Shawn Turner Scores a Sunday Hat Trick; Big Turnaround Gets Trey Stiles to a 20th Straight NHC; Anthony Trezza Captures $45,000 Tourney (Weekly Recap, March 30-April 3)

Every now and then, you stumble upon a horse you want to root for just because of the name. Many would say that one such example is Good Bye Putin. The Santa Anita-based runner didn’t just make $2 hunch bettors smile with his 15-1 victory in Sunday’s 6th race, he also delivered big rewards to several HorseTourneys contestants —most notably Shawn Turner.

Turner (4 wins, 1 place) and Mark Mitchell (4W, 2P) each had Good Bye Putin in the final race of Sunday’s $210 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers, and that meant that both earned their spots in the March 2023 event.

The winning didn’t end there for Turner. 

Good Bye Putin helped Turner annex Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $27,344. Turner’s share of that was $12,304.

Turner’s empire expanded further with Good Bye Putin in Sunday’s 12-race Players Championship qualifier.

It took the highest score of the day—by Michael Guadagno—to top Turner on Sunday. And with the $350,000 Guaranteed middle leg of the Tourney Triple now less than a week away, there were enough entries in this play-in to award five $2,000 entries. Those other three went to Bruce Rossi, Ken Seeman and Wendy Long.

The featured-tourney week kicked off on Wednesday, and Basil DeVito figured prominently in two of the events.

DeVito came down from the top rope to land 22-1 and 5-2 winners at the end and take Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game. The 4-win, 1-place effort meant $2,861 for DeVito, out of a final pot of $6,359. Here was his scorecard:

DeVito also earned a $2,000 Players Championship seat on Wednesday.

The contestants who finished directly in front of and behind DeVito—Mike Lazarus (3 wins, 1 place) and Thomas Kolschowski (2W, 2P)—will also be part of the All Optional Live Battle Royale this coming weekend.

Craig Spencer’s big Wednesday horse was Ideal Breeze ($27.40, $11.40) in the 8th at Tampa.

That 12-1 shot plus three other winners and two places got Spencer a $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble entry for April 23rd.

There were two features on Thursday, but only one person came up with a first-place finish.

Daniel Goldstein won $3,826 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, and he did all his scoring in the first 4 contest races.

His three winners included the day’s two highest prices—and those picks played nicely in Thursday’s Players Championship qualifier.

Anthony Laurino accounted for the other $2,000 entry that was up for grabs. Like Goldstein, Laurino came up with the day’s two highest-priced winners en route to his success.

Friday’s high score was put up by NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles, but it sure didn’t look like he’d accomplish anything of the sort after the first 6 races of the 10-race day.

Stiles went from “can’t-win” to “can’t miss” and, as a result, will be heading to the NHC for a remarkable 20th consecutive year.

This particular $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers had an unusually generous guarantee of 5 seats, and the others went to Al Goblick (4 wins, 2 places), Edward “Savings and” Lohn (4W, 1P), Dominick Capobianco (2W, 4P) and Michael Marlaire (3W, 2P).

As was the case for Trey Stiles and so many other Friday victors, the big horse for Sherry “Hit ‘em Where They” Arndt was Masked Marauder ($43.20, $10.60) in the 8th at Aqueduct.

The 2-win, 2-place performance paid Arndt to the tune of $8,528 in Friday’s HT Tour competition, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $18,952.

John Behnke also had Masked Marauder.

Behnke finished with 3 wins and 2 places, and he took home a $1,500 entry—redeemable this Saturday in the Santa Anita Derby Challenge.

Three players punched their tickets on Friday for the upcoming $350,000 Guaranteed Players Championship.

Congratulations to Patrick “Gino” Gianforte (1 win, 3 places), Neal Metzger (2W, 0P) and Stephen McNatton (3W, 4P).

Michael Somich made collections in each of the final 6 races on Friday.

He finished with a total of 2 wins and 5 places, and he’ll now be in action on April 23rd in the Keeneland Grade One Gamble.

A score of $45.00 got the job done for Brett Wiener.

Wiener nailed Lamplighter Jack ($9.80, $4.00) in the final contest race, the 9th at Gulfstream, to get up late in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge play-in.

Who won the richest tourney of the weekend? Why it was the good (eye) doctor, Anthony Trezza.

The man they call Doczill put together the high tally of the day…

…in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our featured Florida Derby Day cash tourney, which had its purse guaranteed upped to $45,000 for the special day.

Trezza’s take came to $20,250.

In Saturday’s NHC Pick & Pray, Danny Kelly (4 wins, 3 places), Jay Johns (1W, 6P) and Kenneth Mollicone (4 wins, 1 place) all had the late-closing On the Hill ($23.20, $10.40) in the 9th at Aqueduct on Saturday.

Johns was already double qualified for the NHC, so he was in it mainly for the NHC Tour points. That meant the two available spots went to winner Kelly and 3rd-place finisher Mollicone.

There were three Players Championship qualifiers on Saturday.

The 12-race, all-mandatory game went to 2021 NHC Tour Champ Kevin Costello (6 wins, 2 places), with his nearest pursuers, Laura Arth (5W, 0P) and John Farrar (6W, 1P) also grabbing themselves $2,000 entries.

We also had a Gulfstream, full-card Players Championship play-in.

It was taken by Alan W. LeFevre with 6 firsts and 2 seconds.

Then there was the one offered in All Optional Live format—the same format that will be in play this weekend for the Players Championship.

Douglas Schenk (2 wins, 1 place) and Mark “Santana” Tabakman (2W, 0P) came away with the two two-grand seats here. They both had 10-1 winner On the Hill at the Big A. After the game, Tabakman credited his son Jake for his good fortune. Jake convinced his dad to switch one of his picks over to On the Hill.

Despite having On the Hill, Stephen Wagner (2 wins, 1 place) didn’t manage to turn a flat-bet profit…

…but neither did anyone else in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. Wagner got out of town with $10,686 out of a total final prize pool of $15,266.

Shad Walton (2 wins, 2 places) and former NHL star (and current hockey and horse racing TV analyst) Eddie Olczyk were the two in the money in Saturday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble play-in.

Pulling his goalie for an extra attacker, Olczyk scored with White Abarrio in the final contest race, the Florida Derby, to get up late for 2nd.

James Henry’s 4 cashes (2 wins, 2 places) came consecutively…

…and they added up to victory in Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby Challenge qualifier.

Evan Trommer picked 3 Saturday winners, but his biggest collection came via one of his two runners up.

Trommer had 118-1 shot Big Tentations in the 11th at Gulfstream. The $22.00 max place payoff for the second-place finish made the difference for Trommer in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

Over at HorsePlayers, the Saturday feature was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Kevin Olson came away with the $10,000 seat for this November thanks to his 4 firsts and 3 seconds.

Neither Stu Kantor (2 winners)…

…nor Tony “Good Bye Putin” Calabrese…

…went 4-for-4 in winning their respective $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys over the weekend. So next Saturday’s Pick 4 Jackpot game will open for business with a carryover of $2,401.

Near the top, we mentioned that 2021 The BIG One champ Ken Seeman got himself a  Players Championship berth for finishing 4th behind Michael Guadagno and prolific Sunday winner Shawn Turner. Seeman also earned a Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat on Sunday.

Seeman racked up 4 firsts and 1 second to gain the $2,000 seat for June 4th.

Nick “529” Fazzolari came up with 2 runners up followed by 2 winners that included 15-1 Good Bye Putin in the contest nightcap.

The late heroics brought “Nicky Fazz” a $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble seat.

NHC Hall of Fame member Trey Stiles had a nice win on Sunday. One of his brethren tasted success on Sunday.

On this day it was Paul Shurman who waved the flag for the hallowed hall inductees with a 2-win, 3-place triumph in our Santa Anita Derby Challenge qualifier. Joining Shurman in this Saturday’s contest will be Gregory Lewis (3 wins, 2 places). They both had Good Bye Putin.

Lawrence Kahlden’s lone winner was Good Bye Putin.

Hello Lone Star. Kahlden, who chipped away with four place collections prior to his big finish, earned a $1,000 entry to the April 30th Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge.

Another “one-win wonder” thanks to Good Bye Putin at the end was Jim Trepinski.

Trepinski (1 win, 2 places) snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game, which closed with a pot of $9,159. Trepinski’s share of that amounted to $6,411.

Michael Kiatipis didn’t ferret out Good Bye Putin in Sunday’s “10-plays-from-25 races” All Optional Live qualifier to the Players Championship, but he came away with the victory by a narrow margin of $1.10.

The heavy lifter for Kiatipis (3 wins, 2 places) was Mr. Mac Quhae ($19.80, $8.20) in the 9th at Gulfstream. (Selfishly, I hope Mr. Mac Quhae doesn’t win any more races that are a part of our featured tourneys—because it’s a very difficult name to spell/type correctly.)

Over at HorsePlayers, Cameron Radis wrapped up a nice 4-win, 2-place day with Good Bye Putin.

In the process, Radis blocked runner up John Nichols, and Radis came away with the $10,000 entry in Sunday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Next stop: the Players Championship. We’ll have all the usual trimmings, including a live Youtube webcast with Bill Downes and Chris Larmey on Saturday and Sunday plus (we hope) an interview here with the winner sometime next week. 

Good luck to all, and to all a good week.