Gary Brous the Boss on Saturday; Jay Johns Earns Players Championship Entries on Back-to-Back Days; Jeff Higgins Captures Two NHC Seats (Weekly Recap, March 16-20)

Even though the Saturday and Sunday featured tourneys were conducted mainly in Live format, multiple winners were once again in ample supply. For the second straight week, only Thursday (when there are only a pair of marquee games) failed to generate at least a double grand-prize winner. 

On Wednesday, it was Jim Lisowsky who re-ignited the trend.

Lisowsky didn’t break any scoring records here. In fact, his tally of $51.60 was the lowest among all Wednesday winners. However, he still converted his 2-win, 2-place effort into two important seats (Keeneland Grade One Gamble and Players Championship) worth a combined $5,500.

At the other end of the Wednesday scoring spectrum was Zachary Agamenoni. 

Zach’s attack netted him the honor of high score of the day and, more importantly for him, a $1,500 Florida Derby Challenge seat for April 2.

Michael Marlaire heated up late, sweeping the final three contest races.

The late rally at the end of a 4-win, 2-place day garnered Marlaire the up-top money of $3,079 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed its doors with a total of $6,843 in the kitty.

The other Wednesday winner was California oncologist Dr. Ronald Tang.

Tang only came up with a couple of winners and one runner up, but one of those winners was Eight Weeks Long ($23.80, $10.00) in the 9th at Tampa and, as a result, Tang will be in the field for the June 4 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge.

On St. Patrick’s Day, it was Mark Stillmock who was flashing the most green.

Stillmock (3 wins, 2 places) had the day’s biggest price, Warrior’s Haven ($44.60, $22.80) in the 8th at Sam Houston, and he found $3,235 in his pot at the end of the rainbow…and at the end of Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a purse of $7,189.

James Dickson (4 wins, 2 places) and Jay Johns (3W, 0P) were the only two players in Thursday’s Players Championship qualifier to use Warrior’s Haven.

The Texas-sized payoff went a long way toward making Dickson and Johns the two recipients of $2,000 entries for the $350,000 Guaranteed middle leg of the Tourney Triple here on April 9-10.

For Johns, his Luck of the Irish continued right on over to Friday.

Johns (2 wins, 2 places) picked up his second Players Championship seat in as many days by besting fellow $2,000-berth winner Eric Kurzhal (3W, 0P). 

Kurzhal played those exact same picks in Friday’s Florida Derby Challenge qualifier.

Here, Kurzhal was second to one. Also, his three winners were very nicely spaced. He had one in the beginning, one in the middle and one in the end!

The big horse to have on Friday was Victory Crusade ($111.20, $38.40) in the very first contest race, the 6th at Gulfstream. Bobby Shoemaker had that one among his 3 winners and 2 runners up.

The five collections yielded $8,304 for Shoemaker in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with a final pot of $18,453.

Steve Simonovic’s two winners went off at 54-1 and 10-1, and he also added a place runner.

The Victory Crusade-highlighted selections led Simonovic to a $1,000 entry for this Saturday’s Sam Houston Texas Champions Day contest.

You’d think that Victory Crusade would have been a prerequisite for Friday success, but that wasn’t the case.

“The Coach” Michael Goodrich DID have Victory Crusade in Friday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier. In fact, that was his only winner of the day. However, Michelle Mount got the second available Keeneland seat without the first-contest-race Gulfstream bomb. Instead, she pieced things together with 3 wins and 3 places, and got up for second at the end via a $4.50 place collection in the final race, the 9th from Aqueduct.

Victory Crusade clearly wasn’t a “must have” in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier—as evidenced by the fact that none of the 17 contestants had the horse.

That was good news for Jim Cuzzupe, whose biggest winner—Barnfield ($23.80, $7.60) in the 3rd at Santa Anita—came with a little help from the California stewards. Barnfield was elevated to first after finishing a fairly well beaten second.

High score of the day on Friday was put up by The Gambling Actuary, Dave Nichols.

Nichols’s Friday calculations were not just statistically sound, they were inspired, and they earned him a 2023 NHC spot.

Jay Johns wrapped up a brilliant 48 hours by finishing 2nd in this $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers. And once again, there were enough entries in this low-cost NHC play-in for a third spot to be awarded. That one went to Jeff Higgins (2 wins, 3 places) who held on to third by blocking Mark Richards in the final race on a horse that wound up finishing second and returning $4.50 to place.

On Saturday, we offered our first qualifier to the Lone Star Million Betting Challenge on Memorial Day. So perhaps it was a fitting showcase for our handicapping star of the day, Gary Brous.

This one wasn’t close. Brous recorded the high score of the day here and won by more than a cap horse to take home the $2,500 entry plus $500 for travel.

He played the same 7-win, 3-place picks in Saturday’s Florida Derby Challenge qualifier, and that was bad news for his opponents.

Brous lost a few bucks—and a couple of place horses—in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, but it didn’t matter.

Brous walked off with $13,721 in cash to go with the $4,500 worth of seats and travel stipends he won. Quite a day!

Saturday’s NHC qualifier was right here at HorseTourneys, and the two winners were Kris Andaur (4 wins, 1 place) and Patrick “Gino” Gianforte (also 4W, 1P).

The biggest returner for both was Dontmesawithme ($38.20, $11.60) in the 8th at Laurel. Things were especially tense for Gianforte, who had to hit Loud Mouth ($15.00, $6.80) in the final contest race, the 7th at Santa Anita, to get up for 2nd.

Another three players who all liked Dontmesawithme were Anthony Spinazzola (4 wins, 0 places), Stephen Thompson (4W, 1P) and Lawrence Kahlden (4W, 0P)

They were three who won $2,000 berths in Saturday’s Players Championship qualifier.

Michael Caposio (3 wins, 1 place) came up with Dontmesawithme early and Loud Mouth late.

Caposio won a $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble entry and…

…the same picks also got him a $2,000 seat at the table of the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge on June 4th.

Gregory Lewis was another who had Dontmesawithme as the foundation of his Saturday success.

Lewis had the Laurel longshot plus two other winners and a place over at HorsePlayers to take home a hefty $10,000 seat to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Dontmesawithme was a key factor even in the 13-entry, $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. 

Two of the 13 had “DMWM”, including victor Joseph Zuer (3 wins, 2 places) who bagged $9,261 out of a total final purse of $13,230.

On the $15 Pick 4 Jackpot front, neither Greg Koff (3 wins) on Saturday…

…nor Michael Foster (2 wins) on Sunday…

…managed to achieve a perfect ticket in recording their respective victories, so next Saturday’s $15 Pick 4 Jackpot game will start with a carryover of $1,575.

On Sunday, one of the headline players was definitely Peter Rogers.

Rogers recorded a place collection before reeling off six straight winners in Sunday’s Florida Derby Challenge qualifier. His final count of $90.50 also stood up in the day’s $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Here, Rogers collected $12,206 for his dead-on marksmanship. Final pot for the game amounted to $27,125.

He didn’t pick six winners in a row on Sunday, but David Wolff turned in the high score, topping Rogers’s mark by a buck and a half.

The $92.00 total got Wolff a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge berth in the Low Ratio play-in at HorsePlayers. His biggest return among 5 wins and a place was Good Culture ($26.80, $9.80) in the 8th at Aqueduct.

The other Sunday feature at HorsePlayers, a $210 NHC qualifier, required the assistance of the highly-trained HorseTourneys stewards to break a tie for the second and final seat.

When they could finally be dragged away from the TV, where they were watching the NCAA basketball playoffs, the august body of arbiters determined that Jeffrey Banks (5 wins, 1 place) had claimed the second spot over Tom Agnello. They both had the same number of winners (5), and they both tied for the highest-priced winner (it was the same horse), and so it came down to the third tiebreaker which was number of place collections. Banks won that battle 1-0. 

First place, meanwhile, was not in question. Jeff Higgins had 4 wins and 4 places to lead the way and put the finishing touches on a memorable weekend that saw him collect two spots to the NHC. He had finished third behind Dave Nichols and Jay Johns in the $75 qualifier on Friday to acquire his first one.

Park Avenue ($13.80, $7.20) in the final contest race (the 8th at Santa Anita) moved Max Mathew into the high-rent district of Sunday’s Sam Houston Texas Champions Day contest qualifier.

The buzzer-beater got Mathew a $1,000 entry for next Saturday’s on-track competition.

The two players to top the $80 mark were the two to secure $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble entries on Sunday.

Winners Linda Igelski (6 wins, 1 place) and Matthew Kosco (5W, 1P) both had Grand Ave Girl ($24.80, $11.00) in the 8th at Gulfstream.

James Morgan explored all avenues in order to win Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize play-in.

Two of Morgan’s three winners were Grand Ave Girl and Park Avenue.

There were three winners in Sunday’s Players Championship qualifier.

Congratulations (and good luck on April 9-10) to Daniel Mah (5 wins, 1 place), Rick “I-65” Broth (4W, 1P) and Ken Zelin (1 place followed by 3 winners).

Last but not least, Evan Trommer took the top prize of $5,250 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game, which went off with a takeout to players of just 6.8%.

Trommer didn’t hit anything big—his longest-priced winner paid $11.00—but he chipped up frequently, posting 4 firsts and 3 seconds en route to the winner’s circle.

We hope you had an enjoyable weekend and that your brackets survived unbusted. The NCAA tournament resumes on Thursday, but the HorseTourneys featured events, as the far more prominent property, begin anew on Wednesday. Hope to see you then.