Steve Arrison Continues a May He May Never Forget; Schutt, Hatfield and Somich all Double Up; Ridiculous Bad Beat for Craig Dixon (Weekly Recap May 13-17)

It’s barely half-over, but what a month of May it has already been for Steve Arrison.

On May 3rd, he earned seats to the NHC and The BIG One. Five days later, on May 8th, he captured his 2nd NHC berth and a $2,000 entry to the Spa & Surf Showdown for good measure. Now it looks like Arrison will be double-tough in the $150,000 Guaranteed Showdown.

Topped by Louden’s Gray ($50.20, $13.20 in the 9th at Will Rogers Downs), the Garden Stater connected on 2 wins and 2 runners up to grab a second Spa & Surf Showdown entry for August 15-16.

It seems that, at least this month, Steve Arrison never met a tourney he didn’t like…or that didn’t like him back.

Obviously sensing a weak spot in his contest portfolio, Arrison went out on Friday and added a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry to his holdings. His big collection here was Youcantcatchcurlin, a dead-hat winner in the 6th at Gulfstream that returned $22.20 to win and $17.20 to place. Tom Arndt ran second behind Arrison to earn a $5,000 partial entry.

So now Arrison pretty much has seats to all of the big tournaments out there—but who among us couldn’t use a little more cash?

He played the same horses that won him the Friday BCBC entry to scoop up $9,501 in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which wound up with a final purse of $21,213.

Perhaps Arrison has his sights set on bigger money, though, like the $100,000 set aside for the 2020 NHC Tour Champion

Arrison didn’t get quite all the way to the top here, but he’ll get some nice Tour points for that second-place finish. (His fourth-place finish won’t count for anything since you can only earn points with one entry in a given qualifier.) Perhaps not surprisingly, it took the highest score of the day — by Kenneth McCowan — to defeat Arrison.

This was a 2-seats-guaranteed qualifier, but as has been the norm of late, there were enough entries to award three. Those other two went to 3rd-place finisher Basil DeVito (4 wins, 3 places) who hit Civil Suit ($6.80, $4.00) in the final race to get up, and Tyler Hoffman (3 wins, 2 places).

In the other Friday feature, Robert Ruocco found himself in a happy place—twice—at the end of the day’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Ruocco had a total of 3 firsts and 4 seconds, but it was place collections (of $4.60 and $8.40) in the final two tourney races that ultimately got him across the line first and sent the $2,000 entry in his direction.

With all this winning being done by Steve Arrison, we neglected to review the two Wednesday features in which he didn’t finish first. Those two were pretty much open-and-Schutt cases.

Geoffrey Schutt, that is.

The Salem, Mass., resident used three early winners plus 23-1 shot Louden’s Gray at the end to burn his opponents at the stake in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier.

Schutt used the same handicapping sorcery in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Here, Schutt was rewarded with $2,892 from a final pot that totaled $6,428.

There were five featured tourneys on Saturday—two of which were won by Dale Hatfield.

Hatfield (4 wins, 2 places) won the feud in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed tourney by waging a big comeback that was capped off by Bound For Jamaica ($115.00, $30.00) in the 7th at Golden Gate and Smiling Shirlee ($9.60, $5.00). For his efforts, Hatfield received the winner’s share of $15,186 in a game that finished up with a purse of $37,966.

Hatfield also played in Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers and here he had an even better score thanks to some earlier collections.

Hatfield cashed with four runners up, before connecting on three winners to take the top spot. He will be joined in Vegas by Mark Feld who earned the other seat thanks to 3 wins and a place.

Here’s a look at Hatfield’s winning NHC scorecard:

Howard Schwartz had something of an Alcoa Fantastic Finish of his own.

Schwartz cashed in the final three races to close out a 4-win, 2-place day that earned him a victory by $22.00 in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Back at HorseTourneys, Ken Seeman used Bound For Jamaica and, as a result, he’s bound for the Spa & Surf Showdown.

Before Seeman (2 wins, 1 place) could feel hot, hot, hot, though, he needed some extra help at the end, and he got it with a $7.60 place collection in the 8th at Santa Anita to secure the $2,000 Showdown entry.

Last but not least on Saturday was our qualifier to the Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge on June 27th. It was won, by 20 cents, by Eric Archer.

Archer’s two winners were led, perhaps not surprisingly, by the 56-1 Bound For Jamaica. His one place collection—with favored Storm the Bridge in the 11th at Gulfstream—was worth just $2.20, but that proved to be very important given the 20-cent margin of victory at the end.

That takes us to what I consider one of the unluckiest “beats” that I’ve seen in a while.

Here is the scoresheet of runner-up Craig Dixon.

Dixon didn’t have the big bomb Bound For Jamaica, but he had a solid day of 4 wins and 1 place. His big winner was Trisomia who won Gulfstream’s 11th race decisively by 2 1/4 lengths.

“Okay, well that was a nice job by Dixon,” you say, “but where was the bad luck? Didn’t he simply come up 20 cents short? Doesn’t that happen at HorseTourneys almost every day?”

To get a better sense of Dixon’s misfortune, we’ll need to examine the Equibase chart for the race.

Remember how Eric Archer’s $2.20 place collection in that 11th at Gulfstream was key? Well that place collection came about as a result of a dead-heat for second. So if Storm the Bridge finishes an inch farther back, Archer doesn’t get the $2.20 place payoff and Dixon obviously wins.

But wait. What’s worse—if you’re Dixon—is what if Storm the Bridge runs an inch BETTER and gets second place to himself? Storm the Bridge would have had second to himself and paid more in the place hole…maybe $3.20 if we’re being generous. But then Trisomia would have paid more to place as well—significantly more than the paltry $6.60 he returned as a 13-1 shot in the dead-heat-for-second scenario—since the place pool would now be shared two ways instead of three. I think it’s pretty clear Trisomia would have easily paid more than the $7.80 Dixon would have needed to overcome a $3.20 place payoff from Storm the Bridge.

Bottom line: If Storm the Bridge runs an inch worse, Dixon wins…and if Storm the Bridge runs an inch better, Dixon also wins. If there was ever a case of threading the needle to win a tournament, Eric Archer pulled it off here!

Similar to Geoffrey Schutt on Wednesday, Steve Arrison on Friday and Dale Hatfield on Saturday, we had a double winner on Sunday—Michael Somich.

Somich piled up 6 winners, including four in a row during one stretch, to take home the top prize of $12,356 in Sunday’s $12,500 Guaranteed cash tourney. The final pot was $30,890.

Somich played those same picks in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier and, as a result,…

…he has himself a $2,000 entry to redeem on August 15-16 for the $150,000 Guaranteed online event. Here’s a look at his scoresheet, which was the best of the day:

We sort of have another double-winner to report.

Tom Arndt didn’t quite get what he was after in Friday’s BCBC qualifier, but he earned a $5,000 partial entry that day for finishing second to Steve Arrison. On Sunday, he took a backseat to no one in the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney. Arndt cashed in the first 6 races en route to a 4-win, 4-place day and a payday of $14,960. The Sunday Big Bucks game closed with a purse of $21,372 and was sold out by about 11:00 am. Watch for news on this highly-popular weekly competition in the near future.

Rockin’ Rhonda Graziano won Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

I did not copy and paste the preceding sentence from last week’s recap, though I could have. Graziano won $1,454 on May 10. This past Sunday, she picked up $1,531 from an overall pot valued at $2,187. Graziano landed two devastating blows on Sunday that left her opponents on the canvas—a $255.10 roundhouse in the 7th at Santa Anita and a $153.70 uppercut in the 9th round at the same arena.

Vince Carco recorded 4 wins and 3 places on Sunday.

That made him best of 17 in the day’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier.

Ilan Cuellar found the first five contest races as difficult to hit as a Mike Cuellar screwball.

The last seven races, though, were all room-service fastballs for Ilan, who had 3 wins and 1 place in that span, including 9-1 and 5-2 winners in the final two heats. The complete-game victory for Cuellar was worth an all-inclusive package to The BIG One, where he will be one of no more than 57 competing for a minimum of $75,000 in cash, 10 NHC, BCBC or Pegasus seats (player’s choice) and another five Horse Player World Series entries (or player’s choice of $1,500 in cash instead).

Once again, no one got all six races right in the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. Dan McCormick (2 wins, 2 places) gave it an entertaining try, however.

He was the only one of 303 to have the first two victors (11-1 and 12-1 shots). Then he brazenly disregarded the 4-5 favorite Bellafina in leg 3, opting instead for 42-1 shot Hang a Star. Bellafina wound up winning. But Hang a Star ran second and the $18.80 that McCormick received in the place hole helped him take home the $584 top prize when all was said and done. Next Sunday’s Jackpot will start out at $11,480.

Over at HorsePlayers, three of Mark Rudy’s five winners reported home at odds of 10-1, 11-1 and 12-1.

Those, plus three more place collections, helped Rudy lead the way by more than $32 in Sunday NHC qualifier, which had enough participants for there to be three seats handed out. Those other two went to George Bosch (4 winners) and Jon “Hurricane” Hurd, whose gale force winds petered out over the last four races. But they did enough damage over the first eight (4 wins, 2 places) for him to hold on to the third seat.

In the day’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers…

…it was Ryan Flanders who took home the $10,000 entry, thanks to 6 winners and 2 runners up.

A reminder before we part that this Wednesday’s NHC qualifier will, for the first time, offer cash prizes in addition to the Bally’s Berth. Entries are available for $125 with feeders running every day for $15.

We may not be able to go to the track anytime soon, but action around here figures to get more and more exciting as additional tracks seem poised to come back on board. The latest news has NYRA returning on June 4. We’ll be ready when they do. In fact, we’ll be ready before then! See you next week.