Brett Wiener Pulls Off a Veritable Clean Sweep of the Friday Features; Rex Robinson Hits the Pick 4 Jackpot; Big Score Yields Big Payout to Brian Johnson (Weekly Recap, March 17-21)

It was some kind of Friday for Floridian Brett Wiener.

Wiener wound up liking a couple of $30 horses competing in his home state, and that led to a final tally of $110.60.

It’s far from the highest 10-race score we’ve ever seen. However, scores must always be taken in context, of course. If there only two really good prices to be had on a given day, and you have them both, you are going to be very tough to beat. Such was the case on Friday with Wiener. He was the lone grand prize winner in two events.

And he led a group of multiple winners in three others.

Ironically, the three players who earned grand prizes for finishing behind Wiener—Kevin Engelhard in the Players Championship qualifier, Jim Staub in the Keeneland game and Jon Van Niel in the Florida Derby Challenge play-in—all had Pretendent ($33.80, $15.60) at Gulfstream, but none of them matched Wiener in having Drill’s Valentine ($30.20, $8.40) at Tampa.

In retrospect, the amazing thing about Friday may not be that Wiener had all those wins…it may be that he didn’t have the day’s high score.

Fellow Floridian Mark Richards got the better of Wiener in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. He did so thanks to 4 winners plus 1 $22.00 max-place collection. Here’s a look at his scorecard.

Cry not for Wiener, however. He still earned an NHC berth for his second-place effort (by 40 cents)—thus completing an amazing day of 6 featured tourneys entered and 6 grand prizes won. Based on how his Friday went, we have no doubt whatsoever that Wiener also had Oral Roberts on the money line over Ohio St.

The featured-tourney week began, as it always does, on Wednesday, when John Meola made collections in the final five races to finish with 4 wins and 2 places in the day’s live-format, $4,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Meola earned a winner’s share of $3,390 from a total final pot of $7,534.

After the weekend’s action, the April 2-3 Players Championship is now up to 156 qualifiers and a purse of $276,120. Sabrina Smith punched her ticket to the “PC” in Wednesday’s Gulfstream-only qualifier.

Smith’s big success among 4 wins and 3 places came right at the beginning with Memphis Showboat ($18.60, $8.00) in race 1.

There were two winners of $2,000 Players Championship entries in Wednesday’s multitrack qualifier—Ken Jordan and James Michelson.

Jordan had 4 wins and 1 place. Michelson (sire of 2005 NHC Champ Jamie Michelson) recorded 3 wins and 3 places. For Jordan, the victory was clearly a confidence booster—because he went on to win an NHC seat and almost $6,000 in a Saturday contest at Xpressbet. Well done!

Alexa Zepp and Neal Metzger each picked up $1,500 Florida Derby Challenge entries on Wednesday.

Zepp went heavy on the wins (5 firsts, 1 second) while Metzger took a somewhat opposite approach (2 wins, 5 places).

As you can see, scores were low on Wednesday, which made for bunched-up leaderboards. Daniel Edwards (4 wins, 2 places) had the luck of the Irish in St Patrick Day’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier where Edwards prevailed by just 60 cents over Ken Jordan.

Edwards realized his biggest payoff with Behranu ($16.60, $7.80) in the 6th at Gulfstream…but he needed to hit Liesel ($5.00, $3.00) in the last race (the 10th at Gulfstream) to get up for the victory.

Larry “Owners” Manual really played smallball on Wednesday in gaining his $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize entry.

Manuel’s five winners ranged in price from a low of $3.20 to a high of $8.60.

Johnny Perry also cut it close by winning the featured cash game of Thursday—our $2,500 Guaranteed Pick & Pray—by just $2.00.

He got the job done with 6 wins and a place—including a final race victory by Grazen Road—to earn the top prize of $2,675 in a game ultimately worth $5,944. Here’s a look at Perry’s scoresheet:

Michael Somich had just a single winner on Thursday, but it was a good one—Jimmyssmokedcarrot ($21.40, 9.00) in the 10th at Gulfstream.

That win by the horse with the funny name, plus four important place cashes, added up to a $2,000 Players Championship seat for Somich.

There was an NHC qualifier here at HorseTourneys on Saturday, and—as is so often the case—it the home of the day’s highest score.

Jeff Higgins did the honors with 3 wins and a place. Michael Odorisio (5W, 1P) picked up the pieces in second to also punch his ticket to Vegas for 2022. Here’s a look at Higgins’s best-of-day scorecard:

Higgins got his day started in grand style with Perfect Cut ($52.40, $17.60) in the 8th at Gulfstream. So did Charles Hatton.

Perfect Cut was one of four winners on the day for Hatton. He needed Street Behavior ($6.20, $3.60) in the 6th at Santa Anita, though, to get up for the grand prize of $13,771 in Saturday’s $25,000 Pick & Pray, which finished up with $30,603 in the kitty.

Like Michael Somich on Thursday, Paul Cush captured a featured tourney despite just a single visitor to the winner’s circle.

That visitor was Warrior’s Pride ($23.20, $11.20) in the 11th at Gulfstream. “The Warrior” combined nicely with 3 runners up and earned Cush a sweet payday of $9,973 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $14,248.

There were four winners of $2,000 entries in Saturday’s Players Championship Pick & Pray qualifier.

Stephen McNatton (3 wins, 0 places), Richard Reese (2W, 3P) and Tim Herboth each had longshot Perfect Cut in the first contest race. George “H.W.” Bosch missed that early Gulfstream bomb, but the made up for the big early deficit by connecting on 3 winners and 1 runner up thereafter.

Three winners (plus two places) was also the winning formula for Matt Brown.

Brown earned a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat in Saturday’s $179 Pick & Pray qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Terence “TGIF” Cook picked 2 winners early (Gulfstream race 8, Santa Anita race 1) and 2 winners late (Gulfstream race 12, Santa Anita race 5).

The quartet added up to victory and a seat worth $2,000 in Saturday Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney was really tough. The winners went off at 25-1, 7-1, 10-1 and 6-1. 

Winner Albert Tiernan had the last three, but he missed the first one (Perfect Cut), so that meant a carryover of $6,260 was waiting for the Sunday Pick 4 Jackpot tourney.

The Sunday sequence wound being difficult too. But not too difficult for Rex Robinson.

Robinson chose the right race in which to spread, coming up with 9-1 Uncle Fun in Leg 1. Then he cold-decked 5-1, 3-1 and 3-2 winners in the final three heats to walk away with a total of $7,387.

High scorer of the day on Sunday was Brian Johnson.

Those three winners and two outsized place payoffs (almost like having five winners!) paid Johnson to the tune of $10,250 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up paying out a total of $22,779.

High earner (by just a tad) on Sunday was Howard Welsh.

Welsh booked 3 winners led by Bernie’s Mistress ($65.60, $17.00 in the 10th at Gulfstream) and added 3 place collections to pocket $10,686 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which finished up with a pot of $15,266.

Mark Wilgard joined Michael Somich and Paul Cush in this weekend’s SWWC (Single-Win Winners Club).

For Wilgard, it was Pelican Way ($39.40, $10.00) in the 8th at Santa Anita that—along with just a single place collection—did the trick for him in Sunday’s Pick & Pray qualifier to September’s The BIG One. 

Instead of one high-priced winner, Joe Johnson opted for a bunch of smaller ones.

Johnson had 5 winners that all paid between $5.40 and $13.00. He also cashed with one runner up. Those six collections got Johnson a $2,000 Players Championship seat in our first $472 Low Ratio (1-per-5) qualifier to the Friday-Saturday, April 2-3, all-cash event. 

Johnson will be joined in the middle leg of the 2021 Tourney Triple by the four who succeeded in Sunday’s multitrack, All Optional Live Players Championship qualifier.

Congratulations to Dennis Dougherty (3 wins & 1 place from 10 plays), Linda “L-Rod” Rodriguez, Wolfgang Wissig and Henry Reitzenstein.

Ryan Mueller (5 wins, 0 places), Ed Peters (2W, 3P) and Michael Guadagno (3W, 0P) were the three recipients of $1,500 entries at the conclusion of Sunday’s Florida Derby Challenge qualifier.

The 18-1 Pelican Way was in each of their prosperous portfolios.

Pelican Way was also the highest common denominator for Amy Brantley (2 wins, 2 places) and Peter Behr (3W, 1P).

Brantley and Behr can continue to match wits (and perhaps share winners) in the April 10th Keeneland Grade One Gamble.

Charley “Noble Three” Witt had three noble winners plus a place in capturing Sunday’s qualifier to the Lone Star Million Betting Challenge.

Witt’s winning trio paid $24.40, $13.00 and $39.40 (yup…Pelican Way).

Pelican Way also had Evan Trommer flying way above the clouds.

The Santa Anita longshot plus three other winners and one runner up got Trommer a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Sunday’s live-format, low-ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Thanks to all who played last week. We’ll have more featured brackets for you to fill out starting on Wednesday. May yours do better than my basketball ones did!