Two More Sarah Wiener Winners; Extra Heavy Workload for Matt Bernier at Breeders’ Cup; Gary Bain Scores His Second NHC Seat of the Month (Weekly Recap April 15-19)

Different households deal with staying home all day in various ways. For the Wiener family in Clearwater, Fla., it has apparently been one long game of “Can You Top This?”

Three weekends ago (April 1-3), Brett Wiener conducted a four-event rampage that netted him two cash game triumphs and seats to both the NHC and the Spa & Surf Showdown. The following weekend, it was Brett’s wife Sarah getting all the close-ups with a pair of April 12 victories that landed her spots in The BIG One and the Spa & Surf Showdown. This past weekend, Sarah knotted up the April Wiener family scoreboard at four apiece.

Just as her husband had done two Wednesdays earlier, Sarah captured the day’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash game to bring home an oversized stimulus check of $2,768 from an overall pot of $6,152.

Wiener had three winners in the cash game. In the same day’s $75 NHC qualifier, she had only one…but it was a doozy.

When your only winner goes off at 88-1 (I’ll Make U Famous in the 7th at Tampa), you can afford a few misfires—not that Sarah had too many of those. She added four places in the other nine tourney races, and actually bested her cash game score by more than 10 dollars. Here’s how it unfolded:

When stay-at-home orders and travel restrictions are eventually lifted, Sarah and Brett Wiener will certainly have several places to go thanks to their April family exploits—and, unfortunately for their tourney opponents, the month is still far from over.

Another distaffer who has had a big 2020 is Alexa Zepp. After a run of five tourney wins here in February, she had a quiet March, but dancing days are here again for Alexa.

In Wednesday’s last two tourney races, Zepp was the woman who knows. She hit 8-5 & 3-1 winners to bring her score up to $60.00. That was enough for her to secure a $2,000 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown…and to leave her rivals out on the tiles.

Moving to Friday’s featured action, Edward Enborg had five winners in the day’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray…

…but it was his lone place runner of the day—Chocolate Bar ($8.40) in the 11th at Gulfstream—that got him a sweet win worth $9,276 from a final overall purse of $20,615.

This Friday cash game became, in handicappers’ parlance, something of a key race.

Matt Bernier had to settle for second behind Enborg in the $20,615 event, but his victory, using the same picks, in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers had to take much of the sting out of that setback.

Bernier’s winning move here came during a run of four consecutive winners in tourney races 6-9.

The triumph could pose a problem, however, for the personable NBC/TVG racing commentator: How to balance work responsibilities at the Breeders’ Cup with the far more important matter of competing in the BCBC? Perhaps he can ask NBC colleague Ed Olczyk for advice!

Bernier wasn’t the only one to finish behind Edward Enborg and go on to win elsewhere. The third- and fourth-place finishers did that also.

Of course, the third- and fourth-place finishers in the featured cash game were one and the same—Ed Peters. His two cash-game entries got him $3,500. His one entry here—which contained three winners at odds of 43-1, 5-1 and 12-1—netted him a seat in the online Spa & Surf Showdown on August 15-16.

The high score of the day on Friday was posted by Peter Rinato (6 wins, 1 place) in the day’s $75 two-seats-guaranteed NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

There were enough entries for three tickets to be punched for Vegas and so Rinato will be joined at Bally’s by Nicholas Jannis (4 wins, 1 place) and Thomas O’Connor.

As for Rinato, his apparent fluency in Spanish clearly paid off as two of his winners were Gulfstream bombs La Viexa at 43-1 and Mi Tres Por Ciento, a 31-1 shot (who somewhat ironically accounted for about three percent of the win wagers made in the race).

There was an NHC qualifier as well on Saturday, and again it provided the day’s high score.

Seth Morris did the honors here with 4 wins and 2 places. As with almost all of Saturday’s grand prize winners, he had Gulfstream cap horse Goodbye Brockley in the off-the-turf 9th race. In fact, he (and also runner up Gary Sutton) scratched into the big longshot.

Carm Adimando was the only Saturday top-prize recipient who did so without Goodbye Brockley. He recorded three places, followed up by three winners.

This particular Pick & Pray perhaps pointed out the importance of weather and of being maybe a bit strategic in one’s use of alternate selections. When Gulfstream was hit by a rainstorm part way through the card, races were taken off the turf ahead of their Rainbow 6…but after our featured tourneys had begun. This was no problem for those playing live-format tourneys, but it was dicey for those locked into Pick & Pray selections. (This was the only feature among the day’s five that was a Pick & Pray.) Perhaps what made the difference for Morris and Sutton was that they used not their original “second choice” as their alternate in Gulfstream’s 9th…but what they considered to be their best “off the turf” alternative. (Not that Goodbye Brockley was easy to have under either scenario!)

Of course, weather strategy may have had nothing to do with Morris’s and Sutton’s picks at all. Perhaps they just hate green vegetables. At any rate, consider the above paragraph “food” for thought when you enter a Pick & Pray on a day when the afternoon’s weather might be a bit volatile.

As noted earlier, the day’s other four featured events were run in live format, and that meant that the other Saturday winners not only had Goodbye Brockley, but had her proudly (at least after the fact) on top. One of them was Joe Ward.

Ward was one of several to use Goodbye Brockley in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a pot of $40,727. Ward was the one who did the best job of augmenting that bomb. At day’s end, he had 3 wins, 2 places and an additional $16,291 in his HorseTourneys account.

Goodbye Brockley (an interesting Supertramp song parody, perhaps) was one of three winners on Saturday for John Hawkins.

Thanks to that pick, Hawkins will be playing the full cards from Saratoga and Del Mar on August 15-16 in the $150,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.

Joe Scanio (2 wins, 1 place) was another who said “Hello” to Goodbye Brockley.

As a result, Scanio will be saying “Howdy” to the folks at Lone Star Park on June 27 when he checks in with a paid-up entry for the Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge.

It was quite a nice weekend for Thomas O’Connor at HorsePlayers. On Friday, he grabbed the third and final available seat in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier. And on Saturday…

…he claimed the one and only $10,000 entry in the day’s “regular” Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. Goodbye Brockley was O’Connor’s only winner, though he had four nice place cashes to up his total all the way to $115.60. The only other competitor to crack triple figures, Nancy Spence, earned a $5,000 partial BCBC entry for her efforts.

Sunday was sort of a fun contest day in that it wasn’t a chalkfest, but there weren’t really any earth-shattering bombs either. That provided many different paths to victory, which led to the day’s 11 featured-tourney top prizes going to 11 different people…led by Jerome Lindeman.

Lindeman’s $108.00 score represented the day’s high-water mark. His performance came in the NHC Low Ratio Pick & Pray, where he had 5 winners and 3 places. The horse most responsible for Jerome earning his Bally’s Berth was Eternal Peace ($21.00, $8.60) in race 5 at Gulfstream.

There was a second NHC qualifier on Sunday—a two-seater at HorsePlayers that, as is the norm these days, turned into a three-seater.

The event was won for the second time in the last three Sundays by Gary Bain (not the longtime South Florida rider), making him the latest to already secure a pair of 2021 NHC spots. Bain swung and missed on the first two races, but collected in nine of the remaining 10 (six of them winners) to take this one going away. John “The Clocker” Nichols (whose father was a jockey back in the day) hit Follow the Flag ($17.80, $9.20) in the last tourney race to get up for second. He finished with 5 wins and 2 runners up. Tim Yohler had three of each to hold on to that all-important third slot.

The other HorsePlayers Sunday feature was a Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. Max Schnepf wasn’t consistent…but he was right when it counted.

Schnepf had two winners from the first three races, then scored the middle of a doughnut on the next nine heats. Like John Nichols, however, he hit Follow the Flag in the finale to retake the lead late and capture the $10,000 BCBC entry.

Since I started attending The BIG One in 2016, I don’t recall there being a year when Rick “I-65” Broth wasn’t taking part…and 2020 will be no exception. He had just one first and two seconds over the initial 10 races, but Broth heated up at the end, hitting Pick & Pray winners of 6-1 and 7-1 in the final two heats to keep his BIG streak intact.

Another HorseTourneys-run event in addition to The BIG One is this August’s Spa & Surf Showdown. Carl “Flick Your” Bick needed just $59.20 to lock down his $2,000 entry here.

Bick’s big horse among 3 winners and 2 runners up was Street Ready ($15.40, $6.60) who took the, ahem, overland route under Chris Landeros in capturing the 8th at Gulfstream.

There were four featured cash tourneys on Sunday—the richest of which was our $195-buy-in, $12,500 Guaranteed event.

Scott Fiedler registered three wins and three places—and it was that final place with Makisupa ($8.20) that got him up and over into first place, earning him top money of $11,415 in a game that closed with a purse of $25,268.

Sunday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney closed with a smaller overall pot ($22,290), but a larger first-place prize…which makes sense since the $1,150 Pick & Pray only pays out to the top three finishers.

Lawrence Kahlden was the prime beneficiary of the prize structure with his 4 winners (two early and two late) and 2 places. Kahlden pocketed $15,673.

The three money earners in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney all had one thing in common.

They all hit the final-race, one-dollar, Follow the Flag-Makisupa exacta for $90.80. Tim Catlett had two successful three-horse boxes prior to the nightcap, though, and that wound up making him the recipient of the $1,473 top prize. The game closed with a pot of $2,953.

James Zaccagnino had 3 winners in Sunday’s $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney…

…but it was his place collection with Dexter Road ($10.40) in the final tourney race (the 9th at Gulfstream) that leapfrogged him over several other foes and landed him the $455 first prize. Special kudos go out to 6th-place finisher Kirk Albin, who nailed the first four races before coming up short in the final two. Since no one swept all six races, the Jackpot continues to grow. Next Sunday, it will start out at $9,060.

So ends another week in which, now more than ever, our computers are our windows to the world. Thanks to all of you for making that view a bit more entertaining.