Tony Martin and Ken Seeman Score Double Wins; Ernest Hey Jr. and John Doyle Keep Rolling (Weekend Recap May 5)

Because the Kentucky Derby took place on Saturday and an unexpected cancellation at Belmont knocked out too many contest races on Friday, all of the weekend’s featured-tourney action (10 events) was compressed into Sunday—and that was just fine with Tony Martin.

Martin selected four winners and three runners up from 12 races to take top honors—and $6,601—in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with an overall purse of $14,668. His biggest victory on the day was the 12-1 come-from-behind tally turned in by Red Crescent in a suddenly-sloppy 9th race at Gulfstream.

Utilizing Red Crescent and his other same 11 horses in Sunday’s Santa Anita Preakness Challenge qualifier, Martin tasted similar success.

This was a two-grand-prizes qualifier, and there was a good gap from Martin back to the second-place finisher, but that second name was a skillful (and lately, very hot) competitor—2010 NHC Champ John Doyle. The $3,500 entry to the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge was just Doyle’s latest haul after winning $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries here during each of the two previous weekends. In this win, Doyle’s somewhat modest total was built on the strength of four firsts and four seconds—with none of the winners paying more than $11.20 in the win hole.

Another player who has been consistently excellent of late is Ernest “Say” Hey Jr.

Horse racing’s version of “The Say Hey Kid” had five winners, including Red Crescent ($26.00, $10.60 in that Gulfstream 9th) to capture a sizable $10,500 package to the June 7-8 Belmont Stakes Challenge. As was the case with Willie Mays, success has been no stranger to Hey. Eight days earlier, he won a BCBC entry here. The week before that, he captured a $3,500 Saratoga Challegne package. It will be interesting to see what he targets next weekend.

Like a hitter rounding into mid-season form, Lucas Van Zandt is another who has reeled off a string of recent successes.

Here it was four wins and two places that resulted in Van Zandt having a paid-up $3,000 entry (plus $500 for travel) to take on Ernest Hey Jr. and the others during both days of the Saratoga Challenge.

Van Zandt used those same selections to grab second behind Jobby Blevins in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Blevins had a quartet of winners, including Red Crescent, plus two place collections to seal his deal. Van Zandt, meanwhile, joined Steve Arrison as the only two players to have earned the maximum two entries to the August 3-4 online extravaganza…which is looking more and more like it will shoot past its advertised $100,000 purse guarantee. Forty-two have qualified so far for the two-day, $2,000 buy-in affair.

Just two weeks ago, on April 21, Van Zandt enjoyed a three-victory day, earning seats to The BIG One and The Spa & Surf Showdown plus $5,694 in that day’s $11,389 cash game. Just for a little cherry on top of everything, Van Zandt was third (worth $1,760) behind Tony Martin in this week’s $14,668 game.

I don’t know whether Ken Seeman has been on a hot streak of late, but the guy never exactly seems to be on a cold streak. I know that when I show up at a live, brick-and-mortar contest, I always feel a little better about my chances if a) none of the horses I like have been scratched and b) I look around, and I don’t see Ken anywhere in sight.

On Sunday, he was very much in sight over at HorsePlayers.

In the day’s “regular,” guaranteed, $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier, Seeman’s three winners included the 12-1 longshot Red Crescent. Augmenting his total were a couple of place collections. In the end, it meant a $10,000 BCBC seat for the Long Islander, who bested a field that numbered just 43—showing once again that it often pays to participate in guaranteed tourneys on the “day after a big day.” You can typically count on a number of “regulars” to take that type of day off.

Entries also were below par in Sunday’s 1-per-65, two-seats-guaranteed NHC qualifier, and again, Seeman took advantage.

Here he finished second behind Sean Taber (five wins, three places) but second got the job done for Seeman, earning him an NHC seat to go along with his BCBC entry. Taber, meanwhile, would have been hard to beat no matter how many signed up for this event. His score of $100.40 was the highest of the day in any of our featured events.

The other HorsePlayers feature on Sunday was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, low-ratio qualifier.

David Nelson (4 wins, 2 places) got up late in this one by cashing on the final three races, including his backing of winner Ocean Fury ($6.60, $4,20) in the very last race, the 5th at Santa Anita.

Moving back to HorseTourneys action, George Bosch and Thomas Labordo were the winners of $2,500 packages in our qualifier to the June 1 Monmouth Park Pick Your Prize tournament, where the prize pool (based on 200 entries) will include 20 NHC spots and five BCBC entries.

This one, a Pick & Pray, was particularly exciting. Runner-up Labordo secured his seat by having last-race winner Ocean Fury at Santa Anita and, at the same time, essentially blocking third- and fourth-place finishers Michael Guadagno and Margo Flynn with that Ocean Fury selection.

Meanwhile, the victory by Bosch hardly seemed likely halfway through the tourney. After six of the 12 races, he had a score of just $7.60. Then he heated up and put the ki-bosch on his competition. Here’s a look at his scoresheet:

Last but not least, Tim Catlett was the winner of Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

Catlett clicked on two three-horse-exacta boxes, including a $48.70 cash (for a dollar) in the 9th at Gulfstream (the Red Crescent race). That earned Tim top money of $1,393 in a game ultimately worth a total of $1,991.

There you have it…another ho-hum weekend in the world of horse racing! However, I’ll be back tomorrow with, yes, a couple of thoughts on the Kentucky Derby…including Rick Broth’s big score in the Kentucky Derby Betting Championship.