Even though most of last week’s featured tourneys were Pick & Prays, we didn’t see very much domination by any one player. Part of that was because there really weren’t any “Have it or die” bombs”…and also…the competition was just really tough.
That’s not to say that there weren’t some individual stars during the week.
As always, the featured-tourney week began on Wednesday. Three players earned $600 seats that day for tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) Colonial Downs Handicapping Challenge. Mark Rudy led the way with 4 wins and a place. The second- and third-place finishers—James Morgan (3W, 0P) and Kirk Rockwell (4W, 2P) also picked up $600 entries for the Xpressbet-hosted competition.
On Friday, Rockwell doubled his chances in the Colonial Downs contest.
Here, he finished third behind fellow seat winners Laura Arth—who had the place collections in the first two races and winners in the final three—and Michael Odorisio (4 wins, 2 places).
Rockwell wasn’t done.
Using the same picks that got him third in the Colonial Downs game (which had a lot of participants due in part to the dwindling qualifying time remaining), Rockwell also pulled in a $3,500 seat in Friday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC qualifier. His four Friday winners included Theodora Grace ($29.60, $13.80) in the final contest race, the 10th at Saratoga.
One of the other Wednesday Colonial Downs seat winners also tasted later success in a different Keeneland qualifier.
Second in the Wednesday Colonial Downs play-in, James Morgan was first in Sunday’s Keeneland qualifier. Five Sunday firsts and two Sunday seconds gave him what turned out to be bookend, Wednesday/Sunday tallies during the week.
While Kirk Rockwell and James Morgan pulled off some excellent follow-ups to their early-week exploits, it was Sean O’Malley who authored the signature performance on Wednesday.
O’Malley’s score of $147.60—recorded over just 10 races— was the highest total accumulated all week. Among his 4 wins and a place in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, Rockwell had winners at 15-1, 11-1 and 13-1, and he also added a max $22.00 place collection for good measure. O’Malley earned $2,799 in a game ultimately worth $6,221.
There was only one marquee game on Thursday. It was taken by Eric “Clubber” Lange.
Lange won $4,074 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with $9,055 in the pot. Like a home run hitter who can also hit for a high average, Lange combined big-for-the-day prices with outstanding consistency.
When the smoke had cleared, Lange had put up 6 wins and a place out of just eight races. (Horsehoe Indianapolis canceled its card part way through.)
The distinguishing characteristic about Friday’s featured events was that the day’s two biggest priced-winners (at 9-1 and 13-1) came in the day’s final two contest races. Brian O’Keefe had ‘em both.
O’Keefe’s roaring twenties earned him $9,501 in Friday’s HT Tour competition—our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
The final prize pool in this one closed at $21,113.
John Kennedy had that final winner, Theodora Grace in the 10th at Saratoga.
Kennedy will hope for more Saratoga winners when he does battle with a paid-up entry in the August 27 Travers Challenge at Xpressbet.
Like Brian O’Keefe, Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce had the last two winners and, like John Kennedy, Kirk Tesar closed things out with Theodora Grace.
Thanks to their late fireworks, Noce and Tesar each took home $1,700 worth of entry fees in Friday’s qualifier for the three-day Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge.
On Friday, Detroit Tigers lefthander Tarik Skubal was shut down for the season due to an elbow issue. It was a much better Friday for Tarik Kouchaf.
Kouchaf uncovered three winners, including Dixie Bound ($21.50, $10.10) in the 10th at Woodbine, to win a $500 seat in the Monmouth NHC/BCBC contest on August 27 at the Oceanport, N.J., racetrack.
Thomas Labordo liked Theodora Grace in the Friday contest finale.
That one, plus one other winner and two runners up, brought Labordo a $3,000 entry in Friday’s Del Mar Pacific Classic Challenge qualifier.
Friday’s highest score was turned in by Gregory Lewis in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Lewis connected in each of the final four races to finish with 6 firsts and 2 seconds.
Also earning a 2023 seat was Tim Kindlon, whose 4 winners included all three of the day’s double-digit win prices. Kindlon’s score was the second highest on Friday.
Fresh off an effort that earned him $21,000 in the Spa & Surf Showdown, Anthony Spinazzola capture the other Friday feature at HorsePlayers, our Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray.
Spinazzola, the top Day 2 scorer in the Showdown, came up with 4 wins and a place here. His big horse was 9-1 winner Dixie Bound in the 10th north of the border at Woodbine.
On Saturday, we hosted the week’s richest game, our $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray…which did well better than that, since the final purse came to $35,112.
Ciaran Thornton was the big winner here of $15,800 in the day’s HT Tour test. Not surprisingly, he had the day’s best-priced winner, Ms. Vancougar ($25.90, $13.80 in the 11th at Woodbine) among his 3 winners and 1 runner up.
Evan Trommer captured a pair of Saturday events.
With 4 winners, led by Celestial Glaze ($17.80, $8.20 in the 9th at Gulfstream), Trommer bagged a $1,500 entry for the Travers Challenge at Xpressbet.
Trommer used those same picks to similar success in Saturday’s Kentucky Downs Challenge.
John Vail also won $1,700 in Kentucky Downs entry fees for finishing second. Vail selected 4 winners on the day, but it was his lone place collection—a mere $3.20 return in the final race—that got him up and into the money.
Trommer wasn’t the only double winner on Saturday. Another was Joseph Zuer.
Zuer picked three winners at odds of 7-1, 5-1 and 6-1, and added a place, to pocket $7,000 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which had a takeout to players of 3.4%.
The same picks that won Zuer the 9-player Big Bucks game also did just fine in Saturday’s 22-entry Del Mar Pacific Classic Challenge play-in.
Zuer earns a $3,000 entry for the September 3 tournament, which may be played either on-track at Del Mar or online at TVG.com.
Arguably the most impressive scorecard of the week was submitted by G.T. Nixon.
With 8 winners that included both of the day’s $20+ horses, Nixon won Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers over Joe Davidson, who finished a solid second and took home a $5,000 partial entry.
The other feature on Saturday at HorsePlayers was a $165 NHC qualifier restricted to those who had yet to earn a 2023 seat.
Nick Kochanski (5 winners) is no longer eligible for these restricted events, thanks to having swept the last four races of this tourney at odds of 11-1, 2-1, 6-1 and 2-1.
Rick Vasquez had longest-shot-of-the-day Ms. Vancougar among his 6 firsts and 1 second.
The net result for Vasquez was a nice $3,500 entry into the October 15th Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge.
The 2016 NHC Tour champ, Cheryl McIntyre, will be traveling from Ohio to New Jersey in late August.
Backed by 2 firsts and 3 seconds, McIntyre earned a $500 seat into the on-track Monmouth NHC/BCBC contest on August 27.
Kevin Engelhard had a nice Saturday.
He (2 wins, 3 places) and Henry Karsen (3W, 4P) were the two players to score in the 80s and, hence, they were the two to grab $600 seats for tomorrow’s Colonial Downs Handicapping Challenge. Oddly, not a single one of their 12 combined collections were held in common.
Kevin Engelhard also had a nice Sunday.
Engelhard defeated all but Mark McGuire in Sunday’s Live-format NHC qualifier here at HorseTourneys. McGuire booked 3 wins and 1 place, while Engelhard checked in with 4 firsts and a second. They both had the day’s biggest price, War Bomber ($39.40, $13.50), in the 8th at Woodbine.
The high score on Sunday was posted not in one of our crowded games, but in the 18-entry Monmouth qualifier.
Sunday was the first day in which Ellis Park was part of our multi-track featured-tourney schedule, and so there were some funny looking win and place payoffs on our leaderboards. Double kudos, therefore to Scott Cavalieri (4 wins, 2 places) for not just generating the day’s biggest tally here…but for getting his Ellis Park pennies to even out to a nice, fairly-round $117.90. (For the record, Cavalieri won his $500 Monmouth seat by $45.28.)
Stephen Wagner took Sunday’s HT Tour matchup, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Wagner bunched all four of his collections (3 wins, 1 place) together in mid-tourney to scoop the up-top money of $14,765 in a game that finished up with a total of $32,812 in the till.
One of the most interesting and impressive performances of the week came courtesy of Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.
Yes, Trezza earned the $10,000 seat for his 4-win day, but that wasn’t really the interesting part. As Jason Alonzo pointed out on Twitter last night, Trezza also finished second—playing an entry with 12 completely different horses. That’s kind of incredible. Trezza won more than just Twitter (and blog) praise for that feat. It also earned him a $5,000 partial seat to go along with his full BCBC scholarship.
Sunday was our final qualifier for tomorrow’s Colonial Downs Handicapping Challenge at Xpressbet.
Congratulations (and good luck, tomorrow!) to Edward “The Wright Stuff” Wright (3 firsts, 0 seconds), Mike Lazarus, David Browning and Derek Isenberg.
Justin Dew was the recipient of $1,700 in entry fees for September 1, 4 and 11 after putting up 3 wins and 2 places in Sunday’s Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge qualifier.
All three of Dew’s winners paid at least $13.98. (Just typing “$13.98” made me chuckle a little bit there.)
Jim Trepinski nailed Li’l Tootsie ($28.90, $9.92) in the 8th at Ellis.
That plus one other winner and three runners up netted Trepinski the top prize of $5,699 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed with a purse of $8,142.
Four wins and three places did the trick for Daniel Goldstein on Sunday.
His strong performance locked up one of what will be no more than 57 available entries for the September 17-18 The BIG One, where cash and seats to top contests will go to each of the top 10 finishers.
Richard Gorzkowski did most of his damage early in the day.
His two early winners—led by Dan Drum ($15.80, $6.50) in the 7th at Woodbine—plus two later runners up got Gorzkowski the $3,000 berth in Sunday’s Del Mar Pacific Classic Challenge qualifier.
Rich Pawlowski also had Dan Drum as his most productive selection of the day.
Pawlowski (4 wins, 2 places) will now be in the August 27th field at Xpressbet for the Travers Challenge.
So concluded a very busy week here with 34 featured events. Your support of all these tourneys is truly remarkable…and highly appreciated. We’ll be ready to do it all again starting on Wednesday, and we look forward to seeing some of you then.