Ezra Garrett Wins $30,000 by Conquering the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot Tourney; Rich Averill Cashes in 10 out of 10 to Earn a BCBC Seat; Fifteen Others Also Secure BCBC Spots (Weekly Recap October 26-November 1)

After almost 20 months, it finally happened—a winner in the $8 Pick 6 Jackpot Tourney!

Since March 3rd, 2019 (!), HorseTourneys players had tried and failed to go 6-for-6. Then came Sunday…and Ezra Garrett.

Ezra Garrett

The 34-year-old form carpenter and landscaper from Lynchburg, Virginia, submitted the maximum three entries for Sunday’s competition which started out with a carryover of $28,496. One of those three was eliminated immediately.

A second Garrett entry was knocked out of jackpot contention after just two legs. His other ticket, however, was one of five still alive with just one race to go.

The winning payoffs through those first five legs were $7.30, $3.80, $8.60, $3.80 and $6.30. Given the success of short prices on the day—and given the fact that the Jackpot would be shared if more than one person hit it—one might have expected all five players to pile onto 6-5 favorite Gallovie in the final race, race 4 from Del Mar. Garrett had other ideas, though.

Garrett, who is originally from Georgetown, Ky., and has enjoyed horses and horse racing for virtually his entire life, liked 5-1 third choice Freedom Lass in the field of six.

“Her last couple of starts were good, and something in my mind was just saying ‘Go for it. Today is your day. Just go with how you feel.’” Garrett said.

Garrett trusted his gut and entered Freedom Lass as his selection in all three of his entries, including the one alive for the big money. When the horses broke from the gate in the 4th at Del Mar, and everyone’s picks were revealed, Garrett soon realized that if he was right, the entire Jackpot would be his. Three people were on Gallovie. One had 7-1 fourth choice Goodtingscominpink. And Garrett was alone with Freedom Lass.

Goodtingscominpink never really threatened at any point. Favored Gallovie went to the early lead, but after some mid-race pace pressure, was done by the time the field turned for home. Taking the lead into the stretch under Mike Smith was 5-2 second choice Viazar who, perhaps surprisingly, no one had selected.

With an eighth of a mile to go in the 1-mile grass race, Viazar had a length-and-a-half lead, but Freedom Lass and Abel Cedillo were now charging hard at her.

The two horses were on even terms with just a few strides left to go and Viazar seemingly coming back at Freedom Lass. But Garrett’s horse “dug in late for the score” according to the Equibase chart, which put the final margin at a head. And what a score it was for Garrett.

He won the carryover amount of $28,496…plus the $714.97 in Jackpot money generated from Sunday’s 346 entries…plus the Sunday overall first prize of $667.31…plus the Sunday second prize of $266.32 because that second entry of Garrett’s that stumbled in leg 2 was perfect thereafter.

Garrett’s total earnings came to $30,144. It was a victory that can be chalked up to terrific handicapping, solid strategy and, in Garrett’s mind, to good instincts.

“It’s not always what’s on paper,” he said.

With the Breeders’ Cup coming up, we’re going to take a week or so off from Jackpot tourneys—but keep an eye out for a new Jackpot Pick 4 game after that. Hopefully that one will take less than 20 months for someone to hit!

Speaking of the Breeders’ Cup, there’s been a real run on Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries with that contest now less than a week away. We had a direct qualifier each day last week, starting on Monday.

NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman (4 wins, 1 place) took the lead with three races left, and then held off Frank Gryboski Jr. to win a $10,000 entry in Monday’s guaranteed Low Ratio qualifier—which was run with no takeout to participants.

On Tuesday it was Pete Acocella’s turn.

Acocella connected on 3 wins and a place in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers. His big horse was Whistling Birds ($50.80, $20.20) in the 9th at Parx.

On a chalky day, Jim Lisowsky had a total of just $45.80…

…but that got him a BCBC seat at HorsePlayers.

Those same picks, which contained 3 firsts and 2 seconds, also earned Lisowsky a $1,500 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff on January 9-10.

Lisowsky really had to sweat this one out. He whiffed on the final three contest races, but still managed to hold on by a buck.

The winning margin was even smaller in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Ron Ricciuti blocked David Wilganowski in the final two races and finished up with 3 wins and 5 places that, collectively, added up to a 60-cent victory worth $1,797 in a tourney that closed with a final pot of $3,594.

It took an act of Congress for Randy Bauer to win his BCBC entry at HorsePlayers on Thursday.

Actually it was an act of Congress Hall…who captured the 5th at Laurel on Thursday and returned $84.60 to win and $32.80 to place. (Bauer’s other two winners during a 3-win, 1-place day paid just $3.60 and $4.80…so he enjoyed success at both ends of the parimutuel spectrum.)

There were enough entries in Friday’s Low Ratio BCBC qualifier at HorsePlayers to award two grand prizes.

One of them was picked up by Rudolph Hardin (5 wins, 1 place) who finished second by 80 cents. The other was earned by Rich Averill who perhaps turned in the week’s best performance by anyone not named Ezra Garrett.

Ten races, ten collections (including five winners). Averill figures to be very tough to beat in the BCBC if all his horses continue to run no worse than second!

Here at HorseTourneys, the first-place finisher in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier, Joseph Costello, was already double-qualified…so he was just playing for NHC Tour points.

That left the two available “Bally’s Berths” to Robert Tacher (5 wins, 2 places) who emulated Rich Averill during the second half of the tourney by cashing in the final five…and Ken Zelin who also had 5 firsts and 2 seconds. Two of those firsts for Zelin came in the final two races.

Stephen Thompson was the winner of Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Thanks to his 3 wins and 2 places—and total of $50.40—Thompson will have a spot in the Flo-Cal starting gate in search of a piece of the $150,000 guaranteed purse and maybe even a shot at a $2 million bonus as part of the new “Tourney Triple” series in 2021.

Friday’s big cash winner was Charles Browning.

Browning whiffed on the first three races, but had four winners (paying between $6.10 and $13.80) thereafter to take home the top money of $6,650 in Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray which closed up with a purse of $13,300. Having Cost Basis ($11.40, $7.00) in the final tourney race (the 9th at Belmont) got Browning up and over the hump.

Another big payday went to Terry Wraight on Saturday.

Wraight was right on four Saturday races…and nearly right on two other…to pocket $11,250 in the day’s $25,000 Guaranteed game, which went off with just a 1.9% takeout rate to players.

Another game which had a somewhat lighter than usual turnout was Saturday’s $165 NHC qualifier.

Only 70 signed up, but that was a good thing for players since two NHC seats were guaranteed no matter what. The chief beneficiaries were Matt Strutzel (4 wins, 1 place) and John Kennedy (2W, 3P). Both players had the 7-1 Step Dancer, who was victorious in the 8th at Belmont.

You seldom see the high score of the day come in a “short-field” game like a $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, but that was the case on Saturday.

Adam Lewis was best of 15 to earn the first prize of $10,686 (out of an overall prize pool of $15,266). And Lewis was best of…everyone…in order to win “Score of the day” honors. That’s something you just can’t put a price tag on! Here’s a look at Adam’s impressive Saturday scoresheet:

Jason Hill finished strong with two winners to close out a 5-win, 2-place afternoon.

That got Hill home first in our Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Hill didn’t cinch his victory until Never Be Enough ($14.80, $7.40) won the final tourney race, the 7th at Del Mar.

Five players won $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries across two different qualifiers.

“Get” Christy Moore (winner of this year’s Xpressbet Travers Online Challenge) and Joe “Cosmo” Kramer. Moore (5 wins, 3 places) collected in 6 of the first 7 races to charge out to the lead. Kramer (4W, 2P) made a dramatic entrance to the party at the end by having Never Be Enough.

There were enough entries in Saturday’s $1,000 Super Low Ratio BCBC Pick & Pray to award three $10,000 entries.

Those skillful recipients were James Lafferty (3 wins, 0 places), Matt Kwiatkowski (5W, 1P) and Chris Savage (3W, 3P). All three had the 6-1 Del Mar race 7 winner Never Be Enough in the final contest race.

There were three more BCBC play-ins on Sunday.

Eric Boyd had 5 winners, including the first 3 to come out on top in Sunday’s $179 qualifier. Runner up Devyn Arel (4 firsts, 1 second) also scooped up a $10,000 entry. Both had Del Mar race 9 bomb Golden Image ($65.80, $26.80) at the end.

Golden Image was also a common contributor on the respective scorecards of Frank Foss (2 wins, 2 places) and Anthony Laurino (1W, 3P).

Foss and Laurino were the two to emerge from the $500 Low Ratio qualifier with the coveted BCBC entries. Laurino held second by just 50 cents over David Bernat.

Twenty-two stepped in for $1,000 in Sunday’s Super Low Ratio BCBC qualifier.

Peter Osella (2 wins, 1 place) and Vaughn Bair (3W, 1P) were the $10,000 seat winners here. Osella had Golden Image at the end. Bair survived without the Del Mar cap horse.

Geoffrey Schutt had 31-1 Golden Image at the end and 13-1 Popular Kid two races before that (in Del Mar race 7)…

…to finish up with 4 winners in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which had a final pot of $18,637. Schutt’s share of that was $8,387.

Two players had Golden Image in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game…

…but one of them was not the winner, Richard Gorzowski. He put together a Golden Image-proof 5 wins and 2 places to walk away with the winner’s purse of $7,124 in a game ultimately worth a total of $10,177.

Another who triumphed despite being Golden Image-less was David Barnier.

Barnier compiled 5 winners and 2 runners up—including Popular Kid ($28.00, $11.40) in the 7th at Del Mar—to capture Sunday’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier.

Chris Inman did have Golden Image among his 2 firsts and 3 seconds…

…and that means that Inman is “in” at Lone Star with a $500 entry in his pocket for the NHC qualifier there on December 5th.

All those winners out there who had Golden Image in the last race have to take a backseat to Paul Hoffman. He went them all one better.

Hoffman hooked up 31-1 Golden Image with 16-1 You’reright Again in his three-horse exacta box to crush the field in Sunday’s $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney. Finishing with a score more than 10 times that of his nearest pursuer (with $595.00 of it coming in that last race), Hoffman earned the $700 top prize in an event that had no takeout.

There’s another big race tomorrow—but enough about politics. We won’t be recapping Trump vs. Biden next Monday, but we’ll do our best to bring you up to date on all of this week’s featured-tourney results, including those for the many big-money Breeders’ Cup games ($75,000, $40,000, $25,000 and more) this coming weekend. Happy Handicapping!