Big Scores and Little Scores Both Work for Scott Fiedler; Travis Pearson Collects $21,000 in $54,000 Preakness Day Tourney; Dave Cichy Loading Up on NHC First Chance/Last Chance Seats (Weekly Recap, May 12-16)

When the weather heats up, so, apparently does Scott Fiedler. 

Last summer, the 52-year-old sports camp director from Babylon, N.Y., won $248,000 in the second annual Spa & Surf Showdown. Two Saturday’s ago, Fiedler popped with a victory worth $12,943 in the week’s richest cash game. And this past week he was at it again.

Cash was again top of mind for Fiedler on Friday in our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. Here he won $7,406 from a final purse of $16,458 thanks to 5 winners (plus a place) that included the Heman Harkie-piloted Fame to Famous ($76.50, $19.80) in the 5th at Belmont. 

What’s the one prize Fiedler might enjoy almost as much as a monetary windfall? A seat to the Spa & Surf Showdown, of course. And to his opponents’ chagrin, Fiedler played his same 5-win, 1-place selections back in that qualifier.

Here’s a look at Fiedler’s “dual-action” scorecard. 

Hot streaks are a wonderful head rush whenever we are fortunate enough to experience one. You really know you are on a roll, however, when you don’t perform all that well, but you still come out on top.

There were no Heman Harkie bombs on Sunday for Fiedler. The best he could manage were dinks and dunks to his receivers out of the backfield, with none of his three winners paying more than $6.40. Toss in a couple of unexciting place payoffs and Fiedler still couldn’t manage a flat-bet profit in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game—but it turns out that he didn’t need to. He still took home the $5,250 top prize.

Fiedler’s total cash and prizes for the weekend came to $15,156—and to $28,099 over the past two weeks.

The big winner of the week gone by, though, was Travis Pearson, and with good reason. Pearson captured the special $50,000 Guaranteed Preakness Day tourney on Saturday.

Pearson nailed 5 winners in a 7-race span during mid-tourney that delivered him the top money of $21,813 in a game that finished up with a pot of $54,533. The slightly ironic aspect to Pearson’s performance is that while Saturday’s main focus was on the Preakness card at Pimlico, all but one of Pearson’s winners (his lowest-priced winner) came at either Gulfstream or Belmont.

Money won at HorseTourneys still spends no matter which tracks your winners come from. Just ask Ryan Knottek who, on Wednesday, zeroed in on Parx, Thistledown and Will Rogers Downs. In fact, you may want to ask him twice.

Knottek apparently didn’t want to settle for the $2,993 grand prize in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney (final purse: $6,497), so he played the same entry twice and also took home second money of $1,299. 

Eric Beyea finished third—due to the fact that Knottek lacked the conviction to play a third identical entry. Lame, Ryan!

Wednesday was the first of several Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifiers of the week.

Dave Cichy led the way with 3 winners. Grabbing the other available $500 entry for NHC eve was Pat Murphy. Subscribing to the theory of “Better a short price than a long face,” Murphy collected in all 10 contest races! Four of those collections were winners with the longest-priced of them paying $6.80. 

Murphy couldn’t keep that pace up the rest of the week…but Cichy did for at least a little while.

Proving that he can do as well on Triple Crown days as on a Wednesday at Will Rogers Downs, Cichy was the best of six First Chance/Last Chance winners on Preakness Day. Joining him in the big room at Bally’s on Thursday August 26th will be Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce, David Nelson, Matthew Nixon, Hubert Gaffney and Tammy Johns.

Getting back to Wednesday action, Thomas Michael Abinanti (2 wins, 2 places) successfully located the one juicy price hiding out there.

It was Society’s Tiger ($26.00, $8.60) in the 8th at Parx. The Bensalem, Pa., 12-1 shot helped Abinanti earn a $2,000 seat to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge in Oceanport, N.J.—about an hour away from Bensalem.

Allan Sadler took a more “Pat Murphy-like” approach in Wednesday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Sadler caught a $5.60 place collection in the final race, the 11th at Will Rogers Downs, to finish with 2 firsts and 5 seconds and get up and win a $2,500 entry to the $300,000 Guaranteed final leg of the Tourney Triple with a score of $46.80.

Scores were on the low side on Thursday as well.

Steven Doodnauth (5 wins, 0 places) did very well to achieve a score of $64.40. That got him the winner’s share of $2,861 in Thursday’s $4,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $6,359. Doodnauth got to the winner’s circle thanks to hitting Roaring Tiger ($13.20, $5.80) in the final tourney race, race 7 at Golden Gate.

On Black-Eyed Susan Day, Scott Fiedler came away with two tourney victories, but he didn’t record the day’s highest score. That honor went to 2013 Horse Player World Series champion James Henry.

The Californian picked 7 winners out of 12 races to earn a cut-rate NHC seat in Friday’s $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers. Also earning a 2022 Bally’s Berth was runner up Kevin Harrell (3 wins, 2 places). Both had Fame to Famous ($76.50, $19.80) in the 5th at Belmont and Why Not Tonight ($56.60, $19.40) in the last contest race, the 14th at Pimlico.

Here’s a look at all seven of Henry’s winners:

In Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers, John Gaspar had the lead going into the 14th at Pimlico, but had to sweat out the final-race parimutuel returns when Bryan Ingram had 27-1 shot Why Not Tonight, and he had a loser.

Unfortunately for Ingram, the place payoff for Why Not Tonight came back $19.80 in the 14-horse field—and that left him 40 cents shy of Gaspar, who got out of town with the $10,000 BCBC entry.

In Sean Nolan’s case, Why Not Tonight DID get him where he wanted to be.

The Pimlico grass bomb accounted for the vast majority of the scoring for Nolan (2 wins, 2 places) and Nolan will be headed to Monmouth (or Xpressbet) on June 12th for the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge.

Dan Brockman (3 wins, 2 places), Dylan Donnelly (2W, 1P) and Keith Castleberry (4W, 2P) were the three winners of $500 NHC First Chance/Last Chance entries on Friday.

The first two started things off with a bang in the first contest race, nailing 37-1 victor Fame to Famous in the 5th at Belmont.

In addition to offering a $50,000 Guaranteed cash game on Preakness Day, we also hosted a $25,000 Pick & Pray.

Matthew Bickey (3 wins, 1 place) enjoyed the heavy scheduling. He selected Dramatic Kitten ($35.80, $15.20) in the 7th at Gulfstream, and then put himself over the top at the end with 11-1 Rombauer in the Preakness. Bickey was rewarded to the tune of $13,357 in a game ultimately worth a total of $29,682.

Saturday’s other big-money cash event was the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

This one was a sold-out affair, and it was captured by Richard Gorzkowski who posted 3 firsts and 2 seconds en route to the $14,248 grand prize. The total pot amounted to $20,355.

As earlier noted, David Nelson won a $500 NHC First Chance/Last Chance entry for finishing 3rd behind Dave Cichy in Saturday’s qualifier. Those same picks (2 wins, 3 places) also got him a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat.

Also grabbing a spot in the June 12th event was Jerod Dinkin (4W, 1P) who had Rombauer in the Preakness.

Rombauer was also the springboard to success for Joseph Costello.

Costello (5 wins, 2 places) nailed the final two contest races to get up for the “W” in Saturday’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Things were very tight at the top of the leaderboard in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. 

The studying of his tables paid off for Dave “Gambling Actuary” Nichols (4 wins, 1 place). He prevailed by $1.80 over the other $2,500 seat winner Basil DeVito (currently in a very-strong 17th position behind Anthony Mattera in the Tourney Triple Bonus standings). DeVito (4W, 0P) got his Spa & Surf pass by one thin dime over an unlucky Tim Moline. 

In $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney action over the weekend, neither Alan Noring (2 winners) on Saturday…

…nor Robin Buser (also 2 winners) on Sunday…

…could put together a perfect, 4-for-4 ticket. So that means that a carryover over of $3,815 will roll over into this Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot game.

On Sunday, Russell Priola of Buffalo (soon to be home once again of the Toronto Blue Jays) won the day’s big cash tourney.

Priola (4 wins, 1 place) had Mount Pelliar ($6.40, $3.80) in the final tourney race to get up late and win $9,319 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a final purse of $20,709.

George “W.” Bosch hit 5 winners, including 11-1 shot Coragescontender in the 11th at Belmont, to lead the way in Sunday’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance play-in.

Also earning $500 for the NHC eve appetizer were Sarah Wiener, Bruce Rossi, Terry Jerge and Steven Culhane.

Bosch used those same “5-win” picks to grab a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize entry.

Here, Bosch bested all but winner Scott Cavalieri who recorded 4 firsts and 2 seconds.

Second behind Bosch in Sunday’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance chance, Sarah Wiener took a backseat to no one in the day’s qualifier to The BIG One.

Wiener put up 3 runners up followed by 3 winners to finish best of 19.

In Sunday’s Low Ratio Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, Peter Osella emerged victorious. 

Osella had a score of $60.10 built on 2 winners and 4 runners up that led to a margin of victory of $20.70 in the field of nine.

There were two Sunday qualifiers to the $300,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 14-15. In the more modestly-priced, $147 game, the spoils went to Stephen Wagner.

Wagner finished with 3 wins and 4 places, but his key stretch came when he hit 11-1 Coragescontender (in Belmont’s 9th) and 6-1 Very Savvy (in Gulfstream’s 10th) in back-to-back contest races.

Mark Elliott (3 wins, 3 places) also had the Coragescontender-Very Savvy “double.”

That profitable two-step led Elliott to a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat in Sunday’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

On Memorial Day, Lawrence Kahlden will be trading in his LSU ball cap for a 10-gallon hat.

That’s as a result of Kahlden winning Sunday’s Lone Star Million Betting Challenge qualifier. Kahlden booked 3 winners and another 3 runners up to walk away with the $3,000 package.

On a more exotic front, Philip Edell became the latest to punch his ticket to the $50,000 Guaranteed Exacta Extravaganza here on September 11-12.

Edell connected on 5 winning three-horse exacta boxes, including a $1 hit for $78.50 in the 9th (the Coragesconteder race) at Belmont.

The high scorer during a relatively low scoring Sunday was Nick Kochanski.

Kochanski was the only Sunday player to crack triple digits thanks to his 5 wins and a place…which came in the NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Runner up George Bosch was already double-qualified for 2022 so he was just playing for Tour points. That left the other available seat to “show horse” Wendy Long (5 wins, 3 places). Long broke fast from the gate, collecting in each of the first 5 contest races.

We are happy to report that all of this week’s winners have passed their post-tourney blood tests (though some may contend that our acceptable threshold levels are exceedingly generous). More playing, more winning and more pre- and post-tourney celebrating are all scheduled for Wednesday—when this week’s featured-tourney schedule gets going. Hope to see you then.