Friday Cash Winner Alan Baze Earns Quick $500 HT Tour Bonus; Philip Webber Captures Pick 4 Jackpot; Anthony “ATM” Mattera Withdraws Spa & Surf Entry on Saturday and BCBC Seat on Sunday (Weekly Recap, July 28-August 1)

Talk about not wasting any time.

When we announced the HorseTourneys Tour a couple of weeks ago and mentioned the provision whereby players who recorded a second day-of-the-week-specific featured-cash-game victory would receive a $500 bonus, we figured it would take at least a month or so for anyone to actually do it.

Nope. Apparently Alan “The Muscle” Baze is on a schedule all his own.

Just seven days after winning $9,127 in the first Friday featured cash game of the 2021 HT Tour season, Baze hit the Friday cash register for another $9,426 in taking this past Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $20,948. In addition to the $9,426 in earnings from the tourney, Baze received an additional $500 as a bonus for winning his second Friday featured cash game. 

The additional good news for Baze? As per HT Tour rules, Baze will receive a $1,000 bonus for every subsequent Friday featured cash game that he wins between now and the end of the year. 

The HT Accounting office is not a pleasant place to be right now. After painstaking calculations using the latest algorithms, the number-crunchers (whose jobs are now very much in jeopardy) had determined that it would be at least a few months before we were in danger of paying out a $1,000 “third-victory” bonus. The way he’s going, Baze may pull that off in three weeks! I suppose it should be no surprise that someone named Baze would be a prolific winner.

One of the cool things about HorseTourneys—or contest play in general—is that a player can quickly make a name for himself even with just a single, noteworthy accomplishment. Perhaps an example of this was 34-year-old Lynchburg, Virginia man Ezra Garrett.

Last November, Garrett won $30,000 as the one (and only) winner of the HorseTourneys $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. After Garrett’s win, we discontinued the Pick 6 Jackpot (and turned it into a $15 Pick 4 Jackpot game) simply because the thing was too damn hard to hit. Garrett’s $30,000 score came after the Jackpot had gone un-hit for a year and a half! 

So Garrett had to find other games, and on Wednesday, he was back to his winning ways.

Garrett and Phillip Edell were the two winners of $500 entries in Wednesday’s Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier. They both had I’llhandalthecash ($41.40, $8.90) in the 7th at Saratoga.

Top score on Wednesday was posted by Douglas Schenk.

His three winners amounted to a $3,515 payday in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Final purse for the event at closing time came to a very solid $7,811.

There were two winners of $2,500 seats on Wednesday to the soon-to-be-here, $300,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.

Lawrence Kahlden (3 wins, 0 places) and Rick Vasquez (4W, 1P) put themselves in the running for a windfall on August 14-15. Not one of their eight combined collections were held in common.

On Thursday, we elevated the guarantee on our featured cash Pick & Pray to $5,000 and the first beneficiary of the added largesse was Myles Richards.

Richards hit the last three tourney winners—starting with Feathers ($22.80, $9.20) in the 6th at Del Mar—to finish with 4 wins and 2 places and pocket $3,826 from a total final purse of $8,502.

Mark Aylward (the end-of-week-1 leader in the HT Tour standings) was the Thursday winner of a $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown seat.

Aylward had 3 places followed by 4 winners in Thursday’s full-card, Saratoga-only tourney. His best hit came with Regal Retort ($18.00, $7.00) in race 8. 

There was a Saratoga-only, full-card Bally’s qualifier on Wednesday. It was taken by Ed Peters.

The Granite Stater compiled 5 winners in the 10-race card, topped by Foolish Ghost ($10.20, $6.00) in race 9.

Dylan McIntosh (4 wins, 2 places) and Matthew Ransdell (5W, 0P) were the two Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance seat winners in Thursday’s multi-track qualifier.

They each receive $500 ducats for NHC Eve in the big room at Bally’s.

While Alan Baze stole the headlines on Friday, Devin Ohman finished the day with a higher score than anyone.

Those 6 wins and a place, made possible by a very strong finish, earned Ohman a cut-rate 2022 NHC spot in Friday’s $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Brent Sumja came away with the other available berth thanks to 5 winners. Like Ohman, Sumja had Sunshine City ($12.80, $4.40) in the 6th at Gulfstream.

The other Friday feature at HorsePlayers was a Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray.

Thomas Labordo got the coveted $10,000 entry here by the narrow margin of $1.10 over Adam Lewis. Labordo recorded 2 wins and 2 places—the most important of which was Nacho Mama ($18.00, $6.90) in the next-to-last contest race, the 9th at Gulfstream.

Back here at HorsePlayers, Scott McFaden led a group of three winners in Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

McFaden (5 wins, 2 places) got himself up into the winning trio by virtue of having Pearlescent ($6.60, $4.00) in the final race of the Pick & Pray, race 10 at Gulfstream. So did third-place finisher Thomas Michael Abinanti (3W, 2P). Runner-up George “Boomer” Scott didn’t have Pearlescent at the end but managed to hold second and the $2,500 Showdown berth that went with it.

There were three winners in Friday’s Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.

Kudos to Pete Manzo (6 wins, 1 place) who rolled home by $32.70. Also picking up $500 entries were Lucas Van Zandt (4W, 1P) and Joseph Costello (3W, 2P).

Costello left less to chance in Saturday’s multitrack Bally’s qualifier.

This time he finished first with an imposing score of $139.30 to claim his second Bally’s entry in as many days. Joining Costello in the NHC Eve field will be the second-, third- and fourth-place finishers David Brownfield, Matt “The Fly” Tietze and Eric Gielata. 

There were also two single-track Bally’s qualifiers on Saturday—one on the full card from Saratoga and the other on the complete Del Mar program.

Eric Kurzhal (3 wins, 3 places) and Thomas McMurdy (4W, 2P) captured the Saratoga-centric game.

Kurzhal landed a big one early with Gateway Guardian ($49.40, $16.40) in race 2. McMurdy hit the last two races to get up and into the “money.”

The Del Mar version was spoken for by William “Hungry Like the” Wolf.

This one was ultimately no contest as Wolf stormed off by $38.00. He was greatly aided by hitting Media Blitz ($25.40, $10.60) in race 9.

Getting back to the multitrack games, Saturday’s big money winner was also the day’s high scorer, Ken Seeman.

The New Yorker had the Vanderbilt winner Lexitonian (who paid $70.00 to win in the parimutuel pools) among his 4 wins and 3 places.

Seeman redeemed those collections for $19,653 in our $30,000 Guaranteed Saturday game, which closed up shop with a final purse of $43,674.

While Ken Seeman was the day’s big money winner, Robert Schintzius Sr. was Saturday’s “Big Bucks” victor.

Schintzius captured the $10,000 Guaranteed, high-end Pick & Pray on the strength of 3 wins and a place, including 3-year-old Dr. Schivel ($6.80, $4.00), who beat his elders in the final tourney race, the Bing Crosby, race 10 at Del Mar. Schintzius pulled in $10,686 from a final pot of $15,266.

The Saturday feature at HorsePlayers was a Live-format, 1-per-65 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. 

Edward Enborg captured it with 3 wins and 4 places. One of those wins was an “En-bomb”…Lexitonian at 34-1 in the Vanderbilt at Saratoga. Finishing second was Derek Dickson, who received a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

Because the $15 Pick 4 Jackpot was hit the previous Sunday, the pot was restarted on Saturday with a HorseTourneys-funded $500. 

Fred Christ was the only player alive after Lexitonian took leg 1 at 34-1…and he almost pulled off the sweep, only missing on Cross Border in the Bowling Green. That meant a carryover of $623 into Sunday’s Pick 4 Jackpot.

Remember earlier when we said that we did away with the Pick 6 Jackpot game after it took 18 months for someone (Ezra Garrett) to hit it? No such problems with the Pick 4 Jackpot tourney.

Philip Webber smoked out the day’s four single-digit winners and, counting the $113 first-place prize, cashed for a total of $832. So next Saturday, the Pick 4 Jackpot will be reset at $500. 

There are still two Saturday Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers that we need to recap.

Ryan McCarthy captured the full-card, Saratoga-only game thanks to 3 winners that included Lexitonian (34-1) who came up the rail in the Vanderbilt Handicap and The Last Zip (7-1) who won, appropriately enough, the last race.

The multitrack Spa & Surf Showdown rewarded three skillful winners, topped by G.T. Nixon (3 wins, 4 places).

Also garnering $2,500 Showdown berths were the 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers Alan Lahr (3W, 2P) and Anthony “ATM” Mattera (3W, 0P).

For Mattera, the good feelings carried right on over into Sunday.

Here, in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers, Mattera doped out 4 winners and a place to earn the $10,000 entry and make it $12,500 worth of seat-value winnings in a 24-hour period. Kirk Tesar finished second to Mattera and grabbed a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

Ryan Mueller and Brett Koenig were the two winners in the other Sunday feature at HorsePlayers, a $165 NHC qualifier.

Mueller picked 6 winners and 3 runners up. Koenig stuck strictly with winners…he had four of them. Forest Caraway ($13.80, $5.40 in the 1st at Del Mar) was in each of their portfolios.

There were three Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers on Sunday and another three Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance play-ins.

Jon Petoskey had 6 wins and 3 places to lead the way in Sunday’s $147 multitrack qualifier. All 9 of Petroskey’s collections came in the first 9 contest races. Also getting $2,500 entries were Steven Simonovic (3W, 4P) and Jimmie O’Nail (3W, 1P).

The $368 Low Ratio, multitrack Showdown qualifier went to Marc Racenstein.

Marc had I’m Dashing ($24.40, $16.50) in the 11th at Woodbine as the heavy lifter among his 4 firsts and 1 second.

Jason Alonzo had 5 winners en route to victory in Sunday’s Saratoga-only, full-card Spa & Surf Showdown Pick & Pray.

Alonzo’s best collection was his first—Blissful ($14.80, $5.20) in race 2.

As for the Sunday Bally’s qualifiers, the multi-track version rewarded three players with $500 entries.

Cara Yarusso (3 wins, 1 place), Fabian Sultan (2W, 0P) and James Morgan (4 wins, 1 place) will all now have action on NHC Eve. Sultan’s second-place finish seemed especially unlikely after the first 8 races of the 12-race affair. His score at that point was a nice round number…zero.

Gary Wright prevailed in Sunday’s Saratoga-only Bally’s qualifier.

Similar to Jason Alonzo, who won the Saratoga-only Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, Wright had 5 collections (4 wins and 1 place in this case), topped by 6-1 winner Blissful in race 2.

Race 2 was also the key in the Del Mar-only, full-card Bally’s qualifier.

Marc Wlodkowski (3 wins, 1 place) connected in race 2 with Magnolia ($29.80, $11.20) to exit with the $500 seat.

Sunday’s highest score was racked up by the always-tough Peter Osella.

Osella turned those 5 wins and 3 places (including Stay Happy in the final race) into $12,563 in Sunday’s $25,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with a purse of $31,408. 

Stay Happy kept Peter Rinato out of the winner’s circle of that $31,000 game. He had to settle for second money of $5,015. But it was far from a disappointing day for Rinato.

Rinato had I’m Dashing ($24.40, $16.50) as his highest collection among 5 wins and a runner up. As a result, he will be one of no more than 57 in the field for The BIG One—to be held online again this year…right here…on September 18-19. 

Justin Dew (3 wins, 2 places) was the winner of Sunday’s Keeneland Online BCBC/NHC Challenge qualifier.

Dew was flying high after Afternoon Heat ran 2nd in the final contest race, the 5th at Del Mar, and paid $16.00 to place. To be fair, though, Dew was flying high before—and during—Afternoon Heat’s race. That’s because he played the contest from an airplane. 

And they say people don’t dress well on airplanes anymore…hogwash!

We picture Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce (5 wins, 2 places) not in an airplane but in a ragtop during Sunday’s Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge qualifier. In any event, Noce won.

Winning is often a part of Noce’s style, and he did so in part due to having Shiny Empire ($26.20, $13.20) in the 10th at Gulfstream and I’m Dashing ($24.40, $16.50) in the 11th at Woodbine.

Edwin Herr was the winner of Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney.

Herr chipped up with 2 wins (Forest Caraway and Shiny Empire) and 2 places to take home the top prize of $6,411 in a game ultimately worth a total of $9,159.

More chips (possibly even some of Herr’s) will be on the table come Wednesday when featured-tourney action resumes. Hope to see you then. In the meantime, thanks to all for the exciting and fun weekend just completed.