It was a very good week for James Lisowsky. It got started for him on Thursday with three quick winners out of the gate in the day’s featured $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray…followed by two winners and a place later on.
Those two late winners came in the final two tourney races and enabled Lisowsky to collect $3,794 from a total final purse of $8,433.
Lisowsky is typically a player with a nose for big prices. On Thursday, he had the day’s biggest with Salino ($18.80, $8.20) in the 9th at Aqueduct. On Saturday, however, Lisowsky really got serious.
Not only did Lisowsky unearth the Andrew Wolfsont-piloted Mandate, who took Aqueduct’s Artie Schiller Stakes at odds of 44-1, he did himself one better (or was it six better?) by smoking out Primer Dimer who bested the field in the 3rd at Del Mar while going off at 50-1.
The dual longshots paid big Saturday dividends for Lisowsky.
He pocketed $15,107 from a final pot of $33,572 in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
And he obtained the prospect for even more lucrative riches down the line by earning—along with Matthew Trommer—an NHC seat…
…and also a Flo-Cal Faceoff berth.
Also earning spots in the $250,000 Guaranteed all-cash extravaganza here on January 15-16 were runner-up Brian “BC” Chenvert and Jay “Bringer of Rain” Donaldson. Wendy Long had to go home empty-handed after finishing five dollars behind Donaldson in fourth.
The total haul for Lisowsky across the four Thursday/Saturday triumphs came to $18,901 plus a $1,500 Flo-Cal berth plus the NHC seat. Not a bad 72 hours playing the ponies.
David May had a really good four hours (or so) playing the ponies on Friday.
Similar to Lisowsky on Thursday, May rattled off three consecutive winners (including two $20+ horses) right from the outset of Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray (an HT Tour competition). A 3-2 winner late in the game sealed his victory, which brought him $8,304 from a game ultimately worth a total of $18,453.
May played that same 4-winner scoresheet back in Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
May and James Michelson (2 wins, 2 places) came away with the two $1,500 entries in this one. Alas, this was another close-but-no-cigar finish for Wendy Long, who again finished one spot out of the “money,” this time by $3.40.
After the two near misses on Friday and Saturday, it would have been completely understandable if Long had put her Flo-Cal Faceoff quest on hold for a while, figuring that this just wasn’t her lucky week. Instead, she pressed on.
Sometimes persistence pays off. In Sunday’s Flo-Cal play-in, Long finished fourth. But unlike Friday’s two-seater and Saturday’s three-seater, this one had enough entries to award four $1,500 entries, and Long got the last one of those for finishing behind Blaise Brucato (5 wins, 3 places), Len Hanson (4W, 1P) and Bryan Ingram (4W, 0P). And perhaps in a measure of poetic justice, Long realized her Flo-Cal seat by a margin—just 20 cents—even smaller that the margins by which she lost the other two.
The unfortunate fifth-place finisher who was just 20 cents behind Long, Evan Trommer, got some very worthwhile redemption in his own right.
Putting the Low Ratios of a Big Bucks tourney to work for him, Trommer captured the top prize of $6,411 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed game (final purse: $9,159) by using the same 3-win-and-2-place picks that only got him fifth-place in the Flo-Cal qualifier.
So Evan Trommer cashed for $6,411 and Wendy Long got her Flo-Cal seat. Not a perfect weekend for either player…but a better-than-average one, to be sure.
Robert Shoemaker II assured himself a better-than-average seven days just by his performance in the very first featured-tourney of the week.
Shoemaker picked 5 winners, including Ready Seeker ($27.80, $11.00) in the 5th at Mountaineer to bag $2,700 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash game, which went off with a takeout to players of just 5.1%. His other entry came in fourth to add another $450 to his bank account.
The other Wednesday feature was a Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier that was won by Bryan Sacks.
By the clock, the final race in this one turned out to be the 8th at Charles Town. Sacks (4 wins, 1 place) had Lil Toughman ($12.60, $3.80) in that one, and that moved Sacks up from 6th-place all the way to first.
As noted earlier, David May triumphed in two marquee tourneys on Friday. There was a third that day, and it was taken in wire-to-wire fashion by Stephen Luca.
Luca recorded 4 firsts and 1 second en route to posting the day’s high score and winning Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier. Shilo Merwitz (3 wins, 3 places) caught a $4.20 place payoff in the final race to move from 6th to 2nd and grab the other available 2022 seat.
Getting back to Luca, here’s how his Friday went:
On Saturday, James Lisowsky was winning his three tourneys, but he didn’t enter the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. That left the door open for someone else to take home the $9,973 first prize.
That someone was Paul Cush. Not only did he not have both cap horses like Lisowsky….he didn’t have either one…but his modestly-priced four winners and a place got the job done in this high-end matchup that closed its doors with a final purse of $14,248.
There were some excellent efforts in the weekend’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys. Mike “Afternoon” Delatte had the final three winners to take Saturday’s contest…
…and Michael “Copa” Kavana also had the last three victors in claiming top Sunday honors (and John Van Arnum was alive going into the final leg before missing on the final race at Woodbine)…
…but since no one managed to put together a perfect 4-for-4 ticket, next Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney will start out with a carryover of $1,052 in the kitty.
Sunday was not a big day for longshots. The biggest price in our featured-tourney races was Sandy Bay ($18.00, $7.00) in the 9th at Woodbine. Fred Betesh had Sandy Bay among the 6 firsts and 2 seconds that he compiled on the way to racking up the day’s highest score.
For that score, Betesh was rewarded with $10,920 in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot of $27,300.
Sunday saw the first qualifier to the Hawthorne Thanksgiving Weekend tournaments.
Michael Odorisio led the way with 4 wins and 3 places. Sean Masterton (3W, 2P) and Mark Simonovic (2W, 2P) finished in a tie for second, but since this wound up being a three-seat qualifier, our HorseTourneys stewards were absolved from having to break the tie. So Odorisio, Masterton and Simonovic will all be in action on the Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend with their $1,000 in entry fees already taken care of.
Over at HorsePlayers, there were two NHC qualifiers on Sunday.
Steven Turner came up with 6 firsts and 3 seconds in the 12 contest races to best his nearest rival by a comfy $31.90 in Sunday’s $500 Low Ratio qualifier.
The champion of the 2018 The BIG One, Joe Pettit, came out on top in Sunday’s NHC play-in that was restricted to players who had yet to earn a 2022 NHC seat.
Among Pettit’s 4 winners and 2 runners up were Sandy Bay and, in the final contest race, Over Attracted ($11.40, $4.60) in the 5th at Del Mar in order to reach and eventually retain the top spot.
More featured tourneys come your way this week, starting on Wednesday. Among next weekend’s offerings will be your first opportunity to qualify for the 2022 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. We’ll be here next Monday to recap that qualifier and all the other play-in and cash games. Until then…have a great week ahead.