Jorge Cruz-Aedo Wins $50,000 Tourney; Cheryl McIntyre and Derek Isenberg Each Take a Pair; Christopher Podratz Stays Hot (Weekend Recap July 6-8)

Exacta tourney players have come to know and respect the name Jorge Cruz-Aedo. He has won several such events—occasionally on back-to-back weekends—but his luck was never quite the same in our more traditional win-place tourneys. That all changed this Saturday.

Recording four wins and one place, Cruz-Aedo earned $22,500 in Saturday’s $50,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray on Stars and Stripes Day. It was the richest Pick & Pray competition ever offered at HorseTourneys, and it ran with a takeout rate of just 3.4%

Cruz-Aedo took advantage of more than just the low takeout rate. He also capitalized on the fact that two of the 14 races were from Woodbine.

While the focus of the day was understandably on the big Stars and Stripes Day card at Belmont, Cruz-Aedo collected $85.90 in scoring from just the two Woodbine races. Mixing in a little Firenze Fire before Woodbine and Diversify after Woodbine got Cruz-Aedo where he wanted to be. It’s a reminder that “lesser” races obviously “spend” just as well in contests as the fancier ones.

Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion got the weekend off to an impressive start with a nice run of prices.

His three winners (with respective win mutuels of $23,40, $13.80 and $20.00) and a place gave him top honors and $3,531 in Friday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a total pot of $7,062.

If Jorge Cruz-Aedo was the star of the day at HorseTourneys on Saturday, then the HorsePlayers Saturday star was most definitely Derek Lapikas.

Lapikas connected on five winners and four runners up from the day’s 14 tourney heats to win Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. His score of $168.70 was the highest of the day by a margin of some $35.30. When someone does that well, it’s always fun to take a look at his or her scoresheet. Here’s a look at Lapikas’s:

What was the second highest score of the day? Unfortunately for Jim Meeks, it was the $133.40 mark he posted in running second behind Lapikas in what was a one-prize BCBC tourney.

You might have expected scores to be low in Saturday’s NHC Super Qualifier at HorsePlayers given that the field numbered just 15. But winner Amy Brantley certainly didn’t back her way in.

Her score of $112.00, built on the strength of five winners and one runner up, gave her a well-deserved seat next February to the NHC.

Back at HorseTourneys on Saturday, we added two names to the list of those who will be competing as HorseTourneys qualifiers at October’s Orleans Fall Classic.

Congratulations to winners Scott Eyrand and John Gamane.

Meanwhile Shane Irish had the luck of the…Croatians…in Saturday’s play-in tourney for the Hawthorne OTBs Summer NHC Qualifier.

Irish will now compete with $400 entries on each of the two single-day competitions in Chicagoland on July 27-28. Here’s hoping that he will once again “Bet Like a Champion.”

Cheryl McIntyre, the 2016 NHC Tour Champ, had a nice Saturday.

She and Peter Rogers earned $3,500 packages to the August 10-11 Saratoga Challenges.

Cheryl McIntyre had an even nicer day on Sunday.

In Sunday’s two-packages-guaranteed qualifier to The BIG One, McIntyre was only second best—$40 dollars behind the five wins and one place of Derek Isenberg—but that was still sufficient to earn her an all-inclusive package to The BIG One. Her appearance ensures that there will once again be a “McIntyre table” at The BIG One…and that Laurel Park security will have to be up early on the mornings of September 22 and 23 to let them in.

Derek Isenberg had an even nicer Sunday than did Cheryl McIntyre.

In our $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, Isenberg used the same picks he played in the qualifier for The BIG One and, here, they were good for $5,867 in a tourney that closed with a kitty of $11,735. Honorable mention—and $3,755 in cash—go to Gary Blair for finishing in both second and third positions. In fact, Blair deserves more than mere honorable mention for his cash-game performances this weekend. A careful review (or an upward scroll) will reveal that in addition to his second and third-place finishes here, Blair came in second (earning $1,412) in Friday’s $7,062 tourney…and fifth behind Jorge Cruz-Aedo in Saturday’s $50,000 event. The fifth-place finish was worth $2,500. All together, Blair’s three-day cash-game earnings were $7,667 despite not once finishing first.

With the possible exception of Blair, no one is on a better run of consistency right now than Christopher Podratz. Two weeks ago, he earned an all-inclusive package to be one of no more than 57 at The BIG One. Last weekend he won another seat to The BIG One (which, per The BIG One rules, will have to be transferred to a player of Podratz’s choice) plus a seat to the Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge. On Sunday, he struck again.

Podratz clearly has a taste for pricy tournaments…and the skill to qualify for them.

One of Podratz’s opponents at Keeneland will be Ernest Hey.

Hey had two longshot winners (including 47-1 winner Dixie Serenade in the Victory Ride Stakes at Belmont) and two places to earn the $3,500 package. Note that Hey’s played a second entry that came in seventh. Hey only had one common pick across the two entries—a 16-1 winner in the 7th race at Woodbine.

We had three winners in our Last Chance qualifier for next Sunday’s Stars of Texas Challenge at Lone Star Park.

Congratulations to Eddie Inman, Keith Fenton and Dale Holman. For Holman, it was the second Stars of Texas entry earned in as many weeks.

Our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney played out a little strangely on Sunday.

Tony Natale made $1,216 for hanging on ahead of runner up Kyle Fitzgerald in a game that had a total pot of $2,433. The funny thing was that both Natale and Fitzgerald had tallied their full scores after just seven of the 12 contest races. They both missed on each of the last five races, but no one else could catch up.

HorsePlayers was the home of the day’s high win-place score.

It went to R. Scott Coles with a count of $144.10. That earned him a seat at the NHC along with runner up Robert Shoemaker II, who will add to the already significant “Whodat” contingent at the 2019 NHC!

In our Sunday BCBC Low Ratio tourney, the fortunes of Kevin Jones turned around in a hurry.

Through eight of the 12 races, Jones was stumbling with just two place collections. Then he hit 47-1 cap horse Dixie Serenade at Belmont (worth a win-place total of $64.00 for contest purposes, of course) and followed that up importantly with a place finisher and a winner to go from the ground floor all the way up to the penthouse.

No matter which floor your elevator stopped at, we hope you enjoyed the ride, and enjoyed a happy and safe Fourth of July week.