The Ks were Special last week.
The Breeders’ Cup was still a day away, but while many of us were understandably preoccupied with handicapping Keeneland, Michael “Copa” Kavana didn’t ignore the matters at hand—at Mahoning Valley, Delaware and Horseshoe Indy.
Like some may hope to do tomorrow, Kavana may have benefited from “low voter turnout” last Thursday in our $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. Only 67 ballots were cast, which meant a 13.3% overlay to players and about $700 in “free money” in the prize pool. Nevertheless, Kavana’s 10 selections provided him with broad-based support (5 wins and a place) that allowed him to declare victory…and claim the $2,700 that went with it.
Twenty-four hours later, Kavana demonstrated that campaigning tirelessly on Thursday did not hurt him at all on Friday. In fact, he performed even better.
In Friday’s $30,000 Guaranteed, full-card Keeneland cash tourney, Kavana picked 7 winners out of 10 races, including the final four of the five Breeders’ Cup races. (Only Mischief Magic stood between him and Friday Breeders’ Cup perfection —and even in that race, the Juvenile Turf Sprint, Kavana had the right idea…he just opted for the wrong Euro, The Platinum Queen.)
By the time the five “Future Stars” were now all “Present Stars,” Kavana found himself another $13,842 richer. His two-day cash total was $16,542.
King of the Cup, though, (at least here at HorseTourneys) had to be Michael Karalis.
Like Kavana, Karalis also came up with four winners in the five Friday Breeders’ Cup races. However, he still somehow found himself trailing William “You’ll never find” Rawls after Day 1 of our two-day, $75,000 Guaranteed, Breeders’ Cup-only tourney.
Neither Karalis nor Rawls could keep up their Friday pace on Saturday. Thanks to three straight winners—Malathaat, Rebel’s Romance and Flightline—at the end, though, Karalis finally wore down Rawls and emerged with the $34,303 top prize. After his valiant two-day effort, Rawls was rewarded with $13,721 in an HT Tour event that closed with a robust pot of $85,758.
Another “K” who had an AOK weekend was Gregg “Sky” Kingma.
Already double-qualified, Kingma (4 wins, 0 places) earned a lot of NHC Tour points in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. The seats, however, went to NHC Hall of Famer Sally Goodall (5W, 1P) and third-place finisher Xiang Guo.
Kingma came back on Sunday to capture the day’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash game, which finished up with a purse of $24,062.
Kingma had Velocitor ($44.90, $19.90) in the 7th at Woodbine among his 4 firsts and 2 seconds.
Most, but not all, of those selections were utilized by Kingma in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Fortunately, one of them was Velocitor.
Here, Kingma (3 wins, 2 places) bested all but Stephen Lerma who counted Velocitor among the 4 winners that were augmented by one runner up. They both received $1,500 entries into the $250,000 Guaranteed first leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple here in January.
There were many show-stopping numbers belted out during the week. On Wednesday, one of them came via a medley.
Benjamin Medley, that is. His 4 winners paid no higher than $8.20, but he also chipped up with 3 place collections on a chalky day, and he took home the up-top money of $2,523 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.
On Friday, there were three HT Tour competitions on offer—the $75,000 Guaranteed two-day Breeders’ Cup tourney won by Michael Karalis, the $30,000-certain Live-format battle ruled by Michael Kavana and the $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.
Though the guarantee was lower in the Pick & Pray vs. the Live tourney, the final purse amount was $10,000 higher—$40,722—in the Pick & Pray. Ronnie Henderson was glad that that was the case. He hit the first four winners on the Friday Keeneland card, took a lunch break, then added the final two. His reward was $16,289…which will buy a lot of lunches.
There was also a Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier on Breeders’ Cup Friday.
Joe Petrella connected with Victoria Road in the final contest race, the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf to finish with 4 firsts and 2 seconds and get up for the $1,500 berth.
True to his name, Brian “BC” Chenvert won an important tourney on Breeders’ Cup Saturday.
Chenvert was prescient enough to use Caravel ($87.78, $30.64) in the Turf Sprint, and that bomb of the weekend, plus two other winners got him the grand prize of $34,000 in our Live-format $85,000 Guaranteed game, which went off at an 8.6% overlay to the participants ($6,790 in extra cash).
Mark Detro (3 wins, 2 places) also had Caravel in the midst of 5 consecutive cashes.
The wire-to-wire turf sprinter helped Detro motor his way to a victory worth $25,852 in Saturday’s $60,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $64,361.
Another Caravel backer was Craig “Home Sweet” Hom.
Hom (3 firsts, 1 second) topped eight others in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which operated wit a takeout of 3.4%. Hom’s share of the pot was $7,000.
The big horse for David Goodhand (4 wins, 1 place) was a less unexpected winner.
Goodhand finished best of 15 in Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Challenge qualifier thanks in greatest part to Rebel’s Romance ($13.92, $7.92) in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.
That same member of Team Godolphin (or is it Team Appleby?) also helped pave the way to Saturday success for Evan Trommer.
Trommer booked 5 firsts and 1 second on the day to lead the way in Saturday Flo-Cal Faceoff Pick & Pray.
The way the tourney races played out on Sunday, you needed to have Velocitor, the 21-1 winner of the 7th at Woodbine, to do any real damage. You already know that Gregg Kingma’s and Stephen Lerma’s days were made by the north-of-the-border longshot. So was Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce’s.
Noce was the only one of seven who used Velocitor in Sunday’s $7,000 Big Bucks tourney. The gaudy return gave Noce all the scoring he’d need to cinch up the $4,986 top prize.
Greg “You” Wish got the job done with Velocitor in Sunday’s Del Mar Fall Challenge play-in.
Wish will play the November 26th contest (either on-track or at TVG.com) with a fully-paid-up $3,000 entry.
Qualifying for the NHC resumed at HorsePlayers on Sunday after a brief hiatus. The feature was a $165 play-in restricted to those who had yet to earn a 2023 seat.
Mark Simonovic is no longer eligible for such tourneys…not after he picked Velocitor as his final of four consecutive winners early on. He finished with 5 wins and 2 places on the day.
Thank you all for your great support of our Breeders’ Cup week tourneys—especially in the face of a record-setting Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (congratulations, Drew Coatney!). Our crack accounting staff didn’t like the fact that we missed a couple of purse guarantees during the week. Then again, if we hit every single guarantee that we offered, what would be the point?
We thank the Breeders’ Cup for being a great partner in allowing us to use their races on Friday and Saturday. We hope you enjoyed the many memorable on-track performances at Keeneland—even if you weren’t quite able to predict all of them in advance. Then again, if the races were easy, what would be the point?