Darryl Lacy Wins $50,000 Tourney; Thomas Labordo Records Sunday Hat Trick; Recent Del Mar Challenge Winner Dennis Montoro Collects in Cash Game and The BIG One Qualifier (Weekend Recap August 24-26)

We expected Travers Weekend to be exciting. What we didn’t expect—on a predominantly live-format weekend—was to see multiple winners like we did…or to have the controversial finishes like we had.

Things got off to an orderly-enough start on Friday when the always-tough Tony Calabrese cashed on the last two contest races (the 2nd and 3rd at Del Mar) to win our $5,000 Guaranteed tourney.

All together, Tony amassed 3 winners and 2 runners up in the 10-race contest, which proved extra lucrative since the event closed with a final purse of $10,257. That meant a payday of $5,128 for Tony.

Over at HorsePlayers, we saw the start of a pretty good weekend for Anthony Trezza.

Seizing on one of the few Pick & Prays to be had this weekend, Trezza, an eye doctor from Pennsylvania, had three winners—at odds of 4-1, 17-1 and 3-1—to finish first in our Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier. There were enough entries here so that runner up James Connors won a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

I referred to the weekend as “controversial” and to Trezza’s weekend as “pretty good” as opposed to “great” largely because of Saturday’s first-ever “Big Bucks” tourney.

The event required a hefty $1,150 buy-in and payouts went only to the top three finishers (on a 70%/20%/10% basis). It sold out quickly, and the final pot came to a nice $20,355.

Gary Machiz won, on the strength of 4 winners and 4 runners up, but the difference for him in this Pick & Pray was having 29-1 bomb A I Initiative (#4) in the last race at Saratoga. A I Initiative ran second to trigger a place cap payoff of $22.00 and edge Machiz into first place and the $14,248 top payout. Trezza, the leader going into that last race, had to settle for second and a prize of just over $4,000. It was a tough pill to swallow for Trezza, though, because it appeared that A I Initiative may have impeded fourth-place finisher Azzedine. The Saratoga stewards didn’t see it that way, though, and let the result stand as is.

If you followed the races at Saratoga this weekend, you know that this was just one of several controversial stewards’ decisions (see Abel Tasman and/or Dr. Edgar). They typically affect the outcome of the scoring of a race and, as was the case on Saturday, they can affect the outcome of entire tournaments. We don’t take sides on stewards’ calls in this space. It’s not because we think they’re always right. It’s because for every victim in these judgment calls, there is also a beneficiary—and if we say that one player was robbed, we are at least suggesting that the other was undeserving…and we don’t feel it’s appropriate to make such pronouncements.

Having said all that, making fun of stewards (or jockeys) is, in some ways, part of the fun of the sport…in the same way that criticizing managers or umpires is part of the fabric of baseball. So it is only in that spirit that we call attention to a headline regarding the Big Bucks game that was written by Justin Dew at his new website:

“Stewards Screw Optometrist, Need Optometrist”

Again, we don’t get into stewards’ calls…but we do know a funny line when we see one.

The richest event of the weekend was Saturday’s $50,000 Guaranteed tourney. This one also came down to the last race—though having to do with the winner and not the runner up.

Darryl Lacy had $17.00 winner Spring on Curlin in the final contest race to nail down first place and the robust $20,517 that went along with it. Mark McClyment missed the last race but still pulled in $8,207 for second. And Gary Machiz picked up another $4,103 here for his bold pick of A I Initiative. So that was about an $18,000 horse for Gary…and the horse didn’t even win. In all, 20 players earned cash prizes in this competition.

Saturday was our first qualifier for the 2019 Horse Player World Series and it was Steve Arrison and Michael Marlaire won won the $1,500 entries.

Arrison will no doubt enjoy playing his now “free” HPWS entry next March. But we know he’ll also enjoy being in Vegas then to place his futures bets on The Masters.

Vegas in October is more the speed for Mr. Lindsay Hurst, Herman Bell and Douglas Schenk.

That’s because that trio ran 1-2-3 in Saturday’s qualifier to the Orleans Fall Classic. All receive $1,000 packages ($500 entry plus $500 travel) for that fun event.

Over at HorsePlayers, Paul Weizer turned the $17.00, $8.60 return from Spring on Curlin…

…into an NHC berth in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier. Spring on Curlin was just one of six winners (plus a place horse) that Weizer had on the day.

Meanwhile Marc Stateler had four winners including, yes, Spring on Curlin…

…to win Saturday’s “regular” BCBC qualifier.

Sunday’s 12-race featured contest schedule became a 10-race schedule when Ellis Park announced the cancellation of that day’s card due to a water main break. That meant lower scores in general—but not for Mike Yurczyk.

Yurczyk rang the bell for $121.90, thanks to five winners and two runners up. Six of those seven collections came in the final six races. That gave him a comfortable win in Sunday’s Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier, to which Yurczyk is now headed with a $3,500 package in his pocket. Here’s a look at the scoresheet that earned him that package.

As well as Yurczyk did, we don’t think we can call him the star of the day. That honor has to go to Thomas Labordo.

The 35-year-old movie studio exectutive from Sierra Madre, Calif., put his name on the Sunday marquee with a win in our first and only qualifier for next weekend’s Florida Sire Stakes Betting Challenge. But there were bigger roles ahead.

Labordo added to his Sire Stakes score by $8.50 in capturing the day’s BCBC Low Ratio tourney at HorsePlayers.

And in case the Academy needed more convincing, Labordo took Sunday’s qualifier to the September 29 NTRA/Belmont Park Super Qualifier as well.

It’s somewhat interesting to note that Labordo didn’t just play the same horses across the three entries. He zigged and zagged as he saw fit. His “big horse” in the live-format BCBC and NTRA Super Qualifier entries was longshot Pulpitinthesky ($22.20, $10.20) in the final contest race, the 6th at Del Mar. But Labordo did not have Pulpitinthesky on his winning, Pick & Pray Florida Sire Stakes entry.

Another multiple grand prize earner on Sunday was Dennis Montoro, who many will recall as the winner of the recent Del Mar Handicapping Challenge.

Montoro will now be taking his talents to The BIG One by virtue of his runner-up finish behind Sammy Richman who, of course, also receives an all-inclusive berth to the September 22-23 high-expectation event that only has six seats remaining.

Travel, hotel and a Friday night welcome dinner are covered for Montoro at The BIG One. But if he needed some cash for a foray, perhaps, to the Maryland Live! Casino, he took care of that on Sunday as well.

Montoro blanked on his first four picks here, but then he hit three winners and a place horse from the final six races to scoop up $6,368 in our $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, which finished with a total purse of $15,212.

Jorge Cruz-Aedo is a name you never like to see among your opponents in any cash game here at HorseTourneys. For a while there, he seemed to be winning Exacta tourneys left and right. Then he took a break from that…and instead won some big-money win-place tourneys. Now he’s back to his roots.

Here Cruz-Aedo connected four times on the requisite three-horse-box plays to win $1,400 in our $2,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney. This event ran with an extremely player-friendly takeout of 0.00%. (It doesn’t get too much friendlier than that…except when we offer an overlaid game.)

One more weekend featured tourney to report—the Sunday, $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Bruce Pratt and Gregg Pendola both nailed Pulpitinthesky in the final contest race here to get their tickets punched to Vegas for just $75. Now that’s what I call a Super Saver fare.

Congratulations to all our weekend winners—and also to Emily Kyrillou and Sheldon Usprech, who won last weekend’s Monmouth Super Qualifier and Woodbine Weekend Horseplayers Tournament, respectively. And thanks to all for playing.