The Bs Continue to Rule The BIG One; The ATM Cashes In; Petoskey Dodges a Bullet (Weekend Recap September 8-10)

You know that feeling when you’re nursing a lead into the last race of a tournament and you plead to the racing gods, “Just don’t let the bomb win”—and then, sure enough, the bomb wins?

That had to be what Jon Petoskey was thinking last Friday when 20-1 shot Summer Castle won the final race (Arlington Race 8) in our $6,000 Guaranteed tourney. Petoskey held a $57.20 lead over Lawrence Kahlden going into that last Pick & Pray race. But Kahlden—and Richard Grose, who was only $2.00 behind Kahlden—both had Summer Castle.

There were nine horses in the race, so it wasn’t like the field was that short. But Petoskey did have one sliver of hope he could cling to: the even-money favorite ran second. Could that possibly depress the place pool enough to save him first place (and the $3,000 check that went with it)? Seriously, though, how many “cappers” pay less than $15.20 to place? Petoskey would probably be lucky to come away with second place, which would require a place mutual of less than $17.20.

Imagine Petoskey’s relief—and Kahlden’s and Grose’s chagrin—when Summer Castle paid but $9.60 to place!

As we all know by now, there are many ways to win—and lose—a tournament. That’s part of what makes them so exciting. We’re not sure if Petoskey had the prescience to dump a grand on the favorite to place—but if he did, it was money well spent!

While Petoskey was serving as the human incarnation of Presious Passion, Robert Childress was doing a pretty fair impersonation of Zenyatta. Eight races into Friday’s 10-race BCBC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers, Childress had a total of $0.00. That’s zip…zero…zilch…bubkus.

But he nailed the last two races…

…and so he will start the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge tied for first place—and with a fully-paid entry.

Saturday was a challenging day—especially for the HorseTourneys staff, a couple of whom are based on the West Coast of Florida.

Picture tournament officials putting out fires from the passenger seat of northward-moving automobiles while other staffers (even blog writers) were performing technical chores that they may have been, ahem, a little new at.

In the end, everything turned out fine. And for that, we really can’t thank you, the players, enough for your patience at various points during the day. HorseTourneys really is a team effort. And we truly consider you the most important piece of that.

We certainly hope Dan Shugar didn’t experience any departures from the norm on Saturday…but if he did, he has probably forgotten all about them by now.

Dan hit Outrageous Bet ($34.60, $15.20) in the next-to-last contest race (Belmont 10) to sew up the $12,500 top prize in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed game. Outrageous Bet was one of just two winners Shugar picked, though the other also went off at double-digit odds (12-1).

And check out Joe Johnson, who played two entries and finished second and third. That was good for a total of $7,500—not bad for “losing.”

The big score of the day was posted by Dan McCormick.

Fortunately for Joseph Costello, the Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier had enough entries to reward the top two finishers.

The Orleans Fall Classic had enough entries to bestow prizes on the top three.

Congratulations to Douglas Schenk, Joe Jarvie and Joseph Karabaich, who all earned $500 entries to the annual Orleans fall event.

And over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, Alan Copeland and Glenn Coombs finished atop the field of 95…

…to earn their seats to the 2018 NHC. These middle-September weekends may be a good time to take a shot at these guaranteed NHC qualifiers while some players experience a big of a Saratoga/Del Mar hangover.

On Sunday, HorsePlayers hosted a pair of BCBC qualifiers.

Anthony “The ATM” Mattera blitzed the field in the $1,000 BCBC Super Qualifier with the highest score of the day–$131.40. Mattera collected in eight of 12 races, including six winners paying between $5.40-$20.60. Playing the role of Sham was Brian Chenvert. But shed no tears for Brian. In addition to winning this BCBC seat for the second-place finish, he earned an NHC seat on Friday in a live tourney at Canterbury Park. Not a bad weekend’s work.

In Sunday’s regular, $179 BCBC qualifier…

…it was former XFL Commissioner Basil DeVito doing the touchdown dance at the end.

Michael Lynch Jr. liked Big Bend ($17.20, $8.40) in the next to last contest race, the Dueling Grounds Derby.

That earned him the $7,000 top prize in our $15,000 Guaranteed game by a mere 40 cents.

The NHC Lower Ratio qualifier was another close event.

Congratulations to Brad Gerson and Amy Brantley who both punched their tickets to Treasure Island in February.

Canadian Chris Littlemore may have a home field advantage next Saturday.

The Whitby, Ontario resident will be at Woodbine for the Woodbine Mile Handicapping Tournament after winning Sunday’s qualifier.

Bruce Pratt won a seat at The BIG One a couple of weekends ago. (More on that later.) And this past weekend…

…he earned a package to the Santa Anita Autumn Championship. Look for Bruce at an airport near you.

Al Goblick had four three-horse exacta-box winners from 12 races…

…and that earned him a narrow victory in Sunday’s overlaid guaranteed exacta tourney.

Adam Lewis and Bob Meseke were the latest two…

…to win $1,500 entries at HorseTourneys to the 2018 Horse Player World Series.

Last but not least, we’ll examine Sunday’s penultimate qualifier for The BIG One.

Here the Bs carried the day, led by Robin Buser and Thomas Baugh. (Buser will be making his second straight appearance at The BIG One.)

Of late, it seems you need to have two things to win a seat to The BIG One: good selections…and a first or last name that begins with B.

In the prior qualifier for The BIG One, the winners were Brian Gross and Brendan Fay. The most-recent person to qualify before that was Bruce Pratt.

It doesn’t stop there.

Of the 48 to qualify via HorseTourneys for the 2017 The BIG One, 11 have last names beginning with B. Besides Buser and Baugh, these include Peter Behr, Roger Ball, Evan Barshack, Rick Broth, Gary Blair, Ron Bowden, Carson Bird and Michael Beychok.

Just two others besides Bruce Pratt, Brian Gross and Brendan Fay have first names beginning with B.

One is Brett Wiener.

The other has to be considered the current favorite to win this year’s renewal of The BIG One based on her doubly perfect name.

Barbara Bowley.

For the record, based on this reporter’s unimpeachable data source (Wikipedia), 4.1% of Americans have first names beginning with B and 8.9% have last names starting with the second letter of the alphabet. The BIG One qualifiers have both of those percentages trumped. Bigly.