Steven Meier Wins Three Grand Prizes Over Two Days; Robert Engelhard and Joseph Brocato Swamp Their Opponents; James Lisowsky, Ed Peters, Steve Nemetz and Stephen McNatton Each Take Two (Weekly Recap, October 5-9)

It’s always impressive when someone wins more than one tourney on a single day, and Steven Meier was one of several who did that last week. It’s even more laudable when someone sustains their excellence through two days in a given week—and Meier did that too.

There were two big longshots lurking out there on Saturday—Weemissgrammy ($41.40, $14.80) in the 1st at Santa Anita and Izzy Em ($37.80, $12.60) in the 3rd at Santa Anita. Meier had them both among his 4 winners in the day’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier that saw runner up Ilan Cuellar (5 wins, 1 place) also grab a $1,500 entry.

Meier’s performance in Saturday’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in was even better.

Here he added a win and a place to his four Flo-Cal winners, raising his score from $158.00 to $185.00 in the process. The total demoralized all but second-place finisher Ed Peters (4 firsts, 2 seconds), who pulled in a $10,000 seat of his own for his plenty-praiseworthy score of $137.20.

On Sunday, Meier picked just one winner, but it was a doozy.

Bunty Windemere ($106.00, $38.80) combined nicely with three place collections to land Meier 3rd place—and a $3,500 seat—in Sunday’s qualifier to next Saturday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge. Timothy Conroy missed out on Bunty Windemere, but he had King Cause ($32.80, $14.80) in the 8th at BAQ, and he led the way in the Keeneland chase. Finishing in between Conroy and Meier was James Casey (3 wins, 3 places) who will also have a freeroll this coming Saturday.

Steven Meier was one star among many during a featured-tourney week that commenced on Wednesday. That day’s highest tally was posted by James Morgan. 

Morgan (5 wins, 1 place) and Kirk Rockwell (3W, 1P) were the two seat earners in Wednesday’s Keeneland qualifier. They both had Wizard Serrat ($46.80, $18.40) in the 8th at Delaware (a track that is worth a visit if you have never been there).

As things played out on Wednesday, Wizard Serrat was a prerequisite for tourney success. Just ask Bob McIntyre.

The Wizard was McIntyre’s only winner, but it got the job done in Wednesday’s Laurel Champions qualifier. The triumph enables Bob to join wife Cheryl on equal footing in this Saturday’s Laurel on-site contest. (Cheryl, the 2016 NHC Tour champ, won one of last week’s Laurel qualifiers.)

Bob McIntyre won his Laurel qualifier with Wizard Serrat plus two places. Geoffrey Schutt hit Wizard Serrat…and that’s it.

Sometimes it’s not “How many?” But “How big?” The one bomb put Schutt in the field for the $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff, the first leg of the Tourney Triple, here on January 14-15, 2023.

Michael Foster didn’t put all his eggs in one basket. He put them in four baskets.

That’s how many winners Foster had en route to a $2,861 payday in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed tourney, which finished up with a purse of $6,358.

For the second straight week at HorseTourneys, Bobby Shoemaker captured a featured cash game.

On Friday, September 30, Shoemaker shoehorned $8,079 into his wallet after taking the day’s $15,000 Pick & Pray. The stakes were a tad smaller on Thursday, but the Thursday money spends too. In our $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray (final purse: $7,465), Shoemaker had a $41.20 winner at the beginning, a $37.60 winner at the end, and three winners in between to add another $3,359 to his coffers.

Edward “The Wright Stuff” Wright also had Box Office Warrior ($37.60, $13.60) in the final tourney race on Thursday (the 7th at Horseshoe Indianapolis). 

As a result, you will find Wright at Laurel this Saturday, hoping to become the latest “Laurel Champion.”

Michael Caposio connected on two runners up prior to hitting the final two Thursday contest races at odds of 11-1 and 17-1. 

The late flurry sent a $3,500 Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC entry Caposio’s way. He can play it this Saturday at Keeneland or at Xpressbet (perhaps more likely since he lives in California).

On Friday, the horse you really wanted to have was Manny Wah ($37.44, $11.88) in race 7 on the opening day card at Keeneland. James Lisowsky (2 wins, 1 place) had him.

The $80.64 score earned Lisowsky a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff spot.

That same total also landed Lisowsky a $3,500 berth in this Saturday’s Keeneland contest.

Here, Lisowsky bested all but Ciaran Thornton (2 wins, 3 places), who will join him in this Saturday’s Keeneland field. They both came up with Manny Wah.

Another Manny Wah fan was Joshua Chupik.

He took Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray with Manny Wah plus one other winner and three places to collect $8,229 in a game ultimately worth a total of $18,287. For Chupik, it was his second Friday featured cash-game triumph of the 2022 HT Tour season, and he thereby earns an additional $500 bonus.

There were three $500 seat winners in Friday’s Laurel Champions qualifier.

Manny Wah provided a turbo boost to Joseph Rich (3 wins, 1 place) and Gary Johnson (3W, 0P). Pete Manzo got the other ticket to Laurel despite missing the Keeneland longshot. He got around the omission by smoking out 3 double-digit winners followed by 3 runners up.

Another who overlooked the merits of Manny Wah but lived to tell was Jason Barkley over at HorsePlayers.

He still got a $10,000 Breeders’ cup Betting Challenge entry, however, thanks to 4 firsts and 2 seconds. Finishing behind him and grabbing a $5,000 partial BCBC berth was Guy Holloway.

The only triple-digit scores to be found on Friday were all in the $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. 

Nine cracked the century mark in this one, but best by far ($25.70, to be exact) was Robert Engelhard. Here’s a look at his imposing scoresheet:

Engelhard earned a cut-rate NHC spot for next March along with second-place finisher Dan Piazza, who went deep with 3 wins and 5 places. Not surprisingly, he had Manny Wah too.

On Saturday, Steven Meier’s victories accounted for the day’s two highest scores. Ed Peters got a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat for finishing second behind him in one of them. Peters also won a Keeneland entry for finishing behind no one.

Peters and his 4 wins and 2 places led a parade of three $3,500 seat winners that included Steve “The Admiral” Nemetz and Christian O’Brien…whose two winners went off at 19-1 and 17-1.

Nemetz racked up 3 wins and 2 places in that Keeneland play-in. He used the same picks in Saturday’s $210 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

The Admiral sank all but fellow 2023 spot winner Robert Ferguson, who put 4 firsts and 1 second. Ferguson’s top return came with Izzy Em ($37.80, $12.60) in the 3rd at Santa Anita.

Mark Aylward did something very difficult on Saturday. It was one of those you-couldn’t-do-it-if-you-tried things. He turned it a perfectly balanced scoresheet with even spacing of his six winners/collections.

For his beautiful bell curve (or his “Toby Harrah,” if you prefer), Aylward appropriately received the highest possible reward—$15,384. That was the winner’s share of the week’s richest tourney, our $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $34,188 and served as the day’s HT Tour event.

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

The 2020 Spa & Surf Showdown champ Scott Fiedler scrambled off with the $9,261 in this one thanks to Weemissgrammy ($41.40, $14.80) in the 1st at Santa Anita plus 2 other winners and 2 runners up.

In Saturday’s Laurel Champions qualifier, Michael Reynolds (4 wins, 1 place) romped to victory by $53.90.

There were enough entries to award two $500 seats, though, and the other went to Stephen McNatton with 2 wins and a place.

While Reynolds basically doubled up his opponents on the Saturday scoreboard, it turned out to be McNatton who doubled up on Laurel Champions entries during the weekend.

In Sunday’s play-in, McNatton again finished a somewhat distant second, but for the second straight day, it played like a first-place finish. The actual first-place finisher here with 3 winners was Kevin Jones, a veritable fixture at Laurel handicapping contests and a The BIG One alumnus.

HorsePlayers offered the fourth and final free NHC qualifier of the year on Sunday.

The top-five finishers in the 15-race affair were Tarik Kouchaf (a highly discriminating user of the #4), who had 5 wins and 2 places which added up to a final score of $138.00, Derek Deutsch (2W, 1P), Phillip Drake (7W, 1P), Michael Bailey (3W, 1P) and Jacob Warden (6W, 2P). All but Drake had Bunty Windemere ($106.00, $38.80) in the 9th at BAQ. Drake’s top returning horse came 30 minutes earlier with King Cause ($32.80, $14.80) in the 8th at BAQ.

There were 1,770 entries in that free NHC qualifier—which makes Joseph Brocato’s score in the 119-entry $20,000 Guaranteed cash game all the more impressive.

Brocato’s tally of $141.50 would have beaten everyone in the NHC qualifier. More remarkable, he had three fewer races (12) with which to work. Suffice to say, Brocato’s prize of $11,714 in the $26,031 HT Tour event was well earned.

The other featured Sunday cash game went to Howard Welsh.

The renowned Big Bucks specialist had just Bunty Windemere plus one place collections, but that got the job done to the tune of $5,699 in a high-stakes, $7,000 Guaranteed tourney that closed up shop with a final pot of $8,142.

In Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers, Michael “Copa” Kavana (2 wins, 3 places) and Mike Thomas (4W, 2P) came away with the $10,000 entries for next month.

Kavana’s heavy lifter was Bunty Windemere at 52-1, while Thomas’s deepest drive came with King Cause (15-1)…but Thomas also needed 5-1 winner Reigning Spirit in the final contest race (KEE10) to get himself into the top two. John O’Neil, meanwhile, had to settle for 3rd place and a $5,000 partial entry.

While the majority of Sunday’s contest winners had either King Cause or Bunty Windemere, Joseph Karabaich managed to top the day’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier despite having neither one.

He overcame the paucity of the longball by rapping out hit after hit. Out of 12 races, Karabaich enjoyed 8 collections—5 of them winners…none of which paid more than $17.70 in the win hole. Rick “I-65” Broth (2 wins, 2 places) did come up with Bunty Windemere, and he reeled in the other available $1,500 berth for the $250,000 Guaranteed all-cash event here on January 14-15. 

The featured tourneys resume on Wednesday and qualifiers for this Saturday’s Keeneland and Laurel contests continue right up through Friday. (So I’m saying there’s still a chance!). Thanks to all for playing—and reading about—the week gone by.