Despite Many Pick & Prays, 38 Featured Prizes Go to 38 Different Players Including Paul Matties Jr. Who’s Headed Back to the NHC (Weekend Recap September 27-29)

I’m not sure we’ve ever had so many top prizes so evenly distributed. Across 21 featured tourneys on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, there were 38 first prizes, and no one won more than one. Typically, when prizes are so spread out, it’s a “live-format weekend”, but this was mainly a Pick & Pray weekend. So what gave?

Format is certainly a factor…but even more important is how the prices roll in. The single most likely scenario for players to win a bunch of events on one day is when, let’s say in a 12-race tourney, one bomb wins along with 11 chalks. Those who liked the winning longshot tend to have a very good day. Those who didn’t have no means of making up the deficit.

On Friday, there was a $31.00 winner…but also a $30.00 winner. On Saturday, there was a $42.30 win price but also a $37.20 victor. (It also helped that the big score-getters in the free NHC qualifier didn’t play their picks back in any other featured events!) On Sunday, the three biggest win returns were $23.40, $19.60 and $18.40—a very narrow spread! The end result on all three days was many different permutations of picks each day that could lead one to victory. It made for some very competitive tourneys, the first few of which took place on Friday.

Sean O’Malley had three winners—none paying more than $23.10—out of 10 races to edge Darryl Lacy by $6.20 and win $5,212 in Friday’s $7,500 Gtd. Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $10,435.

Friday’s entry-only Orleans Fall Classic qualifier was like a mini-reunion of The BIG One combatants.

Brett Wiener didn’t have a great weekend at The BIG One (though he did score out big at Bagels & Grinds, feasting on their broad array of bagels made with specially-filtered New York water, as well as their wide assortment of smoked fish). Here he got a small measure of revenge on The BIG One champ Tony Martin thanks to just two wins and a place. It was hardly a painful setback for Martin, though, since he also won a $500 Fall Classic entry for finishing second to Wiener. Just like in Baltimore, Martin didn’t pick a lot of winners, but those he did pick definitely left a mark. Here it was the Friday high-price of the day—Ocean Fury ($31.00, $13.20) in the final contest race, the 9th at Santa Anita—that will have the Lexington, Ky., resident taking his act to Vegas.

Not surprisingly, Friday’s high score came at HorsePlayers in the $75 NHC qualifier, which attracted 370 entries.

It’s not easy to win such a populated tourney by a wide margin, but Gilbert did so thanks to his four winners paying $30.00, $13.80, $21.80 and $31.00). It was $29.40 back to the other NHC seat winner, runner up Randy Bauer.

James Morgan racked up five firsts and two seconds in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

As the Breeders’ Cup gets closer, these BCBC qualifiers are getting more and more popular. Here we had enough entries to award a second $10,000 entry, and that was good news for Todd Cady, who had a nice-looking scorecard of four wins and two places, but (like Tony Martin) needed 14-1 shot Ocean Fury in the last race to get him self “into the money.”

The big event on Saturday was the free NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. It drew 2,143 participants.

As expected the winner of this tourney, Derek Deutsch, posted the largest score of the day, $151.40, on 4 wins and 3 places. Also unofficially (pending final audit by the NTRA) winning NHC seats were the 2nd- through 5th- place finishers William Wolf, Karl Jacob, Cristina Brockman and Steven Franckowiak.

We mentioned earlier that there were winners on Saturday paying $42.60 (Marshall Eddy in the 10th at Gulfstream) and $37.20 (Great Sister Diane in the 12th at Gulfstream). Not even Deutsch managed to have them both. Here’s a look at his winning scorecard:

Like Deutsch, Adam Lewis had Marshall Eddy but not Great Sister Diane.

That earned him a $10,000 BCBC entry in Saturday’s regular, live-format qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Jim Trepinski took the opposite approach.

He picked Great Sister Diane but not Marshall Eddy in capturing Saturday’s Super Low Ratio BCBC qualifier. Here, there were enough high rollers signed up to award a second $10,000 entry, and Robert Rosette scooped that up. Rosette had three winners and four runners up. None of his winners paid more than 5-1…and he cashed on an odds-on ($3.60, $2.80) winner in the tourney finale to punch his ticket to the BCBC.

Back here at HorseTourneys, Peter Rogers staged a furious late rally to capture Saturday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Rogers’s three winners included Marshall Eddy plus the 9-1 Cleopatra’s Strike in the next to last contest race (Santa Anita’s 7th). His two places included Rogallo ($13.00) in the final tourney race (the 8th at Santa Anita) to get up for the triumph, which was worth $8,168 in an event that closed with a final purse of $16,337.

Brian Johnson recorded four wins and three places. Conversely, Tom Cooper tallied three wins and four places.

The result for both was the same: a $3,500 package to the October 13 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge.

Johnson racked up the weekend’s highest winning score if you don’t count the 2000+-player free NHC qualifier. Most of Johnson’s $132.30 score was accumulated during a white-hot stretch in the middle of the day. Here’s how it played out for him:

On Saturday, there was also a package qualifier ($500 entry + $500 travel) for the October 17-19 Orleans Fall Classic.

The winners were Geno Kroska and “Rowdy” Chris Piper. Kroska had three firsts and one second. Piper also had three winners…but they were smaller…so he needed four places to get himself bound for the home of the Prime Rib Loft.

Joseph Karabaich is also headed to The Orleans as a result of his Saturday exploits.

Karabaich selected both Marshall Eddy and Cleopatra’s Strike among his three victors and one close-but-no-cigar to earn an entry/hotel/travel package to next March’s Horse Player World Series.

“Everybody Gets a Trophy” weekend continued on Sunday, and one of the winners was someone who has received one of the horse racing industry’s most prestigious pieces of hardware.

That’s Ballston Spa, N.Y.’s Paul Matties Jr shown holding his Eclipse Award—earned from his victory in the 2016 NHC. No one has ever won the NHC twice…but Matties has a shot to in 2020 thanks to Sunday’s 2-seats-gtd. Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

Matties and Dale Hatfield each had four winners and three places to move on to Bally’s (the new old home of the NHC). Both had the day’s highest price, Mortal Storm ($23.40 in the 8th at Laurel), among their collections.

The other Sunday featured tourney at HorsePlayers went to Brian Chenvert.

Chenvert only had three winners…but he made the very shrewd move of having those three winners be the day’s highest paying winners. They paid $23.40, $18.40 and $19.60 in the win hole and did nearly all the heavy lifting for Chenvert in capturing a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in the day’s Low Ratio Pick & Pray. Chenvert’s margin of victory was an impressive $23.90.

The Flo-Cal Faceoff is still a good five months away, but already we’re seeing multiple first prizes fly out the door in qualifiers for it.

Congratulations to Aaron Bernstein and John “The Clocker” Nichols who’ll now both be in the Faceoff starting gate. Bernstein had just $3.00 in scoring after seven of the tourney’s 12 races, but had three winners over the final five to win. “The Clocker,” meanwhile, added a Flo-Cal seat to the $4,455 he won in a cash game just two weeks earlier.

Paul Kloeker and Tom Dillon took top honors—and top prizes—in Sunday’s Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifier.

Kloeker had the day’s four highest prices, ranging from $12.60 to $23.40, among his five winners to secure his $1,500 entry. Dillon also recorded five victories, including an impressive four straight in tourney races 8-11.

Here at HorseTourneys we typically don’t “root” for players to win any of our events. However, we confess to hoping that Paul Kloeker earns a Flo-Cal Faceoff entry sometime during the next five months. Just think of all the added publicity the event will receive if it can be billed as a battle between “Kloeker and The Clocker.”

There were two $10,000 Guaranteed cash tourneys taking place on Sunday. Our regular, “Little Bucks” Sunday game—the one with the $195 entry fee—went to Joseph Calvo.

Calvo (4 winners, 2 places) hit three consecutive victors in tourney races 8-10 at odds of 8-1, 8-1 and 4-1, respectively, to pocket $5,781 out of a total final purse of $11,562.

The $1,150-buy-in Big Bucks game drew just nine entries, which meant the takeout was just 3.4%.

The winner here, though not in a landslide, was John Kennedy. With a final score of just $54.60, he was the only one of the nine to turn a flat-bet profit on the day. For the modest total, Kennedy received the first prize of $7,000. Perhaps we can convince G.T. Nixon to take on Kennedy two weeks from now in the next Big Bucks game. If so, maybe we could hold a pre-tourney debate.

Another featured Sunday cash game was our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

Two players had the critical $200.00-for-a-buck exacta in the 9th at Belmont—but only Gary Withers managed to augment that windfall with additional hits (four of them). As a result, he received the top prize of $1,084 in a contest that closed with a pot of $1,549.

Craig Hall hit the first two races at nice prices to win our $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney, but he could only add place collections thereafter.

Since no one got all six races right, next week’s Jackpot will be $3,028.

Next weekend will be the last weekend of qualifying for the Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge (Oct. 13), and so we’re getting lots of signups now for Keeneland play-ins. For Sunday’s Low Ratio, entry-only game, we had enough entries to pay off three winners.

Congratulations to Steve Arrison (3 wins, 3 places), Jim Staub (2 wins, 2 places) and Lawrence Kahlden—each of whom earned $3,000 entries to the popular, Jim Goodman-run competition.

The lower entry fee certainly played a role but the Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier on Sunday actually did Keeneland one better—it had four winners.

John Vogel’s total of $89.00 led the way. It was built on three firsts and three seconds. Vogel will be joined at The Orleans by Ben Clayton, John Gamane and Muggsy Kreiser (as long as Kreiser still has some vacation days left).

You never need vacation days to play online here at HorseTourneys. (You just need a quick trigger finger to toggle over to a different screen should the boss walk by.) A bunch of you won last weekend, which is a nice thing. And we say “Thank you” to everyone who played.

Next week’s schedule promises to be even more exciting thanks to the presence of a special $40,000 Guaranteed Road to the Cup cash tourney on Saturday with Keeneland, Belmont and Santa Anita all figuring to have prominent roles in the outcome. We hope to see you there.