Cettina Masterfully Scores in Two Key Qualifiers; Fischer Grinds Out Pair of Wins; Rentze Repeats (Weekend Recap April 29-30)

One of the most accomplished contest players in the world, two-time NHC runner-up Roger Cettina of Rumson, N.J., put on an impressive, simultaneous display at HorsePlayers and HorseTourneys on Sunday to win himself an NHC seat and a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry.

Cettina’s score of $95.40 edged fellow qualifier Jeannie King in the NHC qualifier at HorseTourneys. And his $96.40 tally in the BCBC event at HorsePlayers won him an entry along with winner Basil DeVito, A cursory glance at the standings might lead you to believe that Cettina largely duplicated his picks across the two contests, but this was not the case.

In fact, he only had six common plays among the same set of 12 contest races—making Cettina’s results all the more impressive given how easy it can be to split winners across two tickets and wind up with two nice but out-of-the-money scores. Among the six non-common plays on each of his tickets, Cettina had a different 11-1 winner on each and a different second-pace finisher on each. Theoretically, he could have registered a much gaudier final score had he loaded those 11-1 shots onto the same entry. But then he perhaps would have won only one of the two tourneys. So Cettina, not surprisingly, played his tickets to an optimal final result and, in the process, won his way in to the two most prestigious events on the tournament calendar.

And for Basil DeVito—who is featured prominently on the current ESPN 30-for-30 documentary “This Was the XFL”—the Sunday win was a very nice consolation of sorts for the family given the results of Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Basil’s son Alex was poised for a seat heading into the final race, but Steve Arrison (winner of an NHC seat the previous Saturday at HorseTourneys) snuck past him to claim one of the two big prizes along with Christopher Fischer.

For Fischer, the NHC tourney wasn’t his only Saturday success, as his somewhat modest $67.60 score was also sufficient for a first-place finish in our Gold Coast Summer Classic qualifier.

Final scores are always a function of the prices that come in, but our biggest gross tally of the weekend came (in just 10 races) on Friday…

…when Lawrence Kahlden stormed to victory in our $7,500 Guaranteed game—an effort worth $3,750 to Lawrence.

Our lowest winning score was the $60.50 posted on Saturday by Karl Barth…

…which was, nonetheless, good for a $2,000 entry to the Wynn Handicapping Challenge. Not bad!

The weekend’s most authoritative win probably came in Saturday’s featured cash event, our $15,000 Guaranteed game.

Jose Sahagun’s score of $91.30 topped runner-up Raymond Riley by more than $33, making Jose a richly deserving winner of the $7,000 top prize in a game that went off as a $1,740 overlay to the players. How’s that for value?

Other games this weekend were way, way closer. Eric Bialek nosed out Steve Arrison by just 30 cents…

…and that made all the difference in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

But that wasn’t even the closest finish of the weekend.

On Sunday, Philip Edell finished first over David Watts by a mere 20 cents, and that 20-cent difference earned Philip a $5,000 package ($4,500 entry plus $500 travel) to the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge.

In Saturday’s Treasure Island Wager to Win qualifier, Matthew Rentze finished on top with a score of $86.80 to win the $2,500 package.

If this has a familiar ring to it, it should.

Rentze also won our Treasure Island qualifier six days earlier. Horses for courses!

Our first Belmont Stakes Handicapping Challenge qualifier took place on Sunday.

Congratulations to David Chamberlin who earned the $10,500 package to New York. Your next chance to qualify at HorseTourneys for this lucrative, live-bankroll tournament comes Sunday, May 14.

The final contest race (Santa Anita’s 6th) was good to Gary Blair in Sunday’s guaranteed Del Mar Handicapping Challenge qualifier.

His pick of Evo Campo ($8.60 to win, $5.00 to place) moved him from 3rd to 1st place and earned him the $7,500 package. Blair is also now eligible for the HorseTourneys-Del Mar bonus. If Blair wins at Del Mar, he receives a $10,000 HorseTourneys site credit bonus, payable over six months. That would be a gift that keeps on giving!

Elsewhere on Sunday, Lynn Ray registered just two wins and two places…

…but that was enough to make Ray the latest qualifier to the 2017 The BIG One.

Adam Thoutt checked in with three wins and two places…

…which was good for a $5,000 first-place prize in Sunday’s $10,000 guaranteed game.

Last but never least, in Sunday’s $1,500 guaranteed Exacta game, Sean O’Malley put all of his eggs in one basket.

His entire score of $195.90 was earned on the strength of a single, winning $1 exacta…on the 8th race at Tampa. This easily bested Stu Kantor who had four winning exactas and Gene Kim who had five. Alas, sometimes slow and steady only gets you second or third place.

Whether you’re a bomber or a grinder, a rabbit or a tortoise, we hope you had a good time playing last weekend. Thank you as always—and buckle your seatbelts. Next stop—Derby.