Dagostini, Barth First Two to Qualify for 2018 The BIG One; Myles Richards Comes from Out of Clouds to Qualify for NHC; “Rookie of the Year” Wins Two More (Weekend Recap January 12-15)

Eric Wing blog pic

It was a weekend of endings and beginnings. The 2017 NHC Tour season effectively ended with Saturday’s NHC Final Six tourney at HorsePlayers. The next day, qualifying for the 2018 The BIG One officially began. Throughout the weekend, there were many close finishes—and some that were not so close.

File Nick Fazzolari’s performance in Friday’s Horse Player World Series qualifier in the latter category.

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The 2017 Wynn Handicapping Challenge champion had four winners at odds of 9-5, 13-1, 22-1 and 6-1 from just 10 races, adding in a runner up for good measure, en route to victory (and a $1,500 HPWS entry) by a whopping $45.00.

John Kasarjian scored similarly as Fazzolari did…basically just missing out on the 9-5 shot.

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Still, that was plenty good for Kasarjian to earn $4,119 in Friday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray that ended with a purse of $8,239.

Friday’s Treasure Island NHC Last Chance qualifier was a blanket finish.

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And the best part of it was that there were three prizes available so none of the $80+ scorers had to walk away emptyhanded. Congratulations to Stephen Diaz, Kevin Harrell and Wendy Long who’ll be battling away on NHC registration day.

Also on Friday, over at HorsePlayers, was the final $75 NHC qualifier before the 2018 NHC. Chris “The Bear” Fallica led much of the way.

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But George Bickey scored with My Aunt Tilly ($16.00, $8.80) in the last contest race to register his fourth win on the day (to go along with two places) and nip Fallica for the top spot—and the NHC seat that went with it.

There was a lot of action at HorsePlayers on Saturday, led by the postponed NHC Final Six (nee Final Five) tournament.

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Fifth-place finisher Joseph Costello was already double qualified and was making one last-ditch grab for Tour Points. So the six available NHC berths in the $100 contest went to Darryl Lacy, NHC II Champ Judy Wagner, Dan Camoro, George Turner, Stephen Wolfson and Mark McGuire.

When the smoke cleared, the competition left Minnesota’s Mike Ferrozzo as the winner (narrowly) in the 2017 NHC Tour standings. Ferrozzo wins $100,000, a 2019 NHC seat, and he becomes eligible for a $2 million bonus annuity should he win next month’s NHC. Christopher Dewey was a close second.

Elswwhere at HorsePlayers on Saturday, Dan Lytwynec…

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…was the winner of a $500 entry to the NHC Last Chance Tourney at Treasure Island.

And Myles Richards finished in first place in the day’s regular NHC qualifier.

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As a matter of fact, he finished in both first and second places. Though after the first seven races of the 12-race contest, things weren’t exactly looking good for Richards. Take a look at his winning scoresheet.

0113 Myles Richards scoresheetRichards’s second-place entry? It had the same point-scoring horses with the exception of the $17.00 place horse. So that second entry took even longer to get going.

It just goes to show that you can still win (or even finish first AND second) even if you have what seems like a hopeless beginning.

Back here at HorseTourneys, Michael Goodrich also had an “Alcoa Fantastic Finish.”

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He cashed in the last four contest races and rang the bell particularly loudly with Muchos Besos ($42.00, $15.60) and The Critical Way ($27.20, $14.40) in the last two to win $10,147 in the day’s $20,000 guaranteed affair that concluded with a total pot of $22,549.

Meanwhile, three won full packages to the Horse Player World Series.

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Congratulations to Mike Forzano, Wendy Long and George Bosch. Long hit The Critical Way to put her over the goal line, while Bosch took a different route to paydirt—in the last race, he had Calle Kingpin, who paid $26.60 ($22.00 for contest purposes) to place.

On Sunday, the headliner was the first qualifier to the 2018 The BIG One.

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Congratulations to Bruce Dagostini and Karl Barth who are the first two to secure all-inclusive packages to the Sept. 22-23 competition at Laurel, where there will be a field of no more than 57 competing for 10 NHC seats, 10 BCBC spots (up from 8 last year) and 10 Horse Player World Series entries (or $1,500 in cash if preferred). In case you missed it earlier, the 2018 The BIG One will have a $250 per race bet cap in place for the first time ever.

In Sunday’s NHC qualifier, Kevin Willett hardly missed.

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He registered six victories and four places from 12 races to punch his ticket to the big dance on Feb. 9-11.

And another eight will be participating on February 8 in the NHC Last Chance tourney thanks to Sunday’s qualifier.

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Congratulations to Gilbert Maldonado, Mark Richards (brother of Myles), Frank Dittmar, Jeff Kingsbury, G.T. Nixon, Ronald Webster, Josh Thorpe and Ron Tackett.

Speaking of the NHC, another person (besides Mike Ferrozzo) who was glad to see the 2017 NHC Tour reach the finish line was Charles Myers. His name (in all caps) is frequently seen on HorseTourneys leaderboards, and in 2017, it was frequently visible on the leaderboards of NHC qualifiers—so much so that he finished the year as the 2017 NHC Tour Rookie of the Year. For that honor, Myers won $5,000.

I don’t know whether, as of Sunday, Myers was still considered a rookie. If not, then he certainly isn’t showing any signs of a Sophomore Jinx.

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The recent rookie played our $12,000 Guaranteed event like a grizzled veteran, racking up three wins and three places to earn $6,756 from a pot that ended up at $15,014. Now there’s a second-year start that Aaron Judge or Clay Bellinger would certainly be proud of. But Myers wasn’t done there.

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He played his same horses in our Horse Player World Series qualifier and won a $1,500 seat by finishing second to Tom Cooper, and just ahead of fellow $1,500 entry winner James Smith.

In Sunday’s $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta Tourney, I’m not sure anyone has ever done what winner Cruz Talamantes did.

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From 12 contest races, Talamantes had seven winning exactas. Yes, he got to play a three-horse box in every race (as everyone else did/does). Yes, some of the exactas were on the short side. But seven out of 12 exactas is some pretty fancy shootin’ no matter how you slice it. And if you disagree, you should enter next week’s Exacta tourney…immediately!

Sunday’s feature at HorsePlayers was an NHC Super Qualifier, and, once again, there were enough entries to award two seats.

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This one was a pitcher’s duel with Robert Turner’s two wins and two places carrying the day. Rob Henie also won an NHC package with a final 12-race score of $54.50. Look for another NHC Super Qualifier next Sunday at HorsePlayers.

In results from Monday’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day featured tourney action, it appears that G. T. Nixon could be trying to put the same stranglehold on the NHC Last Chance tournament that his namesake tried to put on the 1972 Presidential election.

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Nixon won his second Last Chance entry in as many days. That will lighten the load on the Treasure Island food and beverage staff a bit. But they’ll still have to cook food and mix drinks for Michael Kavana and Sean Nolan who also won $500 entries on Monday.

The Orleans catering staff can also relax a bit unless John O’Neil (2015 NHC Champ) plans on eating and drinking for two.

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O’Neil had a very strong showing, sandwiching his first and third place finishes around John Melting who also earned a $1,500 entry by running second.

Last but not least, Monday’s richest event was a $6,000 guaranteed pool-style Oick & Pray that finished with a total pot of $11,602.

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Scores were on the modest size here, but Trenton Waite’s first-place prize was not modest–$5,801.

Thanks for spending part of your extended holiday weekend with us. In just a few short days, we’ll be ready to do it all over again. Have a great week.