Seth Morris and Evan Trommer Each Pull Off Three Baggers; Mark Wilgard Launches All-Out Assault on the NHC; The Engelhard Brothers Strut Their Stuff (Weekly Recap, May 19-23)

Despite the fact that the bulk of the weekend featured tourneys were conducted in Live format (which some people think is a bit more chaotic), there were plenty of multiple winners on display. 

The week’s trend line showed itself right from the outset.

Steven Meier came up with 7-1 winner Cachi in the 7th at Thistledown, and then followed that up with four catchy place collections to earn a $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown entry on Wednesday.

Meier lost one of his runners up somewhere along the way in Wednesday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Pick & Pray qualifier…but it turned out not to matter.

Meier’s reduced score still proved best, and that earned him a $2,000 place in the here-before-you-know-it Monmouth tournament which, on June 12th, can be played either onsite or online (Xpressbet or, for New Jersey residents, 4NJBets).

Wednesday’s high score came from Charles Hatton.

That was one strong finish by Hatton, and that $17.60 place payoff at the end was key.

It enabled Hatton to get up and win $2,700 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which went off with a takeout to players of just 7.4%.

Fifteen $500 entries to the NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament at Bally’s on August 26 were won this past week. The first three of those 15 came on Wednesday.

Congratulations to Pat Murphy (5 wins, 1 place), Albion D. Benton (4W, 0P) and, by 60 cents, Jeff Ho (3W, 0P).

There were no multiple winners of featured tourneys on Thursday, but for good reason. There was only one marquee game that day.

It went to Gary “Macho Man” Machiz, who pocketed $3,235 in the day’s $4,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which wound up with a final purse of $7,189. Machiz’s horses ran first or second in each of the first six races, and he finished with 5 winners and 2 runners up. His big hit of the day came with Patrick’s Lass ($15.40, $7.00) in the 7th at Gulfstream.

The big winner on Friday was Seth Morris.

Morris had 2 winners and 2 places to capture Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier. Here’s a look at his scorecard:

There were six featured tourneys on Friday, and the funny thing is…Morris’s total of $79.10 was the day’s lowest winning score. With those same picks and that same score, however, he managed to win two other Friday features.

Congratulations as well to Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce, Kirk Rockwell and Christopher “Liberty and Justice for” Ahl, who also picked up $500 NHC First Chance/Last Chance entries for finishing in the nearest proximity to Morris. 

As is typically the case, Friday’s high scoring total came from the day’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Jonathan Thorne did the honors here with 6 firsts and 1 second.

Joseph Rumfolo grabbed the other available 2022 seat thanks to 4 wins and 2 places. Both Thorne and Rumfolo had Odalea ($37.40, $11.20) in the 9th at Gulfstream.

Alan Hoffman had Jazz Hands ($11.40, $4.80) in Friday’s final tourney race, the 7th at Santa Anita.

That expressive pick enabled Hoffman (3 wins, 1 place) to get up late and dance into the winner’s circle of Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Friday’s big cash earner was Robert Engelhard.

Just over the first four races, Engelhard connected on winners paying $10.40, $11.40 and $37.40. He finished with one additional winner plus a place to bag $7,780 in Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $17,290.

If you see Robert Engelhard at an onsite contest, you will probably see his brother Kevin not far away. On Sunday, Kevin made his presence very much known (and felt) in Sunday’s weekly qualifier to The BIG One.

Kevin came up with 3 wins and 3 places, including Mastering Bela ($18.60, $8.60) in the final race of the tourney, the 11th at Gulfstream.

Incidentally, if you ever show up for an onsite contest and there’s a seat open next to Robert and Kevin, grab it. In addition to them being good company, Kevin typically brings a bag of candy that he is happy to share following those tough beats when only a stiff drink—or a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup—will do. 

On Saturday, the role of Seth Morris (someone who wins three featured-tourney prizes) was performed by Evan Trommer.

Trommer had 4 wins and a place to win Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. His big horse was Sonar ($21.60, $8.00) in the 10th at Gulfstream.

Trommer played those same picks—worth a collective $73.50—to get second place in Saturday’s Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.

Also earning $500 spots for NHC eve were winner Fernando Rodriguez (3 wins, 3 places) and third-place finisher Jay Johns (2W, 4P).

In Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize play-in, Trommer used mostly the same horses…but with one key difference.

See that $3.00 place collection in the last race? Utilizing the situational flexibility that Live-format tourneys afford a player, Trommer strayed from his originial thoughts and shamelessly stabbed at 4-5 shot Awesome Ella, and that modest place return moved Trommer up and over runner up John Vail, whose pick in that 12th at Gulfstream ran 4th at 6-1.

For the second straight day, the afternoon’s high score came by way of the NHC qualifier. 

Rob Henie took the crown with 3 wins and 4 places. Juliana Bargfeldt also took an NHC seat (and we’ll toss in a tiara) with her 6 wins and 1 place. Both had Starry Hope ($13.20, $5.20) in the contest finale, the 12th at Gulfstream.

Here’s how Henie’s Saturday went:

Thomas Labordo had Starry Hope and 5-2 winner Emma and I immediately before that in the 10th at Belmont.

Labordo finished with 4 firsts and 1 second—good for a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat in the $179 qualifier at HorsePlayers.

On the Saturday cash-game front, Joe Regan also had the Emma and I-Starry Hope “late double.”

Those two late hits propelled Regan (3 wins, 1 place) to the top of the heap in Saturday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which ended with a total prize pool of $27,182. Regan’s share of that came to $12,218.

An even larger windfall befell Ryan Leeper.

Leeper (3 wins, 1 places) had 9-1 Sonar in the 10th at Gulfstream and then immediately struck back with Get Smokin ($10.80, $5.20) in the Seek Again Stakes at Belmont to collect $12,823 in the Saturday $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot of $18,319.

In addition to winning a 2022 NHC seat at an onsite Monmouth contest on Saturday, Robin Buser also experienced the even greater thrill of finishing first in that day’s $15 Jackpot Pick 4 tourney thanks to 2 winners (in the last two races) and 1 place.

The following day, Thomas Piotrowski’s lone miss (a second-place finish) came in Leg 1 of the $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney. 

Since no one over the weekend went a perfect 4-for-4, next Saturday’s Pick 4 Jackpot will start out with a carryover of $4,275.

On Sunday, Mark Stovall captured the day’s NHC Pick & Pray.

Stovall selected 4 winners—including Mastering Bela ($18.60, $8.60) in the final tourney race, the 11th at Gulfstream—plus a place to punch his ticket to the 2022 Big Dance. The runner up was the already-double-qualified Christopher Olsson. So that left the other 2022 Bally’s Berth to Mark Wilgard, who prevailed in a tiebreaker over Ray Arsenault by virtue of having 3 place collections to Arsenault’s 2. (They were tied in number of wins.)

If the Sunday NHC qualifier were a horse race, it would be considered a key race because the 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers did quite well elsewhere.

Christopher Olsson only got NHC Tour points for his second-place finish to Mark Stovall (though in fairness, that is all he was after). But he was able to keep the booty (a $2,000 entry) for winning Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

Meanwhile the “show horse” in Mark Stovall’s NHC qualifier, Mark Wilgard, came back to lead a parade of five $500 seat winners in Sunday’s Bally’s First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.

Joining Wilgard in the big ballroom on NHC eve will be Chris Michaels, Cheryl McIntyre, “The Commissioner” Tim Smith and Jose Giron.

For Wilgard—who is already qualified to the 2021 NHC this August—Sunday’s events means he has action on Thursday, August 26th in the First Chance/Last Chance contest…on Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the NHC…and in January for the 2022 NHC. Now the pressure’s off for Wilgard. All he needs to do now is to pick winners and make money!

In our first qualifier for the new Canterbury Big 10 BCBC Handicapping Contest on September 16th, Robert Schintzius Sr. had just one winner.

But that winner, Mastering Bela, paid $18.60, and Schintzius added three places to his lone winner, and that punched his ticket to Shakopee (or to Xpressbet if Schintzius prefers).

While Canterbury was a first chance, Lone Star was a last chance on Sunday.

Ralph Lough (5 wins, 1 place) and Darren Yarwood (2W, 1P) made the most of this final Lone Star Million Betting Challenge opportunity, and they will be in the Texas field a week from today on Memorial Day. Both had Sailingintothewind ($32.80, $12.40) in the 7th at Pimlico.

Sunday’s high score was carded by Robert Reidy.

It came in a good spot, too—Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Reidy recorded 5 wins and 2 places to pick up $9,940 in a game that closed with a final purse of $22,090.

Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney was no contest.

Big Bucks baron Howard Welsh’s score of $77.50 (built on 3 wins and 2 places) was more than twice that of his nearest competitor, and the Garden Stater collected $7,124 from a total final pot of $10,177.

There were two Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers on Sunday.

In the $177 “High Ratio” qualifier, Raymond Riley took home the $2,500 seat to the $300,000 Guaranteed, all-cash event here on August 14-15. He did it by picking no fewer than 7 winners!

The $368, Low Ratio Showdown play-in went to G.T. Nixon.

Nixon was the one here, and he became the one by picking just one winner—15-1 Sailingintothewind in the 7th at Old Hilltop. He also had one runner up.

The lone featured event on Sunday at HorsePlayers was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

The sought-after $10,000 entry was captured by Gregg “Kong” Kingma, who went deep with 2 over the fence and 2 on the warning track (runners up). 

Thanks to all for another exciting week. Up next: Memorial Day Weekend, which will include a special $35,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, a Monday Big Bucks game, and one or two other fun featured events. We hope you can be a part of it.