Dane Moore Has Blockbuster Sunday; Ken Seeman to Defend his Title in The BIG One; Jose Giron and Gregg Kingma Each Grab Two Grand Prizes (Weekly Recap, April 27-May 1)

While many handicappers eagerly anticipate the first Saturday in May, Dane Moore of Pinole, Calif., is clearly partial to the first Sunday in May. At least that’s what the evidence indicated this past weekend.

Moore and his score of $101.30 captured Sunday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray on Sunday.

A key contributor was cap horse Seventyseven Stone, who returned the max payoff of $64.00 here but rewarded parimutuel players to the tune of $137.90 to win and $53.60 to place in race 9 at Woodbine.

The same Pick & Pray selections also got Moore a $3,000 entry into the May 7 Kentucky Derby Challenge.

So, yes, we will be able to see if Moore is as good on the first Saturday in May as on the first Sunday. Also winning their way into the Derby Challenge starting gate were 2nd-place finisher Tanya Taylor (4 wins, 1 place) and Dr. Ronald Tang (2W, 4P). They both got up and into the chips by having Bella D ($13.00, $5.40) in the final tourney race, the 7th at Santa Anita.

The Kentucky Derby Challenge and BCBC qualifiers were two of the rare Pick & Prays offered on Sunday. Most of the features were run in Live format. But when you are feeling good about your picks, why get too clever?

Moore played the same horses in the Live-format Spa & Surf Showdown play-in that he did in the Pick & Prays, and the result was the same…he won. Finishing second but also winning—a $2,500 seat to the $400,000 Guaranteed Showdown—was Michael Solakis (3 wins, 0 places). Solakis also used Woodbine bomb Seventyseven Stone.

Moore also took a swing with his “written-in-stone” selections in Sunday’s Live-format NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. He didn’t finish first here, but the result for him was just as happy.

Only Michael Doleba managed to top “The Great Dane” here. He did so with 5 firsts, including Seventyseven Stone, plus a second. 

For the record, the high Sunday score was not Doleba’s, but, rather, that of Joe Petrella.

It came in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed game, where Petrella finished with 3 wins and 2 places after collecting in each of the final three races. Petrella earned $12,107 from a prize pool that closed at $26,906. You didn’t have to drill down too far to find Moore’s name again, though. He finished third here to pocket $2,690…which should cover his many entry fees and then some. Quite a day!

Wednesday was a good day for Donal Lydon.

Lydon had 5 wins and a place to bag $3,452 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which finished up with a pot of $7,672.

He needed A Gray for Carolyn ($5.60, $3.00) to get himself up from third to first at the end of this hard-fought contest.

Paul Fishman also needed A Gray for Carolyn in the 11th at Parx.

The Pennsylvania shortshot got Fishman up by a mere 20 cents at the end of Wednesday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge qualifier.

As was the case with Paul Fishman, the big returner on Wednesday for Thomas Michael Abinanti (2 wins, 1 place) was Bucks Are Missing ($33.60, $12.60) in the very first contest race, the 7th at Parx.

Abinanti chipped up thereafter to separate himself from the other two who had Bucks Are Missing, and he won the $2,500 seat in Wednesday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. All three of Abinanti’s selections originated from the Bensalem, Penn., oval.

With 4 wins and 4 places from 10 selections, David Herberholz was the big winner on Thursday.

Herberholz raked in $4,043 from a final purse of $8,986 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Here’s a look at his scorecard:

After missing out by 20 cents on Wednesday in the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, Jonathan Morrison came back strong on Friday.

Twisted Treasure ($39.20, $15.60) in the 9th at Tampa was Morrison’s best of 3 firsts and 3 seconds en route to a victory worth $8,678 in Friday’s HT Tour competition, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with $19,285 in the cash drawer.

Jose Giron had a profitable—and interesting—day on Friday.

Giron (4 wins, 2 places) and Bruce Rossi (3W, 2P) both came up with We Ready ($18.80, $5.80) in the 5th at Belmont, and they beat…y’all…in Friday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Giron played two entries in Friday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge qualifier, which was won by Ken Jordan who had Tampa longshot Twisted Treasure.

Giron got up for second here, thanks to catching a $6.80 place payoff in the last race. In the process, he adroitly edged out…himself!

Though they typically have less inherent strategy than a Live-format game, Pick & Prays can certainly generate some odd end-game scenarios depending on who your opponents—or you, yourself—have at the end. At any rate, Giron was clearly on the right two horses in the finale.

Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier was taken by 2021 NHC Tour Champ Kevin Costello (4 wins, 2 places) and Robert Pennell (3W, 3P).

The strong performances by Costello and Pennell kept them safe from the “uncoupled” Jose Giron entry…which finished 3rd and 4th.

Friday’s best performance came from Thomas Kuzdal.

Kuzdal’s three winners were the three highest out there on Friday, and they booked him passage to the 2023 NHC.

Also securing March 2023 spots were Justin Waitekus (4 wins, 2 places) and Anthony Spinazzola (1W, 4P). The 18-1 Twisted Treasure in the 9th at Tampa was Spinazzola’s only first-place finisher of the day.

A relatively low score of $49.50 got the job done for Blake Courtney (2 wins, 3 places) in the other Friday feature at HorsePlayers.

Courtney played the low ratio to his advantage, and his modest tally earned him an immodest $10,000 seat to this year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

We had a later slate of contest races than usual on Saturday, owing to the fine San Francisco Mile Day card on display at Golden Gate. Thomas Keenan (5 wins, 1 place) and Gregg Kingma (3W, 2P) used one of those Golden Gate races to particular advantage.

They each had Ultimate Bango ($47.80, $16.60) in the 10th at Golden Gate on the way to NHC berths in Saturday’s $165 qualifier at HP. Keenan’s score of $148.30 was the day’s best—and Kingma’s NHC seat was not his only grand prize of the day.

Interestingly, Kingma did not have Ultimate Bango in the Spa & Surf Showdown play-in, but he had three more collections (a total of 4 wins and 4 places) than he did in the NHC qualifier, and that allowed him to carry the day here as well. 

The weekend’s biggest cash winner was Gary Bain.

He had 5 firsts and 3 seconds to earn $20,697 in Saturday’s $50,000 Month-End Blowout, which also served as the day’s HT Tour game. Final purse for this one amounted to $51,744.

In the other lucrative Saturday cash tourney, Howard Welsh started slowly but finished fast.

Welsh whiffed on the first 5 races, but racked up 3 wins and 2 places over the final 7 to pick up $9,973 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which wound up with a final pot of $14,248.

The Kentucky Derby post position draw is taking place as I type this, and Bill “BC” Chenvert and Christopher “Liberty and Justice for” Ahl may be paying extra close attention to that pill pull given the results of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge qualifier.

Chenvert compiled 5 firsts and 2 seconds, topped by Scuttlebuzz ($33.00, $12.40) in the 9th at Belmont. Ahl (3 wins, 1 place) nabbed a $6.20 place payoff at the end to get up for 2nd by 20 cents.

Sean Nolan made collections in each of the final four races to finish with 4 firsts and 3 seconds.

For Nolan, it all added up to a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat.

Robert Morgan counted Ultimate Bango among his 5 wins and 2 places.

Morgan’s lofty score got him an also-lofty $10,000 seat to November’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Neither Alan Loring (who just had Ultimate Bango)…

…nor Patrick “Moral” Compas (who had everything except the 4-5 winner of Leg 2)…

…managed to go 4-for-4 in taking their respective $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourneys last weekend. So next Saturday’s Pick 4 Jackpot will start out with a carryover of $5,305.

Taking a look at the few 12-race tourneys on Sunday that didn’t prominently involve Dane Moore…

…Stephen Thompson had Seventyseven Stone plus one other winner and one runner up to lay his opponents to rest and capture the $2,000 entry in Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge qualifier.

For the first time in a few weeks, we were able to offer a play-in to Memorial Day’s Lone Star Million Betting Challenge.

Kirk Tesar came away with the $2,500 entry and $500 travel stipend thanks to 4 wins and 2 places. Almost incredibly, all four of Tesar’s winners went off at 5-1. In fact, that doesn’t even do justice to how narrow the odds range was of Tesar’s big four. They all paid between $13.00 and $13.60 in the win hole.

The BIG One is not an easy tournament to get into given that the maximum number of entries allocated for it is 57. However, the 2021 champion has already locked up the right to defend his title.

That’s Ken Seeman, who won $74,000 plus a Pegasus World Cup seat in last year’s “High Expectation Tourney.” On Sunday, he amassed 4 winners and 1 runner up to secure his return ticket to the event.

As with all online qualifiers to The BIG One, Seeman also received a $500 cash bonus for winning…and Ronald Tang got a $395 consolation prize/refund for finishing second. 

Sunday likely wasn’t one of George Chute’s most awe inspiring handicapping performances. He picked 3 winners and showed an 80-cent profit across his dozen contest plays. He was well rewarded for his efforts nonetheless.

Chute was the only player of eight to turn a profit, and so he walked off with the top prize of $5,699 in Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed its doors with a total payout pool of $8,142. 

At HorseTourneys, sometimes being “pretty good” is every bit as good as being really good. (It’s kind of the converse of the AT&T commercial.) 

We hope your weekend was better than just OK. And if it was not OK, there’s always the week ahead…including our final qualifiers to the Kentucky Derby Challenge on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. Good luck!