Travis Pearson Extends HT Tour Lead With Saturday Triumph; Ken Jordan Earns Three Grand Prizes; Jerry McClenin Wins $9,200 Plus an NHC Seat (Weekly Recap, November 16-19)

Unfortunately, with the premature termination of the Sunday card at Woodbine, our five-day featured-tourney week turned into a four-day featured-tourney week. However, there were still plenty of seats and cash to go around—and one player managed to visit the winner’s podium three times.

Two of Ken Jordan’s celebrations took place on Thursday. His best shot that day was his first shot—Idaka ($71.00, $25.80) in the 7th at Aqueduct. Two more winners followed, including a 17-1 shot at the Big A, and that made him best of 18 in Thursday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. 

Jordan won the Flo-Cal play-in by 40 bucks, but his score of $121.20 held up in Thursday’s 118-entry cash feature as well.

Here, the same picks got Jordan a return of $3,172 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with a purse of $7,050.

The Thursday features were done at that point—but Jordan wasn’t done.

On Saturday, Jordan was one of four $3,000 seat winners in what turned out to be our final qualifier for this Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Challenge (playable on-track or at Leading the quartet was Greg “You” Wish, who had 4 winners and 2 places, including the day’s biggest payoff with Swift Tap (18.20, $7.90) in the first contest race, the 8th at Aqueduct. Jordan posted 3 places followed by 3 winners to take second. Thomas Kolschowsky (4W, 1P) and William “Romancing the “Stone (3W, 1P) reported home third and fourth, respectively, to round out the happy group of paid-up Del Mar Fall Challenge participants.

The featured-tourney week began on Wednesday, and—similar to Saturday—the day’s highest-priced winner went off at 8-1.

Jim Murphy (4 firsts, 1 second) had that one (Southern Cents), and he also lit the lamp with Wednesday’s second-biggest price (Sakic). That made Murphy the #1 star in the day’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. He went home with $2,830 out of a total final pot of $6,290. 

In Wednesday’s other feature, Brendan Fay reeled off six straight collections (3 winners and 3 runners up) that included Southern Cents in the 10th at Parx.

Fay, a final table participant at the most recent NHC, scooped up a $1,500 entry into the $250,000 Guaranteed Flo-Cal Faceoff (first leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple) here on January 14-15.

Friday was a big day for Jerry McClenin.

He had Courtside ($13.20, $8.00) in the final contest race, the 8th at Del Mar, to move from 4th to 1st at the finish of Friday’s $75, 398-entry NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. Nick Yerton also landed a “Courtside seat” by moving up from 5th to 2nd and grabbing the other available 2023 berth to the NHC. Here are their scorecards:

Even better for McClenin, he played the same picks (consisting of 5 winners and 1 runner up) in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with $20,448 in the kitty.

Even if McClenin doesn’t pick a single winner in Vegas next March, he can look back fondly on the November day when he won his seat—and $9,201 to boot. 

The other Friday feature was a Flo-Cal Faceoff play-in that had three winners of $1,500 entries.

Congratulations to David Barnier (4 wins, 0 places), last week’s dual Big Bucks winner Joseph Zuer (3W, 3P) and Ilan Cuellar (4W, 1P). Barnier and Zuer were 3rd and 4th, respectively, behind McClenin in Friday’s $20,448 cash game.

Heading into the weekend, Travis Pearson led Anthony Trezza in the HT Tour standings by almost 4 points. After Saturday, that lead will increase.

Pearson racked up his 6th victory in his 2022 HT Tour campaign (and his second Saturday tally) in the richest tourney of the week, Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed game, which closed with a purse of $32,649. Pearson’s winner’s share came to $14,691, and he also got a $500 bonus for recording his second Saturday HT Tour win. Here was his scoresheet:

The top five in the HT Tour standings at the end of the year get bonuses. The first-place finisher receives $20,000 in cash plus an entry in the 2023 The BIG One.

Wesley Lecroy is really looking forward to the December 3 Lone Star Fall Simulcast Betting Challenge. For the second straight Saturday, he won our qualifier to it.

Thanks to 5 firsts and 2 seconds—including a late victory with 3-1 One More Bid in the final contest race—Lecroy will now be bringing two guns to the Texas shootout rather than one. 

Another who was lifted up late by One More Bid was Dan Weisenburger in Saturday’s Hawthorne Thanksgiving Contests play-in.

Weisenburger (3 firsts, 2 seconds) also had top returner Swift Tap at the beginning. He gets a total of $1,000 for his starting bankrolls in Chicagoland for the two separate contests running this Saturday and Sunday.

Joshua “Pickin’ n” Prain ran off 4 consecutive winners to finish with 5 wins and a place and capture Saturday’s (Live format) Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Kevin Engelhard (5W, 0P) came in second (by 80 cents) to make off with the other available $1,500 entry. Prain and Engelhard both had It Worked ($16.70, $8.40) in the 10th at Woodbine.

A score of $53.50 got it done for Jim “Never” Settle in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

In a tourney ultimately worth a total of $12,213, Settle pocketed $8,549 on the strength of 2 wins and 3 places. It was one of those runners up that provided Settle with his single biggest return—a capped $22.00 place payoff with Maggie, who ran second in the 10th at Aqueduct at 27-1. (The actual on-track place payoff was $22.60.)

Eric Gielata claimed the top prize of $900 in Saturday’s $2,000 Guaranteed Low Cap game, which had a takeout to players of 1.2%.

Gielata started fast with Swift Tap and chipped up from there, finishing with 4 wins and 2 places in the $35 buy-in battle. Interestingly, not a single Saturday winner went above the lowered 12-1 win cap, but two of the runners up DID exceed the place cap which, for this event, is set at 6-1.

On Saturday, HorsePlayers offered its first qualifier to the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. In the end, a $10,000 seat was won by 70 cents.

Evan Trommer was on the right side of that 70-cent decision. He hit the winners of the final three contest races to finish with 5 firsts and 2 seconds and shade Chris Podratz. It was a tough setback for Podratz, who had the final two winners of this Pick & Pray…but was blocked by Trommer in each instance.

The other Saturday feature at HorsePlayers was a Live-format, $165 NHC qualifier.

The two to punch their tickets to the 2023 event were the two to score above $80—Dino Herrera (3 wins, 3 places) and Joe Hyerczyk (5W, 1P). Of their 12 combined collections, not a single one was held in common.

We hope next Sunday has nothing in common with this past Sunday…meaning we hope none of our featured tourneys fall prey to the elements. With Thanksgiving coming up on Thursday, we’ll have an extra large spread that day, including a $15,000 Guaranteed HT Tour event. The holiday also means the “Weekend Preview” blog will be out on Wednesday this week instead of the usual Thursday. We hope you have a successful couple of days ahead at the races—and also at the supermarket. Happy Thanksgiving.