Gregory Lewis Grabs BCBC Seats on Back-to-Back Days; Raymond Gallant Jr. Scores Christmas Eve Hat Trick; William Sadoo Sweeps Thursday Features (Weekly Recap, December 21-24)

The only person more locked in than Santa Claus this weekend…was Gregory Lewis.

On Friday, Lewis picked the final two winners to finish with five on the day (out of just nine races). The .555 batting average made the best out of a chalky afternoon, and—by one dollar over Louis Masry—Lewis earned the $10,000 entry in the day’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

Buoyed by his narrow Friday triumph, Lewis tested his skill again on Saturday in…what else?…another BCBC qualifier. This time, the result was not particularly close.

For the second straight day, Lewis found the day’s biggest winner. This time it was Belgrano ($23.60, $11.60) in the 8th at Gulfstream. Perhaps more notably, Lewis improved upon his .555 Friday batting average by hitting at a .750 Saturday clip, coming up with six winners out of just eight races. The result was yet another $10,000 BCBC spot for Lewis in Saturday’s Low Ratio Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

Lewis had the highest score of the day on Saturday with his tally of $87.60, so there was no beating him. However, Michael Caposio did the best of those at HorsePlayers who tried…and he earned a $5,000 partial Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry for his efforts.

Believe it or not, Gregory Lewis wasn’t the weekend’s biggest winner. That distinction belonged to Raymond Gallant Jr. He pulled off a Christmas (Eve) miracle of sorts by capturing three grand prizes.

Saturday’s HT Tour event was a cash-game Pick & Pray that had a purse guaranteed at $20,000. Evidently done with their holiday shopping, HorseTourneys competitors came out in force for this one, swelling the final purse to $33,880. Gallant took home the winner’s share of that by coming up with 3 firsts and 3 seconds, including victorious Gulfstream race 8 10-1 shot Belgrano.

In winning the cash tourney, Gallant entered a successful list of eight horses. For Saturday’s Flo-Cal Face-off qualifier, he took that list, checked it twice…and played it back.

Same result! Here, there were enough entries to hand out four $1,500 seats for the $250,000 Guaranteed Faceoff, and those three went to Marc Racenstein (3 wins, 0 places), David Barnier (3W, 0P) and Neal “Mad Bomber” Lamonica (4W, 1P). Racenstein and Barnier actually finished tied for second. They had the same three winners and blanked with their other five picks (which were not identical). Lamonica finished just 20 cents behind the tied duo. Like Gallant, all three had Belgrano on their scorecards.

In Saturday’s $210 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers, someone finally outdid Gallant, but Raymond hardly felt like a Goofus.

With 4 firsts and 1 second, Frank Foss bested Gallant by five bucks, but Gallant wrested the other available seat from Jake Brown by $1.40. 

Christmas definitely came a day early for Gallant, who wound up with the NHC seat, a Flo-Cal entry and $15,246 under his tree. Running such a close third in the NHC qualifier probably felt like a lump of coal for Jake Brown, but ultimately there was a nice gift under his tree as well.

Brown’s score of $75.00 didn’t quite cut it versus Foss and Gallant, but it certainly sufficed in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray. His 4 firsts and 1 second earned him a jolly $10,686 in a game that closed with a pot of $15,266.

The holiday week features began on Wednesday.

Igor Mirambeau (4 firsts, 1 second) collected $3,546 for taking Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed its doors with $7,880 in the kitty. Mirambeau came out firing with three consecutive winners, including the day’s two best—B B Bad ($18.20, $6.80) in the 8th at Parx and Inevitabl Connection ($12.40, $5.60) in the 7th at Gulfstream.

Clint Littlejohn (2 wins, 5 places) also smoked out both B B Bad and Inevitabl Connection.

Littlejohn led the way in Wednesday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. Also earning a $1,500 spot in the $250,000 Guaranteed first leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple was runner up Stephanie Davis (2W, 3P).

Dan Flanigan hit the final two contest races on Wednesday to finish with 5 winners out of 10 races.

For his exploits, Flanigan earned a $1,500 Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge entry.

The Thursday featured tourneys can be summed up with one name: William “23” Sadoo.

Hitting those two $20+ horses at the end proved quite lucrative for Sadoo.

He pocketed $4,106 for scrambling past Randall Cunningham by $8.60 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray…which closed with a robust final purse of $9,124.

Sadoo played those picks back in the day’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Here, Sadoo’s “late double” heroics resulted in an $18.00 victory…and a $1,500 seat.

The Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge play-in on Thursday turned out to be a romp.

The late-game salvo by Sadoo here resulted in a $48.20 triumph and earned him a $1,500 seat of a different color. Runner up Michael Karalis hit 12-1 Turf Paradise race 8 winner Top References at the end to get up narrowly for the other available Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge entry—in what was a blanket finish for second.

On Friday, the day’s high scorer was David Tunin.

Tunin (4 firsts and 4 seconds) made collections in all but one of the nine Friday contest races.

For his stellar show of consistency, Tunin was rewarded with $8,977 in Friday’s HT Tour competition, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $19,950.

Tunin achieved his $77.00 best-of-day score despite not having the day’s highest priced winner, Cricket West ($15.00, $8.60) in the 9th at Gulfstream. Richard Reese (3 wins, 1 place), Dan Shugar (3W, 1P) and Bob McIntyre (4W, 2P) all had Cricket West, though.

They were the three winners of 2023 seats in Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers. Kudos also to the already-double-qualified Kenny McMahan and Gregory Lewis, who finished 3rd and 4th, respectively, and added some nice points to their NHC Tour holdings.

There were three winners of $1,500 seats in the Friday Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier.

Congratulations to Joel Wincowski (6 wins, 2 places), Jimmie O’Nail (1W, 4P) and Tim Moline (4W, 0P).

A different trio picked up $1,500 seats in Friday’s play-in to the Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge.

Kevin Lux (6 wins, 2 places) led the way here with the same $64.60 score (and the same 8 collections) that Joel Wincowski had in taking the Flo-Cal qualifier. Jeff Sadler (2W, 1P) had each of the day’s two double-digit win prices to finish second. He won an ultimately meaningless tiebreaker over Darwin Labordo (2W, 2P) who finished 3rd and got the other available $1,500 spot. Labordo finished a mere 20 cents ahead of a hard-luck Gary Bain, who had the final-contest-race winner at Tampa Bay Downs, but came up just short when the mutuel prices for the finale were posted. (Bain certainly got a maddening “short end” of 2-1 in this instance.)

A score of $46.00 got the job done for John Merola in Friday’s Tampa Bay Downs High Rollers Contest qualifier.

Merola’s biggest collection—by far—among 2 wins and 3 places came via Tampa Bay Downs race 7 runner up Sky Traveler, who returned a contest-capped $22.00 to place for running second at 26-1.

Much the same story applied to Thomas Michael Abinanti, although he did Merola two better…or two worse, depending on your perspective.

Abinanti (2 firsts, 2 seconds) won a $6,500 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship package with a final tally of $44.00. Sky Traveler was Abinanti’s single biggest collection as well. Abinanti edged Eric Kurzhal by 40 cents…and Scott Fiedler by 60 cents. At least Kurzhal and Fiedler weren’t done in by the stingy 2-1 payouts in the 9th at Tampa…and at least they got all nine of their picks in (unlike 4th-place finisher Gene Stewart).

Another $6,500 Pegasus package was at stake on Christmas Eve. 

Tony Garofalo (3 firsts, 1 second) had Belgrano ($23.60, $11.60) in the 8th at Gulfstream, but he needed Golden Soda ($11.80, $6.80) in the contest finale, the 9th at Gulfstream, to get up for the victory in the 8-race affair.

Five players won $1,500 berths in our last-chance qualifier to the Santa Anita Opening Day Challenge.

Joey Agular (4 wins, 3 places), Michael Caposio (2W, 1P), Brian “BC” Chenvert (3W, 0P), Brent Johnson (2W, 1P) and Chris Cupples (3W, 0P) will all hope to keep their respective hot streaks going right through to the end of Monday’s last race at Santa Anita. Good luck, all!

Last but not least, Christopher “Mary Queen of” Skotz was the winner of Saturday’s Tampa Bay Downs High Rollers Contest qualifier.

Skotz had Belgrano among his 2 firsts and 2 seconds, and he got the $1,000 entry for the two-day, on-track tournament on February 10-11.

We hope you all had a wonderful holiday weekend. Of course, one good holiday weekend deserves another and on Wednesday, we’ll begin the featured-tourney week that culminates on New Year’s Day. Good luck to all…and to all a good night!