Gregory Caliwag Earns $15,193 in Saturday Cash Feature; Scott Galica Hits Seven Exactas out of 12 races; Sean O’Malley Succeeds With Just One Winner (Weekly Recap, August 31-September 5)

During an extended holiday week, we hosted 30 featured tourneys and awarded 35 grand prizes across those 30 events. Nevertheless, not a single person garnered top honors more than once. The 35 prizes went to 35 different people.

This was no “Everybody gets a trophy” situation, though. Competition was fierce. Given the spread-out nature of things, we’ll attack this week’s recap in a straight, chronological fashion.

Dale Hatfield pocketed $3,452 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which finished up with a purse of $7,672.

Hatfield closed out August in style with 5 winners and 2 places…most notably turf longshot Boppy O in the 9th at Saratoga, the With Anticipation Stakes.

For the record, Boppy O returned $48.20 in the parimutuel win hole. That was the only winner Sean O’Malley had all day.

Fortunately for O’Malley, he was the only one of 25 who had the son of Bolt D’Oro, and that one plus a single place collection got him the $3,500 seat in Wednesday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge qualifier.

On Thursday, the star of the day was Jeffrey Ferrazano—because he was the winner of that day’s only featured event.

Ferrazano picked up $3,857 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which ended up with a total of $8,571 in the pot. Here was his scorecard:

Four of Ferrazano’s five winners—and both of his runners up—paid double digits. Still, he managed to prevail by just $5.10 over Keith Simon, who accounted for the next two places in the standings.

Friday was one of those days (as was Monday) when prices were in short supply. Jimmie O’Nail had the biggest one of the day.

Yep, Street Facts at 8-1 was as lucrative as things got on Friday. That was fine, though, with “JO’N”…who bested fellow seat winner “JVN” (Jon Van Niel) in the day’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. 

For the record, Van Niel (5 firsts, 3 seconds) had the day’s second-highest-priced winner—We’ve Had Enough ($13.80, $6.00) in the 8th at Woodbine.

Lenny Schultz also couldn’t get enough of We’ve Had Enough.

The Woodbine victor plus 3 other winners and 2 runners up gave Schultz the “W” in Friday’s other feature at HorsePlayers, the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray. Zachary Ledford reported home second to grab a $5,000 partial entry.

Mark Aylward (4 wins, 2 places) took the first of four HT Tour events over the Labor Day Weekend.

Aylward had Street Facts among the collections that brought him $9,201 in Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. The total purse wound up at $20,448.

We’ve Had Enough was Braden Selvig’s heavy lifter.

Selvig’s six collections, half of them wins, got him a $3,500 place in the October 15 Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge.

Richard Resnik came up with neither Street Facts nor We’ve Had Enough.

That didn’t stop Resnik, though, from securing his spot in the September 17-18 The BIG One. The top winner for Resnik (3 firsts, 4 seconds) went off at 4-1.

Win payoffs were on the modest side on Saturday too. The premature termination of the Kentucky Downs card didn’t help matters. However, we ran our HT Tour game, our $30,000 Guaranteed tourney in All Optional Live format which offered a few extra opportunities to shop around. Sure enough, Gregory Caligwag found a good one in one of those “extra” races.

Caliwag found Instant Coffee very satisfying in the 8th at Saratoga. He, another Bolt D’Oro two-year-old, returned $31.80 to win and $12.20 to place.

The 3-win, 2-place effort from his 10 optional plays yielded a windfall of $15,193 for Caliwag in a game ultimately worth a total of $33,762.

The rest of the Saturday features turned out to be curtailed 9-race games due to Franklin, Ky., weather. The two biggest returns showed up in the final two contest races, the 8th and 9th at Del Mar. Carl Kelemen Kelemen (prices ok) had ‘em both.

He and Brooks “Was Here” Lewis (5 wins, 2 places) were the two winners of NHC seats in Saturday’s $165 NHC qualifier. Lewis got up late with Slow Down Andy ($15.40, $10.20) in the final contest race.

Patrick “Gino” Gianforte (3 firsts, 3 seconds) was another who was glad that Slow Down Andy didn’t slow down in the finale.

Gianforte picked up a $3,500 entry for the Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge—which he can play on October 15 on-track or at Xpressbet.

Steven Franckowiak (2 wins, 1 place), Kevin Willett (5W, 0P) and George Chute (4W, 3P) also landed on Slow Down Andy in the anchor leg of Saturday’s 9-race schedule.

Andy’s last-race triumph meant a spot in The BIG One for Franckowiak, a $3,000 Canterbury Big 10 seat for Willett and a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry for Chute. 

The top winner for George “Jethro” Gillies (3 wins, 2 places) paid $11.80.

It was enough for Gillies to finish best of 12 and pocket $8,549 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with a prize pool of $12,213.

Kevin McDonough converted 4 of 9 exacta box opportunities on Saturday, including a $1 payoff of $43.00 in the 8th at Del Mar.

McDonough now hopes to do similarly well here on December 3-4 in the $50,000 Guaranteed Exacta Extravaganza.

On Sunday, another final-contest-race Del Mar result proved key.

Bicameral was Dylan Donnelly’s favored horse in the 11th at Del Mar (and it’s undoubtedly the favored type of legislature for so many of us). When the son of Constitution won and returned $36.20 to win and $14.60 to place, it earned Donnelly a place in The BIG One here in a couple of weeks. Donnelly will be one of no more than 57 in the field (all playing just one entry) in a battle for cash and 10 seats to top contests.

The top score on Sunday, by a considerable margin, was recorded by Craig Rowe. 

Rowe not only had Bicameral at the end, he came up with 14-1 Spinaway Stakes winner Leave No Trace at Saratoga.

All together, Rowe had 5 wins and a place, and he was rewarded with a $3,500 Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC seat.

There were two All Optional Live cash features on Sunday. The richer of the two was the day’s HT Tour event, a $20,000 Guaranteed tourney.

The 2013 Horse Players World Series champion James Henry uncovered Leave No Trace, and he and his 3 firsts and 2 seconds earned the up-top money of $12,698 in a game where the final prize pool was $28,218. Here’s how Henry’s day went:

Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney was also conducted in All Optional Live format, and it attracted just 6 entries—which meant an 8% overlay to players.

The primary beneficiary of the extra EV was Evan Trommer whose lone winner was Doinggoodtrouble ($21.80, $9.30) in the 10th at Woodbine. Trommer’s path to the $5,250 first prize was further aided by three place collections.

On the three-horse Exacta-box front, Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza punched his ticket on Sunday to the $50,000 Guaranteed Exacta Extravaganza here on December 3-4.

Trezza connected on 4 gimmicks, including a $64.00-for-$1.00 hit in the 7th at Del Mar.

Over at HorsePlayers, it was a blanket finish in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio play-in.

Robert Turner (4 firsts, 1 second) nailed Bicameral at the end to prevail narrowly over  Edward Diamond (who also had Bicameral) and Gary Blair (who did not). 

Linda Rodriguez turned in quite a performance on Sunday in the other HorsePlayers feature.

“L-Rod” hit the final two races—Bicameral in the nightcap and Awake at Midnyte ($15.60, $6.20) in Del Mar race 10—and before that, she collected with 14-1 Saratoga winner Leave No Trace. Her well-balanced scorecard brought her an NHC seat in Sunday’s qualifier that was restricted to those who had yet to lock down a 2023 spot.

Monday was one of those slightly weird days when the one good price came right at the beginning…followed by a lot of chalk. In many—but not all—cases, you really needed to have Bal Harbour ($21.20, $7.70) in the 8th at Saratoga. 

Robert “Home Sweet” Holmberg had the slop-loving Bal Harbour among his 3 firsts and 3 seconds, and he captured Monday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray that saw runner up Mike Thomas earn a $5,000 partial entry.

Thanks in part to Bal Harbour, Patrick Mooney posted the highest score on Labor Day.

The 5-win, 3-place salvo put Mooney at the top of the heap of Monday’s special $100 NHC qualifier that guaranteed 3 seats.

Notably, Anthony Spinazzola finished second in the 378-entry contest despite missing out on Bal Harbour. Five wins and five places made up for that omission (and how!). The third seat went to BCBC partial-entry winner Mike Thomas who reeled off four straight winners at the outset and five of the first six. He finished with 6 wins and a place on the day.

Gary “Macho Man” Machiz was another who combined an early Bal Harbour hit with a high strike rate thereafter.

Machiz finished with 5 firsts and 3 seconds to take a rare HT Tour event on a Monday, our special $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. 

The final purse amounted to $33,670, and Machiz’s share of that was $15,151.

Joseph Zuer (4 firsts, 1 second) also struck while the iron was hot with Bal Harbour.

Zuer bagged $7,124 in a special $7,500 Guaranteed Labor Day Big Bucks Pick & Pray that closed its doors with a pot of $10,177.

Bob Bandzwolek earned a berth in The BIG One despite not having Bal Harbour.

Only one entrant of the 24, Mark Aylward, had the 9-1 winner of the contest opener, so at least Bandzwolek only had one person to run down…and run him down he did with 6 winners (all 5-2 or less) plus a runner up.

There were two winners of $3,500 entries in Monday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC qualifier—one who had Bal Harbour and one who did not.

Count Dennis Decauwer (6 wins, 1 place) as a “have” and David “Down the stretch they come” Johnson as a “have not”. But they’re really both “haves” in terms of Keeneland eligibility. Johnson made up his deficit via 7 wins and 2 places. His biggest win price—$7.20—came in the contest finale.

Obviously formful results played a role, but I thought one of the more remarkable feats of the weekend was that turned in by Scott Galica in Monday’s Exacta Extravaganza qualifier.

Galica connected on 7 exactas out of 12 races, including the last five in a row. And if you think he was just playing the three chalks in every race, he also hit the Bal Harbour exacta (worth $37.75 for a dollar) in the first contest race, the 8th at the Spa.  

Thanks to all for spending a part of your Labor Day weekend with us. The other good thing about these extended holiday weekends—in addition to the extra day of featured-tourney action—is that we only have to wait one day instead of two for it all to ramp up again. Good luck to our Wednesday Warriors, and, as for the rest of you…we’ll be ready when you are.