Ryan Flanders Crushes it With Four Victories and Two Other Seat Wins; Craig Hom Has Big Friday/Saturday (Weekend Recap March 22-24)

Pick & Pray weekends often result in someone having “a really good day” (as Richard Dreyfus said in “Let it Ride”) and rolling to multiple victories. We certainly had a classic example of that this weekend—but we also had players who turned in very strong efforts on consecutive days, which is also highly impressive. Craig Hom was one such player on Friday.

Scores were low on Friday, and Craig’s total—built on a pair of wins and places—was just $62.00, but that was good for first place and $4,708 in Friday’s $5,000 guaranteed Pick & Pray that closed with a purse of $9,416.

Contestants fared a bit better in Friday’s Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier, though we had to wake the HorseTourneys stewards to help break a tie.

Just seven days after winning a Horse Player World Series full-package on St. Patrick’s Day eve, noted Irishman Peter Osella led the way in this entry-only qualifier with three wins and a place. (I forgot to use that Osella/Irish joke last week and, thus, felt compelled to get it in this week.) Behind O’Sella there were three players tied at $69.00 for two available $1,500 entries. The HorseTourneys stewards then sprung into action, reviewing all of the relevant mutuels forensics. In this case, the determining factor was not number of wins (since all three players had three), but highest win price. That gave the nod(s) to Edward “The Price is” Wright and Douglas Schenk, who each had a $21.00 winner, edging aside tough-luck fourth-place finisher David McCarty whose top win mutuel was $17.00.

On Saturday, Craig Hom was back at it.

Here, he more than doubled his winning total from Friday in capturing Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. He had two winners, plus three very nice place collections that returned $15.20, $11.00 and $22.00 (almost like having three more winners). It was a good distance back to second place where Jeff “Boom Boom” Joffrion sat with $94.00 to also punch his ticket to the 2020 NHC. It was a $9.20 place payoff in the final contest race that got Joffrion up where he wanted to be…by just 90 cents.

The other Saturday feature at HorsePlayers was a Breeders Cup Betting Challenge qualifier, and the results looked an awful lot like the previous BCBC qualifier offered just six days earlier.

That’s because Jennifer Chenvert was again the winner (thanks here to three firsts and a second). So that’s two BCBC entries within a seven-day period for Jennifer. Not a bad week’s work. If this keeps up, there may be more Chenverts than Chad Brown horses at the Breeders’ Cup.

The weekend’s richest tourney was Saturday’s $17,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final pot of $23,237.

From the Nutmeg State (Connecticut), Lucas Van Zandt emerged victorious with three wins and three seconds to take down the top prize of $10,458. “LVZ” was particularly golden at Golden Gate, where he recorded winners going off at 12-1 and 8-1. And look who was second…Craig Hom…who pocketed $4,183 to go with his NHC seat and the $4,708 in cash that he picked up on Friday.

If the Keeneland brass were in a good mood on Saturday, it might have been because of the results of that day’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier.

The winner was Tommy “The Hammer” Massis, who didn’t get his nickname due to carpentry prowess. The aggressive wagerer will be joined in Lexington at “The Gamble” by Bradley Abell, who finished a close second to snatch the other available $3,500 package.

Saturday was players’ first opportunity (and also next-to-last opportunity!) to win an entry to the April 6 Wood Memorial Challenge.

Whenever I think of the Wood Memorial, I think of an IT guy at Aqueduct during my time there who didn’t know much about racing and—in an utterly sincere attempt to be helpful—changed the Aqueduct press box wifi password to “homeofwoods”. (Yes, plural.) Perhaps now I will instead remember the Wood Memorial for the exploits of John Gaspar, Sean Nolan, Marc Racenstein and Jeffrey Amster—all of whom earned $500 entries to the contest that is now less than two weeks away. I fear, though, that “homeofwoods” will continue to carry the day.

Saturday’s high score, $145.40, was turned in by Jeffrey Coleman, who had back-to-back bombs in Raki (GP) and Workaholic (AQU). (He obviously knew that one should never let Corey Orm get away at a big price in New York.)

Those two windfalls put Coleman over the top in the day’s final full-package qualifier to next Thursday’s Horse Player World Series. Also winning entry/hotel/travel packages were the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers, Shawn Turner, Lawrence Kahlden and Ryan Flanders.

On Saturday night, Flanders must have been pretty pumped to grab that final HPWS full package by a scant $3.50. By Sunday night, it’s possible the victory may have seemed as memorable as a trip to the post office. That’s because Flanders had quite a Sunday.

Flanders got himself yet another entry to the Horse Player World Series for finishing third behind Allan Rose and Robert Stark in Sunday’s last-chance qualifier. Also winning $1,500 entries were Sally Goodall, Ted Hanna, Duane Colucci and Joseph Zucht.

Flanders’s picks in the HPWS qualifier contained six winners and three runners up. They wound up being only third-best in that qualifier, but they were first-best in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

For the victory, Flanders received $6,816 from an ultimate total purse of $13,633. Here’s a look at his scoresheet:

Plenty of others got a good look at his scoresheet too—like all those who entered Sunday’s first qualfier to the 2019 Saratoga Challenge.

And those who played in Sunday’s qualifier to the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown.

Congratulations to Derek Isenberg who grabbed the other available $2,000 entry to The Showdown. Luckily for him, Flanders was kind enough not to play two entries in this one!

What a day for Flanders. Can you believe having three victories plus a seat-winning third-place finish in a single day? Oh wait…he wasn’t done.

Flanders took his talents (and his same selections) to HorsePlayers as well.

Counting the Horse Player World Series full-package that Flanders won on Saturday, my back-of-the-napkin calculations are that he won $26,316 in cash and prizes (as they say on the game shows). Not bad from a total combined entry-fee outlay of $1,181. And that’s, of course, before any returns he might get at the HPWS/BCBC/Spa & Surf Showdown/Saratoga. It’s a fun year to be Ryan.

It was certainly a fun Sunday to be Rob Henie.

After playing in the 2018 The BIG One, Henie will be making a return trip to Laurel in 2019 after hitting four winners in Sunday’s qualifier, including 20-1 shot Deal Driven at (appropriately enough) Laurel.

Paul Georgian and James King both had Deal Driven ($42.00, $15.80).

That longshot landed both with $700 in contest fees for this weekend’s March contests at Hawthorne (run as two separate single-day events on Saturday and Sunday. And, incidentally, Deal Driven paid $42.00 on the nose to win…this was no “for-contest-purposes” scoring report!

Kirk Tesar didn’t have Deal Driven in the Monmouth Park Pick Your Prize Pick & Pray (MPPYPPP).

Instead he hit an even bigger longshot, 58-1 bomber Big Mountain in the final contest race, the 9th at Aqueduct. That got Tesar, who also had three other winners plus a place horse, all the way to the top and a $2,500 Monmouth package.

William Kennedy also had also had Big Mountain in the live-format NHC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

That sent Kennedy (2 wins, 4 places) from the outhouse to the penthouse…and a Las Vegas penthouse at that.

Back at HorseTourneys, Brian “Rocky” Graziano had six (count ‘em six) winning exactas.

And that got him top money of $1,316 in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which closed with a purse of $1,880. Graziano’s biggest return ($65.20 for a dollar) came in the Deal Driven race at Laurel.

In the Lone Star Park Steve Sexton Mile Day Challenge qualifier, Vincent Easley’s running line read something like “high speed early, lasted”.

Easley hit the winners of four of the first five contest races, and held on from there to score the $1,000 entry fee for the April 28 Texas tournament.

On Thursday, Friday and Saturday, of course, The Orleans will be hosting the 2019 Horse Player World Series. McKay Smith and I will be on hand, playing and providing some blog recaps. We hope to see you there, and we wish all of you at The Orleans…or at Hawthorne…or on your living room sofas the very best of luck.