Raymond Riley Captures Tourneys on Consecutive Days; Seven Winners Add up to NHC seat for Evan Freedman; Chris Bertolucci Grabs Second HPWS Seat in as Many Weeks (Weekend Recap October 11-14)

It was an exciting Columbus Day weekend around here with several noteworthy performances and close finishes among the 22 featured events on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The action got off to a fast start on Friday with something of a The BIG One rematch.

Tony Martin came in first at The BIG One and Howard Welsh finished fourth. In Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, however, Welsh turned the tables on Martin to claim the top prize of $5,044 in a game that closed with a purse of $10,089. Welsh and Martin were neck and neck for much of this one. The turning point for Welsh came in the 6th at Santa Anita (the third-to-last contest race) when he scratched into his alternate selection, Start A Runnin, who finished second and returned $12.60 to place.

The BIG One champ took a backseat to no one, though, in Friday’s Orleans Fall Classic entry-only qualifier.

Martin prevailed narrowly here over fellow $500 entry winner Stephen McNatton. Joe Davidson grabbed the third available prize by just 20 cents over David Durham.

Martin kept parlaying those winnings from The BIG One, taking a shot in Friday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers.

The stars of this show were 2017 Horse Player World Series hero Bob Montgomery and Pete Acocella, who each earned $10,000 entries. Martin didn’t leave this one empty-handed, though, grabbing a $5,000 partial BCBC entry for his third-place finish.

Jonathan Andrews had three winners on Friday, topped by Foolish Ghost ($38.00, $8.00) in the 6th at Belmont to win the day’s $75 NHC qualifier.

Joining Andrews at Bally’s next February will be runner up Rob Ramirez who recorded five winners and a runner up.

Among the Saturday featured events was a $15,000 Guaranteed cash tourney with an All Optional Live format. The format—and the day’s races—made for a thrilling finish.

Craig “First Do No” Hom took the top money of $9,008 out of a total final prize pool of $20,018 in this one. At first, it seemed like the finish would be anything but thrilling since Hom nailed his first three plays (all within the first four of the 25 available races) to open up a big lead. At that point, however, Hom either decided to sit back to see how things would play out…or he decided to go out for a late lunch. Either way, he passed on the next nine races. And when he did jump back into action, he couldn’t hit a thing. Going into the last race, the 9th at Santa Anita, Hom’s lead had dwindled to $7.60 over Raymond Riley. Both players had a pick left for that last race…and Riley nailed hit, hitting Moody Jim ($6.40, $4.40) for his seventh on-top winner out of 10 plays. Unfortunately for Riley, Hom emerged from his 20-race slumber by catching a $6.00 place payoff in that final heat with Wound Tight. Victory was Hom’s. Here’s a look at how Hom’s slightly odd, yet ultimately successful, day played out:

Riley had to settle for $4,003 (not half bad)…and he DID visit the winner’s circle on Saturday in our Horse Player World Series package qualifier.

Here Riley had not seven wins…but seven collections (four wins, three places). And to achieve the victory, he took a page out of Hom’s book (or was it vice versa?), catching small place payoffs of $3.50 and $3.40 in the final two contest races to get up and earn the $1,500 entry + hotel + travel prize.

Mark Detro won our Saturday NHC qualifier that was restricted to those without a 2020 seat thus far.

Detro (5 wins, 3 places) took the more conventional path of picking the winner (as opposed to the runner up) in the final contest race. Matera ($9.80, $4.80) in the 6th at Santa Anita is the horse that propelled Detro to victory and the NHC.

Scores were low in Saturday’s Orleans Fall Package qualifier.

A fifty-dollar bill was what it took to win a $1,000 prize package here. Daniel Kaplan had just two winners, but six important places to get up by 20 cents over fellow winner Robert Vitale Jr., who had 3 firsts and 2 seconds—all accumulated over the fist six of the 12 contest races. Perhaps Vitale went out to lunch with Craig Hom?

Saturday’s high score of the day was put up over at HorsePlayers in the “regular” Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Kerry Bassore had 5 wins and 3 places to earn the victory over Michael “Free” Samples, who earned a partial, $5,000 entry to the BCBC.

It was not a high-scoring day in our 12-race tourneys. Bassore racked up the $96.70 total thanks to having all three of Saturday’s double-digit winners. Here’s a look at Kerry’s scoresheet:

Another lunch partner of Craig Hom and Robert Vitale Jr. may have been Mike Yurczyk.

Yurczyk’s total of $67.60 got it done in Saturday’s Super Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge tourney. All of his collections—four firsts and a second—came in the first six races (similar to Vitale’s day). Eric Bialek couldn’t afford to cavalierly take a break during this one. He cashed in each of the final four contest races to get up for the second available $10,000 entry. In all, he had six winners plus a place, and his biggest collection came with Matera in that last race. Rick Vasquez checked in third to pick up a $5,000 partial entry.

On Sunday, Raymond Riley picked up where he left off on Saturday.

Not only did Riley win our $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney to pocket top money of $9,261 in a game with a final pot of $13,230, he had seven winners yet again. Here was what his Sunday looked like:

It is perhaps interesting to note that his place collection in the last race paid more to place than any of his seven winners did to win.

Riley wasn’t the only to hit seven Sunday winners.

Evan Freedman did as well in capturing Sunday’s regular NHC Pick & Pray. Well back in second, but also gaining a “Bally’s Berth” was Mark Simonovic.

Here’s a look at Freedman’s big day of terrific handicapping:

Michael Somich only had one winner on Sunday, but it was a good one—Royal Mesa ($42.00, $18.00) in the 9th at Keeneland.

Somich added two places to his win (and, yes, Royal Mesa paid exactly $42.00 on track) and the result was the achievement of a 15-month goal for the relatively new contest player.

Chris Bertolucci is no contest newcomer.

He’s also not a newcomer to winning Horse Player World Series qualifiers. In fact, he’s not a newcomer to wining HPWS qualifiers this MONTH. He won one here on October 5th as well.

Pretty much everyone’s a newcomer when it comes to the Flo-Cal Faceoff, which will take place for the first time on February 29-March 1.

Count Joe Ward among those who will be in the field for the all-Gulfstream/Santa Anita online competition. Ward picked five winners to secure his $1,500 entry in the Flo-Cal starting gate.

Robert M. Moore closed fast, hitting the last three winners en route to a 5-win, 2-place day that earned him a $500 entry to the Orleans Fall Classic, which begins on Thursday.

Also in the big ballroom on the second floor at The Orleans will be runner up Paul “Spiderman” Parker who, like Michael Somich, did his damage with one winner and two places.

You don’t often see a player score five times more than his nearest pursuer. When you do, it probably came in one of our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourneys, and when it happens, it usually means the competition was a lopsided ho-hummer.

Well Frank Fosbre’s “quintupling up” of the field did come in an Exacta tourney. Fosbre won $851 in a game ultimately worth $1,216. And Fosbre, though he had four winners, did get most of his total in a single race, hitting the 11th at Woodbine for $115.55. The unusual thing about it all, though, was that Fosbre’s big exacta payoff didn’t come until the last race, and he was already ahead going into the race. So sportscasters might have said that this one “was closer than the final score indicated”.

We had another featured All Optional Live cash game on Sunday. This one had a finish almost as exciting as Saturday’s.

For the first two-thirds of this $10,000 Guaranteed tourney (final pot: $13,460), Jim Trepinski’s only option seemed to be losing. His score after eight races was a nice round number: zero. He heated up faster than the Green Bay offense after a bogus hands-to-the-face penalty, though, getting two wins and a place over those final four races to win top money of $6,730. He hit River God ($22.60, $10.60) in the final race to complete the unlikely comeback. And look who was fifth. Raymond Riley. He also had River God to add another $807 to his weekend earnings that totaled $14,071 plus a Horse Player World Series full package.

Gerald Hilton took top honors in Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney.

No one picked six, though…so next week’s Jackpot will be $3,178…yours to win or share for eight bucks and six smart selections.

There were enough entries to award two $10,000 entries in Sunday’s BCBC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Craig Spencer found Gamble’s Candy ($24.40, $12.50) to be a sweet result in the final contest race the 11th at Woodbine (not far from where Bruce Gamble minded the nets for the Maple Leafs in the late 60s and early 70s). That victory plus one other win and place got Spencer the gifts along with California car dealer extraordinaire Mike Caposio who made himself a great deal on the strength of two wins and two places.

We had two featured tourneys on Columbus Day, though the Tuesday morning quarterbacks in the HorseTourneys Accounting Department are telling us we should only have had one.

Our loss was your gain—especially Al “Forward” Roehl’s gain—in Monday’s $7,500 Guaranteed No Limit Pick & Pray. The event only attracted 35 players, so that meant the event went off at a tasty 9.8% overlay to the players. Half of the purse went to Roehl and his 4 firsts and 4 seconds. Our Honor ($8.50, $5.30 in the 9th at Belmont) put him over the top.

Our accounting team did not voice any objections about our last-chance Orleans Fall Classic qualifier, which drew 14 entries. With the Fall Classic starting on Thursday, this qualifier was ideal for Las Vegas locals who didn’t have to worry about making last-minute travel arrangements.

The winner was a Las Vegas local! Ron Ferrise (runner up at the 2017 BCBC). Ferrise captured the $500 entry with a score of just $50.00. He had two wins and a place and that place collection, worth $11.80, came in the last contest race, the 9th at Belmont.

Ferrise will join dozens of other HorseTourneys qualifiers at this week’s Fall Classic. We wish them good luck and the rest of you a terrific week ahead. Thanks to all for playing.