Joseph Zuer Rakes in the Cash on Saturday; Brian Chenvert Captures Two BCBC qualifiers; Richard Resnik Posts Highly Impressive Total in Keeneland Play-In (Weekly Recap, September 28-October 2)

Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, I am back from vacation and ready to recap the week’s featured events (at least those that have been made official at press time). 

Let’s start with the weekend’s richest tourney, our Saturday, $30,000 Guaranteed game, which serves as the day’s HT Tour event.

Zuer blitzed his rivals early with Key Player ($44.60, $20.00) in the first contest race and added Whatmakessammyrun ($38.00, $14.40 in the 7th at the Great Race Place) as the coup de grace. That got him the winner’s share of $14,968 in a game ultimately worth a total of $33,264.

That was a Live-format game, though apparently Zuer played it largely as a Pick & Pray.

All but one of his picks in the Live game were on his Pick & Pray ticket in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. (And the only race in which he split his picks, he lost with both.). Anyway…Zuer picked up another $8,549 here to make his total haul for the day $23,517. Nice work if you can get it.

One might reasonably surmise that Zuer had the highest score of the day if not the week. He had neither.

Richard Resnik had longshots Key Player and Whatmakessammyrun…and he also had 4 other winners in Saturday’s 12-race Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC qualifier. Five of his six winners were of the double-digit variety, and he wound up with a gaudy total of $177.10. It’s one thing to say, “Well, big prices were out there so it figures that final scores were high.” But it’s another thing to actually smoke out all these winners. The fact that Resnik’s salvo came in a 32-entry tourney makes it even more unique. Bad luck for the other 31!

The featured-tourney week got under way with a very tight battle in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Michael Sussman had the day’s two biggest prices among his 3 wins and a place to win the top prize in the contest that closed with a purse of $6,774. Carl Richard Logan was just 30 cents behind in second. Neither he nor Sussman connected at all in the last race. That’s why Pete Acocella may have felt worse than anyone at the end. He played a 10-1 shot in the finale that ran 2nd. However, it only paid $6.80 to place because the race was won by the 6-5 favorite. Acocella wound up 10 cents out of second and 40 cents out of first.

All was not lost for Acocella on Wednesday, though.

The $6.80 place return simply padded Acocella’s lead in the Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC qualifier, and the $3,500 seat for the Oct. 15 contest was his.

On Thursday, Grier Bibby (4 firsts, 1 second) hit the final two contest races, the 3rd and 4th at Woodbine, at odds of 5-1 and 20-1, respectively.

Bibby thereby pocketed $3,266 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $7,258.

Rather than wait until the end like Bibby, Paul Cush did all of his damage early.

Cush’s 4 wins and 2 runners up all came in the first 6 contest races of Thursday’s Keeneland qualifier. His big horse was Unbridled Bomber ($38.60, $13.20) in the 8th at BAQ.

There was another Keeneland qualifier on Friday. It was won by 2017 The BIG One champ Ed Peters.

Peters left with the $3,500 entry thanks to 3 wins and a place that were topped by Salimah ($21.80, $9.00) in the 9th at BAQ.

Bobby Shoemaker had Salimah among his 4 winners—all of which came over the first 5 contest races.

Shoemaker added a place collection later, and he took Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with $17,955 in the kitty. Shoemaker’s share was $8,079.

Brian Conley (3 wins, 3 places) and Nick “529” Fazzolari (3W, 1P) were the two winners of $500 entries in Friday’s Laurel Champions tournament qualifier. 

Conley and Fazzolari each feasted on Beignet ($14.80, $6.20) in the 6th at Santa Anita.

There were also dual victors in Friday’s qualifier to January’s $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff.

Congratulations to Jeff Sandler (3 wins, 2 places) and Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce (4W, 0P).

As you know, you can’t spell “Brian Chenvert” without “BC”, and this weekend, he put the “BCBC” into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

After hitting Salimah earlier, Chenvert (3 wins, 2 places) made collections in each of the final two races to commandeer Friday’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

On Sunday, he did much the same thing.

Here, Chenvert nailed the final 3 winners to finish with 5 wins and 1 place. There were enough entries in this one to award a second $10,000 entry, and that one went to Robert Little. The runner up had 4 wins and a place. The splashiest of Little’s winners was Breaking Along ($70.40, $24.80) in the 7th at Woodbine. Still, the difference for Little between winning or not winning the $10,000 seat was provided by the proceeds of a 2-5 winner he had in the 5th at Santa Anita. Sometimes small collections wind up meaning a lot.

(Postscript: Chenvert also won the Santa Anita Opening Weekend Challenge…so he reeled in three BCBC seats in 72 hours. It was a good weekend to be Chenvert—or a horseplaying member of his family.)

Saturday was prosperous for two past champions of contest “majors”.

The 2007 NHC hero Stanley Bavlish (5 firsts, 2 seconds) got off to a flying start with Key Player ($44.60, $20.00) in the 1st at Santa Anita and he chipped up—sometimes significantly—from there to earn a $500 spot in the Laurel Champions tournament where he and wife Carol have been regulars for several years.

Finishing atop the field in Saturday’s $179 NHC qualifier was Bob Montgomery.

That’s Bob holding the trophy after he won the 2018 Horseplayer World Series. His 4 wins and 1 place in Saturday’s qualifier included the day’s three highest-priced winners. Runner up Raj Satyan (4W, 2P) had the day’s two longest-priced winners and he, too, earned a berth to the 2023 NHC.

James Lisowsky (3 wins, 1 place) and John Kaiser (4W, 2P) were the two recipients of $1,500 entries at the conclusion of Saturday’s play-in to the $250,000 Flo-Cal Faceoff.

Not a single one of their 10 combined collections was held in common.

Over at HorsePlayers, Earl Watts (4 firsts, 0 seconds) was the big $10,000 seat winner and second-place finisher Michael “The Coach” Goodrich was the $5,000 partial seat earner in the $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.

Watts came up with both Key Player ($44.60, $20.00) in the 1st at Santa Anita and Whatmakessammyrun ($38.00, $14.40) in the 7th at SA.

(Somewhat quick aside: What Makes Sammy Run? was an acclaimed 1941 novel written by Budd Schulberg about a young guy named Sammy Glick who grew up in the Lower East Side of New York and sort of schemes his way to the top of the upper echelon in Hollywood. In 1965, the novel was made into a Broadway musical. In college, one of my English professors assigned the book to our class. I thought I’d really like it. I didn’t.)

Enough of my unpleasant college memories and on to the Sunday contest action!

We mentioned that Stanley Bavlish is a fixture at the Laurel Champions tournament. So is the McIntyre family.

The clan will be represented by at least Cheryl (if not more) after the 2016 NHC Tour champ finished on top in Sunday’s Laurel qualifier. She picked 3 winners, including Missy Grier ($30.20, $11.80) in the first contest race (BAQ6) and Major Dude ($22.40, $6.70) in the 9th at BAQ.

The 2003 NHC champ Steve Wolfson Jr. selected just two Sunday winners—Missy Grier and Breaking Alone ($70.40, $24.80) in the 7th at Woodbine.

Given their heft, those two were enough.

Wolfson bagged $11,123 in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney, which closed up shop with a final pot of $24,719.

The other featured cash game on Sunday was the $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks battle.

High-stakes stalwart Howard Welsh took this one on the strength of 2 firsts and a second. He received $6,411 out of a top-heavy-by-design final purse of $9,159. Welsh also earned $2,471 for finishing third behind Steve Wolfson Jr. in the $24,719 tourney.

Contest heavyweights Bill Shurman (4 wins, 2 places) and Anthony “Doczilla” Trezza (6W, 2P) were the two winners in Sunday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC qualifier.

Though Shurman and Trezza had far more lucrative winners earlier in the day, they both needed Seguimi ($8.40, $4.40) in the final contest race (the 11th at Woodbine) to get where they wanted to be. Incidentally, when Bill Shurman finds himself stuck on a difficult contest race, he will occasionally seek out the counsel of his brother Paul. Trezza does likewise with his dog Winston.

Two other top contest players punched early tickets to the first leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple, the $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff next January.

Those ticket punchers were the two to scale triple figures—“The Commissioner” Tim Smith (4 wins, 1 place) and the 2021 The BIG One champ Ken Seeman (also 4W, 1P). The two biggest returns for both came with Missy Grier in race 6 at BAQ and Major Dude in race 9 at the same oval.

The Sunday feature at HorsePlayers was an NHC qualifier restricted to those who had yet to win a 2023 seat. I lost the screenshot of the results (I blame post-vacation rust), but congratulations to Wes Harek, who finished $23.20 clear of the rest. Like Smith and Seeman, Harek used both Missy Grier and Major Dude on his ticket.

Plenty to look forward to next week as Keeneland joins the fray. Hope to see you then.