score of the day was the $106.20 put up by Andrew Walker.
Those six winners rewarded Walker to the tune of $11,648 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Final purse for the Independence Day feature came to $25,886.
Activity in the Monmouth Haskell Challenge qualifiers has certainly heated up of late. Sunday’s play-in attracted enough entries to generate three $1,000 seats/grand prizes.
The names of the three who finished on top are well known to those who frequent Monmouth Park contests. Congratulations to Gary “Macho Man” Machiz (4 wins, 1 place), Pete Acocella (3 wins, 1 place) and Terrence Severson (3 wins, 1 place). All three had the “July 4th Special”—Freedom Matters ($9.80, $5.40) in the final tourney race, the 11th at Gulfstream.
Freedom Matters mattered a lot to Evan Trommer as well on Sunday.
The winner of the Gulfstream, and tourney, finale put Trommer up and over in Sunday’s Colonial Downs Handicapping Challenge qualifier.
Eric Kurzhal (3 wins, 3 places) really did well in crunch time on Sunday.
He had the final two contest winners at odds of 5-1 and 7-2, respectively, to get up for the victory in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
By a margin of $2.20, Robert Childress earned himself a $1,000 spot in Saturday’s Lone Star Summer NHC Finals.
Childress recorded 5 wins and 1 place…and needed every last one of those six collections.
Warrior’s Pride was the big horse on Sunday for Howard “Big Bucks” Welsh.
The 3-year-old grass sprinter who bottomed out his elders was among 3 winners and 2 places booked by the Garden State high-end player. That meant a winner’s share of $5,699 for Welsh in the $7,500 Gtd. Big Bucks game (run as a Pick & Pray on this particular Sunday), which closed with a total pot of $8,142.
Warrior’s Pride was also the highest common denominator for Gary Sutton (4 wins, 1 place), Don Allen (also 4W, 1P) and Michael Marlaire (5W, 1P).
Perhaps they can all come up with another nice 9-1 shot in the Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament on August 26.
She only paid a dollar more to win than did Warrior’s Pride, but I found Ellanation ($22.00, $8.40 in race 7 at Pimlico) a really hard horse to come up with. (Fortunately I was already knocked out of the mandatory-payout Rainbow 6 at that point!)
Michael Somich (3 wins, 1 place) saw the merits in Ellanation, however. And the Jameela Stakes winner helped him grab a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.
The other Fourth of July feature at HorsePlayers on Sunday was the $210 NHC Pick Your Year qualifier.
Here again, Warrior’s Pride at Gulfstream was the common thread to the successful days of the three seat winners. Congratulations to Rick Vasquez, who led the way with 7 winners, “Pistol” Pete Manzo (6 wins, 3 places) and Darren Schweiger.
On Monday the Fifth, Rick Vasquez proved that Sunday the Fourth was no fluke.
Vasquez captured Monday’s special Belmont-only, full-card Bally’s First Chance/Last Chance qualifier on the strength of 4 wins and 1 place. Among his 4 winners, Vasquez (no relation to Jacinto) nailed the two biggest prices on the Monday Belmont card—Awesome Indra ($13.00) in race 4 and Sister O’Toole ($11.40) in race 7.
We also hosted a multi-track Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier on Monday.
Traci Richards (4 wins, 4 places), Evan Trommer (4W, 2P) and Peter Rogers (5W, 3P) were the three winners of $500 entries in this one. Rogers came in hot to this one, sweeping the first four races on the card. Richards and Trommer passed him eventually, though—largely by virtue of having Heart Rhythm ($23.80, $10.40) in the 9th at Parx.
Stephen Luca, Richie Bennett and Kevin Engelhard all had Heart Rhythm.
That helped enable the trio to all grab $1,000 Monmouth Park Haskell Challenge seats for July 17th. Luca and Bennett each had 6 winners and 1 runner up. Engelhard shamed himself by having 6 winners but not a single place collection.
On Monday, we offered our Last Chance qualifier to this Saturday’s Lone Star Summer NHC Finals.
There were enough entries to hand out two $1,000 entries in this one. Mark Simonovic showed the way with 4 firsts and 4 seconds. John Cilia (3 wins, 4 places) got second by a hair. They both had Heart Rhythm—and also What’s News ($9.80, $5.60) in the final tourney race, the 6th at (appropriately) Lone Star.
The winner of the biggest prize on Monday was Douglas Schenk.
Schenk whiffed on the first five races, but he banged out 3 wins and 3 places over the final seven, including Ginger’s Wish ($58.80, $24.60) in the 10th at Parx. As a result, Schenk pocketed $8,379 in Monday’s special $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with a final total purse of $18,620.
Schenk’s score of $122.40 was not the day’s highest. In fact, the day’s three best scores all came in the same event, Monday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.
Fortunately one of those scores (the third one) was his. He, along with winner (and day-best scorer) Ryan McCarthy (5 wins, 3 places) and runner up Jay Johns (4W, 2P) all had Ginger’s Wish at Parx.
Congratulations to all of last week’s winners—and apologies in advance to all of this coming week’s winners. Due to some upcoming vacation time that involves a family wedding, there will be no Weekly Recap next Monday. We hope your winnings next week serve as sufficient solace for the subpar publicity. See you back in this space in two weeks!