Two Winning Days are Better Than One for Christophe Huttepain and Ronald Tang; Christopher Olsson Also Goes Back-to-Back, Capturing NHC Seats on Consecutive Days (Weekly Recap, May 5-9)

Those who regularly play our featured schedules have a well-earned, collective reputation of being among the sharpest handicappers anywhere in the country. Part of what makes them a feared bunch is that when they are on their game, it doesn’t mean that they win just one event…they could win several by playing the same picks in multiple tourneys. 

More and more, however, we are seeing players generate top performances on a remarkably consistent basis. (Who do they think they are? Jacob deGrom?) We saw several such examples this past week. The trend began at the very beginning of the featured-tourney week by Christophe Huttepain.

Huttepain (3 wins, no places) displayed his small-track acumen on Wednesday by coming up with A Roze and Wine ($52.40, $24.20) in the 8th at Will Rogers Downs to pocket $3,266 in the day’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed with a purse of $7,258.

On Friday, Huttepain showed he has big-track acumen too.

Thanks in part to his selection of Matty’s Marauder ($24.80, $11.20) in the 6th at Belmont, Christophe left everyone except Geoffrey Schutt in pain at the conclusion of  Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray. Like Huttepain (3 wins, 1 place), Schutt (4W, 0P) also had Matty’s Marauder en route to his 2022 NHC berth.

Elsewhere on the Friday slate, Ronald Tang and Quincy Cunningham dead-heated for the victory in the day’s Preakness Challenge qualifier, coming up with the exact same three collections (all winners).

Breaking the tie was no issue, though, since this qualifier for the Preakness Challenge at Xpressbet had enough entries to award three $1,500 seats. The third of those three went to “The Captain” James Morgan who compiled 4 firsts and 2 seconds.

No one managed to tie or defeat Tang in Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Here’s a look at the Friday scorecard that yielded the California doctor his $4,000 worth of contest seats:

As impressive as Tang’s Friday was, he showed on Saturday that he was no one-day wonder. In Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize play-in, Tang hit Philo ($29.20, $11.60 in the 12th at Gulfstream) and then Big Passion ($28.40, $10.80 in the 6th at Santa Anita) in back-to-back tourney races to score his third victory in just two days. No wonder Tang is smiling.

We don’t have a photo of Gregg Kingma…but he was undoubtedly smiling after posting Saturday’s highest score.

That 5-win, 2-place tally came in Saturday’s $100 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Christopher Olsson (4 wins, 3 places) got the other available 2022 NHC berth for finishing second. You’d think that Kingma’s gaudy total would be the biggest story emerging from this event—but that proved not to be the case.

It’s hard to improve on your performance a day after winning an NHC seat, but Christopher Olsson did just that, following up Saturday’s second-place finish with a top-of-the-heap showing on Sunday. He did it with 5 winners, including three in the last three races of the contest. Sunday’s other ticket-puncher, Phil Hoedebeck (4 wins, 0 places) also had a Zenyatta-Like finish. He did all of his collecting over the final 5 races.

So what are the odds of winning NHC seats on two consecutive days like Olsson did? In this case, it was 1,068-1 based on the 1-in-114.5 chance of a single entry coming away from Saturday’s two-seat qualifier (229 entries) with a berth, the 1-per-56 ratio for doing the same on Sunday (112 entries)…combined with the fact that Olsson played three entries in Saturday’s $100 game and two in Sunday’s $165 event.

While Christophe Huttepain scored his first victory of the week on Wednesday, that day’s high score was turned in by Lynn Ray.

Ray smoked out 3 winners and 3 more runners up to storm off to a resounding $50.50 triumph in Wednesday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. Here’s a look at her scorecard:

The other Wednesday feature went to Sean O’Malley.

O’Malley was “No Malley” over the first seven races of the Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier. However, he landed $19.80 and $54.40 winners over the final three races to pick up the sought-after $2,000 seat to the June 12th event.

Charles Myers took a dissimilar approach to Thursday’s $4,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Instead of shooting for the moon and landing a couple of prices like Sean O’Malley did, Myers chipped away—surely and frequently—racking up 7 winners in the 10 race tourney. All paid no more than $12.20 and no less than $5.40. The net result was a victory worth $3,328.37 (no more and no less) in a game that closed with a total purse of $7,395.

On Friday, the day’s gaudiest total was accumulated by Vineet Sharma.

It came in a good spot—Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray with a final pot of $16,957—and Sharma was rewarded to the tune of $7,630. Here’s what his scorecard looked like:

Robert McIntyre nailed Charges Dropped ($20.60 to win in the 6th at Gulfstream) and Matty’s Marauder ($24.80 in the 6th at Belmont) in consecutive tourney races to finish with 3 wins and no places in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Pick & Pray play-in.

McIntyre earns a $2,000 entry to the June 12th (Saturday after the Belmont Stakes) tournament that can be played onsite at Monmouth or online via Xpressbet.

The only player to crack triple figures was the one to take home the $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Friday’s Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

Kevin Willett did the honors with 3 firsts—including Sport Model ($24.00, $9.30) in the 9th at Belmont—and 1 second. 

A familiar face won the week’s richest event.

That’s Scott Fiedler holding the winner’s trophy after capturing the 2020 Spa & Surf Showdown (and the $248,000 that went with it). On Saturday, he added another $12,943 to the Fiedler Family Finances.

Fiedler picked 6 winners—ranging in price from 2-1 to 13-1—and 1 runner up to cross the wire first in the game that finished up with a final pot of $28,762.

The event with the week’s highest winner’s share was Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Derek Isenberg (4 wins, no places) caught On Easy Street ($5.80, $4.00) in the final race (Santa Anita’s 9th) to get up and win Saturday’s nearly-sold-out game that closed with a pot of $19,337. Isenberg’s portion (70%) of that came to a juicy $13,536.

Brian “BC” Chenvert had 4 Saturday winners that paid $27.20, $18.40, $28.40 and $13.40, respectively.

He added one place collection to the quartet of winners, and that put Chenvert in the rather familiar-for-him position of winning a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry at HorsePlayers.

Marty DeRoin came up with Philo ($29.20, $11.60) in the 12th at Gulfstream among his 3 wins and 2 places.

The 13-1 shot gave DeRoin his biggest push in landing a $2,500 berth in the $300,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 14-15.

DeRoin was also one of eight winners of $500 seats in our first qualifier to the NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament on NHC eve at Bally’s

Congratulations to the other seven as well: Christopher Ahl, Bruce Rossi, Erick Counts, Crescencio Decayanan, Daven Turner, Michael Marlaire and Stephan Grevina.

The number of First Chance/Last Chance seat winners increased on Sunday to 13 after five more picked up entries for August 26th. 

The First Chance/Last Chance second-chance winners on Sunday were Anthony “Thor” Sondergaard, Blaise Guadagno, Steven Culhane, Sarah Wiener and John Behnke.

Tim Catlett (1 winner, 1 place) and Scott Roberts (2W, 1P) came in first in their respective $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys over the weekend.

Since no one went a perfect 4-for-4, next Saturday’s Jackpot will begin at $3,149.

Leading the hit parade of Sunday high scores was Dennis Decauwer.

Decauwer parlayed this 6-win, 2-place show of force into a payday of $10,406 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Final overall purse for the event was $23,125.

Howard Welsh loves Big Bucks tourneys (and he cannot lie)…and they apparently love him.

Welsh’s 2 wins and 5 places carried the day and brought him back winnings of $6,411 from a total prize pool of $9,159. (His single biggest collection came with one of the five places—a $22.00 max place return from 31-1 shot Devil’s Code in the 6th at Belmont.

The week prior, Welsh won the Saturday Big Bucks game (collecting $7,000) and endured a tough-beat, second-place finish in the following day’s $1,150 buy-in event. After a disappointing effort this past Saturday, Welsh came back strong on Sunday. It will be interesting to see if he is again locked and loaded over Preakness weekend.

Speaking of Preakness Weekend, the Preakness Challenge at Xpressbet picked up three more entrants following Sunday’s qualifier here.

Congratulations to $1,500 seat winners Sarah Wiener (4 wins, 3 places), Karl Barth (5W, 1P) and Gary Wright (2W, 2P).

Daniel Kovalesky (4 wins, 3 places) whiffed on the final 3 tourney races…

…but he still managed to hang on by $1.80 and punch his ticket to the September 18-19 The BIG One here at HorseTourneys. Kovalesky’s big horse was Runaway Rumour ($23.60, $10.40) in the 9th at Belmont.

Michael Solakis’s margin of victory was even narrower than Kovalesky’s.

Thanks to a $9.60 place payoff in the final contest race, the 6th at Santa Anita with Holden the Lute, Solakis (5 wins and 2 places in all) got up to win Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier by 60 cents over an unfortunate Steven Meier.

Blaise Guadagno (who also picked up a Bally’s/NHC First Chance/Last Chance entry on Sunday) collected in the final 4 races to finish his day with 5 wins and 1 place.

As a result, Guadagno will be in the starting gate on June 12th with his $2,000 entry fee already taken care of in the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament.

Michael Pirrung was this week’s winner of a $3,000 package in Sunday’s Lone Star Million Betting Challenge play-in.

Pirrung (3 firsts, 1 second) collected in the final three races, capped off crucially by I Got No Munny ($9.60, $5.40) in the final tourney race, race 6 at Santa Anita.

Gary Blair’s recent run of good luck continued on Sunday.

On Friday, April 30th, Blair won $6,882 in capturing the day’s featured cash tourney. This past Sunday, Blair bagged a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry by connecting on 4 winners and 5 runners up. Blair’s best collection of his nine came via Kanderel ($31.40, $11.20) in the 5th at Santa Anita. You could say that the last couple of weeks here have been a Blair Rich Project for Gary.

Gary Blair

You can definitely say that, with 29 featured tourneys, the week just concluded was a busy one here at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. And with Preakness weekend on the horizon, all signs point to more of the same in the days immediately ahead. We hope you can join us for a portion of it—including, perhaps, our special $50,000 Guaranteed cash tourney on Saturday. The featured-tourney fun begins anew on Wednesday.