Robert Masterton Wins Two; Matthew Rentze Closes Strongly; Wild Finishes in Del Mar, Hawthorne Qualifiers (Weekend Recap July 13-15)

A weekend made up of predominantly live-format games set the stage for several fantastic finishes (sponsored by Alcoa) and the first of those came in our very first featured tourney of the weekend.

This was one a Pick & Pray—not a live-format tourney—and, frankly, Matthew Rentze hadn’t done much over the first seven races of our Friday $6,000 Guaranteed event, having just four place collections to show for his efforts. But the contest was 10 races long, and Rentze nailed each of those last three winners—including a 25-1 shot in the 8th at Gulfstream—to take top honors and $5,044 in the popular Friday tourney that ended up with a final purse of $10,089.

Another tight battle came in Saturday’s qualifier for the Hawthorne OTBs Summer NHC Qualifier. In fact, battles don’t get any tighter.

Alexa Zepp (Lex Zep?) finished in a dead-heat with Joseph Costello. That pressed the HorseTourneys stewards into action to break the tie. All of their love went to Zepp, who had four winners compared to Costello’s three.

Saturday’s NHC Lower Ratio tourney was not a close finish as Lynn McGuire blew away the competition.

McGuire’s winners were topped by 20-1 shot Rough Night in the 8th at Monmouth. Fortunately for the others, this was a two-seats-guaranteed tourney, and that allowed Sally Goodall to grab a berth as well—which is a nice thing because the NHC wouldn’t seem like the NHC without Sally playing.

Another not-close game was Saturday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier, which was dominated by Bill Kellish.

Bill had three winners, including Rough Night, in this one—and that left the drama for the second and third placings in this three-grand-prize tourney. Congratulations to Grier Bibby and Kevin Perau, who will join Kelish at the Spa.

Howard Blumberg had Rough Night as well…

…and that sped him on his way to a $1,000 package, along with runner up David Bloom, to October’s Orleans Fall Classic.

It seems like Michael Kavana has been winning tournament seats left and right at HorseTourneys these days. On Saturday, he added some cash to his ledger sheet.

This competition wound up fairly close at the end, but it didn’t start out that way. Kavana hit four winners and a place horse early on. Then he didn’t hit a thing over the final five races. No one could catch him, though, and the $8,858 first prize was his in our $17,500 Guaranteed event.

Over at HorsePlayers, Howard Schwartz failed to hit the Monmouth longshot Rough Night, but it didn’t matter.

Schwartz connected on four winners and two places over the other 11 races to capture the coveted $10,000 entry in Saturday’s BCBC qualifier.

On Sunday, Eileen Tucker emulated Matthew Rentze’s Friday flying finish.

Tucker had four wins and three places overall—and three wins and one place in the final four races to cash in for $6,000 in our $12,000 Guaranteed tourney, which had a takeout of just 8.5%.

Sunday’s Woodbine Mile qualifier came down to the last race with Russell Priola holding a narrow lead over David Nelson, whose two entries were sitting in second and third places.

Priola and Nelson chose three different horses across their two entries, and it turned out that there was strength in numbers as Nelson’s selection of Laura’s Posse ($8.70, $5.30) in the 9th at Belmont secured him the package to the September 15 Woodbine Mile Horseplayers Tournament.

An even wilder finish—perhaps the most exciting of the weekend came in our Del Mar Handicapping Challenge Pick & Pray qualifier.

Heading into the last race, there were seven players within $15.00 of the lead with two $8,500 packages on the line. George Henning had the winner, Laura’s Posse, who paid $8.70 to win and $5.30 to place. Tom Walsh had Laura’s Luv Bug, the $4.70 place horse. The two who had been leading prior to the last race, William Smith and Donald Markwardt, both whiffed. That left a nervewracking few minutes in between the finish of the race and the posting of the prices. Ultimately, Smith and Markwardt survived, with Henning and Walsh missing out on Del Mar packages by just 10 and 40 cents, respectively.

Sunday was our first qualifier to the August 25 Monmouth Super Qualifier and this one was a rout.

Robert Masterston had the winner in five of the first six races, then added a win and three places thereafter to breeze to victory. The battle for second, and the other available $1,000 package, went to Michael Kavana (there’s that name again), who got himself into the money with the $8.70 to win, $5.30 to place winner of the contest nightcap.

Masterton made some different selections in Sunday’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier, but he won this one as well.

Masterton had five winners and four places in this event to garner the $3,500 package to Keeneland. Here, Masterton wasn’t quite as fast out of the gate, but he was certainly strong to the wire, cashing in each of the final seven contest races.

Howard Welsh (second in the $12,000 game) will be making a return trip in 2018 to The BIG One.

Welsh’s three wins and two places got the job done in Sunday’s qualifier, in which Richard Seidl also earned himself, by 80 cents, an all-inclusive package to the Sept. 22-23 “high expectation” competition at Laurel Park. Seidl used a $4.70 place cash in the final race to get himself over the goal line.

Elizaberth Canning had three winners in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney—most notably a $137.20 (for a dollar) hit in the 9th at Ellis.

For her prowess at the exotics, Canning earned $1,471 in the tourney which closed with a final pot of $2,101.

Over at HorsePlayers, the theme of close finishes continued in Sunday’s NHC qualifier.

Rob Ramirez moved past G.T. Nixon in the final tourney race. Fortunately for Nixon, this was a two-seats-guaranteed qualifier, so both punched their tickets to Vegas.

The other featured tourney at HorsePlayers on Sunday was a BCBC Low Ratio qualifier, and it was—what else?—a tight, exciting finish.

The top five heading into the last race were all within striking distance, and the final top three all had winner Laura’s Posse ($8.70, $5.30). Congratulations to winner Timothy Zacharias, who is now BCBC bound.

The upcoming week ahead promises to be a fun one with the opening of the long-awaited Del Mar and Saratoga meetings. As always, we’ll have the best and biggest selection of games to scratch your online tournament itch. Thanks for playing—and reading.