Frank Gryboski Jr. and Howard Welsh Run One-Two in Big Bucks Tourney—Twice; Wendy Long Records Saturday and Sunday Flo-Cal Victories; Robert Turner the First to Earn 2021 BCBC Berth (Weekly Recap November 11-15)

Some days, you need to hunt down that one longshot hiding out there in order to succeed. Other days call for stringing together a bunch of shorter-priced winners. We saw examples of both last week at HorseTourneys—and, perhaps more surprisingly, we saw players who were able to prosper by shifting gears from one day to the next.

Wednesday was one of those days that did not yield much in the way of long-priced winners. So it was appropriate that Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce did his damage with a long-priced runner up.

The bar to clear in Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier turned out to be $58.00, and Noce (3 wins, 2 places) got there with a $16.20 place collection in the final tourney race (race 10 at Zia Park) with Fritzies Flame, who ran second in the state-bred stakes behind a victorious 2-5 shot. Also earning a $1,500 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed cash game (first leg of the Tourney Triple which offers bonuses of up to $2 million) here on January 9-10 was 2013 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge champion Peter Behr who put together five winners from the 10 contest races.

Brent Johnson also had five Wednesday winners (plus one Wednesday place horse).

They added up to $65.40 and a triumph worth $1,555 in Wednesday’s $2,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with a final purse of $3,110. The big producer for Johnson was 5th race Zia winner Line Call, who finished first and returned $17.80 to win and $10.40 to place.

On Friday, not only were there prices, but there were several of them, affording players multiple paths to victory.

Seth Morris (2 wins, 0 places) roared off to a $22.00 conquest in Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier, and the margin of victory wouldn’t have been that close had Bill Shurman (2 wins, 1 place) and Eric “B Connected” Boyd (2W, 0P) not come up with the day’s biggest price, Musawaat ($38.20, $13.40) in the final tourney race, the 7th at Del Mar. There were enough entries to award three grand prizes so Morris, Shurman and Boyd all advance to the rich Faceoff in January.

The 2013 Horse Player World Series champ, James Henry, did not have Musawaat, but his three winners on the day were all still plenty healthy.

Henry hit an 8-1 shot, a 9-1 shot, and in between those two he scoped out Find Your Boaz ($33.80, $11.60) in the 9th at Laurel to capture Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray which had a final pot of $14,796. Henry’s share of that came out to $6,658.

The top two in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers were already double qualified to the big dance, and that made it a lucky Friday the 13th for the third- and fourth-place finishers.

Kevin Engelhard and Friday Flo-Cal seat earner Seth Morris led the way here. That left the cut-rate “Bally’s Berths” to fellow-triple-digit scorers Karen Carey (5 wins, 0 places) and Alex DeVito (2W, 3P). It was a tough day for David May, who played very well but had to settle for an unrewarding 5th-place finish.

On Saturday, we debuted a new tourney—the $15 Jackpot Pick 4 wager. It works similarly to the old $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney except that we hope it takes less than 19 months for someone to hit it!

Michael “Copa” Kavana gave it a good try but managed only 2 winners. Still that was good enough to get him top honors based on the win-place scoring, which determines 70% of the net pool payouts.

That left a carryover of $1,259 ($259 plus our initial pot-seeding of $1,000) for Sunday.

David Herberholz came closer on this day, getting three of four right in the Pick & Pray format and missing just a 9-5 winner at Del Mar in Leg 2. Neither Herberholz nor anyone else went four-for-four, however, and that means the Jackpot for the next $15 Pick 4 game on Saturday will begin at $1,565.

Getting back to Saturday’s action, Craig Kaufman had a big day collecting in nine out of 12 races.

Foremost among Kaufman’s 7 wins and 2 places was Rocking Redhead ($33.40, $11.00) in the 3rd at Del Mar. His final score of $127.60 got him top money of $12,736 in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with a total prize pool of $28,302.

Kaufman also did well in Saturday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Kaufman came in third here. He won a $1,500 Flo-Cal entry as did the second- and fourth-place finishers Jared Henry and Albion Benton (who was well clear of the fifth-place score). The star of this one, though, was winner Wendy Long.

Long really had an eye for the Del Mar long shots, coming up with not just Rocking Redhead, but the 52-1 Causeididitmyway a half hour earlier.

Apparently the Saturday triumph left Long wondering “Gee, what could be better than having a Flo-Cal Faceoff entry?”

Why, having two, of course! Long made it back-to-back Flo-Cal qualifier wins with her 5 wins and 2 places that allowed her to lead a parade of four $1,500 seat earners that included Brad Gerson (3 wins, 3 places), Frank “54-40 or Fight” Polk (3W, 4P) and “Battlin’” William Smith (6W, 1P, including last four winners).

What’s almost as impressive as the back-to-back victories, themselves, was how Long accomplished them.

On Saturday it was “Bombs Away” for Long. On Sunday, yes, she DID have the day’s longest-priced winner once again, but this time, it was a mere 5-1 shot, Ole Silver (appropriately enough at Del Mar).

So—not unlike Dustin Johnson—Long showed this weekend that she has a short game to go with her long game.

Another whose game displayed both consistency and versatility last weekend was Frank Gryboski Jr.

Gryboski collected in each of the final six races to finish with 4 wins and 4 places and pocket $13,536 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney (final purse: $19,337). Finishing second, good for $3,867, was Howard Welsh.

The above result is largely noteworthy because of the below result.

Yep, that’s Frank Gryboski Jr. winning the Sunday Big Bucks event as well…and Howard Welsh once again completing the exacta!

As was the case with Wendy Long, Gryboski (and Welsh too) found longshots when he needed them on Saturday, and then not only survived but prospered on Sunday when nothing paid higher than 5-1. (Gryboski’s big returner was More Graytful at Aqueduct—one of two victorious 5-1 shots among the Sunday featured-tourney winners).

The two-day Big Bucks tally for Gryboski came to $23,509. And Welsh’s total for his back-to-back runner up finishes was a none-too-shabby $6,717.

Samuel “In Through the Out” Doerr made Gryboski and Wendy Long look like mad bombers.

Doerr won $8,387 in Sunday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray (final purse: $18,638) despite not picking a single winner that went off higher than 5-2. “How’d he manage that?” you ask?

Nailing 8 firsts and 2 seconds in a 12-race tourney can certainly make up for a multitude of short-priced sins!

Doerr’s low-prices-but-high-volume operation also fared well in Sunday’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifier.

One of Doerr’s eight winners above somehow fell through the cracks here, but he still managed to tie “Battlin’” William Smith and since there were two $6,500 prizes on the table in this competition, there was no need to break the tie (which Doerr would have won by virtue of having seven winners to Smith’s six).

Battlin’ William (who, you may recall, won a Flo-Cal entry for finishing fourth behind Wendy Long) wasn’t the only Smith to enjoy Sunday success.

George Smith caught an $8.00 place payoff with Time for Ebby in the final contest race, the 5th at Del Mar, to move from second to first and win a $500 entry to the Lone Star Park NHC qualifier on December 5th. Like Doerr, the longest odds among Smith’s six winners was 5-2.

Battlin’ William and George weren’t the only Smiths to enjoy Sunday success.

This time it was “The Commissioner” Tim Smith, who served as the victorious Smith. He had both of Sunday’s 5-1 “bombs” to rack up the high score of the day and earn an NHC spot at HorsePlayers along with runner up Chris Anshelewitz.

HorseTourneys president McKay Smith assures us, incidentally, that neither William nor George nor Tim are any relation. We’ll take his word for it for now—pending test results from 23andMe.

Ancestry investigations notwithstanding, here’s how Tim’s Sunday went:

Smith’s scoresheet reveals one additional Sunday oddity.

On a day in which prices were very hard to come by, the most profitable horse of the day…didn’t even win. It was High Opinion, who paid $21.00 to place after running second in the Winter Memories Stakes (race 9) at Aqueduct. That was more than any of Sunday’s winners paid to win and place combined.

The other featured tourney at HorsePlayers on Sunday was the very first qualifier to the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

It was won by Robert Turner (7 wins, 2 places) who—like Samuel Doerr and George Smith—had no collections above 5-2. It was his final 5-2 shot, She’s Devoted ($7.40, $4.40 in the 5th at Del Mar) that propelled Turner from second place to first at the end.

Marc Stateler had More Graytful ($16.20, $6.10) among his 7 winners and 3 places.

That earned Stateler a $4,000 Del Mar Fall Classic entry for November 28th. Joining Stateler in the cyber-starting gate at will be runner up Kirk Tesar (3 wins, 3 places) who was $23.30 behind in second, and Bryan Millang (4W, 0P).

Our $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney attracted just seven entrants…which meant a 14% overlay situation for players.

The one who took fullest advantage of the positive-expectation setup was Ralph Pearce who hit four of the first six races, including a $1 exacta worth $90.50 in that Duopoly-High Opinion Winter Memories Stakes at the Big A.

Whether you win a tourney with longshots or chalk, the prize money spends the same. Thanks to everyone who shook off their Breeders’ Cup hangovers and put their contest skills to the test. It was a fun and interesting week, and we’ll be ready to do it all again starting on Wednesday. Hope to see you then.