Michael Goodrich and the PDJF the Big Winners in July 4th Charity Tourney; Overcoming Tough Beat, Stephen Diaz Wins The BIG One Package, Then Gets Really Serious; Loyal Sprague Attempting Unprecedented “World Series” Sweep (Weekend Recap July 4-7)

The Fourth of July was an extra special day at HorseTourneys thanks to our $6,000 Charity Event. It was designed to do two things at once. First, to benefit three excellent horse racing-related charities: The Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF), the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA) and the Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation. It was also designed to reward our players via free feeders that offered anyone who had played more than $250 over the past year a chance to get into the $5,000 cash tourney at no cost.

By the time that feeder winners and buy-in participants were brought together on the Fourth, we had 90 entries, which made it a postitive expectation tourney for all. The player who had the most positive day was Michael Goodrich.

His three wins and two places (including 25-1 bomber Gadago in the 7th at Monmouth) earned him the first prize of $2,000. Also, he got to choose which of the three charities would receive a donation of an additional $1,000 in his name. He picked the PDJF. (That was a question for which there really wasn’t any such thing as a wrong answer!)

The buy-ins on Thursday also generated proceeds of over $2,100—and that amount will be divided evenly and sent to all three charities. So Michael Goodrich and nine other players won, the disabled riders won, and the horses won. That’s what we consider a pretty good day all around, and we can’t thank enough those who supported this event.

There was some cold-blooded handicapping taking place on the Fourth to go along with the warm and fuzzies. The most ruthless of the bunch was Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza.

The New Jersey-based eye doctor had 20/20 vision on three consecutive races early, then hit Gadago later to win the day’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray (or as Trezza quite accurately likes to call them, “Click & Pays”). Dr. Trezza’s winner’s share was $7,843 from a pot that closed at $17,430. The next round of carrot juice is on him!

It’s costs a lot more to be an eye doctor than it used to. Thumb-tacking an eye chart to the wall no longer cuts it. Those fancy machines cost money and so Trezza has to make sure his “side gig” operates at a high level. Therefore, he played the same picks back in our qualifier to the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown.

Trezza’s fellow qualifier to the Showdown (whose purse is now up to $125,670!) was a fellow Anthony…Anthony Colangelo, who had the first three winners en route to a five-win, one-place day and the desired $2,000 entry.

We ran a special Low Ratio, entry-only qualifier on the Fourth of July to the Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge on October 13. It didn’t take a huge score to succeed.

The two who did so were Pete Acocella and Jorge Cruz-Aedo. Acocella hit Gadago plus three place collections in the final three races that added an additional $24.60 to his score. The man they call “Smooth Cruz” got the other $3,000 Keeneland entry thanks to hitting Ice Tea ($6.40, $3.80) in the final contest race (GP11), which allowed the Texan to grab second by 70 cents.

Ron Ferrise, the 2017 BCBC runner up, was another who was cheering Shannon Uske on aboard Monmouth longshot Gadago.

That got Ferrise a $500 entry to the October 17-19 Orleans Fall Classic.

Over at HorsePlayers on Thursday, Howard Blumberg (5 wins, 1 place) got hot late, then finished things up with a refreshing “Ice Tea” in the last contest race to win to shoot to the top and win the day’s $210 NHC qualifier. Winning the other “Bally’s Berth” was runner up Carl Thobe. Stephen Diaz was looking good for much of the tourney, but had to settle for fourth in the 205-entry competition.

Evan Trommer was one of two in Thursday’s BCBC Low Ratio tourney to have Gadago.

Trommer also added four other winners to go with the Monmouth 25-1 shot, and that carried the day (and the $10,000 entry) for him.

There was just one featured event on Friday—our trusty $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a total purse of $10,761.

His chain of department stores may be suffering, but Richard Sears certainly prospered in this event. He whiffed on the first three races, but had four victories and a second over the final seven races to take home the top prize of $5,380. His big horse was Palace Princess ($27.60, $10.40) in the 9th at Ellis Park. (Ellis was known, back in the day, as “The Pea Patch” because they used to plant peas in the infield there. They later replaced the peas with soy beans, but “The Soy Bean Patch” didn’t have the same ring to it.)

On Saturday, Marikate Carter didn’t win any tourneys…per se…but she still had a great day.

Carter whiffed on the last four races, but she had two wins (including Belmont Derby 20-1 shot Henley’s Joy) and three places before that to finish ahead of all but Bill Kellish who had five wins and two places. Both received $3,500 packages to the Saratoga Challenge for their efforts.

In the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, it was only Ernest “Say” Hey Jr. (four firsts, one second) who could top Marikate and her same set of picks.

This, too, was a two-prize tourney, though, so both Hey and Carter earned $2,000 entries. For Hey, it was his second entry into the August 3-4 Showdown, which features just Saratoga and Del Mar races. He is one of just six so far to accomplish that feat.

The weekend’s richest tourney, our $17,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, went to Jim Trepinski.

Jim had Henley’s Joy ($43,60, $21.60…though $42.00 to win for contest purposes, of course) to go along with two other triumphant runners and four place collections. He earned $9,422 from a final pot that closed at $20,939.

Thanks to Henley’s Joy, Rocky Hardy (2 wins, 1 place) had smooth sailing en route to victory in our Orleans Fall Classic package qualifier.

Ed Sehon missed on Henley’s Joy but had seven smaller collections (four wins and three places) to prevail in a blanket finish for second that got him the other available $1,000 package to Vegas.

It was another tight one in our Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge qualifier on Saturday.

Robert “Bat” Masterton took home the trophy—and the $3,500 package—as a result of two wins and five placings. That last place collection, in the final contest race, was worth $5.60, and that allowed him to get up by 90 cents.

Keith Newton made a little from a lot…but it still wound up being worth a lot.

Newton had six winners that added up to a score of $69.10—good for first place and $800 in entry fees to the Hawthorne OTBs Summer NHC Qualifier. Here’s a look at Newton’s scoresheet:

Over at HorsePlayers, Saturday’s NHC qualifier required adjudication from the occasionally vigilant HorseTourneys stewards (who are also duly licensed to officiate competitions at HorsePlayers).

John Agnello required no adjudication. His five winners and two seconds left him alone in first place. It was a two-seats-guaranteed contest, though, and Chris Cennamo and Phil Hoedebeck wound up tied for the place spot with scores of $107.30. When this was called to the stewards’ attention, they quickly turned off the Yankees-Rays game, studied the situation and determined that Cennamo had four winners to Hoedebeck’s three. So Cennamo took that second NHC berth.

Zachary Ledford won his Saturday HorsePlayers prize on the track, rather than in the stewards’ booth.

Ledford (2 wins, 4 places) had Henley’s Joy earlier in the day, but he needed his other winner—Fawree ($9.00, $4.80) in the final contest race, the 7th at Los Alamitos—to edge past Ron Ferrise and capture a $10,000 entry in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. For Las Vegan Ferrise (winner on Thursday of a Fall Classic entry), it was perhaps the weekend’s unkindest aftershock.

We mentioned earlier that Stephen Diaz had a disappointing Thursday. With two races left, he was in the thick of things for an NHC seat…

…but came up short, ultimately finishing fourth behind Howard Blumberg ($106.70) and Carl Thobe ($98.60). Diaz’s fortunes turned around before the holiday weekend was over, however.

Despite a score of just $58.20, Diaz (4 wins, 2 places) won an all-inclusive package to the Sept. 21-22 The BIG One at Laurel Park for finishing second to fellow package winner Jon Van Niel, who wasn’t too far in front of Diaz with $65.30.

There was more to Diaz’s happy Sunday.

He also took an entry in Sunday’s NHC qualifier, trying to win the seat that eluded him three days earlier. Both the qualifier for The BIG One and the one for the NHC were Pick & Prays, but Diaz didn’t just copy and paste his picks. In the NHC game, he used longshot Artistico in the final contest race, the 11th at Woodbine. Artistico won and paid $26.60 to win and $13.70 to place. That got him second place—and an NHC seat—behind winner Gene Cahalan, who had six winners (including each of the final five contest race winners) plus three runners up.

What I found amazing, though—if not darned near unprecedented—was that Diaz more than doubled his score in his second featured Pick & Pray—and he won grand prizes in both events…even the one in which he posted the pretty ordinary score. Credit Diaz’s prescience, I guess, for knowing exactly what it would take to succeed in both tourneys! In any event, we trust that Sunday made up for his Thursday disappointment.

Gregg Kingma also had Artistico (a surprisingly difficult word to type without making a mistake)…

…and that got him a fat $8,500 package to the Del Mar Summer Handicapping Challenge in Sunday’s live-format qualifier. Time is running out to qualify for the Del Mar event, which takes place on July 27-28.

As is the case every other Sunday, HorseTourneys offered two $10,000 Guaranteed cash tourneys. One of those, our Big Bucks tourney, went off at very nice 9.2% overlay to the players.

The primary beneficiary of HorseTourneys’ misfortune was Kevin Willett who had a 5-win, 1-place day. Most of his damage was done in the final four races (3 wins and 1 place for Willett there). For beating just seven opponents, Willett received $7,000 in return for his $1,150 entry fee.

Happily for the visor-clad HorseTourneys accountants, the other $10,000 Guaranteed game did not cost the company money.

Adam Lewis was the winner here (of $6,537). He had three winners and two places to finish with $81.60—a total boosted mightily by Artistico in the finale. The tourney closed with a purse of $13,115.

We mentioned poor Richard Sears’s woes with his department stores. Howard Johnson isn’t doing much better with his string of restaurants and motor hotels. He fared, better, though, in our Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier on Sunday.

HoJo had 4 wins and 3 places to win a $500 entry along with runner up John Gamane (2 wins, 3 places). Perhaps success in the Fall Classic by Johnson will help restore the angular, orange-roofed places of lodging to their past glory.

John Gamane improved (slightly) on his Orleans Fall Classic score in our last-chance qualifier to next Sunday’s Stars of Texas Betting Challenge at Lone Star Park.

Joining Gamane deep in the heart of Texas (sort of) will be Jason Harp (who, like Gamane, had Artistico) and Joe Johnson (no relation to Howard), who was Artistico-less.

The Spa & Surf Showdown is now up to 73 entries, and the purse is growing with each addition to the roster.

The latest two to earn their way into the Saratoga/Del Mar online contest on August 3-4 were Craig Hom and Peter Duca. Artistico was Hom’s only Sunday winner, though he supplemented the Woodbine longshot with four nice place collections. Duca had 3 wins (not including Artistico) and 3 places. In fact he found a last-race, Woodbine longshot to call his own, grabbing a nice $11.90 place payoff from the Artistico race.

Robert Jones won Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney…

…but he only had two winners. Since no one picked all six, $8.00 can get you a shot at $2,090 next Sunday.

Meanwhile, Tony Ariganello connected on three successful three-horse exacta boxes, including a $71.45-for-$1.00 hit in the 7th at Woodbine.

That earned Tony top money of $771 in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney, which closed with a pot of $1,106.

Over at HorsePlayers, John Holmes managed to solve the mystery of Woodbine’s 11th race by selecting Artistico.

To that longshot, he added a seven-percent solution of three winners and three places, and that added up to a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Sunday’s Low Ratio qualifier.

Last but not least…do you remember Loyal Sprague?

He’s the guy from Las Vegas, by way of Illinois, who won the Horse Player World Series at The Orleans this past March.

Well how would two World Series victories in one year rank among all-time gambling feats? We’re not talking horse racing right now…we’re talking the Main Event at the World Series of Poker. As of the close of the second full day of play (Day 2C) on Sunday night, Sprague was sitting in 42nd place of the 2,800 players still alive (with about 450,000 chips from a starting stack of 60,000). Sprague earned $258,660 for winning the Horse Player World Series. Should he capture the Main Event bracelet, his Orleans haul would seem like pocket change. First place at the World Series of Poker’s Main Event is worth $10 million.

Amid a sea of hoodies, sunglasses, college dropouts and walking ear buds, who wouldn’t want to root for a 47-year-old horseplayer? Count us among the “Loyal followers.”