Thomas Michael Abinanti Earns BCBC Seats on Consecutive Days; Brett Wiener Wins Three Tourneys in 48 Hours; Trey Stiles Sweeps the Saturday Flo-Cal Faceoff Qualifier (Weekly Recap, October 19-23)

Last week was a “Pick & Pray week” around here, so double-ups were perhaps to be expected among hot multi-tablers. However, a couple of players rode their heaters from one day straight into the next.

Thomas Michael Abinanti scored a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge berth on Friday for running second to fellow seat winner Gary Gristick.

Interestingly, Gristick and Abinanti each put up scores that would have topped the day’s more-highly-populated $179 BCBC qualifier. At any rate, Abinanti had more where that came from.

The next day, Abinanti won the right to have double-barreled action in the BCBC after taking Saturday’s Super Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers. Brian “BC” Chenvert wound up second, and he also took home a BCBC spot. Checking in third was Daniel Fischer, who got a $5,000 partial entry.

Brett Wiener’s three Thursday winners all paid between $13.40 and $15.80.

That trio, plus a place collection, earned him a $1,500 spot in the October 30 Santa Anita BCBC Challenge. As it turned out, Wiener was just getting warmed up.

Wiener doubled his chances for this coming Sunday by taking his second straight Santa Anita BCBC Challenge qualifier. His biggest Friday triumph, though, was in the day’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in at HorsePlayers. 

This one had to be particularly thrilling for Wiener…and a real gut punch for runner up Joe Kramer. Wiener hit a 5-2 shot at the end to put himself in a flat-footed tie with Kramer. And Wiener then prevailed in the tiebreaker by virtue of having three wins to Kramer’s two. What sort of consolation prize did Kramer get for his efforts? The middle of a donut.

That’s why many were pleased to see the results of Sunday’s BCBC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

It took two days longer than Kramer might have liked, but he finally landed that $10,000 seat—and a measure of poetic justice—for his 2 firsts and 2 seconds. Peter “Sharp Dressed Man” Dresens came in second, and—unlike Kramer on Friday—he got a nice prize for the runner-up finish, a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

That’s how the featured-tourney week wrapped up. It began on Wednesday when Sean O’Malley posted a highly formidable score in the day’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.

After a perfectly respectable first half of the tourney, O’Malley (4 firsts, 1 second) came up with both Aboukir Boy ($44.50, $10.46) in the 8th at Keeneland and Major Wager ($40.80, $19.40) in the final contest race, the 7th at Horseshoe Indy, to pocket the top prize of $3,017 in a game ultimately worth a total of $6,705.

Mike Yarusso (3 winners) also smoked out both Aboukir Boy and Major Wager.

For Yarusso, the return was a $1,500 entry in the first leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple, the $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff here on January 14-15. 

We’re running Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers pretty much every day between now and the BCBC, and Mike Thomas posted the best score of the day in capturing Thursday’s.

Thomas counted Trademark ($48.80, $19.40) in the 8th at Keeneland among his 3 firsts and 2 seconds. (The horse returned a freak mutuel there in Kentucky…because both the win and place prices ended in a zero!) Bobby Marks reported home second behind Thomas to pick up a $5,000 partial entry.

Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce also had Trademark.

The prize for Noce and his 4 firsts and 1 second was a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff entry.

Noce didn’t score as well in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, and so he had to settle for second behind $3,515 winner Andrew Walker.

Walker strung together 3 straight cashes, including Trademark in this tourney, which closed with a purse of $7,811.

You already know that Brett Wiener took two tourneys on Friday and that Thomas Michael Abinanti grabbed his first of two weekend BCBC seats that day. And yet…Friday’s biggest winner was Dale Hatfield.

Hatfield won the feud—and $8,379—in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray which closed with a pot of $18,620. It was also his second Friday victory of the HT Tour season, so he gets an extra $500 for that. Hatfield was aided immensely by Lucy L ($48.60, $20.00) in the 5th at Santa Anita. And Lucy L was a Warrior Princess for him as well in Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Here, Hatfield outgunned everyone except for first-place finisher Daniel Jablanski, who had 4 wins and 4 places out of just 10 races.

Lucy L was also central to the victorious assault waged on Friday by Steve “The Admiral” Nemetz.

For his 3 winners, Nemetz took ashore a $1,500 Flo-Cal Faceoff seat.

On Saturday, a really nice horse to have was Flashy Alex ($40.20, $14.20) in the 8th back East at BAQ. Turner West had him.

As Jim Morrison might have said, West was the best in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray…from which West extracted $13,500. And you can another $500 to West’s haul, because this was his second Saturday triumph of the 2022 HT Tour year.

While West was best in Saturday’s featured cash tourney, NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles was really, really best in that day’s Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in.

With seven of his 12 picks held in common, Stiles nailed down both of the “grand-prize slots,” giving him the maximum two entries for the Faceoff after starting the day on the outside looking in. 

Those weren’t boos you were hearing in Saturday’s Santa Anita BCBC Challenge qualifier, they were “Luuuuuuuus.”

The crowd was cheering Luis Mieses (1 win, 1 place) and Lucille DeRuisseau (6W,0P). Mieses had 19-1 victor Flashy Alex. DeRuisseau, meanwhile, pieced things together. None of her 6 winners went off higher than 9-2, and she needed a victorious 7-5 shot in the finale to get up narrowly for second.

Another who prospered on Saturday despite not pulling the trigger on Flashy Alex was David Barnier.

Barnier’s big return among 3 firsts and a second was with Touch of Class ($29.46, $8.26) in the 7th at Keeneland. That one helped elevate Barnier to the head of the class in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with $11,195 in the kitty. Barnier’s share of that came to $7,836.

Saturday’s high score of the day was provided by Kevin Willett in the 24-entry Del Mar Fall Challenge qualifier.

Willett’s gaudy total made him quite…challenging…to run down. He romped under a hand ride by $60.90.

Mike Steindler’s scorecard was almost as good as Willett’s…but things were closer in Saturday’s 118-entry Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier at HorsePlayers. 

Having Flashy Alex along with two $20+ winners helped Steindler prevail by $18.04 in this $179 buy-in game. The other player to crack triple digits, Kyle King, came away with a $5,000 partial entry.

On Sunday, the top tally was totaled by David Sullivan.

Seems only fair that the top score got the day’s top prize.

Sullivan collected $11,812 for his 2-win, 3-place performance that was topped by a selection of Road to Remember ($60.00, $23.40) in the 8th at BAQ. The 2017 NHC champ, Ray Arsenault, finished a close second.

The days other featured cash tourney went to Peter Osella.

A score of $44.06 got the job done for Osella in Sunday’s $7,000 Big Bucks game. No one turned a flat bet profit in the field of 9, and Osella was one of just two to reach $40. Nonetheless he picked up $6,411 from a final purse of $9,159.

Scores were considerably higher in all other Sunday featured tourneys, including the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

There were two $10,000 seat winners in this one—Michael “The Coach” Goodrich (2 wins, including Road to Remember, plus 1 place) and John Twomey, whose three winners all came in the final three races. Zachary Ledford finished 3rd to earn a $5,000 partial BCBC berth.

There were also two top-prize winners in Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in.

Congratulations to Greg Altieri, whose 3 wins and a place were topped by 14-1 and 11-1 winners…and Michael Somich (2W, 0P), who connected on 29-1 and 14-1 shots.

I just realized that when I mention 29-1 shots in recapping Sunday, I need to be specific—because in addition to Somich’s 29-1 winner (Road to Remember), also out there was Commander Joe ($61.90, $27.10) in the 6th at Woodbine. That’s the one that Joe Perry had.

Perry (2 firsts, 3 seconds) parlayed that Canadian bomb into a $3,000 Del Mar Fall Challenge entry.

The Sunday 29-1 winner of choice for both Joe Tambusco and Eric “B Connected” Boyd was Road to Remember.

“Joey T” (3 wins, 0 places) and Boyd (2W, 1P) will now square off again in next March’s NHC.

Brooks “Was Here” Schuler and Kirk Tesar took largely different paths to success in Sunday’s Santa Anita BCBC Challenge qualifier. 

Schuler had two double-digit place collections followed by winners in each of the final four races. Tesar (1 win, 1 place) did most of his scoring with Road to Remember at BAQ.

Thanks to all of you for your role in what was a fun week of competition. We’ll be offering another multi-track BCBC qualifier on Tuesday before the featured-tourney schedule gets going again in earnest on Wednesday. (There’s no rest for the weary with the world’s most prestigious live-bankroll handicapping contest right around the corner!) You are not obligated to play all our featured tourneys, of course. Though I am obligated to write about all of them. And I will do just that again next Monday.