It’s a “Big” Saturday for Howard Welsh, Neal Metzger Takes a Pair on Sunday; Ruben Villarreal Celebrates NHC Seat Win by Capturing Exacta Tourney (Weekly Recap August 26-30)

The summer is nearing an end but the winning continues at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. Last week’s action contained a nice mix of new qualifiers and good, old-fashioned cash, NHC seats and BCBC entries. The featured-tourney fun began on Wednesday.

Some may remember this man, Thomas Blosser, as the winner earlier this year of $88,000 in the inaugural Flo-Cal Faceoff. On Wednesday, the Cornville, Arizona resident took another cash game.

This one might not have been as lucrative as the Flo-Cal, but Blosser will take it! He came out of the box firing in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney with winners at 7-1 & 18-1 to open up a lead he would never relinquish en route to a 3-win, 1-place day worth $2,350 in a game ultimately worth a total of $4,700.

Speaking of the Flo-Cal Faceoff, keep an eye out for what we think will be exciting news later this week regarding the 2021 renewal.

More cash was on the barrelhead on Friday.

Many of us may have felt stupid on Friday when we let the Chad Brown grass filly Selflessly beat us at 14-1 in the Lake Placid Stakes at Saratoga. David Herberholz was not one of those people. Herberholz had Selflessly as one of his 4 firsts and 3 seconds that, added together, earned him $7,331 in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $16,292.

Over at HorsePlayers, it was one of those slightly odd days in which the high score (at both HorsePlayers and HorseTourneys) came in a Low Ratio event.

That score belonged to Ron Kauffman and his 6 winners, which garnered him $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry. Similar to David Herberholz, Kauffman was helped to victory by selfishly picking Selflessly.

Though no one eclipsed Kauffman’s total, scores were solidly high in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier.

We’re told by Justin Dew that Brenton Schraff is a busy guy who doesn’t have time to compete much during the year, but loves contest play and comes to the NHC each year hoping to qualify in the Last Chance tournament. This coming year, the pressure will be off as Schraff put together 5 wins (including Selflessly) plus a place—and his other entry finished a strong third. The other “Bally’s Berth” in this cut-rate two-seater went to James Aspenleiter (4 wins, 0 places) who got up for second by just 10 cents by virtue of having the 9-2 and 5-1 winners of the final two tourney races.

A couple of interesting side notes here: With his Friday NHC-seat win, Aspenleiter is now double-qualified. His first NHC spot was earned all of five days earlier in the August 23 regular ($165) qualifier at HorsePlayers. Aspenleiter probably wishes that the NHC were next week!

Also…let’s pretend that Aspenleiter hadn’t picked that last winner. The second NHC seat couldn’t have gone to Brenton Schraff, since NHC rules dictate that a player may win no more than one seat in any given contest. So, instead, the seat would have fallen to Steven Walker. If that name is familiar, it should be.

Walker was the winner of the first-ever NHC way back in 2000 when the event was at MGM Grand, the winner’s share was “just” $100,000, and players had to keep playing right through to the end of the nighttime Sam Houston card. As much as those early players appreciate the increased prize money these days, they may almost equally appreciate the less onerous daily schedule.

At HorseTourneys, we try to keep our featured schedules to a fun three-and-a-half hours or so. Craig ”Home Sweet” Hom found the Saturday pace quite soothing.

Hang on—we’re being told that, actually, Craig Hom found Soothing (in Del Mar’s 3rd race) and that helped him find the Saturday schedule quite fun. Soothing paid $34.40 to win and $16.60 to place to top Hom’s array of 5 wins and 2 places in our $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Hom thereby earned top money of $13,253 in a game that closed with a pot of $29,252.

Howard Welsh finished second behind Hom and had to settle for $5,301—but Welsh didn’t do much settling during the rest of Saturday.

Using the same picks that got him the $5,301 cash prize, Welsh (4 wins, 3 places) collected in the final five races to punch his cyberticket to The BIG One. He also received $500 for the victory (in lieu of traditional travel stipend to the event).

It was a “big” day in more ways than one for Welsh.

The same selections pictured above made Welsh another $12,823 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. Total Saturday cash earnings for Welsh were $18,624…to go along with the entry to The BIG One.

Howard Welsh

At HorsePlayers on Saturday, the torrid run by Evan Trommer continued.
Trommer had the 3-1 & 7-1 winners of the final two races to prevail in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

For Trommer, it was his fifth featured-tourney victory over the last four weekends. Three of those triumphs resulted in Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries.

Robert Schintzius Sr.’s Saturday efforts also resulted in a BCBC entry.

Schintzius started off with 3 places and followed those up with three winners, capped off by Bustin Scones ($17.80, $7.10) in the 11th and final at Saratoga.

The last Saturday feature to recap is the $8 Pick Six Jackpot tourney.

Ryan Knottek recorded 4 winners to earn top honors, but no one swept all six…leaving a rollover pot of $20,860 heading into Sunday.

Five Sunday $8 Pick 6 Jackpotters got through the first four races unscathed.

However, the 9-1 Perfect Ice Storm in the 2nd at Del Mar sent all five sliding off the road. Raymond Carpio did have Perfect Ice Storm—plus one other winner at 7-1—to lay claim to the top prize. The Jackpot carryover to next Saturday will be $21,291.

Sunday was our first qualifier to the September 13 & 16 Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge.

The Kentucky Downs contest (to be held at Xpressbet) is actually two separate competitions—a $1,000 tournament on Sunday and a $600 game on Wednesday. Extra prizes will be awarded for the best combined score over the two days. (Also, it is a grass-only contest and races from Monmouth will also be in the Sunday mix.). Winners of our Sunday qualifier received $1,600 in entry fees, and there were six such winners: Rich Pawlawski, Mike Martin, Eric Gielata, Sean Nolan, Steven Meier and Neal Metzger.

Neal Metzger snagged the sixth and final prize in that Kentucky Downs qualifier…but he got the one and only seat available in Sunday’s NHC Low Ratio game.

Not a bad return on 12-race scores of $69.70 and $66.00, respectively. Excellent spotting!

Another brand new qualifier was Sunday’s play-in to the October 10 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Online Challenge.

Mark Rudy (4 wins, 2 places) and John Gaspar (2 wins, 2 places) were the recipients of $3,000 Keeneland/Xpressbet entries, and they took two completely different paths to that prize. Rudy has a finish worthy of a museum exhibit thanks to hitting Natural History ($15.50, $5.40) in the 7th at Del Mar. Gaspar had a finish to forget, but he hung on despite whiffing on the final seven tourney races.

Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed cash game was a hard-fought affair.

Stephen Lerma had the day’s two biggest prices—Don’s Marsh ($30.20, $10.60 in the 8th at Monmouth) and Told It All ($20.60, $12.50 in the 11th at Woodbine)—plus another winner and two places…and he needed every bit of all those. Lerma finished first by 90 cents to pocket the up-top money of $10,483 out of a total final purse of $23,297.

Timothy Hughes also had Don’s Marsh and Told It All.

Those two plus just one other place collection earned Hughes a paid-up berth (plus $500) to The BIG One.

Vineet “Please Don’t Squeeze the” Sharma missed on Don’s Marsh…but he had Told It All, and also had another 9-1 shot in Perfect Ice Storm at Del Mar.

Those were all of Sharma’s collections, but they added up to a triumph worth $9,973 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which finished up with a pot of $14,248.

On Saturday, Ruben Villarreal (pictured below on the left) won the Ruidoso Handicapping Challenge.

On Sunday, Villarreal did what any one of us would have done were we in the same shoes—play in our Sunday $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney.

Good move. The El Paso, Tex., resident had two winning exactas that came in back-to-back races, including the $66.90-for-$1 exacta in the Perfect Ice Storm race (race 2) at Del Mar. That added another $700 to Villarreal’s really good weekend.

The high score of the day was put up at HorsePlayers by Alex DeVito.

That scorecard resulted in victory in Sunday’s regular NHC qualifier.

The second seat went to the day’s second-highest scorer, William Kennedy, who checked in with 4 wins and 2 places.

James Politano had the mirror image of Kennedy’s day—2 wins and 4 places.

One of those winners was Told It All ($20.60, $10.50) in the 11th at Woodbine, and that got Politano “the money” in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

Thanks to all who made the last weekend in August a fun and exciting one. We’ll be back with another recap at the conclusion of the big Labor Day weekend.