Like Father, Like Son for the Wolfsons; Peter Osella, Dylan Donnelly, David Nelson and Kevin Willett Prevail on Multiple Days; Charles Welch Wins Monmouth Seat Plus $19,500 (Weekly Recap, February 2-6)

Steve Wolfson Sr. and Jr. share more than a first name and a love of thoroughbred racing. 

The son and grandson, respectively, of Louis Wolfson, owner of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed, the two Steve Wolfsons are each NHC Hall of Famers—and after this past week, they will now both be contestants in the $350,000 Guaranteed Players Championship.

The elder Wolfson secured his spot in the middle leg of the Tourney Triple on Wednesday.

Steve Sr. and first-place finisher Cara Yarusso (who also has an excellent contest player for a dad) both had National Power ($93.80, $31.40) in the 7th at Gulfstream as their primary mover and shaker en route to their $2,000 seat.

Then on Sunday, it was whippersnapper Steve Jr.’s turn.

Youthful Steve posted 3 wins and 3 places to lead a quartet of “PC” qualifiers for April 9-10. Joining him in the Players Championship starting gate will be Peter Osella (3 wins, 1 place), Sam “Free” Sample (3W, 2P) and David Nelson (3W, 6P).

While the Wolfsons combined for two feature-tourney grand prizes during the week, Peter Osella eclipsed that total all by himself.

In addition to his runner-up finish behind Steve Wolfson Jr. in Sunday’s Players Championship qualifier, Osella was the king of the hill in the same day’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble play-in that also saw Dylan Donnelly (5 winners, including the final three in a row) land a $3,500 spot.

For Osella, the Players Championship and Keeneland seats were his second and third big prizes of the week. On Thursday, he picked up some cash—that may have funded his Sunday entry fees…and may have served to ratchet up his confidence level as the week went on.

Osella came up with Ocean Deep ($60.50, $25.00) in the 6th at the Big A, and he finished with 3 wins and 2 places in Thursday’s abbreviated $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which was limited to 9 races when Aqueduct had to scrap its nightcap due to fog. The tourney closed its doors with an accumulated pot of $9,677—$4,354 of which went Osella’s way.

Bouncing back to Wednesday, the start of the featured-tourney week, the day’s high scorer was another “Sr.”…Robert Schintzius Sr.

Like Cara Yarusso and Steve Wolfson Sr., Schintzius unearthed National Power in the 7th at Gulfstream, and that made for a nice mid-week payday.

Thanks to his three double-digit winners, Schintzius took home $4,043 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed with a final purse of $8,986

The winner of Friday’s big cash tourney—which was also an HT Tour event—was Travis Pearson.

One of HorseTourneys’ most prolific head-to-head players, Pearson proved on Friday that he can deal with bigger crowds too. He posted 5 wins and a place, including Merzaz ($48.40, $17.00) in the first contest race, the 5th at Gulfstream, to pocket $10,773 in the day’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with a purse of $23,940.

On Sunday, Dylan Donnelly earned a Keeneland seat by finishing second to Peter Osella. On Friday, Donnelly left less to chance by leading the way in what was a hard-fought first qualifier to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge.

Donnelly doped out 3 winners and 2 runners up, including victorious 10-1 shots in each of the last two races. The Californian can play his $2,000 Monmouth seat on June 4th either from home or on Xpressbet…a choice that also awaits Indiana resident Kirk Tesar, who picked 2 firsts and 3 seconds to land himself in second place.

Donnelly and Peter Osella weren’t the only players to bag grand prizes on both Friday and Sunday. So did David Nelson.

As a prelude to his Sunday Players Championship seat for running 4th behind Steve Wolfson Jr., Nelson (3 winners, 0 places) got a $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble entry on Friday. The only player to beat him was the only other to score in triple digits, Neal Metzger, who hit for 5 winners.

Reaching triple figures was also the key line of demarcation in Friday’s Players Championship qualifier.

The three who did so were the three to scoop up $2,000 entries to the $350,000 Guaranteed all-cash event here on April 9-10. Congratulations to Ronald Wissig (4 wins, 1 place), Jef Tracy (3W, 2P) and Geoffrey Schutt (5 wins, including 4 in a row at one point, and 0 places).

Wissig’s final score of $146.40 was extremely impressive, but when it came to who had Friday’s highest tally, Travis Foelsch pretty much blew everyone out of the water.

Foelsch employed the impeccable strategy of doing well in the beginning, doing well in the middle and doing well at the end—and that means that he is one of the first to have already secured a seat in the 2023 NHC.

There were enough entries in this first online qualifier to the 2023 NHC to award three spots—so Joseph Paese (5 wins, 0 places) and Daniel Kaplan (4W, 3P) will also be in the big room at Bally’s…err…Horseshoe Las Vegas…roughly a year from now. Paese hit the two 10-1 winners at the end of this Pick & Pray to get up late for second.

Kevin Willett had one of the 10-1 shots…plus 23-1 victor Mersaz at the start—to take Friday’s qualifier to the 1/ST Ultimate Betting Challenge.

Willett earned the $3,500 entry for March 5th on the strength of 3 wins and a place that made him the only one to clear the $100 mark in this one.

Riding the good feeling from Friday, Willett came right back on short rest to add a Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat to his 2023 contest portfolio.

Here it took a score in the $120s to get into the end zone. Willett (3 wins, 2 places) bested all but Charles Welch (3W, 1P).

Welch scored even higher in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed cash game, racking up a total of a day-best $147.40.

Welch’s 4 double-digit winners brought him a winner’s share of $19,542, so he’ll be flush should he venture into the William Hill sports book while at Monmouth on June 4th.

The total purse for this, the weekend’s richest tourney, ended up at a robust $43,428.

Four competitors secured their places on Saturday for the Players Championship.

First-place finisher Alan Lahr swept the final three races to finish with 4 wins and a place. Dave Rowsome (4W, 2P), Evan Trommer (3W, 0P) and Ted “Forbidden” Apple (3W, 2P) were the others to garner $2,000 entries.

The winning didn’t stop there for Trommer and Apple.

With Lahr and Rowsome sitting this one out, Trommer and Apple (using the same picks) filled out the top two slots in Sunday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble play-in. 

After collecting a small place payoff early, Adam Lewis smoked out 3 winners, all paying $21.00 and up.

The three winners rewarded Lewis to the tune of $12,823 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. The total purse in this one came to $18,319.

Over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, Benjamin Posen (3 wins and a place despite whiffing on the first 5 races) and Anthony Froning (2 wins, 3 places) each picked up 2023 NHC seats.

Posen and Froning each gained yardage by having Encroachment ($23.80, $10.00) in the next-to-last contest race, the 5th at Santa Anita. It was the second straight win for Encroachment—and the second straight time the gelding has figured prominently in the outcome of our featured tourneys. If his next race makes it into our featured schedule…watch out!

David Burke’s big horse among 4 winners and 1 runner up was Bright and Shiny ($38.00, $17.80) in the 9th at Tampa.

Bright and Shiny’s victory helped Burke obtain a valuable object—a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat.

Neither John Heiney (2 wins, 1 place)…

…nor Alan Noring (also 2 wins, 1 place)…

…managed to go 4-for-4 in capturing their respective $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys over the weekend. So next Saturday’s Pick 4 Jackpot game will begin with $1,477 already in the kitty.

The biggest scorer on Sunday was Kevin Engelhard.

Engelhard made collections in each of the first six races, capped off—and highlighted—by Rossa Veloce ($30.00, $10.40) in the 7th at Aqueduct. In all, he connected on 5 winners and 3 runners up…

…and that got him top money of $14,525 in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $36,312.

The 2020 Spa & Surf Showdown champ Scott Fiedler (4 wins, 1 place) and Gary Wright (3W, 1P) were the two winners in Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier. 

Both had first-time starter Trusted Advisor ($21.00, $11.00) in the off-the-turf 9th at Tampa among their collections.

A score of $46.60 got it done for Jim Trepinski in Sunday’s $7,500 Big Bucks game.

Trusted Advisor was the only winner all day for Trepinski, who got the up-top money of $5,699 in a tourney ultimately worth a total of $8,142.

Pete Acocella blanked on his first 5 Sunday plays…

…but he managed 4 wins and a place over the final 7 to come away with a $3,500 seat in Sunday’s 1/ST Ultimate Betting Challenge qualifier.

Stephen Lerma (2 wins, 1 place) was the winner of Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

And David Nelson wrapped up a very nice weekend by finishing second to come away with a $5,000 partial entry.

Thanks to all for an enthusiastic level of play last weekend. I’ll be hitting the road one last time this winter season—this time for a family wedding in San Diego…so enjoy the Super Bowl, good luck in your tourney pursuits, and I’ll see you back in this space in a couple of weeks.

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