It’s hard to have a better day than Jose Giron did on Christmas Eve. Not only did Giron pick six winners (and one runner up) out of 10 races, his six tallies included the three highest-priced horses of the day.
No one could top Giron on the night before Christmas—and that meant many, many presents under his tree.
He earned a $1,000 seat to the Tampa Bay Downs High Rollers Tournament Presented by HorseTourneys in two weeks.
The weekend after the Tampa contest, Giron will be in the field for the first leg of the 2022 Tourney Triple series, the $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff.
Among those who will also be in the starting gate for the Faceoff are the two who finished closest behind Giron—Gary Blair (5 wins, 1 place) and Tyler Hoffman (4W, 2P).
A couple of weeks after the Faceoff, Giron will do battle in Las Vegas at the Bally’s NHC Last Chance tournament.
In the annual NHC preamble, Giron’s opponents will include Fabian Sultan (4 wins, 3 places), Paul Roth (4W, 2P), Howard “28 Flavors” Johnson (6W, 1P) and Matthew Thomas (4W, 3P).
If Giron gets shut out in all of the above events, all will not have been for naught—because he also won Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $25,270.
Between the cash windfall of $10,108, the three seats noted above and also a Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge spot that he picked up on Friday, Giron’s haul had a total value of $14,608.
Jose Giron has “only” won a single seat thus far to next month’s NHC, but he won’t be the only Giron competing in the big room for the big money.
Mayra Giron didn’t have as many winners as Jose (five vs. six), but Mayra also enjoyed a Merry Christmas Eve. So did fellow NHC seat recipients Alan Hoffman (4 wins, 2 places) and Fabian Sultan (4W, 3P), who was also one of the $500 Bally’s seat earners on Friday.
Christmas week—from a HorseTourneys featured-event perspective—began on Wednesday, and the timing undoubtedly helped George Henning get into the holiday spirit.
Henning (5 wins, 1 place) hit Madeira Wine ($7.60, $4.00) in the final contest race, the 10th at Gulfstream, to get up and collect the top prize of $4,012 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with an overflow pot of $8,912.
Ronald de la Gardelle (5 wins, 1 place), Daniel Kaplan (5W, 2P), Joe Scanio (4W, 3P) and Terrence Severson (4W, 1P) were the four winners of $500 Bally’s entries in Wednesday’s qualifier to the Last Chance NHC contest in Vegas.
All four had Angelus Diamond ($23.60, $7.40) in the 9th at Tampa as their big horse of the day.
Angelus Diamond was also central to the Wednesday success of Edward Enborg.
The flawless (in hindsight) Tampa 10-1 shot helped Enborg bag a $1,000 spot in the HorseTourneys-presented Tampa High Rollers contest on January 8th. The timing would be tight, but maybe Angelus Diamond can run back for Enborg on the 8th.
Dale Hatfield (3 wins, 2 places) also came up with Angelus Diamond in capturing Wednesday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
If Angelus Diamond were to run back for Hatfield’s benefit on the 15th or 16th of January, it would have to be cross-state at Gulfstream since the $250,000 Guaranteed Faceoff only involves Gulfstream and Santa Anita races (and a ship out West hardly seems likely). Darren Rudnick (4 wins, 1 place) doesn’t care about any of that. He managed to grab the other available $1,500 Flo-Cal entry on Wednesday despite not having Angelus Diamond.
The big winner on December 23 (aka Festivus) was the 2020 Spa & Surf Showdown champ Scott Fiedler.
Fiedler (4 wins, 1 place) and Jim Lisowsky (4W, 2P) were the two to pull in $1,500 entries in Thursday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
And Fiedler played those same picks back in the day’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Here, he added $3,763 to the Fiedler family coffers from a final total purse of $8,364.
The other Thursday feature was a Bally’s NHC Last Chance qualifier.
Logger Don Allen (2 wins, 2 places) led a group of four winners who COULD see the forest for the trees. Also securing $500 spots for NHC Eve were Rob Ramirez (5 wins, 0 places…including the first 4 winners), Rudy Hardin (1 win, 5 places) and Vineet “Please Don’t Squeeze the” Sharma (2W, 2P).
We were dark on Saturday for the Christmas holiday, but we were the opposite of dark on Sunday with 10 featured events.
Jeff Corcoran won the richest of those, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot of $27,300. Corcoran hit the final race to move from 3rd-place to 1st, pocket the $10,920 winner’s share and record the high score of the day:
Corcoran was one of the only players all day to have both Swanee in the 5th at Golden Gate and Queen Goddess in what was actually—by the clock—the final contest race, the off-the-turf American Oaks from Santa Anita. Most of the rest of Sunday’s big winners had one or the other.
Kevin Willett (4 wins, 2 places) took the day’s other major cash game thanks largely to Swanee.
Willett collected $9,261 at the conclusion of Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed up shop with $13,230 in the kitty.
Terry Jerge had a very successful day after Christmas.
Jerge put up 4 firsts and 3 seconds to capture Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.
And those same selections did well for Jerge in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.
Here, Jerge bested all but Ty Alexander (5 wins, 2 places). Also securing $1,500 Flo-Cal spots were Kristopher Gregory (4W, 1P) and Jeff VanDrie (5W, 0P). Alexander and Jerge both had Swanee; Gregory leaned on Queen Goddess at the end; and VanDrie enjoyed success despite not having either of the day’s two most influential longshots.
In one of the greatest comebacks since Da Hoss, Mike Lazarus nailed 4 of the final 5 contest-race winners to take Sunday’s Tampa High Rollers qualifier.
Queen Goddess completed the Alcoa Fantastic Finish for Lazarus, who finished the day with 5 winners and 1 runner up.
Six players punched their tickets on Sunday to the Bally’s NHC Last Chance tournament on January 27th.
Congratulations to Mark Heider (4 wins, 2 places), Carolyn Stovall (3W, 2P), Eric Gielata (2W, 5P), Douglas Schenk (3W, 1P), John Vail (4W, 2P) and Mark Stovall (5W. 5P). The two Stovalls managed to both finish in the “money” despite not having a single pick in common.
John Heiney came up with the final two winners to finish on top in Sunday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney.
Fifty-four players were alive after the 1-2 favorite took Leg 1. All 54 were knocked out when a 7-1 proposition reported home first in Leg 2. Since no one went 4-for-4, next Saturday’s New Year’s Day Pick 4 Jackpot game will open up with a carryover of $4,024.
Moving back over to HorsePlayers, Kirk Tesar prevailed in Sunday’s “regular,” $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.
Tesar posted 4 firsts and 1 second to garner the $10,000 entry for next November.
There were also a pair of NHC qualifiers at HorsePlayers on Sunday.
Raymond Gallant Jr. had Swanee among the 5 winners and 2 runners up that, collectively, brought him victory in the day’s $500 Low Ratio game that was restricted to those who had yet to land a 2022 NHC seat.
The two winners in Sunday’s $210, “open-to-all” NHC play-in were Matt Strutzel (5 wins, 2 places) and Frank Perri (5W, 3P).
The 19-1 Swanee in the 5th at Golden Gate was the highest common denominator in Strutzel’s and Perri’s respective scorecards.
Regardless of how you fared in our featured tourneys, we hope that last week was a joyous one for you and your families. We’ll be back starting on Wednesday to try and finish out 2021—and start out 2022—on a high note. Hope to see you there.