John O’Neil Headed Back to NHC Trying to Become First Two-Time Winner; Brett Wiener Takes a Pair; Kevin Willett “Loses” but Wins (Sunday Recap November 4)

Since we weren’t permitted to run tourneys on any of the Churchill Downs races, we decided to backload all of our weekend featured events into Sunday. That, along with Santa Anita’s mandatory Pick Six payout, made for a fun and action-packed afternoon.

It certainly made for a profitable afternoon for Brett Wiener.

The Tampa-area handicapper did all of his scoring during races four through nine of the 12-race slate, and his pair of wins and three places got him top honors in our last-chance qualifier to next weekend’s Del Mar Fall Classic. Wiener’s precise take was a $4,500 entry plus $500 for travel.

Wiener has more traveling than that in his future, however.

He improved his winning Del Mar score by $13.30 to annex a $1,500 Horse Player World Series entry on Sunday. Joining Wiener at the HPWS (where Wiener was the end-of-day-one leader in 2017) will be runner up Raymond Riley. The big hit for both Wiener and Riley was Woodbine 8th-race-longshot Brass Compass ($29.80, $7.60). Brass Compass wound up being the longest-price contest winner by far on Sunday, which meant scores veered toward the low side.

This was true in spades in our Pick & Pray qualifier to the Hawthorne Fall NHC Super Qualifier.

Kevin Willett prevailed over 12 opponents despite not showing a flat-bet profit on his 12 mythical $2 win/place plays. Willett did register three wins and three places, but all of the collections were small. None of his winners paid more than $7.00. Making matters more difficult for Willett, he whiffed on each of the final two races. Still he somehow held on by $2.50, and on Thanksgiving weekend, he will move on with a $1,300 package to Hawthorne—where no one will ask him how he qualified!

It missed being the weekend’s high score by 20 cents, but arguably the weekend’s most impressive performance was turned in by Evan Trommer in our $10,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a pot of $12,597.

Trommer missed on Brass Compass, so he had to build his score far more gradually—and that he did! He registered seven winners (including a sweep of the final three races) plus a place horse to get all the way to the top and collect the grand prize of $6,298. Here’s a look at his impressive, grind-it-out, Sunday scoresheet:

Lawrence Bergen didn’t seem bound for victory after racking up just $10.10 in collections through the first half (six races) of the Sunday qualifier to the Monmouth NHC qualifier on December 29.

He came from Bergen County, though, with three wins over the final five races and, as a result, he will be heading to Monmouth County next month.

Michael Shalewski took a similar “approach” in our Lone Star entry-only qualifier.

He blanked on the first five races—and only had two winners thereafter. But they were nice winners…at odds of 7-1 and 13-1…and they got the job done for Shalewski, who received a $500 entry for the December 1 contest.

Two weekends ago, our Exacta tourney wound up as a dead heat with the top two finishers each connecting on just a single, long-priced exacta. This past weekend, there was nearly another dead heat, though the competition had a completely different complexion.

Here, in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, there were plenty of successful three-horse exacta boxes played. Adam Lewis hit three of them. Jason Jordan converted five of them. However, Lewis’s three outscored Jordan’s five by a scant 25 cents—thanks in large part to the $69.15 (for a dollar) gimmick that Lewis had but Jordan didn’t in the 8th at Woodbine.

There was a featured event at HorsePlayers on Sunday as well—a “regular”, two-seats-guaranteed NHC Pick & Pray.

The winner should be a familiar name to all who have followed the NHC over the years—2015 NHC Champion John O’Neil. His score of $83.60, built on five winners, was the highest of the weekend (by 20 cents over Evan Trommer’s mark in the $12,597 cash event). Not far behind O’Neil was the only other player in the 106-entry field to eclipse the $80.00 mark, Mark Fienberg. More than $19.00 ahead of his closest pursuer, Fienberg will head to Las Vegas next February along with O’Neil…looking to make some history of his own.

We’ll be back this weekend with a more typical, Friday-Saturday-Sunday featured schedule that includes a last-chance qualifier to the November 17 Aqueduct Challenge. Until then…have a great week.