Stephen Thompson Buries the Competition on Saturday and Sunday; Tyler Hoffman Earns NHC Seat, BCBC Entry on Same Day (Weekend Recap April 20-22)

Stephen Thompson is known in contest circles as “The Undertaker.” That’s primarily because he is the owner/operator of Thompson Funeral Home, Inc., in Lebanon, Penn. The moniker took on a double meaning this weekend at HorseTourneys, however, when he left a great many of his opponents for dead.

Thompson’s big weekend got rolling on Saturday, when he four winners and two places were good for top money of $12,632 in the day’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray that finished with a total purse of $28,072.

In Sunday’s $12,000 Guaranteed tourney, only Donna Detro and Nick Fazzolari went up against Thompson and lived to tell the tale.

Detro survived a close contest and claimed the top prize of $7,377 thanks to her four winners and four runners up. Thompson had to take some measure of solace, though, in his third-place prize of $1,967. (Kudos also to Jeff Joffrion for finishing in the money on both Saturday and Sunday.)

That same $69.70 score brought Thompson top honors, however, in Sunday’s qualifier to the June 2 Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament.

Joining Thompson in “Joisey” will be Douglas Schenk and Bernard Reilly. All together over the three tournaments, Thompson earned a $2,000 Monmouth entry plus cash prizes of $14,649. We hope he enjoys his winning because, as we all know, you can’t take it with you.

(This now brings an end to this week’s “Bad Death Puns” section.)

The weekend got off to an exciting start when Edward Enborg won $5,044 in the day’s up-to-$10,000 Pick & Pray, which was sold out for the fourth consecutive week.

Thanks to a final-race winner ($11.00 to win, $5.40 to place) Enborg got by Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza at the wire. Trezza settled for a not-too-shabby $2,017.

Saturday largely belonged to Tyler Hoffman—with a big assist from a horse named Baby Boss.

When Baby Boss won the final Saturday contest race (AQU9) at 23-1 ($42.00 to win and $18.80 to place for scoring purposes), it caused quite a bit of upheaval in leaderboards throughout the Saturday tourneys. In Saturday’s “regular” NHC qualifier at HorseTourneys, the primary beneficiaries were Hoffman and Chris “The Bear” Fallica, who both had Baby Boss and thereby punched their tickets to the NHC.

For the 26-year-old Hoffman, it was clear that Baby Boss was no desperate stab in the dark—because he used the same horse in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray over at HorsePlayers.

It can be safely presumed that Baby Boss is now one of Hoffman’s favorite horses, having paved the way for appearances in both the BCBC and the NHC. Such is the power of “mult-tabling.” When you’re right, you can have yourself a truly memorable day.

HorsePlayers also played host to an NHC free qualifier on Saturday.

Thomas Reed, Ron Meister and Ronald Peltz finished in the coveted top three slots here. (For the record, Fallica also used Baby Boss in this tournament.)

What may be most notable—in addition to Reed nailing the first four winners right out of the chute—is how well those who simply chose the #5 in each race did.

Peltz largely grabbed place this way, though in order to do so, he had to gain some mutuel returns in the three races in which #5 scratched.

Some may consider Peltz lucky. I agree—though not for the same reason many of you might.

Why I think Peltz was lucky is that not only did #5 have to have a great day, he had to get by the other five who were playing the same number. (It’s probably reasonable to assume that six or so others also chose #1 in every race, six or so took #2 in every race, and so on.)

My point is, if you are going to play a large tournament randomly, it seems like there are better ways to do it than by choosing just a single number across the board—only because others are likely to have the exact same picks.

Incidentally, I don’t blame anyone who plays a large, free game without handicapping. Sometimes we intend to handicap, but life gets in the way. What are we supposed to do? Not enter? It’s not like you can cancel and play the free game another time. And are the six “555555555555 players” any less noble that the hundred or so others (just a guess on my part) who merely picked names or played their phone number?

Perhaps in a future blog, I will share some of my favorite “methods” for playing free tourneys when I haven’t handicapped. But for now, it’s time to take a look at Sunday’s results.

Nick Fazzolari had to settle for second behind Donna Detro in Sunday’s $16,000 Pick & Pray, but he took a backseat to no one in the same day’s qualifier for The BIG One. Fazzolari and Dave Nichols became the 15th and 16th players to qualify online to the maximum field of 57. In addition to their all-inclusive packages, they are each eligible for a $1 million bonus (or $575,000 lump-sum cash bonus) if they win both The BIG One and the 2019 NHC.

Eric Pineiro won a pretty nice tournament seat as well.

His score of $81.90 garnered a $10,500 package to the Belmont Stakes Handicapping Challenge. Pineiro had the winner in the last race, which was important, since the runner up, Keith Smith, had the place horse and would have won had Pineiro whiffed.

The two highest scores—on what was a low-scoring featured-tourney day—belonged to the top two finishers in our qualifier for the Saratoga Challenge.

Congratulations to the Spa-bound Charles Jones and Aaron Bernstein who were the only ones standing in the way of another weekend victory by Nick Fazzolari (3rd) and Stephen Thompson (4th).

Brian Johnson didn’t hit anything gigantic in our $2,000 guaranteed Exacta tourney…

…but he connected six times for a .500 batting average and first place, which was worth $1,146 in the event that close with a total pot of $2,293.

Sunday was also our first day of qualifying for the May 6 Steve Sexton Mile Day Challenge at Lone Star Park.

Earning $350 entries to the Texas competition were Mark Henderson, Joseph King and Keith Fenton.

Over at HorsePlayers on Sunday, Edward Osterhout and Timothy Yohler got themselves qualified for the NHC.

Yohler played a doubly strong tournament, finishing third with his “other” entry. Neither of the two winning entries, incidentally, scored in that last contest race at Santa Anita.

In the BCBC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers, Rick Vasquez didn’t need to score at the end, because he scored so well at the beginning.

Vasquez picked the winners of each of the first four races to open up a big lead. He only had one more winner over the remaining eight races, but that was sufficient for him to emerge with the $10,000 BCBC entry.

Last but not least, we offered our first ever Jackpot Survivor game last Saturday. For just a $7 entry, contestants had a chance to win or share the opening jackpot amount of$1,000 if they picked an in-the-money (1st, 2nd or 3rd-place) finisher in all nine races of the tourney. This is very hard to do, of course…

…or maybe it isn’t, Charles Nelson and Bobby Snowden both got all the way down to the last race before getting tripped up. The good news for them is that they split $675. The good news for you is that we’ve now decided to offer this low-priced jackpot game every Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So your next chance to play comes this Wednesday, April 23—when the jackpot will be $1,015.

Whether you handicapped for hours, or just played your lucky numbers, we appreciate your participation and interest in last weekend’s tourneys. There’s plenty more where that came from. In the meantime, have a great week ahead.