Odds-on Favorite Relinquishes Lead in Stretch to Deprive John Esterbrook of $26,000 Pick 6 Jackpot Score; Final-race Hit Earns Marikate Carter Four Sunday Victories; Two-Time Champ Patrick McGoey Headed Back to the BCBC (Weekly Recap October 14-18)

History has repeated itself in the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney…and not in a way we appreciate.

For the second straight week, the Jackpot seemed destined to fall—only to have the Racing Gods intervene and turn an imminent-seeming victory into a narrow, painful defeat. Two weekends ago, it happened to James Snyder, and this past Saturday, John Esterbrook was the victim.

For five races, Esterbrook masterfully worked his way through the gauntlet of Pick Six Jackpot legs that included three non-favorite winners.

All that remained was a seven-horse, mile-and-a-sixteenth grass allowance at Woodbine that featured a 3-5 favorite in Tappitty Tappitty.

The previous week, James Snyder defied convention. He went into the final race with the only live ticket and opted for the 9-2 fourth choice, only to see him open a lead in the stretch and get run down by the favorite—which meant $25,706 went into the carryover pool, instead of into Snyder’s pocket.

On Saturday, Esterbrook chose the more likely route to success. With now $26,206 on the line, he put his hopes on Tappitty Tappitty.

The favorite bided his time early along the fence while 6-1 third-choice Red Cabernet motored to the early lead. Around the far turn, Tappitty Tappitty was bottled up in traffic for a bit, but that long Woodbine stretch provided ample time for the favorite to secure clear sailing under Patrick Husbands. With about a furlong and a half to go, the seas parted and Tappitty Tappitty had a clear path to run down Red Cabernet who was still in front. Now, the Woodbine camera angle can be pretty deceiving until the end, but Tappitty Tappitty might have gotten the lead in midstretch. (The Equibase chart caller thought she did.) Regardless of whether she did or didn’t, it sure looked like she would power on by and win by maybe a couple.

That didn’t happen.

Adding insult to injury, Robert Buck had Red Cabernet and passed Esterbrook for first place.

A day later, George Brown and Lewis Lipsky swept the first four races prior to both of them missing on the 8-5 and 3-2 winners of the final two legs. (Brown took first place via tiebreaker for having the show horse in the nightcap.)

The wave of close-but-no-cigars means that the Jackpot remains un-hit. It will begin at $26,809 when entries open (and they already have!) for next Saturday’s Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. The good news is the entry fee—$8.00—is cheap. The bad news is the scars may last a lifetime.

Happily, the rest of this blog will now focus on stories with more cheerful endings.

The featured-tourney week began on Wednesday with a Keeneland-only, Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Matt Vagvolgyi was the Wednesday Blue Grass specialist, though Vagvolgyi could only do so much with all the shortage of prices in Lexington that day. Vagvolgyi came up with 9-2 shot Regal Beauty in the next-to-last race to take the lead, and his final total of $53.00 held up by 40 cents over Jim Trepinski.

A couple of hours after the beginning of the Keeneland tourney came Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Raymond Riley cashed in the first 6 races en route to 6 wins and 2 places that brought him a winner’s share of $2,384 in an event ultimately worth $4,769. Recent Spa & Surf Showdown Champ Scott Fiedler finished second.

We also had a Flo-Cal Faceoff Pick & Pray on Wednesday.

David McCarty (4 wins, 2 places) had the last two winners—at modest odds of 7-2 and 4-5—to take command late and earn the $1,500 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed competition here on January 9-10.

Longshots were in similarly short supply on Friday.

Mark Stillmock (5 wins, 1 place) caught the biggest “bomb” of the day—Stunning Sky ($13.80, $6.40) in the 9th at Keeneland to finish on top in Friday’s $10,000 Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $15,793. Stillmock’s share of that was $7,107. Here’s a look at Stillmock’s best-of-the-day scoresheet.

As many of you know by now, all NHC qualifiers in October are taking place here at HorseTourneys (with the BCBC having HorsePlayers to itself). Friday’s $75 qualifier saw Kevin Engelhard (5 wins, 1 place) finish first.

Engelhard was already double-qualified to the NHC, though. That meant that the two available “Bally’s Berths” went to Will LaTulippe and Christopher Olsson. LaTulippe came to full bloom thanks to 4 firsts and 1 second. Olsson (4W, 2P) got up late for 3rd by having Little Bella ($9.80, $5.40) in the 10th at Keeneland.

Brendan Fay had a winning total of just $52.20 in capturing Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Fay recorded 2 winners followed by 4 places, including a $6.20 collection in the final race that preserved his victory.

Scores were even lower in our first qualifier to the Santa Anita Last Chance BCBC qualifier (to be held at Xpressbet) on October 25.

Mike Yurczyk (1 win, 3 places) and Tim Herboth (3W, 1P) got it done here with respective scores of $45.20 and $43.50. Herboth did all his scoring in tourney races 2-5. Both advance to the Santa Anita closing day contest with paid-up $1,500 entries.

Stephen Lerma got off to a fast start in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Lerma cashed in the first four races en route to a 5-win, 1-place day that earned him the win over Tom “Hit’em Where They” Arndt (4W, 0P). Arndt also won a $10,000 entry, though, for finishing second. He had 7-2 Little Bella in the tourney nightcap to get up and into the “money.”

Unlike Wednesday and Friday, Saturday proved to be a day less for grinders and more for longshot hunters.

Andrew Walker had Sugoi ($48.60, $25.40) in the 8th at Keeneland among his 2 winners and 3 runners up. That got him the top prize of $12,114 in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with a pot of $26,921. As the winner of the weekend’s richest tourney, Walker will also be getting one of these guys in the mail.

Adam Lewis’s big price came with Money for Mischief ($26.80, $13.40) in the 10th at Keeneland.

That got Lewis the money ($14,248) in Saturday’s sold-out $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which wound up paying out a total of $20,355. Lewis finished with 2 firsts and 5 seconds.

Dane Moore (2 wins, 3 places) and Rick Vasquez (3W, 2P) were the two winners in Saturday’s “regular,” $165 NHC qualifier.

Both had Keeneland cap horse Sugoi plus final race winner Hadley ($9.50, $5.90 in the 12th at Woodbine) to close things out.

Saturday’s best score was put up by Ed Peters over at HorsePlayers.

The pride of Pelham, N.H., recorded 3 wins and 3 places to capture his $10,000 BCBC seat in Saturday’s regular qualifier. Also earning a $10,000 seat was runner up Brian “BC” Chenvert (4W, 0P). Both had Sugoi.

Here’s a look at all of Peters’s Saturday collections:

There were enough well-heeled entrants for Saturday’s $1,000 Super Low Ratio BCBC qualifier to also offer two grand prizes.

One of them went to Patrick McGoey (3 wins, 3 places) who won back-to-back BCBCs in 2011 and 2012. Also earning a $10,000 berth was Joe “Tex” Scanio who, like McGoey, had Money for Mischief among his 3 wins and 3 places. Robert Rosette picked up a $5,000 partial entry for checking in third.

On Sunday it was all about Marikate “Hurricane” Carter (4 wins, 3 places). And for Carter (no relation to Rubin), Sunday was largely about Savvy Gal.

When Savvy Gal took the final contest race—race 7 at Santa Anita—and paid $27.40 to win and $7.60 to place, it jumped Carter up into first place of Sunday’s $7,500 Big Bucks tourney (final pot: $17,301). The winner’s share for Carter was $12,111.

The Big Bucks game was the highlight of Carter’s Sunday, but by no means the only light. That’s because Carter took those same selections shown above and played them in three other tourneys, leaving a devastating path of destruction in her wake.

Only Steven Culhane (5 wins, 1 place) survived Hurricane Carter in Sunday’s BCBC Low Ratio qualifier.

In the Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier, it was just Evan Trommer (3 wins, including Savvy Gal and 1 place) who successfully rode out the storm.

Carter took out her final vengeance on the competitors in Sunday’s Santa Anita Closing Day qualifier.

Here it was Robert Schintzius Sr. who weathered the storm with a winner and four runners up that got him a $1,500 entry along with Carter.

When FEMA had tallied up the damage, it was determined that Marikate had amassed $25,111 in cash and seat winnings—a Category 5 performance to be sure.

Hurricane Carter did spare certain precincts—the $15,000 Guaranteed tourney among them.

It was “$124.20 or Fight” for Frank Polk here. And since no one could reach that lofty total (built on 6 winners and 2 places), there was no fight…and the winners’s purse of $9,474 in the $21,053 game was his.

Matt “The Fly” Tietze had 5 winners and 1 runner up in Sunday’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier.

Interestingly, it was that lone place collection in the final race—worth a mere $2.40—that wound up making the difference for Tietze in his 70-cent triumph over Thomas Soban.

Sean O’Malley triumphed in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney—and it took him just one race to do so.

O’Malley did all his scoring in race 7 at Woodbine, the E.P. Taylor Stakes. The Etoile-Court Return exacta returned $102.80 for a buck…and that returned $700 to O’Malley following a game that went off with no takeout to players (and at a loss, after track commissions and deposit fees are factored in, to HorseTourneys).

Sunday was also our first qualifier to the December 5th NHC qualifier at Lone Star Park.

The last-race heroics of Savvy Gal turned the tables in Todd Van Drie’s direction here. Van Drie (4 firsts, 1 second) earned a $500 entry to the onsite Texas hoedown.

So ended another week of featured-tourney action at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. During the week ahead, we’ll have our first qualifier to the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship and more feeders to the big money games here on Breeders’ Cup weekend. Plus all of our usual features, including (if you dare) another couple of Pick Six Jackpot games. The featured fun begins, as always, on Wednesday. Hope to see you then.