Eric Kurzhal Amasses Three BCBC Entries in 48 Hours; Tim Smith Collects Pick 4 Jackpot; Jorge Cruz-Aedo Racks Up Three Grand Prizes (Weekly Recap, October 20-24)

In the old days, D, Wayne Lukas used to run three-horse coupled entries in races like the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (See 1985.) This year, after the results of this weekend’s tourneys, that may be Eric Kurzhal in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Kurzhal’s “Lukas-like” weekend began, innocently enough in Friday’s Low Ratio BCBC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

With the Breeders’ Cup right around the corner, there were enough entries to award three $10,000 seats and Kurzhal got one of them on Friday, tying for first with Louis Masry and finishing solidly ahead of fellow winner James Zaccagnino, who was third.

Then, doing his best Brian Chenvert impersonation, Kurzhal decided to get really serious on Saturday.

He picked up BCBC entry #2 for $179, finishing second to Kenny McMahan.

And he used those same picks to also grab second in the day’s $1,000 Super Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Kurzhal is, no doubt, now frantically studying replays of various European grass races run over the past couple of months. Here’s a look at the scorecard that earned him the final two of those three $10,000 entries.

That Super Low Ratio qualifier on Saturday had an additionally odd twist in that the winner of the high-end game, Karl Barth, had the highest score of any featured-tourney contestant that day.

That is not how Low Ratio games…let alone Super Low Ratio games…are supposed to work!

Kurzhal’s BCBC hat trick was one of the highlights—but not the only highlight—of a featured-tourney week that began on Wednesday.

Kevin Willett (4 wins, 3 places) didn’t win Mega Millions, but a 12-1 shot by that name in the 5th at Delaware helped him win $3,079 in Wednesday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed with a purse of $6,843.

James Henry also picked Mega Millions, but what may have been more impressive was his overall consistency.

Henry had 5 firsts and 4 seconds from 10 races en route to earning a $1,500 Santa Anita Closing Day Challenge seat—and obviously Henry wasn’t just merely focusing on chalk to accumulate those 9 collections.

Stephen Luca and Charles Myers each had 4 wins and 2 places.

That made them the only two to eclipse $70.00…and that made them the two to walk away with $1,000 entries in Wednesday’s BCBC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier.

On Thursday, Dale Hatfield won the feud in the day’s $5,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Hatfield’s 3 winners and a place included near-capper Old Secrets ($40.50, $19.70) in the 7th at Woodbine. He pocketed $3,732 from a final pot of $8,295 for the win…and another $829 for running third with his other entry. Nice work!

There was also a special eight-race, Keeneland/Belmont BCBC qualifier on Thursday at HorsePlayers.

This one was a chalkfest. The two winners were Scott McKeever (4 wins, 2 places) and John “Kentucky” Kernell (4W, 1P). McKeever and Kernell each had the day’s biggest “bomb”, Risk Manager ($10.60, $5.80) in the 6th at Keeneland.

Friday’s high score was delivered by Pat Murphy.

It came in a good (and somewhat predictable) spot—Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Runner up G.T. Nixon was already double-qualified and playing for NHC Tour points, so that left the second available 2022 seat to third-place finisher Mark Elliott who had 2 wins and 2 places, including speedy grass sprinter Rustler ($44.00, $15.80) in the 9th at Belmont.

The winner of Friday’s HT Tour event also used Rustler.

It was Paul Sabatino, whose 4 winners were followed by two runners up. He bagged $8,453 in Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with a final purse of $18,786. Eric “BCBCBC” Kurzhal finished second ($3,381).

Come to think of it, Rustler was a common denominator on the tickets of most of Friday’s winners…including Joseph Maneen Jr.

Maneen had the Belmont longshot as one of the 5 firsts and 1 second that brought him a triumph worth a $1,500 entry in Friday’s Santa Anita Closing Day Challenge qualifier. 

Those same picks…

…served Maneen well elsewhere.

As a result, he’ll be in the field—and in the Treasure Island Race and Sports Book—for the November 5th Wager to Win contest with his $1,000 entry fee already covered.

There were three winners of $1,000 seats in Friday’s BCBC First Chance/Last Chance play-in. And actually, one of them did NOT have Rustler.

Lou Arellano (3 wins, 2 places) and Jose Giron (2W, 1P) did, and George Chute (5W, 2P) didn’t. They’ll all be in action this coming Sunday (Halloween) at Xpressbet.

No one managed to win Friday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier without using Rustler.

The two Rustler-backers who did the best—and, thus, merited $1,500 entries to the $250,000 Guaranteed all-cash event here in January—were Matthew Nixon (2 wins, 2 places) and Laura Arth (3W, 0P).

We had a couple of players who recorded a second victory on Saturday. One of them was James Zaccagnino.

Zaccagnino’s first celebration came on Friday when he earned a BCBC berth for finishing Louis Masry and Eric Kurzhal. Here, 3rd-place again got the job done for Zaccagnino (2 wins, 2 places) who picked up a $1,000 BCBC First Chance/Last Chance pass along with winner Jorge Cruz-Aedo (3 wins, 0 places), runner up Brian Chenvert (2W, 0P) and 4th-place finisher Dawn Fishman (3W, 1P). 

While 3rd-place proved lucky last week for Zaccagnino, the place hole was fortuitous on Saturday for Brian Chenvert.

His same two winners as in the BCBC First Chance/Last Chance game got him a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry as he bested all but Jeff Bussan who came up with 3 visitors to the Saturday winner’s circle.

By just 90 cents, Travis Culver (4 wins, 1 place) earned $13,520 in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Culver’s big horse was Prendimi, who utilized a seemingly golden Laurel rail to capture the Maryland Million Classic at odds of 12-1.

Kerry Sangara got off to a very fast start in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Sangara came up with 4 winners out of the first 5 races, then added a couple of place collections later on to pull in the top prize of $10,686 in a high-end tourney that was ultimately worth a total of $15,266.

Jeff Corcoran had 2 wins and a place to take the top spot in Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney.

Since no one went 4-for-4, it meant a carryover of $4,238 into Sunday. That’s when “The Commissioner” sprang into action.

Four winners—all within a narrow odds window of 9-2 and 7-1—got Tim Smith (not the real former NTRA Commissioner…after all, “Tim Smith” is a somewhat common name) a total of $4,913 once carryovers and day money was added up. Well done, Commish! As a result, next Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot will reset to a pre-seeded $500.

Another noteworthy Sunday performance was that of current HT Tour leader Jorge Cruz-Aedo. On Saturday, Cruz-Aedo picked up a $1,000 BCBC First Chance/Last Chance seat. And on Sunday…

…he grabbed himself another. Congratulations as well to his fellow $1,000 seat winners Ted Apple (4W, 2P, 1st place), Marc Stateler (3W, 2P, 3rd) and Alexa Zepp (4W, 0P, 4th).

Of course, even better than a BCBC First Chance/Last Chance seat is an actual $10,000 BCBC seat—and on Sunday, Jorge Cruz-Aedo got one of those as well.

Cruz-Aedo’s 4 wins and 3 places included Dawn’s Dancer ($17.80, $9.40) in the 9th at Keeneland, which turned out to be, by the clock, the final race of the Sunday featured menu. That got him the top spot in Sunday’s Super Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers, which had enough entries to award a 2nd grand prize winner. Ryan Mueller (3W, 3P) was that skillful recipient.

The merely “Low” (as opposed to “Super Low”) Ratio BCBC qualifier on Sunday at HorsePlayers went to Allan Schaffer (4 wins, 1 place) and Patrick McGoey (3W, 3P).

McGoey, of course, is a two-time BCBC Champion, having captured back-to-back editions of the world’s most prestigious live-bankroll handicapping contest in 2011 and 2012.

NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles had a very nice Sunday, recording the day’s highest score. 

The gaudy scoresheet meant that Stiles will appear yet again in the NHC (for a co-record 19th time).

Also in the field for the 2022 big dance will be runner up Troy Podratz (5 wins, 1 place), who turned this qualifier essentially into the Trey and Troy Show.

Where Trey was concerned…he didn’t score quite as well in Sunday’s Santa Anita Closing Day Challenge qualifier, but he won that one too.

Here, it was a different Podratz, Chris, who ran 2nd to Stiles. They both had Lucky Score ($11.50, $5.60) in the 7th at Woodbine, and they both garnered $1,500 entries for the Halloween Day test at Xpressbet.

Chris Podratz also took down a grand prize with a 2nd-place effort in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Here, Podratz and his 5 winners topped all but Geoffrey Schutt who submitted 4 firsts and 3 seconds into the HorseTourneys computer system. They each received $1,500 entries for the early-year, all-cash extravaganza.

Recent champion of The BIG One, Ken Seeman, remained hot on Sunday.

Last week, Seeman won a Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Yesterday, he took top honors—and the $5,699 that went with them—in our $7,500 Big Bucks tourney. Seeman hit the last two contest races to complete a 5-win, no-place day. Final purse for the game came to $8,142.

Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray belonged to Steve Pavich.

Pavich did Seeman one better, sweeping the final three races to finish up with an impressive 5 firsts and 3 seconds. He earned $10,288 from a total final purse of $22,863.

Last but not least, Sunday’s Treasure Island Wager to Win qualifier was a tight, defensive-minded affair.

Evan Trommer grabbed first place by the narrow margin of $1.80 thanks to his 3 wins and a place. The last race of the Pick & Pray was especially key for him. He had Keeneland race 9 winner Dawn’s Dancer at odds of 7-1 to take home the $1,000 entry. Next stop, Las Vegas for Trommer.

Next stop for us is the final weekend of October. We’ll be back with plenty more late BCBC qualifiers,  some final Santa Anita Closing Day Challenge play-ins, cash games and—in my own personal case—recaps of all of them in this space a week from today. Hope to see you here again then.