Alexa Zepp Enjoys Two “Big” Victories on Saturday; Evan Trommer and Mark Aylward Dominate Sunday (Weekly Recap, September 7-11)

This Thursday, Canterbury Park (and Xpressbet) host the Canterbury Big 10 BCBC contest. On Saturday and Sunday, we here at HorseTourneys offer The BIG One. There are at least two common denominators in play here.

One is the word “big” (an apt adjective given that 21 top seats are on the line across the two events). The other is that Alexa Zepp will be front and center in both contests.

Zepp’s upcoming flurry of action comes as the result of some strong work this past Saturday.

Zepp’s 3 firsts and 2 seconds left her opponents trampled under foot in Saturday’s Canterbury qualifier, thus earning a $3,000 entry to play on Thursday…in the evening.

Using the same picks, Zepp was also able to bring it on home in Saturday’s two-seat play-in to The BIG One.

Zepp’s foes were sick again…with the exception of Michael Caposio, who finished second and received the other available berth. Zepp and Caposio (both distinguished alumni of The BIG One) each had Silent Causeway ($31.80, $15.90 in the 6th at Woodbine) aiding their respective fundraising drives.

Three days before Zepp’s winning efforts, another woman was the star of the day on Wednesday.

Barbara Bowley bagged $2,892 for her 4-win, 3-place effort in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Bowley’s biggest return came with Good Forever ($39.40, $16.20) in the 8th at Horseshoe Indianapolis. The final prize pool here amounted to $6,428.

On Thursday, it was Mike Gillum who earned top honors in the featured cash game.

Perhaps more important from Gillum’s perspective was that he also earned $3,515…in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $7,811. Gillum swept the final three contest races—starting with Royal Icing ($38.00, $12.60 in the 8th at Horseshoe Indy)—to finish with 5 firsts and 1 second. Here’s how his day went:

Gillum certainly finished fast. On Friday, Michael Sussman started fast.

The front-loaded assortment of 5 winners yielded Sussman the top prize of $6,750 in Friday’s HT Tour competition, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Employing a “strategy” similar to Sussman’s, Michael “Copa” Kavana did all of his scoring in the first four races.

Those early numbers held up for Kavana, who took home a $3,500 Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge entry.

Showing that there was more than one way to skin the cat on Friday, Craig “Home Sweet” Hom made collections in each of the final 5 races.

Thus, Hom—another distinguished alumnus—will also enjoy a reunion this weekend at The BIG One. He finished Friday with 3 winners and 4 places, topped by C.C.’s Kingdom ($24.40, $10.00) in race 8 at Woodbine.

Eric Kurzhal made 6 collections (half of them winners) out of 10 races to punch his ticket into Thursday’s Canterbury Big 10 BCBC contest.

The heaviest lifter for Kurzhal was Silent Guroo ($28.70, $10.70) in the initial contest race, the 5th at Woodbine.

Friday’s best score was recorded over at HorsePlayers by Buck Waller.

Waller came up with the day’s two highest-priced winners—Silent Guroo and C.C.’s Kingdom—en route to capturing Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier.

Runner up Ciaran Thornton was already double qualified, so that left the other available berth to Patrick Kennedy (5 wins, 2 places), who held on by 20 cents over an unfortunate Basil DeVito.

The other Friday feature at HorsePlayers was taken by 2021 NHC Tour Champ Joseph “Kevin” Costello. 

Costello (4 firsts, 2 seconds) had 13-1 Silent Guroo at the beginning…but he needed 3-1 Artos at the end… to get up for the $10,000 seat in Friday’s BCBC Low Ratio Pick & Pray.

Over the last two weekends in August, Gary Brous captured an incredible nine featured-tourney grand prizes which added up to over $43,000 in value, After inexcusably failing to win anything during Labor Day Weekend, Brous was back to his winning ways on Saturday. 

Brous put up 4 winners and another 4 runners up from 12 races to accumulate Saturday’s highest scoring total and grab himself the up-top money of $13,500 in the day’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed game, which had a takeout to players of 10.7%.  Here’s what his scorecard looked like:

Derek Isenberg only picked 2 winners (plus one runner up) on Saturday, but those two winners were the two best of the day—Silent Causeway ($31.80, $15.90) in the 6th at Woodbine and One Timer ($41.94, $20.44) in the final contest race, the 12th at Kentucky Downs.

The net result for Isenberg was that he netted a $3,500 seat to the October 15th Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge.

Albion Benton, the 3rd-place finisher in the most recently completed NHC, also smoked out both Silent Causeway and One Timer.

Those two, plus one other winner at HorsePlayers, brought Benton a $10,000 entry for November’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The 2015 Horseplayers World Series Champ Jim Meeks (5 wins, 1 place) and Mark Mitchell (also 5W, 1P) both hit their “one timers” at the end.

They were the two to prosper in the other Saturday feature at HorsePlayers, a $210 NHC qualifier. Mitchell needed pretty much every bit of that last-race longshot to get up…Meeks not so much.

The other Saturday feature was our $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Damian Terenzio got the lion’s share ($7,836) of the eventual $11,195 purse by racking up 6 winners (including Silent Causeway) and 1 runner up.

On Sunday we ran seven featured tourneys. Five of them were won by either Evan Trommer or Mark Aylward.

Trommer used the same 3-win, 3-place Pick & Pray selections to bag both a $3,000 Canterbury seat and a $3,500 Keeneland entry. Sunday’s $7,500 Guaranteed Big Bucks game, meanwhile, was a Live-format game, but that detail mattered not to Trommer.

He just played the same picks here as in the two Pick & Prays, and he wound up collecting the $5,250 top prize in a game that attracted just 5 entrants and went off at a 30.4% overlay to Trommer and the four others.

A score of $82.90 earned Trommer his hat trick. Mark Aylward, meanwhile, went deep with a tally of an even $150.00

Aylward’s 3 victors returned $40.00, $24.60 and $43.20 in the win hole. The impressive show of force got him a victory worth $10,926 in Sunday’s HT Tour game, our $20,000 Pick & Pray (final purse: $24,281).

It also brought him to the winner’s circle of Sunday’s $165 NHC Pick & Pray.

Jay Coatta (4 wins, 0 places) hit Silent Risk ($22.40, $11.80) in the final contest race, the 10th at Woodbine, to jump up late and grab the second available 2023 spot.

There were three winners in Sunday’s The BIG One Blowout.

Congratulations to Michael Mulvihill (4 wins, 3 places), Charles Browning (4W, 0P) and Kevin Engelhard (5 places, followed by 2 winners). The top horse for Mulvihill and Engelhard was Backinthewoods ($43.20, $14.80) in the 10th at Pimlico. For Browning, it was Morethanaconqueror ($40.00, $13.40) in Monmouth race 8.

Three more online seats remain out there for this weekend’s The BIG One. One will go in a Thursday qualifier. The other two will be won on Friday. Up to four buy-in seats will also be made available. If interested, contact

Last but not least, Robert Dawson counted Backinthewoods among his 4 firsts and 1 second.

Dawson prevailed in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorseTourneys.

Featured tourneys resume on Wednesday. In the meantime, thanks to all of you for the week that was.