It’s an uncommon feat to win featured tourneys on consecutive days. It’s pretty much unheard of to sweep the weekend’s two major cash games. Stephen Curtin of Quincy, Mass., did just that last weekend, earning a total of $24,911 in featured Pick & Prays worth $40,000 and $15,539, respectively on Saturday and Sunday.
Saturday’s $40,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray got off to an auspicious start for all given the fact that it went off at a 4% overlay to all players. For Curtin, one good start led to another as he reeled off winners in the second, third and fourth contest races, including 13-1 shot Mooji Moo Jr. at Monmouth, to open a commanding lead in the 10-race event (reduced by two races due to the cancellation of the late double at Saratoga) that he would never relinquish.
And here’s a look at Curtin’s scoresheet:
If you’re like most people, when you have a successful day at the track, you can’t wait to get back at it to see if you can ride that wave. Sometimes you give a good chunk of those winnings back quickly. Stephen Curtin is not one of those people.
Actually, Curtin is like most people in that he jumped right back into the following day’s cash game…but he’s definitely unlike most in that he was able to win an 89-entry tourney 24 hours after emerging victorious in a 137-player competition. In each game, he had just one entry. If you’re scoring at home, the odds of pulling off such an accomplishment are 1 in 12,193.
Curtin was just one of two featured-tourney players to score in triple digits on Sunday. He did so thanks to four winners from the last five races–all at odds of 7-2 or higher. So on Saturday he struck early, and on Sunday he struck late. Here’s a look at his “what-do-you-do-for-an-encore?” scoresheet:
Speaking of cash games, a strong field was assembled for Friday’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a nice final purse of $9,416.
Prices were hard to come by in this 10-race event. Just $57.00 got the job done for Raymond Riley thanks to four winners and two seconds. Riley received $4,708 for his efforts. Daily Racing Form’s Kenny Peck—one of the very best “public” handicappers out there—finished a close second to make $1,883. (I find that Peck’s selections are always worth a look—particularly when he chooses a seemingly “illogical” horse.)
Beneath the $40,000 Guaranteed tourney, Saturday’s undercard showcased some fine performances, including Bill Duncliffe’s effort in our last-chance Saratoga qualifier.
Duncliffe nailed four of the first five winners en route to a total of six winners (and no places). He is headed to the Spa on Friday along with runner up Christopher Dewey and third-place finisher Anthony “Click & Pay” Trezza.
In other Saturday action, Peter Dresens had four winners in our NHC Lower Ratio tourney, but it was his second of two place horses that made all the difference for him.
Dresens cashed on a $7.20 place horse in the final contest race to move from “out of the money” to “top of the heap.” Staying in the money was runner up James Connors (just 20 cents behind Dresens), who also won an NHC berth in this two-seats-guaranteed competition.
The Orleans Fall Classic remains a popular commodity at HorseTourneys. On Friday, Ed Reidy from Pittsburgh won a $500 entry, and on Saturday, Jonathan Burns and Charles Baldini led the way.
Burns (3 wins and 2 places) and Baldini (2 wins, 4 places) each earned $1,000 packages to the October Orleans handicapping fest, including $500 for travel.
At HorsePlayers, the big winner of the day on Saturday was Wendy Long.
Long connected on three winners—all at odds of 6-1 or more—and added two placings to earn a $10,000 entry in our Guaranteed Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.
Like Saturday, Sunday was a big day for Stephen Curtin. But it was an even BIGger one for the Wiener family.
Sarah Wiener and Jon “Hurricane” Hurd became the 37th and 38th (of 50) online qualifiers to The BIG One on September 22-23 at Laurel. Some of you who are reading this—and all of you who were in attendance at Laurel last year—will recall Hurd as the runner-up in last year’s The BIG One. For Wiener, meanwhile, it was her second entry earned to the 2018 The BIG One. This could have been a problem given that just one entry is allowed per person. It’s not a problem, though, because entries won to The BIG One are fully transferable…and because Sarah has a handicapping friend who, if he’s nice to her, she might invite to play that second entry.
Yes, that’s husband Brett who placed first to earn a $3,500 package in our Sunday qualifier to October’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge. I’m not sure who was more responsible for the common set of Pick & Pray selections across the two winning Wiener entries. Maybe once you’ve been married long enough, you just think alike. In the absence of additional evidence, however, we’re going to give the nod to Sarah for the winning The BIG One/Keeneland picks because…
…Sarah didn’t stop at winning just one event. Here she won the live-format BCBC Low Ratio qualifier over at HorsePlayers with two wins and four places that added up to a final score of $84.70.
In other Sunday events not won by the Wiener family, Tony Calabrese knocked the 7th race at Ellis Park out of the…park.
Calabrese hit a $1 exacta for a massive $356.90 in the race to grab top money of $1,382 in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which closed with a final pot of $2,765. Calabrese didn’t connect on any of the other 11 races but, then again, he didn’t need to.
Sunday was our first qualifier to the August 18 Laurel Champions Tournament, which will offer two NHC berths and one all-inclusive package to The BIG One.
Matt Tietze prevailed by just a dime over Clint Anuszewski, but thanks to to the turnout, there were two $300 entries in play, so things might not have seemed as tense and the scoreboard might indicate. (Similar to the American League East, perhaps…at least until the Yankees suddenly forgot how to win.)
One week after the Laurel Champions Tournament is the August 25 Monmouth Park Super Qualifier (seven NHC spots and two BCBC entries on offer there).
Michael Kavana and Rene Morety, two very strong and consistent players, headed up the standings in this qualifier to the Monmouth event. They each earned $1,000 ($500 entry fee plus $500 for travel) packages.
Sunday’s high score of the day? We saved it for last. It came in the two-seats-guaranteed NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.
On the strength of three winners (including 15-1 shot Racer in the 7th at Ellis) and three more place horses, Gregg Kingma rang the bell with a big score of $107.70 to capture an NHC berth. Finishing a very good second was Matthew Ache who also won a seat. For Ache, it was his second NHC seat earned in as many weeks. That may not be “Stephen Curtin hot”…but it’s in the same zip code.
On a side note, congratulations to Phil Lam who won $5,400 for finishing first in Saturday’s Penn National tournament, where this reporter helped contribute to the prize pool.
Thanks to all for playing, and stay tuned to the blog page for what we hope will be an interview in the very near future with big weekend winner Stephen Curtin.