Acierno Picks, Prays and Scores–in Five Featured Tourneys! (Weekend Recap Feb. 25-26)


One of the most tempting aspects of Pick & Pray tourneys is the option to enter your same set of picks in a host of different competitions on a given day, and to win more than one event if it happens to be your day. Such a potential reward does not come without financial risk, however. But Anthony Acierno was clearly thinking aggressively this past weekend.

On Saturday, Acierno took a swing at our qualifier for The Stronach Group Ultimate Challenge and also our $15,000 Guaranteed game.


Acierno’s picks earned him scores of $91.40 in both tourneys. That was sufficient to win the Stronach qualifier—with Bill Shurman also winning a $5,000 package ($4,500 entry plus $500 travel) to the Gulfstream/Santa Anita live event on March 11.


And that $91.40 tally was also sufficient for Acierno to grab fourth place, worth $1,250, in our $15,000 event. By any reasonable person’s standards, it was already a great weekend for Acierno. But he wasn’t quite done yet.

Employing a similar, risk-tolerant strategy, Acierno set his sights on Sunday’s Wynn Handicapping Challenge entry-only qualifier, our Monmouth “Pick Your Prize” qualifier, our The BIG One qualifier and our $8,500 guaranteed event. His single set of Pick & Pray selections on this day amassed an excellent, but not otherworldly, total of $86.60. How’d he do?




In five tourneys over two days, Acierno invested $1,244 in entry fees. He got back three tournament seats worth a total of $8,500, $3,000 in cash and $1,000 in travel awards…and he is now on a veritable free roll for significantly bigger money plus a bevy of NHC and Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats between now and August. Although he (barely) missed out in The BIG One qualifier, let’s just say Acierno had a much better weekend than PricewaterhouseCoopers did.

A couple of brief observations: First, it is not all that uncommon to see players successfully multi-table their picks in Pick & Pray and sometimes even in live-format tourneys. For a player to do that on two consecutive days, however, is pretty darned remarkable.

Second, Acierno’s choice of tourneys each day proved to be extremely fortuitous.

Consider for a moment that had Acierno entered his Saturday picks (which scored $91.40) in our NHC qualfier and our Horse Player World Series full-package qualifier, he would have received just a $330 breakage refund (from the NHC qualifier) for his efforts. But he didn’t play in those.

It was much the same case on Sunday. Had Acierno’s same Sunday picks (which earned $86.60) been played only in our qualifiers for The BIG One, the Kentucky Derby Betting Championship, or the Keeneland Grade I Gamble, he would have gotten back just $162 in breakage returns. As well as Acierno picked his horses last weekend, he may have done an even better job of picking his spots!

Acierno may have stolen the weekend spotlight, but there were plenty of other noteworthy performances from last weekend.


Our NHC qualifier on Saturday awarded four seats to the 2018 event and, in a very tight battle that came down to the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds, it was Christopher Dewey, Blaise Guadagno, Michael Goodrich and Greg Bone who punched their tickets to Treasure Island. ESPN College Gameday’s Chris “The Bear” Fallica was a tough-luck 5th.

Horse Player World Series entries have been a very hot commodity on HorseTourneys in recent weeks.


On Saturday, we awarded full packages to four winners—Thomas Baugh, Steve Nemetz, Tom Dillon and Jon Hurd. Check out Baugh’s scoresheet—it almost reads like a baseball line score where the home team wins and therefore doesn’t bother coming to bat in the bottom of the 9th. Of course, this was a Pick & Pray but…all’s well that ends well!

Horse Player World Series berths were again in high demand on Sunday.


On this day, we had six HPWS winners: George Chute, Wendy Long, Stephen Young, Jeremy Eklund, Raymond Riley and Kevin Udlinek. We’ll have another qualifier on both Saturday and Sunday of this week. And, of course, our HPWS Blowout on March 18.

Last year at The BIG One, we offered to buy competitors the alcohol brand of their choice if they thought that Laurel’s open bar might not stock it. Several took us up on the offer and for Kenny McMahan, we purchased a bottle of Blanton’s bourbon. Kenny and his wife Wendy seemed to appreciate the gesture—even if a certain HorseTourneys staffer/blog writer wound up drinking most of it.


All I can say is thank you, Kenny, for once again making Blanton’s bourbon an integral part of the 2017 The BIG One budget!

There was no bourbon on the line in our Kentucky Derby Betting Championship qualifier…


…but Gordon Larson will be able to afford several bottles on his own come Derby weekend if he has any luck whatsoever. He won a $12,000 entry plus all the trimmings in an event that went off as a solid overlay to the players. Next KDBC qualifier: March 12.

A couple of weeks before the Derby, Keeneland hosts its lucrative Grade One Gamble.


Congratulations go out to Evan Freedman and Tony Ariganello who each won $3,000 entries (plus $500 travel) to the April 23 competition in Lexington.

Media members have gotten hot at HorseTourneys of late. On Presidents Day, Ed DeRosa of Brisnet (and formerly of Thoroughbred Times) won a pair of contests…


…and this past weekend, longtime Blood-Horse Mid-Atlantic correspondent Linda Dougherty captured her first HorseTourneys contest, winning $600 in Sunday’s $1,500 guaranteed exacta box game.

Lastly, I will display the results of Friday’s $6,500 Guaranteed cash game.


George Chute also would go on to win Sunday’s Horse Player World Series qualifier. In Friday’s $6,500 game, Chute prevailed on the strength of five winners paying no more than $14.40.

What really drew my eye to this tourney, however, was just the fact that it was a really close game—contested by two players with very similar scores…and also very similar names.

Hey, you look for blog-worthy material wherever you can find it!

Thanks to all for playing, and good luck this week.