Michael Caposio Crushes it on Sunday; Rocky Hardy Wins NHC Seat One Day, $6,400 the Next; Thomas Piotrowski is First to Capture the $15 Pick 4 Jackpot (Weekly Recap, January 20-24)

Perhaps only Tom Brady had a better Sunday than Michael Caposio.

The Temecula, Calif., car dealer (who, for some unknown reason, always seems to heat up significantly at this time of year) put together the following set of picks…

…and then parlayed them into a pretty special day.

Caposio pocketed a pretty nice “factory-to-dealer incentive” of $10,492 for winning Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished with a final purse of $26,231. (Scott “Spa & Surf” Fiedler was 2nd–good for $4,197.)

Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge was a live-format tourney, thus affording Caposio the right to change a pick or two or three if he wished, but that has never really been Caposio’s M.O.

For Caposio, the $10,000 BCBC seat win was his second over the past nine days!

We were back to Pick & Pray for Sunday’s Players Championship qualifier, and here it took the top score of the day for anyone to outdo Caposio.

That top score was put up by Joe “JK” Koury (aka “The People’s CFO). He had 3 wins and 2 places to lead the way ahead of Caposio, who couldn’t have been too upset at the “defeat”. Also picking up a $2,000 Players Championship entry was third-place finisher Gary Blair (2 wins, 2 places).

For the record, here was Koury’s best-of-day performance.

Take a look at Laurel race 7. It wasn’t Koury’s biggest return, but I found it the most interesting simply because…how often do you see win/place payoffs like that in a race that doesn’t involve a dead heat? Our place payoffs are capped at $22.00, of course, so it should be noted that Proper Attire actually paid $23.60 to place in the parimutel pools—after the 3-5 favorite only managed to get third in what wound up being a six-horse field. 

As it turned out, Sunday was obviously not a good day for the Green Bay Packers…or for the backers of Lambeau Lady.

Prospects for the Packers seemed far more promising on Wednesday—which is when our featured-tourney week began.

Michael Lynch Jr. blasted out of the striating gate in Wednesday’s $4,000 Guaranteed tourney with 4 winners and a place during the first 5 races. However, he needed to have Romario ($20.20, $10.00) in the final contest race, the 10th at Gulfstream, to get up and take the $3,390 top prize in any event that closed with a pot of $7,534.

Thirty-six players have already qualified for the $200,000 Guaranteed Players Championship here on April 2-3. Among them are Adam Lewis, Dave Nichols and Mark Simonovic.

Triple figures turned out to be the hurdle to clear in Wednesday’s “PC” qualifier. Lewis did it with 3 wins and 2 places, Nichols checked in with 3 wins and 1 place, and Simonovic, like Lewis, had 3 wins and 2 places…though Simonovic had to really heat up late. He nailed winners paying $29.60 and $20.20 in the final two contest races to claim that third available $2,000 entry.

On Thursday, Gary “Macho Man” Machiz did Simonovic one better.

Machiz (4 wins, 1 place) had each of the final three tourney winners to get up and win  $2,765 in Thursday’s $2,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which had a final prize pool of $5,530. Bee Catcher ($6.60, $4.20) closed things out for Machiz in the 10th at Gulfstream. His most lucrative win of the day came with Daddy Knows ($14.00, $8.10) in the 6th at Aqueduct.

Given the lucrative bonuses at stake ($1 million annuity along with NHC/BCBC/The BIG One entries), we’re pretty sure that recent Flo-Cal Faceoff champ Alan Levitt of Baltimore would have been fine with purchasing a Players Championship entry in April. (After winning $205,000 in the Flo-Cal, he can certainly afford it!) Now, however, that’s no longer an issue. 

Levitt is among those already assured of a starting berth in the Players Chamionship by virtue of his runner up finish behind Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce in Friday’s qualifier. Also picking up a $2,000 ticket was third-place finisher Robert Turner.

In the Flo-Cal, Levitt won the aformentioned $205,000 by playing a single entry that he had won in a qualifier for $118. Here, he had to spring for $156 to secure his Players Championship seat. It’s hard to imagine anyone with a gaudier ROI thus far in 2021. No wonder he’s smiling.

Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza played a profitable game of Crazy Eights on Friday.

Trezza used the 8 horse in…eight…of the 10 contest races of Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $17,123. Trezza finished with 3 winners en route to the top prize of $7,705. It should be noted for numerologists out there, though, that two of his three winners came with his two horses that weren’t #8. One paid $11.60 and the other paid $34.60. 

There were three winners in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

George Longobardi came in first with a best-of-day total of $16.80 built on 4 firsts and 2 seconds. Jon Petoskey (2 wins, 3 places) was second thanks to a maximum $22.00 place payoff in the last contest race with 48-1 runner up Trouville in the 6th at Santa Anita. Daniel DePonte (2W, 3P) checked in third to also punch his ticket to Vegas. 

Here’s how Longobardi’s Friday went:

Saturday was Pegasus World Cup Day, and while Scotty McKeever was pulling in the big money by winning the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship (congratulations!), there were several pretty worthwhile games going on over here that day too.

Ron Bowden earned a not-too-shabby $15,531 for capturing Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $34,575. Bowden had 5 wins and a place and drew off to score by $27.70. His biggest collection came with Gulfstream Race 9 winner Pacific Gale ($34.20, $10.00).

Stephen Wagner came up with a key last-race hit to prevail in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Palos Verdes Stakes winner Wildman Jack ($13.20, $6.40) was the final collection among 3 wins and 1 place that enabled Wagner to jump up and capture the top prize of $12,111 in a Big Bucks competition that was worth a total of $17,301.

Another five-figure payday came in a game that cost just $15 to enter.

Congratulations to Thomas Piotrowski who was our first winner of a $15 Pick 4 Jackpot. Between the Jackpot, the carryover and the first-place winner’s share, Piatrowski’s haul came to a total of $12,009. 

Just 24 of the 195 entrants had The Connector in Leg 1. A surprising nine of those 24 used 4-1 shot Tide of the Sea in the 10th at Gulfstream. (Clearly, our players were too smart to be swayed by that 15-1 Gulfstream morning line price!) Almost as surprising, Piotrowski was the only one of those nine with winning 5-2 favorite Colonel Liam in the Pegasus World Cup Turf. Piotrowski then emphatically completed the sweep with wire-to-wire winning favorite Knicks Go in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup.

After Piotrowski’s triumph, we reseeded the Sunday Jackpot with $500.

Joe Steinberg (2 wins) finished first, but not a single person had the 14-1 winner of the first leg, so next Saturday’s Jackpot will begin at $620.

Saturday’s high score was posted by Traci Richards in the day’s multitrack Players Championship qualifier.

The Floridian didn’t bother with runners up…but she had six who finished on top.

Also earning $2,000 seats for the second leg of the Tourney Triple were Damian Terenzio, NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles and Peter Cowan.

There was also a single-track, Gulfstream-only, full-card qualifier to the Players Championship on Saturday.

Gregg Kingma (4 wins, 1 place) and Ed DeRosa (4 wins, 4 places) did the best job of navigating the 12-race Pegasus Day card, and so they will both be in the starting gate for the All Optional Live-format “PC” come April 2nd.

Over at HorsePlayers, Gregory Lewis connected on 4 firsts and 3 seconds to earn a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Saturday’s Pick & Pray.

Lewis’s big strike came with 16-1 Pacific Gale in the 9th at Gulfstream, but he needed 5-1 Wildman Jack in the contest finale to get up for the “W”.

Last but not least was Saturday’s $100 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. It was the final opportunity for players to earn 2020 NHC Tour points.

As you can see, plenty of “already-double-qualified” players signed up for this one, including BCBC-seat winner Gregory Lewis, who came in second here. The five NHC berths from this competition were Scott Fitzgerald, Amy Brantley, Rocky Hardy, Jason “MC” Hammer and Coleen Curley. The NTRA is still tallying up end-of-year Tour standings, but scuttlebutt on the Internet seems to suggest that Sally Goodall (second in the standings entering the weekend) may have done herself very nicely with that 7th-place finish.

There’s only one Sunday featured event left to report on—the $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney (final pot: $9,159)…where one of Saturday’s winners kept the good times rolling right on into Sunday.

Having just picked up an NHC seat for running fifth in Saturday’s $100 qualifier, Rocky Hardy again enjoyed smooth sailing here, thanks in part to our old Laurel friend Proper Attire ($29.40, $23.60), whose mutuel prices I never tire of typing. So 24 hours after earning an NHC seat for finishing 5th of 508, Hardy picked up an “easy” $6,411 for finishing first of nine.

Congratulations again to Scotty McKeever for winning the Pegasus (where 52 of the 214 entrants were HorseTourneys qualifiers), and thanks to all who took part on what was a pretty exciting weekend of racing. If you’re already looking ahead to next weekend, many of our featured events will be run in All Optional Live format on Saturday and Sunday. Hope to see you then.