Ed Peters Wins Spa and Spa & Surf Qualifiers; Joe Koury Takes a Featured Prize on Saturday and Again on Sunday; Summertime is Joe Pettit’s Time (Weekend Recap July 12-14)

It always seems like a special weekend when Saratoga joins the HorseTourneys mix. The prizes are equally valuable, but tourney wins seem just a little bit sweeter when they require some success at the Spa, which is never an easy meet. Last weekend, James Lisowski was certainly up to the task.

The big Saratoga horse to have on Friday was 13-1 Forbidden Apple Stakes winner Mr. Havercamp, and Lisowsky had him, capping off a 3-win, 3-place day that got him top money of $5,801 in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a total purse of $11,602. Mr. Havercamp was not Lisowsky’s only successful longshot tab, though. He also had Fareeq ($35.00) over at Ellis Park to set the stage for his Mr. Havercamp coup de grace. It’s been a good run of late for Lisowsky, who won a qualifier on June 30 to The BIG One.

The other Friday feature took place at HorsePlayers. It was an always-popular $75 NHC qualifier.

These $75 qualifiers are a less expensive way to shoot for NHC Tour points and the already-double-qualified Brett Wiener seized that opportunity by leading the way with $126.30 in this event. As to the not incidental matter of the NHC spots, those went to G.T. Nixon, who had five winners including Mr. Havercamp, and to Scott Cavalieri (5 wins, 1 place), who will be Nixon’s running mate in Las Vegas thanks to having had Accabonac Harbor ($12.80 to win) in the Friday finale from Saratoga. Let’s hope that Cavalieri has a better run than Spiro Agnew.

Nattering nabobs of negativism may point out that tourneys can be harder at this time of the year due to more players taking part during such an anticipated time of year. Joe Pettit scoffs at such notions.

Last year, Pettit won $71,000 for capturing Day 2 of the Saratoga Challenge, and he followed that up in September with a victory at The BIG One. He may be on his way to another summertime run after Saturday’s $17,500 cash game in which the Charleston, South Carolina hat-company owner recorded three winners (including 10-1 and 18-1 shots within the first three races) to capture the up-top money of $9,940 in the weekend’s richest tourney. It closed with a pot of $22,089.

The year before Joe Pettit won The BIG One, the high-expectation event at Laurel was captured by Ed Peters. So perhaps this is Peters’s peak season as well.

The Pelham, New Hampshire bread company owner selected two winners and four runners up to win a $2,000 Spa & Surf Showdown entry along with Joseph “JK” Koury (aka The People’s CFO). Koury had three winners and two places, including final-race victor Patriot Drive ($12.60, $6.90) in the 11th at Saratoga, to get the Showdown berth.

Peters didn’t have Patriot Drive in the Spa & Surf Showdown game, but he did in Saturday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier…and he absolutely needed him.

The late Saratoga winner boosted Peters’s score to a day-high $135.20, which was sufficient to take this qualifier as well. Peters edged Roger Cettina by 50 cents, but Cettina (4 wins, 2 places) won a $3,500 Saratoga package as well, thanks to having each of the last three contest-race winners at odds of 12-1, 3-2 and 5-1, respectively.

Coyne Kaylor was another who profited from Patriot Drive.

He added three other winners and a runner up to the Saratoga nightcap winner to take Saturday’s last-chance (and low-scoring) qualifier to next weekend’s Hawthorne OTBs NHC Qualifier.

Mark Waggoner is heading to Kentucky…

…after earning a $3,500 package on Saturday to the October 13 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.

Meanwhile Sean Alvarez and Jason Hill each had five winners…

…en route to earning $1,000 packages to the October 17-19 Orleans Fall Classic.

Over at HorsePlayers on Saturday, there was a pair of Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers.

Tim Darnell broke like Break Even from the gate with three wins and a place in the first four races to gain a lead he would never relinquish in Saturday’s “regular” BCBC Pick & Pray. Two of those early winners were 10-1 shots…and he added another three victories and a place thereafter.

The other Saturday BCBC qualifier was a Super Low Ratio play-in with an entry fee of $1,000.

Gregg Kingma made that buy-in pay off thanks to three firsts and one second. His big horse was Saratoga 10th race winner Ruler of the Nile ($27.20, $12.20).

On Sunday, it was a tale of two halves for David Basler in our Del Mar Summer Handicapping Challenge qualiifer.

Basler had just one cash over the first six races, but he had five firsts and a second during the final six to walk away with an $8,500 package for the July 27-28 event. (Last chance to qualify is next weekend.) Here’s a look at Basler’s scoresheet.

Mark “Santana” Tabakman took an opposite—yet even more drastic—approach in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier on Sunday at HorsePlayers.

Tabakman rolled home by $41.30 thanks to three winners that included a Darryl Strawberry-like blast in Laurel’s 7th with 18-1 shot Lexitonian. Perhaps the most interesting aspect to Tabakman’s win, though, was how his cashes were grouped.

Winners early count the same as winners late. As a result, it tuned out that Tabakman had his BCBC seat locked up in barely an hour’s time.

In an Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier that came up especially tough, Brian O’Keefe put up what may have been the performance of the weekend.

O’Keefe had seven winners and a place from the day’s 12 races (which were no walk in the park, I might add.) Here’s a look at his scoresheet:

Joining O’Keefe at the Fall Classic with a gratis $500 entry will be Joe Koury, who won a Spa & Surf Showdown entry just 24 hours earlier. Despite getting second place, Koury had a dry spell that David Basler and Mark Tabakman would have been proud of. Koury did all his scoring (four wins, one place) in the day’s first two…and final three races. Perhaps an important finance-related call came in to Koury during mid-contest that distracted him during those middle seven races.

Paul Kimos and Howard Blumberg became the latest to join a field that will number no more than 57 at the Sept. 21-22 The BIG One at Laurel.

Kimos had five winners including a pair of 9-1 shots at Saratoga. Blumberg got the other all-inclusive berth by hitting three winners and two second-place finishers. They will compete for 10 NHC spots, five BCBC entries, five Pegasus entries and at least $75,000 in cash at The BIG One.

Jimmie O’Nail and Rudolph Hardin added their names to the roster (which now stands at 75) for the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown here at HorseTourneys.

O’Nail had Lexitonian ($39.20, $12.40) among his three firsts and two seconds. Hardin (3 wins, 1 place) caught a $4.00 place collection in the final contest race (the 7th at Lone Star) to grab the second berth by 60 cents.

Lexitonian was also key for Raymond Riley in Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Riley (6 wins, 2 places) had the day’s high score with $130.40 to earn $6,989 in a game that was ultimately worth a total of $15,531.

Slow and steady won the race for Jason Jordan in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

Jordan cashed on six three-horse exacta boxes out of 12 races. None paid more than $27.50 for a dollar. That one came in the 7th at Saratoga. None was more important than the $9.20 he picked up for the exacta in the final contest race, the 7th at Lone Star. That moved him into first place and earned him the top prize of $851 in a game that closed with a final purse of $1,216.

Edward Nuti opened up our $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney with a bang, connecting on an 18-1 winner at Laurel.

He only hit one winner thereafter, but still finished first. Since no one picked all six races correctly, next week’s jackpot will be up over $2,100.

Back over at HorsePlayers, frequent thespian Joe Scanio delivered a show-stopping performance in Sunday’s “regular” NHC qualifier.

Scanio brought down the house with four winners—including Laurel’s Lexitonian and Saratoga 11th race 9-1 shot Wicked Trick. Also who successfully trod the (tote)boards in this one was Adam Bright. He whiffed on the last four races, but hit four victors and two runners up prior to that to grab the second available Bally’s Berth.

With that, we lower the curtain on another fun and exciting weekend of HorseTourneys featured action. Del Mar joins the mix this week. Get your tickets now!