Kenny McMahan Wins Back-to-Back NHC Qualifiers; Peter Rogers Captures First Saturday Month-End Blowout and Comes Back for More the Next Day; Evan Trommer Takes Two on Friday and Another on Sunday (Weekly Recap, March 23-27)

By now, we’re sort of used to seeing players successfully double down (or triple down) on their picks across multiple events on a given afternoon—and it’s certainly nice to be amply rewarded when it turns out to be “our day.”

Lately, though, it seems we are seeing more and more players not just experiencing “their day”…but “their WEEKEND.” There were not one, not two, not three but four such examples last week.

Perhaps the most amazing of the three multi-day performances was that of Kenny McMahan.

McMahan bested 439 opponents at HorsePlayers in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier that also saw Robert Little (7 wins, 1 place) and Tom Agnello (5W, 2P) pick up 2023 seats.

It was a somewhat chalky day with just two double-digit winners among the 10 contest races, and McMahan managed to hit…neither of them!

Nine collections out of 10 races DO have a way of making up for various other omissions, however.

Kenny McMahan

Anyway, after emerging victorious in a 440-entry NHC qualifier, playing in one with “only” 119 entries might seem like a piece of cake, and, wouldn’t you know, McMahan won again.

It was another narrow margin of victory here for McMahan with the other $90+ scorer, David Barnier (7 wins, including the first 5, plus a place) accounting for the other NHC berth.

I’m no expert on NHC Tour scoring, but I’d think that—in addition to having two 2023 seats now instead of none a few days ago—McMahan would also suddenly be pretty prominent on the NHC Tour leaderboard. As several wise men and women have said in the past, you don’t choose the Tour, the Tour chooses you.

If McMahan’s Saturday encore wound up taking some of the spotlight away from Peter Rogers’s triumph in the first edition of our new Month-End Blowout, well…Rogers can cry all the way to the bank.

The first $50,000 Guaranteed Month-End Blowout was very well supported, and it offered a grand prize of $23,038 and an overall prize pool of $57,596. Rogers took the fattest part of the purse thanks to 5 wins and 3 places—and he made collections in each of the final seven contest races. Here was his Saturday scorecard:

Those same picks also earned Rogers a Florida Derby Challenge berth.

Here Rogers beat all but David Browning who put up the day’s highest score thanks to his having the day’s four longest-priced winners. Keith Van Lanen (4 wins, 1 place) also snared a $1,500 entry for running third. All three had Synthesis ($18.20, $6.20) in the 8th at Santa Anita.

A day later, Rogers elected to reinvest $156 of his winnings in Sunday’s Players Championship qualifier. Smart move.

Showing that the Blowout didn’t leave him blown out, Rogers collected in the first 6 races here en route to a 3-win, 5-place day and a runner up finish behind Wendy Long (6 wins, 1 place). Also gaining a $2,000 seat to the $350,000 Guaranteed middle leg of the 2022 Tourney Triple was 3rd-place finisher Darren Rudnick (5W, 1P).

One additional amazing thing about Rogers’s Saturday-Sunday performances that you may have already picked up on yourself: Between Saturday’s final seven contest races and Sunday’s first six, Rogers’s horses ran first or second in all of them—13 contest-race cashes in a row!

One of the weekend’s other multiple-day winners was Evan Trommer.

His score wasn’t large, and his top winner of four (plus a place) paid an unremarkable $8.20, yet the $52.40 final tally on Friday got Trommer both a $1,500 Florida Derby Challenge entry and a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat. 

After an un-noteworthy day on Saturday, Trommer came back strong on Sunday.

Trommer hit Lheea’s Joy ($10.20, $5.00) in the final contest race, the 12th at Tampa, to get up late and snag the up-top money of $6,411 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $9,159. 

Perhaps it’s a good thing for everyone that this wasn’t a holiday weekend, or else McMahan, Rogers and Trommer (and possibly Bruce Rossi, as you’ll see later) might have won even more.

The week got off to a great start for Igor Mirambeau, who recorded Wednesday’s highest score in taking the day’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

Mirambeau bagged $3,390 from a total final pot of $7,534.

Like Mirambeau, Jim Murphy came up with Dazzling Sunshine ($30.40, $14.20) in the 8th at Tampa on Wednesday.

The 14-1 shot plus three other winners and two runners up earned Murphy a $1,500 entry for this Saturday in the Florida Derby Challenge.

Carl Rasak (4 wins, 1 place) and Michael “The Coach” Goodrich (3W, 0P) were the two winners in Wednesday’s Players Championship play-in.

All of Goodrich’s scoring came in the first half of the 10-race competition.

The big horse on Wednesday for Eric Kurzhal (5 firsts, 0 seconds) was Skippin on Orchard ($21.40, $7.80).

The crucial winner for Kurzhal came in the next-to-last contest race, the 10th at Parx, and it elevated him to eventual victory in Wednesday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier. 

On Thursday, Steve Pavich’s big mover was Mover ($31.20, $8.80) in the 5th at Sam Houston.

Mover was among 4 victors and 2 runners up that combined to bring Pavich a return of $3,017 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with a purse of $6,636.

The other Thursday feature went to Peter Duca with a 10-race score of $40.20.

Duca (2 wins, 4 places) was the only entrant among 18 to turn a flat-bet profit, and that got him the $2,000 seat in Thursday’s qualifier to the $350,000 Guaranteed Players Championship on April 9-10. Duca’s biggest winner paid $8.80, so those four place payoffs aided his cause immensely.

As noted earlier, Friday was a low-scoring day, and the afternoon’s HT Tour event was a nail biter.

Thanks to a 5-2 winner in the contest nightcap, Bruce Rossi (2 wins, 5 places) prevailed by 30 cents over Dale Ross in Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a purse of $18,620. The winner’s share for Rossi was $8,379, while his near-namesake had to settle for $3,351.

For the second consecutive day, the winning score in our Players Championship qualifier was in the $40s.

Michael Solakis (4 wins, all in the final six races) and Anthony Spinazzola (3 wins, 2 places) got out of town with the $2,000 entries in this one. Spinazzola won his seat via tiebreaker over an unfortunate Michael Somich as a result of Spinazzola posting three winners to Somich’s two.

Kirk Rockwell painted a pretty picture for himself in Friday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier thanks to five straight winners at the outset.

Rockwell finished with 6 wins and 2 places, and he had both of the double-digit winners that were out there on Friday.

The Saturday featured-tourney day got underway early with a special $10,000 Guaranteed Dubai World Cup Pick & Pray.

Mark “El” Kapitan was well compensated for setting his alarm clock a little earlier than usual on Saturday. He received $5,403 from a final pot of $10,806 for his three nice-priced winners in the desert. Bruce Rossi came in second, nearly registering his second cash-game triumph in as many days.

Rossi (3 wins, 4 places) DID, however, manage to earn a grand prize for a second straight day, joining the red-hot quartet along with McMahan, Rogers and Trommer.

Thanks to an $11.00 place collection in the final contest race, Rossi got up for third behind Jim Wissig (4 wins, 4 places) and David McDonald (4W, 1P) in Saturday’s Players Championship qualifier. All three will be in the starting gate when the $350,000-guaranteed, All Optional Live event commences here on April 9.

Richard Loftus’s best return on Saturday came in the very first contest race.

Loftus picked Lost Leaf ($11.20, $5.00) in the 7th at Gulfstream. That was the first of eight collections (4 wins and 4 places) that propelled him to success in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Pick & Pray.

Like Bruce Rossi on Friday, John Kennedy (4 wins, 1 place) also captured a feature (on Saturday) by a razor-thin margin of 30 cents.

Anthony Spinazzola was the unlucky near-misser in this one, Saturday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble play-in..

“Downtown” Dennis Brown took 12 swings and went deep six times on Saturday.

That .500 batting average got Brown the sought-after $10,000 entry in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

A score of $52.40 proved sufficient—and lucrative—on Saturday for Randy Bauer.

Bauer’s 2 wins and 2 runners up paid him to the tune of $7,836 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which finished up with a purse of $11,195.

Neither James “The Greek” Snyder (3 winners)…

…nor Paul Stath (2 winners)…

…managed to go a perfect 4-for-4 while taking their respective $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys last weekend. So next Saturday’s Florida Derby Day $15 Pick 4 tourney will begin with $1,969 already in the kitty.

On Sunday, the high score of the day belonged to Bernard Reilly.

The 4-win, 5-place effort drove Reilly to victory in Sunday’s $165 NHC Pick & Pray.

Jerome Lindeman (4W, 1P) finished second to also punch his ticket to the 2023 event. They both had Drama Chorus ($25.00, $11.20) in the 9th at Tampa and Backchat ($24.40, $10.20) in the 10th at Gulfstream.

On Sunday, we offered our first qualifier to the April 30th Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge.

Anthony Peterkin picked up the $1,000 seat thanks to 4 firsts and 1 second.

Another “first chance” opportunity was our initial play-in to the April 9th Santa Anita Derby Challenge.

Here the seat on offer was worth $1,500, and it was captured by Nathan Kalish (4 wins, 3 places) who hit winners at odds of 11-1 and 4-1 at the end to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.

Brett Wiener tasted victory twice.

Using the same 3-win, 3-place picks that won him Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier, Wiener also finished on top in the Florida Derby Challenge play-in that also saw Dylan Donnelly (5W, 3P) and Jerry McClenin (3W, 3P) also exit with $1,500 berths for this Saturday. All three used Drama Chorus.

Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, was topped by Kevin Engelhard.

A pair of victorious 11-1 shots—Drama Chorus and Backchat—were among the 5 winners and 3 runners up that earned Engelhard the top prize of $12,698 in a game ultimately worth a total of $28,218.

Another who had both Drama Chorus and Backchat was Rich Pawlowski (3 firsts, 4 seconds).

Pawlowski will have his $3,500 entry already taken care of on April 23rd when he does battle in the Keeneland Grade One Gamble.

Over at HorsePlayers, Rocky Hardy made collections in each of the first six races and won Sunday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray under wraps.

Hardy’s 5 wins and 4 places gave him a $33.30 margin of victory at the end.

A couple final chances remain in which to qualify for the Florida Derby Challenge (which can be played on Saturday at either Gulfstream, Santa Anita or Xpressbet). And speaking of the Florida Derby, we’re upping the guaranteed on this Saturday’s featured cash game (the day’s HT Tour event) in that race’s honor. In the meantime, thank you all for your terrific support of last week’s featured schedule. You certainly gave me plenty of good things to write about. Onward and upward!