Neal Thomas Deep Sixes His Big Bucks Opponents; Mike Yurczyk Triumphs on Consecutive Days; Lucrative Sunday for Ryan Steigmeier (Weekly Recap October 21-25)

There were lots of featured tourneys last week—lots of Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers, especially (7)—and lots of winners. The excitement got under way on Wednesday.

It was a fairly chalky day at Keeneland on Wednesday, and that meant that the day’s Keeneland-only Low Ratio BCBC qualifier was a tight, hard-fought affair.

Despite there being just 43 entries in this 1-per-23 qualifier, we tossed in a second grand prize, Allan Sadler and Tom Cooper wound up being the first two of 11 BCBC entry winners at HorsePlayers during the week. Sadler accumulated 4 firsts and 1 second. Cooper (5 wins, 1 place) nailed the 2-1 winner of the Keeneland nightcap to edge out Riley Drexler for the second $10,000 entry by just 20 cents.

Here at HorseTourneys, Christopher Fischer got his featured-tourney week off to a winning start in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Fischer bided his time early, chipping away with four place collections before landing his knockout blow—Kingsville ($44.00, $18.00) in the final tourney race, the 10th at Parx. That was his only winner, but the five collections got him where he wanted to be—in the winner’s circle of a game that closed with a purse of $4,354. Fischer’s share of that was $2,177.

In hindsight, the one odd thing about Wednesday was that Mike Yurczyk didn’t win a tourney that day.

On Thursday, Yurczyk finished first in a Santa Anita Closing Day qualifier. Then on Friday, he padded his bank account by having a Christopher Fischer-like day (1 win, 4 places) in our $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. Yurczyk did it in reverse, though, coming up with a 9-1 winner right out of the gate, then supplementing it with 4 place cashers thereafter. For his efforts, Yurczyk received $6,483 out of a final total purse of $12,967.

Yurczyk has received a lot for his efforts lately. He won two tourneys on October 7th and another on October 16th. And after this week’s Thursday and Friday victories, he was back for more on Saturday.

Apparently it doesn’t matter to Yurczyk whether a day is chalky or filled with prices. On Saturday he tripled his Friday score—and almost doubled his cash winnings, collecting $12,528 in our $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a pot of $27,842. Here, Yurczyk had 6 wins and 2 places that led to Saturday’s highest score.

Getting back to Friday action, Jerry McClenin and Edwin Synowiecki each punched their tickets to the NHC for the low, low price of $75.

McClenin had 3 winners that were followed by 3 places. It was his last place payoff, worth $7.00, that moved him up from 3rd to 1st following the conclusion of the final tourney race.

We had 13 entries in Friday’s 10-race Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Only one of them managed to turn a flat-bet profit.

That “one” was Linda Rodriguez, whose 3 wins and a place got her a $1,500 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed event on January 9-10 that serves as the first leg of the 2021 “Tourney Triple” which offers bonuses of up to $2 million.

We mentioned last week that 2011 and 2012 BCBC Champ Patrick McGoey had just won an entry to this year’s event. We now like his chances to become a three-time champ twice as much.

McGoey didn’t bother with place runners in this Low Ratio qualifier, but he connected on 6 winners to best “Battlin’” William Smith (3 wins, 4 places), who also garnered a $10,000 seat to the world’s most prestigious live-bankroll handicapping contest.

There were two more Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers on Saturday at HorsePlayers, and to win, you really needed to be on your game.

Michael Sussman (5 wins, 1 place) and David Snyder (5W, 3P) took the prizes in Saturday’s $179 qualifier with their respective scores of $182.50 and $168.40. Both had a pretty good day thanks to Pretty Good Year ($32.00, $10.20) in the 9th at Laurel.

There was also a $1,000 Super Low Ratio qualifier to the BCBC on Saturday…though the winning scores didn’t look much like Super Low Ratio scores.

Both 2011 NHC Champ John Doyle ($157.40 on 5 wins and 4 places) and Tanya Taylor ($140.10–3W, 2P) had big Belmont race 9 closer Collegeville Girl ($48.20, $19.00) en route to grabbing their $10,000 BCBC seats. Taylor also needed Steelersfanforlife ($20.40, $7.50) in the last race to move up into the top two. (It’s a good time to be a Steelers fan these days!)

Robert McIntyre (4 wins, 1 place) also had Collegeville Girl…

…and that helped punch his ticket to the NHC in Saturday’s “Maiden Special” for those yet to have earned a 2021 berth.

Mark Stillmock continued his winning ways on Saturday.

The winner of $7,107 on October 16, Stillmock recorded 4 wins and 2 places to earn a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry.

Rick Forzano and Sarah Wiener led their respective packs in the weekend $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourneys.

No one, however, managed to go 6-for-6. That means that this Saturday’s Pick 6 Jackpot will begin at $27,922.

We conclude our Saturday recaps with Neal Thomas.

Neal had just 2 wins and 1 place on Saturday, but one of those winner’s circle visitors was Collegeville Girl, and his final score of $69.90 earned him top money of $10,686 in the day’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney which finished up with a total prize pool of $15,266.

We commence our Sunday recaps with Neal Thomas.

Thomas (4 winners) swept the weekend Big Bucks games, earning $8,549 for a Saturday/Sunday total of $19,235.

Was there a common thread to his two victories? You bet there was!

On Saturday, Thomas took the 6 horse in every race, except in the next-to-last race (in which the 6 horse scratched) and the final race (in which the 6 wound up going off at 65-1).

Things shaped up similarly in Sunday’s live-format game.

The 6 horse scratched in the 7th races at both Belmont and Woodbine, and the 6 horse in the 10th at Belmont was a runner that went off at 141-1.

Thomas’s substitutions did him no good on Saturday, as neither hit the board. On Sunday, though, Thomas couldn’t have won without the contributions from his three “non-sixes.” Two of them won and, together, they accounted for $39.30 of his scoring. Without those two, he would have finished third.

Luck is always a big factor in handicapping contests and in horse racing in general. Sometimes it’s an extra big factor.

The bottom line: when you pay your entry fee, you get to pick whichever horses you like…no matter why you like them.

We can’t know why Ryan Steigmeier liked the horses he picked in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, but we can tell you that his thought process was quite successful.

Steigmeier earned $8,154 from a total pot of $18,120 thanks to his 5 wins and 2 places which added up to the high score of the day.

Steigmeier played most of those same picks back in Sunday’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Not a bad return ($8,154 + $10,000 BCBC seat) on a $374 investment!

Steigmeier’s victory came in one of three BCBC qualifiers hosted by HorsePlayers on Sunday. The $500 Low Ratio play-in was taken by Turner West.

West whiffed on the final five races…but he had 2 wins and 4 places in the 7 before that to walk away with the $10,000 seat. His big hit came with Desolator ($45.60, $18.80) in the 7th at Woodbine.

Andrew Walker’s name has been at the top of several leaderboards lately—including that for Sunday’s Super Low Ratio BCBC qualifier.

Stormfuhr ($32.70, $14.10) was Walker’s biggest contributor among 3 firsts and 2 seconds. That windfall came in the very first contest race, the 6th from Woodbine.

Back here at HorseTourneys, Geno Kroska ran aways and hid from his opponents in Sunday’s Lone Star qualifier.

Kroska (3 wins, 4 places) had a $60.00 bulge at the end of this one. He earns a $500 qualifier to the Grand Prairie, Texas onsite event on December 5th.

Sunday’s NHC qualifier was a much tighter competition.

It turned out that $130.00 was the bar you needed to clear here, and only Jeff Arthur (4 wins, 2 places) and Edward Reidy (3W, 3P) did so. Both had Desolator up at Woodbine—and Arthur had Mongolian Window ($16.00, $6.40) in the final contest race as an essential piece in his victorious puzzle.

Shane Irish also had Mongolian Window.

The Santa Anita 7-1 shot protected Irish’s lead (and bumped it up to $41.50) as Shane collected a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry.

Michael Marlaire might have been saying “Where is everyone?”

That’s because only 6 signed up for Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney. So $1,000 was paid out while only $750 was taken in (a 33% player overlay if you’re scoring at home). Marlaire’s 3 winners, which included a $48.45 collection for a dollar in the 10th at Woodbine, earned him the $700 top prize.

Happily, the vast majority of our featured tourneys didn’t leave us in the red, and that means the HorseTourneys Accounting staff will allow me to again chronicle the featured winners seven days from now. May you make next week’s blog!