Impressive Encores for Matthew Rentze and Howard Welsh; Close but No Threepeat for Frank Fosbre; Two Wins for Mike Martin; Two More BCBC Spots for the Chenvert Clan; (Weekend Recap October 25-27)

Many handicappers are fond of the “Light Bulb angle” which holds that sometimes a horse that took a long time to break his maiden will win a second race right away now that “the light bulb has gone on” and he knows what it takes to win. So it is, perhaps, with Matthew Rentze.

On October 19, Rentze punched his ticket to the NHC in a tourney restricted to those yet to win a 2020 berth. It took Rentze less than a week to pick up seat #2.

Both Rentze and runner up Eric Brothers had In Good Spirits ($30.20, $14.40) in the 8th at Keeneland, and if Rentze and Brothers weren’t in good spirits before the race, they certainly were after it. And even more so at the tourney’s conclusion. An NHC seat for just $75 will do that to one’s outlook.

The virtuoso performance of Friday (by 40 cents) was composed by Wolfgang Wissig.

Wissig had just two winners, but one of them came in the final tourney race with Swamp Souflee ($15.80, $7.80) in the 6th at Santa Anita. That win, along with a couple of earlier place cashes, gave Wissig the lead—and the $4,876 that went with it—in Friday’s $7,500 Guaranteed cash game, which finished up with a final purse of $9,752.

Competition has been fierce of late for Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries since the big event is now less than a week away. It took only a score in the 60s last Friday, though, to garner a coveted $10,000 spot.

Dan Wilde (just 1 winner and 2 places), John Molaro (4 wins, 1 place) and Steve Perreira (also 4 firsts and a second) all did just that to punch their respective tickets to the land’s most prestigious live-bankroll tournament. BCBC qualifiers will continue at HorsePlayers through Wednesday of this coming week.

We offered another NHC “Maiden Special” on Saturday.

Chris Michaels squeaked out a victory—and an NHC berth—by $1.90 thanks to hitting Keeper ofthe Stars ($12.20, $6.80) in the final contest race (Santa Anita’s 7th). Perhaps Michaels will now try to emulate Matthew Rentze and pick up a second 2020 NHC seat in short order.

The weekend’s richest tourney was Saturday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Most prominent among victor Philip Conway’s three winners and two runners up was Kressie ($23.80, $10.80) in the 7th at Belmont. Conway picked up top money of $7,500 for his efforts…in a game that went off at just a 2.2% takeout to players (and at a loss to HorseTourneys after deposit fees and payments to racetracks are factored in).

Larry LaTour was LaWinner of the other Saturday feature.

LaTour recorded two victories and four near misses to bring home a full-package prize—including entry, four nights’ hotel and $500 travel stipend—for next March’s Horse Player World Series.

A pair of Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers were the main events on Saturday at HorsePlayers.

Nick Tammaro, Daniel Zaretsky and Gary Blair were the three winners of $10,000 entries in the day’s $1,000 buy-in, Super Low Ratio Pick & Pray play-in.

Saturday’s regular BCBC qualifier was won by Bill Chenvert, and runner up Pete Manzo also won a five-figure BCBC entry.

Chenvert was the only Saturday winner to put together six winners (plus a place). Here’s how his day went:

Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers was also won by Chenvert…though this time it was a different Chenvert.

Minnesota’s Brian Chenvert won this time around with a modest, weather-affected score of $56.80. Runner up Ryan McCarthy also picked up a $10,000 entry.

By our unofficial count, the Chenvert family has now accounted for eight BCBC entries. Brian, Bill and Jennifer are already listed as having two entries under their names at the Breeders’ Cup Website. Since individuals can play only two entries each (though entries CAN be transferred), it seems a safe bet that a fourth Chenvert will now be pressed into service.

In some ways, Sunday’s other BCBC qualifier—a Super Low Ratio play-in—was even more remarkable.

Paul Scott won with a score of just $36.00, built on two wins and three places. His “windfall” collection of the day came on a 2-1 shot. Due to messy weather in the East that resulted in the cancellation of the Belmont card after just one race, our featured schedules were reduced from 12 to nine races. So Scott’s score represented the exact break-even mark on nine races worth of $2 win and place plays.

Some may write off Scott’s victory as extreme luck…and luck certainly did play a role. But as much as anything, it might illustrate the power of playing in these “Low Ratio” tourneys that are frequently offered with BCBC, NHC and other brick-and-mortar qualifying events. You pay a premium in order to whittle down the competition. Quite often, that means that an ordinary day of handicapping yields an extraordinary result. Here’s a look at Scott’s $36.00 (or $10,000) day:

Back here at HorseTourneys, there were two NHC qualifiers to match up with the two BCBC events at HorsePlayers. With so much attention focused on qualifying for the soon-to-come BCBC, these NHC qualifiers were a bit…undersubscribed.

The 1-per-21, $500 Low Ratio game turned out to be a hard sell…but not for Michelle Hartsell. She was one of just 15 to take part and a prescient decision it was for her given that since she cashed seven times in nine races with four wins and three places.

The 1-per-50 NHC qualifier with the $210 buy-in guaranteed two spots…yet only 82 faced the starter in this one.

William Haliziw and Scott Boudreaux were the smartest of the smart shoppers here. Both got their days off to fast starts courtesy of Ty Ran a Homer, who captured the first contest race, the 5th at Monmouth, at odds of 13-1.

To go with the two BCBC qualifiers, and the two NHC tourneys, there were two $10,000 Guaranteed cash games on the Sunday schedule.

The Sunday high score quite often resides within our regular, $179-buy in, $10,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. So it was again this week.

Tim “Moose” Haas wore the crown with a nine-race, rain-shortened total of $98.30 built on three nice-priced winners and a runner up. The net result for Haas was a winner’s share of $5,000 in a game that went with a takeout to players of just 6.8%. Here’s a look at Haas’s Sunday-best scorecard:

The winner of Sunday’s $10,000 Big Bucks game had a familiar ring to his name. It was Howard Welsh.

Howard Welsh

Last week, the New Jersey cash-game guru won the featured money events on both Friday and Sunday…and added a Flo-Cal Faceoff entry to his weekend booty as well. In Sunday’s high-end, $1,150 buy-in tourney, Welsh got the job done with just two wins and two places—all accrued over the final five races.

One of Welsh’s winner’s circle visitors was Creative Instinct ($21.00, $9.40) in the 5th at Santa Anita. This week’s victory for Welsh was worth $7,000. That makes his cash winnings over the last two weeks to $14,361…plus, of course, the $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry. Welsh is one guy who will be disappointed to see October come to an end.

Another player who might like to see October continue on for a few extra days is Mike Martin, who is heating up as the tenth month winds down.

Martin joined Howard Welsh among those already in the field for the $100,000 Flo-Cal Faceoff on February 29-March 1. Martin had five firsts and one second that added up to a nice Sunday score of $83.50.

Happily for Martin, he did not rest on his Flo-Cal laurels. He played those same picks back in our first qualifier to the November 29-30 Hawthorne Fall NHC Super Qualifiers.

For his second Sunday victory, Martin receives $800 worth of Hawthorne entries. That will cover him for each of the two single-day competitions in Chicagoland.

Compared to Mike Martin, Richard Owens will be heading to warmer climes…Las Vegas.

Owens (3 wins, 2 places) clicked with winners at 13-1 and 7-2 in the first two contest heats and was never headed thereafter in Sunday’s entry-only qualifier to the March 26-28 Horse Player World Series at The Orleans.

Stephen Nieswiadomy can get his 10-gallon hat out on December 7.

He hit Winning Element in the final contest race, the 6th at Santa Anita. The $4.60, $3.00 win/place payoffs—along with two wins and a place earlier—moved him into first place in Sunday’s qualifier to the Lone Star Park NHC qualifier. His final total was just $46.70.

You would think that our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney would typically offer the least raw material to write about. However, there is often something unique that happens in these gimmick games and—perhaps because there is only one of these a week among our featured events—they tend to stick out a bit more.

Stephen Lerma finished best of eight to take the $700 first prize in a tourney that went off with no takeout to players (and at a loss to HorseTourneys). Lerma did all his scoring in just a single race…which is not unprecedented. What was a bit different (at least as far as we can recall) is that Lerma’s scoring race was the very first one. With the benefit of perfect 20/20 hindsight (a plentiful commodity amongst us horseplayers!) Lerma could have lit up his victory cigar as soon as that 5th from Monmouth went official. Not that others weren’t trying to catch him. Most notable of those was Frank Fosbre, who had won each of the two previous Sunday Exacta tourneys. This time, Fosbre could do no better than second, though, and he had to settle for second money of $300.

So ends another week. As mentioned earlier, Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge feeders will continue right through Wednesday. Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup, we have several terrific cash games lined up for Friday and Saturday, including a $20,000 Guaranteed Full-Card Santa Anita Friday tourney, a $75,000 Guaranteed Full-Card Santa Anita Saturday game, and a $25,000 Guaranteed, two-day, Friday/Saturday, Breeders’-Cup-Races-only tourney. Plus a bunch of other qualifiers (NHC, HPWS, Flo-Cal and more) and cash games at a wide variety of price points.

It promises to be an exciting week of racing—and tournament play—ahead. Thanks for playing along, and reading along, with us this past week.