“Two-Fer” Week Sees Frank Polk, Joseph Muzio, Eric Kurzhal, Eric Brothers, Dane Moore, Ron Tang, Joe Scanio and Ray Arsenault All Win Twice (Weekly Recap, May 11-15)

Despite the fact that a great many of our featured tourneys were Live or All Optional Live games, not a day went by when we didn’t see someone win twice. Frank Polk, Joseph Muzio, Eric Kurzhal, Eric Brothers, Dane Moore, Ron Tang and 2017 NHC Champ Ray Arsenault all did the trick.

We’re going to begin our summaries of last week’s Elite Eight with Frank “54-40 or Fight” Polk because his twin killings were not only both lucrative…they occurred on two different days.

Polk picked 6 winners out of 10 races to pocket $8,154 in Friday’s HT Tour competition, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $18,121. An examination of Polk’s scoresheet shows that the six winners came in a row. They were also topped off by the only double-digit winner during a rather chalky day.

Polk’s score would have taken most of the Friday features, but unlike the other six dual-victors last week, Polk waited a day to record score #2.

And a score it was. This time, he earned $13,500 (for a two-day total of $21,654) in capturing Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed tourney, which had a takeout of 7.8%. It was the second HT Tour triumph for Polk in as many days, so look for him to rocket up the standings.

The featured-tourney week began, as usual, on Wednesday, and even though there were just three marquee games that day, that didn’t mean we didn’t have a double winner.

With 3 wins and 3 places, Joseph Muzio accounted for both our Live-format, $5,000 Guaranteed tourney and the day’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Pick & Pray. His three winners also all came consecutive—and all were either 5-1 or 6-1 shots. For the cash-game tally, Muzio earned $3,452 from a total final prize pool of $7,672.

Muzio passed on Wednesday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier and that was good news for David Nelson (4 wins, 1 place).

It was also good news for Steve Arrison (2W, 2P). Nelson and Arrison were the only two players to exceed $50.00 in this one.

On Thursday, there were just two features—but, again, that didn’t mean we didn’t have a double winner.

This time it was Eric Kurzhal who did the honors. His margin of victory in the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier was relatively comfortable, but it was razor thin—just 70 cents—in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $9,262. Kurzhal earned $4,168 for edging G.T. Nixon, though the door was certainly wide open for Nixon late. Both he and Kurzhal whiffed on their final three Thursday plays.

On Friday, the high score came not from Frank Polk, but from Rick Vasquez in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. James Aspenleiter (4 wins, 3 places) finished second to grab the other available 2023 seat.

What Vazquez (through no fault of his own) lacked in gaudy prices, he more than made up for in consistency.

Seven firsts and two seconds out of 10 races. The only race in which Vasquez failed to increase his score was the final one.

Tom Cooper’s Friday wasn’t too shabby either—6 wins and 2 places.

The eight cashes added up to a $10,000 seat in Friday’s other feature at HorsePlayers, a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

Drew Keaton stayed hot this week.

Five days after winning three featured tourneys last Sunday, Keaton (5 wins, 1 place) bagged a $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown seat. Jose Giron (4W, 2P) reported home second to secure the other available berth to the $400,000-Guaranteed event.

With no one reaching the $50 mark, Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier was tight.

In the end, it was 2007 NHC winner Stanley Bavlish (3 wins, 1 place) and Stephen Thompson (2W, 4P) who emerged from the hard-fought, defensive struggle with $2,000 entries. Thompson got second by winning a tiebreaker over…himself.

On to Saturday—another day, another double winner.

This time it was Eric Brothers who turned two, taking the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier with 4 wins and a place and using the same selections to annex our first Xpressbet Preakness Challenge play-in. Dane Moore and Karl Barth ran second and third behind Brothers to also acquire $1,500 Preakness Challenge entries.

Actually there were two two-grand-prize winners on Saturday…because the runner up in the Spa & Surf Showdown play-in, Dane Moore, was also the happy silver medalist in Saturday’s NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Mark McGuire set the tempo in this one, blasting 5 winners and dropping in a couple of place horses. His 12-race score of $122.60 was the day’s highest.

Robert Schintzius Sr. was the leading man in the other featured tourney at HorsePlayers on Saturday.

Schintzius’s Saturday involved 3 firsts followed by 3 seconds, and that got him the sought-after $10,000 entry in the day’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

Tyler Sisk whiffed on his final five Saturday picks, but that didn’t stop him from winning the day’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge qualifier.

Appropriately, his biggest return came with R Boy Cheekum ($24.20, $10.20) in race 10 at Monmouth.

Brett Wiener was the winner of Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Wiener won $7,836 in a game ultimately worth a total of $11,195.

On Sunday, there were three multiple winners—one of whom was in the money at the end of the 1,800-person free NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Jessica Richards led the masses with 7 wins and 2 places from 15 races.

Also getting the most bang for their $50 membership buck were Tim Odorisio (4 wins, 5 places), Rich Vioral (6W, 3P), 2017 NHC Champ Ray Arsenault (5W, 1P) and Mike Mahony (6W, 0P). All five of the skillful seat winners had Royal Urn ($37.20, $11.60) in the John J. Reilly Handicap (race 8) at Monmouth.

Fourth-place finisher Arsenault (3 wins, 1 place here) took a backseat to no one in Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier. 

Arsenault and fellow seat winner Joe “Tex” Scanio both had Royal Urn plus Roaring Forties ($28.80, $15.00) in the 6th at Woodbine.

Similar to Arsenault, Scanio combined an “in-the-money” contest placing with an outright victory.

Why do we call through-and-through New Yorker Joe Scanio “Tex”? Because we’re told he has always been a big fan of Lone Star Park qualifiers. So Tex will be at his home away from home on Memorial Day after taking Sunday’s Lone Star Million Betting Championship play-in. Joining Scanio in the field will be runner up Charley Witt, who accumulated 3 wins and 2 places to get second.

High scorer on Sunday (by just a little) was Anthony Schiavone, who held sway in the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Schiavone had 5 wins and 3 places. Runner up, and fellow Showdown berth recipient, Ron Tang flipped that script with 3 wins and 5 places.

In Sunday’s guaranteed qualifier to The BIG One, Tang flipped the script from second to first. 

Tang lost a couple of place collections here relative to his Spa & Surf play-in performance, but he retained Monmouth longshot to become one of no more than 57 in September’s The BIG One field. He also receives a $500 online winner’s bonus that gets paid out here each Sunday to the winner of The BIG One qualifier.

On Sunday, we hosted our first qualifier to the July 30-31 Del Mar Summer Challenge, and the winner of the $5,000 entry was a recently familiar face.

That’s Riley “The Glide” Drexler who enjoyed a $161,000 windfall for finishing first in last April’s Players Championship. 

Drexler (6 wins, 0 places) will shoot for another mini-windfall at Del Mar in July…and a million-dollar windfall just one week later here in the Spa & Surf Showdown (since he is one of two eligible for our million-dollar bonus).

Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, was run in All Optional Live format, meaning players had to make 10 plays from 25 available contest races.

The winner, Max Schnepf, picked all 3 of his winners over the first 9 of 25 races (from five plays). Those winners paid $10.80, $37.20 and $28.80—which helped make up for the absence of any place collections for Schnepf. He reeled in $11,947 from a pot that closed at $26,550.

Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game, also an All Optional Live affair, attracted just six entries…which meant an 8% overlay situation for players.

The one (of six) who benefited the most was Sean Nolan, whose score of $79.60 was more than twice that of his nearest opponent. Nolan received $5,250 for his efforts.

There were three winners of $1,500 seats in Sunday’s play-in to this Saturday’s Xpressbet Preakness Challenge. 

Congratulations to John Gamane (5 wins, 2 places), Michael Arena (4W, 4P) and Bill Shurman (6W, 0P).

Last but not least, the winner of Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers was David “Chelsea” Pyrz.

Pyrz came up with an assortment of 4 firsts and 2 seconds that was topped by Roaring Forties ($28.80, $15.00) in the 6th at Woodbine.

Next stop, the Preakness. No Rich Strike, but you can still strike it rich—in Saturday’s $50,000 Guaranteed cash game, among others. Hope to see you then!