Drew Keaton Sweeps Big Bucks Tourneys and Adds Three Other Victories; Jim Lisowsky Takes Month-End Blowout Plus Spa & Surf Qualifier; Evan Trommer and Anthony Trezza Dominate Friday (Weekly Recap, May 25-30)

No one is playing better right now than Drew Keaton.

During an outstanding six-week run, Keaton may have had his best week yet thanks to a Saturday-Sunday that saw him rack up five victories. Two of those tallies came in the weekend’s two Big Bucks games.

On Saturday, he hit for $7,124…plus a Monmouth Pick Your Prize seat after finishing third among a quartet of winners that included Lawrence Kahlden (3 wins, 1 place), Sean O’Malley (2W, 2P) and George “W.” Bosch (3W, 1P). 

Then on Sunday, Keaton came back to pull in a Big Bucks windfall of $6,411. While he was at it, he also picked up a $1,500 Gold Cup Challenge seat as well as a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry.

It was the latest salvo in an assault that began on April 23 with a Big Bucks win worth $8,519. After coming up dry the week of April 27th, Keaton went on to capture seats to the Spa & Surf Showdown, The BIG One and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge on May 8. He then added another Spa & Surf Showdown entry the week after that…and a cash-game win worth $10,434 the week after that…before turning in his four-bagger performance over the Memorial Day weekend. For those without a calculator handy, the six-week stretch added up to cash winnings of $32,488 and contest entries worth $28,500. It will be interesting to see what he has planned for next weekend…though his opponents may not be all that eager to find out.

Despite Keaton’s largesse, there were plenty of other highly worthwhile prizes for others to win during an extra-long featured-tourney week that began on Wednesday.

Bob Dwyer was the first of the week’s seven $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown seat winners. Dwyer recorded 5 firsts and 2 seconds in the course of the triumph.

Thomas Buechler was Wednesday’s top cash earner.

Buechler picked 4 winners, topped by Black Butte ($31.60, $13.40) in the 6th at Thistledown to pocket $2,612 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed tourney, which finished up with an overall purse of $5,806. Here was his scoresheet:

A different Thistledown horse was the top yielder for both Kevin Willett (5 wins, 1 place) and Kevin Engelhard (4W, 1P).

It was Sweet Outlook ($19.60, $11.20) in race 7 at the North Randall, Ohio, oval that did the most to propel Willett and Engelhard to $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize entries.

Thanks to Full of Mischief ($23.40, $8.00) in the 5th at Gulfstream, Mark “Santana” Tabakman had the highest Thursday score.

For the 3 wins and a place, Tabakman was rewarded with $4,043 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

The final pot for this one came to a hefty $8,946.

The other Thursday feature was taken by cash-game runner up Brett Wiener.

Simms ($15.20, $7.00) in the 7th at Delaware (where Scott Brunner went to school) was Wiener’s best pick among 4 wins and a place in Thursday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. (When Bill Parcells took over as head coach of the Giants in 1983, he benched Phil Simms in favor of Scott Brunner. Fortunately for Giants fans, Parcells eventually switched back.)

Another who has a love-hate relationship with quarterbacks (at least based on his Twitter account) is Washington Redskins/Football Team/Commanders fan Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza. 

Few things raise Trezza’s ire more quickly than a mention of Kirk Cousins. Happily, though, he can call his own signals here at HorseTourneys.

Trezza’s friends were singing, “Hail to Doczilla” after he put up the day’s highest score and earned $8,753 in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which had a final prize pool of $19,451. Here was his 5-win, 3-place scorecard:

We’ll assign Trezza a quarterback rating of 127 for that performance…since that was his score (highly scientific!)…though perhaps we should have tossed in some bonus points, because those selections won twice for him.

Here, Trezza picked up a $2,500 seat to the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown on August 6-7.

Who else did multiple end-zone dances on Friday? Evan Trommer!

Thanks in part to Ima Beast ($28.50, $7.40) in the 4th at Woodbine (a big winner for Trezza as well), Trommer took Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

Trommer was also one of three $2,000 seat winners in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

Trommer finished a happy third behind Jessica Newman (5 wins, 3 places) and Steven Culhane (5W, 1P). All three had Khozy My Boy ($20.60, $8.40) in the 8th at Gulfstream.

Trommer also had to be happy with his other third-place finish on Friday…in the $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Since he is already double qualified, Trommer was playing not just for the thrill of completion, but for NHC Tour points as well. His bronze-medal performance will get him plenty of those. Meanwhile, there were enough entries to award three 2023 seats—which went to the 1st-, 2nd- and 4th-place finishers. Leading the way with 5 wins and a place was 2019 NHC Tour Champion David Snyder.

Also picking up berths were  NHC “frequent ‘fiers” Bill Shurman (4 wins, 1 place) and Trey Stiles (4W, 2P). All three seat winners had Unfaithful Ways ($15.20, $6.60) in the final contest race, the 9th at Santa Anita.

Saturday was the final Saturday of the month—which meant it was time for another Month-End Blowout, with an increased purse guarantee for our HT Tour game of $50,000. It barely filled…total entry fees came to $50,500, and that meant a microscopic takeout to players of 0.1% (similar to the interest rate I get on my savings account). 

The winner of the $20,000 first prize, thanks to 3 firsts and 2 seconds was James Lisowsky.

The big horse for Lisowsky—as well as many of Saturday’s large profiteers—was No Que No ($66.00, $21.20) in the 10th at Gulfstream.

Lisowsky played most of those same horses (including No Que No) back in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown play-in.

Despite a slight diminution in score, Lisowsky won this won too. Finishing a “just-fine-thank-you” second was John “The Clocker” Nichols (3 wins, 0 places), who also earned a $2,500 entry to the final leg of the 2022 Tourney Triple.

The best score of the day on Saturday (and by a fairly wide margin) was generated by John Gaspar in the $165 NHC Pick & Pray.

The gaudy score came not just as a result of Gaspar’s 3 winners, but also due to his 7 runners up—a couple of which paid double-digits. Joining Gaspar in the big ballroom at Bally’s next March will be runner up Tom “Hit ‘em where they” Arndt, who registered 4 firsts and 3 seconds.

Over at HorsePlayers, the Saturday feature, a $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier, was captured by Gregg “Sky” Kingma with 3 wins and 2 places.

Here again, it was No Que No who had the eventual winner, Kingma, shouting “Yes, yes, yes!”

Frank “54-40 or Fight” Polk has had his name in this space a lot lately, and he assured that that would be the case again by putting up the high score of the day on Sunday.

Polk came up with 5 wins and 3 places to collect $12,403 in Sunday’s HT Tour competition, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which shut its doors with a total of $27,562 in the kitty.

Polk’s best play was on 12-1 winner Balladeer in the 5th at Santa Anita. Ryan Mueller couldn’t boast of any winners on Sunday that paid that much. In fact, his biggest return came via one of his 3 runners up.

Still, Mueller managed to piece things together effectively, and he will now be one of no more than 57 in the field for September’s The BIG One.

It was much the same story for Anthony Spinazzola. His best return all day was also the $19.40 place payoff provided by Magnolia Road in the 10th at Gulfstream.

Like Mueller, Spinazzola also made the place collection count. That one along with 5 winners and one other runner up got him the $2,500 entry in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Raul Pantoja didn’t even have a collection as big as Spinnazola’s and Mueller’s place horse, Magnolia Road. That didn’t stop him, though.

Pantoja compiled 5 winners—none paying more than $8.20—and 2 places to snag a $5,000 entry in Sunday’s Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier.

There were three winners of $2,000 seats in Sunday’s play-in to this Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge.

Congratulations to 2021 NHC Tour victor Kevin Costello (5 wins, 2 places), G.T. Nixon (3W, 3P) and Dennis Galvin (5W, 3P). Nixon cashed tickets in each of the final three races to get up; Galvin cashed in the final four.

After blitzing his way to a 2021 HT Tour championship, Jorge Cruz-Aedo has had trouble gaining traction in the 2022 HT Tour campaign. Perhaps he just needed a rare Monday Tour offering to get himself back on track.

In the 2nd and 3rd contest races, Cruz-Aedo doped out winners paying $36.40 and $30.00. Later, he came up with a $23.60 winner, and Cruz-Aedo took home the up-top money of $16,354 in a special Memorial Day $35,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. The total purse ultimately wound up at $36,344.

Dr. Ronald Tang made a couple of $5,000 “collections” on Monday.

He had 3 winners—topped by Silken Dollar ($30.00, $12.40) in the 10th at Belmont—to come away with the $5,000 seat in Monday’s Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier.

And he earned a $5,000 partial Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry for running second to the victorious Sherrill King (4 wins, 3 places) in the Low Ratio qualifier over at HorsePlayers. King hit Ocean Road ($12.20, $5.40) in the final contest race to wrest the full enchilada away from Tang.

The other Memorial Day featured tourney at HorsePlayers was a $125, 1-per-85 NHC Pick & Pray with two spots guaranteed. Whether it was the price point, the winning ratio, the holiday leisure time or the solid amount of NHC Tour points available, the event was well attended—so much that three seats went flying out the door.

Congratulations to the winning trio—Tim Kindlon (5 wins, 3 places), Mickey Hopkins (5W, 1P) and Jonathan “Green New” Dille (5W, 0P).

Monday’s high score came not from the above 286-entry get together, but from the 55-entry Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

Bobby Marks had 5 winners (including three really nice ones) plus two place to lead a group of three that emerged with $2,000 entries for this Saturday. The other two were Greg “Cookin’ with” Gass (4 wins, 1 place) and Dave “Gambling Actuary” Nichols (4W, 2P). 

As for Marks, here’s a look at how his Monday went:

So Marks’s Monday went very well. As for Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce, his Memorial Day started out…not so well.

In early afternoon, Noce was putting the finishing touches on his “quick, early-bird” selections, when his wife called out to see if he could help her with something in the yard of their Rochester, N.Y. home. Noce marched dutifully outside to assist, and when the task was completed, he went back inside…just as some of the early results started coming in. 

“Wow, I had that price horse at Lone Star,” Noce marveled to himself. “I’ve got to be doing really well in that feeder for The BIG One!”

When he actually checked the leaderboard, though, this is what he saw:

Noce had completed most of his early-bird entries…but not the two for The BIG One. He felt like a fool.

Understandably, he wondered if this were a sign that he should just skip the day’s qualifier for The BIG One and not throw good money after bad. But he noticed the guaranteed qualifier was coming up a bit light in numbers so he pressed on.

Good move. Noce’s persistence eventually paid off—even if it took until the very last race for things to come to pass. (And imagine how frustrated he might have been had he ultimately not hit “send” on those 12 The BIG One Pick & Pray selections.)

We trust that there wasn’t too much frustration during Mike “Afternoon” Delatte’s afternoon.

Delatte sent two big skyrockets in flight early in the Monday Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier, and he sorted of coasted from there to pick up the $2,500 berth.

Whether you won or lost, we hope you all had an enjoyable holiday weekend. Next stop: June—and we’ll be ready with some more featured tourneys when the calendar flips on Wednesday. Hope to see you then.