Michael Somich Earns Three Friday Grand Prizes and Collects the Big Bucks on Saturday; Alexa Zepp, Steven Meier and Peter Rogers Each Take Two Tourneys (Weekly Recap, February 8-12)

Multi-day success is always trumpeted in this space, and this week the trumpets are out for Michael Somich.

The 7th-place finisher and winner of $65,000 at the most recent NHC, Somich tuned up for next month’s big event with an excellent couple of days here at HorseTourneys. 

Somich had Souper Dormy ($21.00, $7.20) in the 8th at Gulfstream on Friday among his 3 wins and 1 place, and that earned him a $3,500 berth in the day’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier…which saw runner up David Nelson (3W, 2P) pick up a Keeneland seat as well thanks to a final-race 5-1 winner at the Big A.

The same Pick & Pray selections rewarded Somich with a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge spot.

Somich’s score of $67.30 wasn’t an eye-catching one on Friday, but it was good enough to also snag the final available seat in the day’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance play-in.

Steven Meier led the way with a tally of $110.50—more than half of which came courtesy of Audrey ($74.60, $16.40) in the 7th at Tampa. There were enough entries, though, to hand out five $500 seats and the others went to Daven Turner, Jason Phillips, Kevin Engelhard and Somich.

In contests, as in actual horse racing, fortuitous spotting can sometimes be as important as anything else. On Saturday, Somich again scored in the 60s—$62.60 to be exact. And again, he was amply rewarded.

Somich’s $62.60 came in the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which attracted 13 entries. Topped by Drifaros ($17.80, $7.40) in the 7th at Tampa, Somich had 3 winners and 2 runners up on the day to earn $9,261 in a game ultimately worth a total of $13,230.

The featured-tourney week began (as usual) on Wednesday, and the star of the day was Alexa Zepp.

Zepp’s 4 firsts and 3 seconds included Pachanga Luca ($68.00, $21.80) in the 7th at Gulfstream, and Zepp emerged as the recipient of the $3,500 entry in Wednesday’s Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier.

Those picks also allowed Zepp to lead the way in Wednesday’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance play-in.

Joining Zepp in the bulky NHC Eve field at the Horseshoe will be Daven Turner, Douglas Schenk, Paul Roth and David May. For Turner, it was the first of two Horseshoe seats won during the week, as he also grabbed one in the aforementioned Saturday qualifier won by Steven Meier.

Wednesday’s Players Championship qualifier was a wild one, won by Neal Thomas via tiebreaker.

Thomas got the nod on the judges’ scorecards over Dane Moore by virtue of having picked two winners as opposed to just one by Moore.

The high scorer of the day on Wednesday was Charles Myers.

Myers (4 firsts, 1 second) hit four of the final five winners to bag $2,986 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which finished up with a purse of $6,636. His biggest return came with Tapsolution ($47.60, $20.20) in the 8th at Tampa.

Thursday’s cash game victor was Clint Littlejohn.

Littlejohn (3 firsts, 1 second) hit the first two contest races at juicy odds to capture Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. 

Littlejohn collected $3,452 from what was a total final prize pool of $7,672.

In Thursday, NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier, Eric Archer did Littlejohn one better, so to speak.

Archer swept the day’s first three races on the way to finishing first. Also securing $500 places in the NHC prelude were David Brownfield and Ciaran Thornton.

We noted earlier that Steven Meier finished first in Friday’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance game with a score of $110.50. He improved significantly on that total in the same day’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which wound up paying out a total of $18,453.

Audrey ($74.60, $16.40) in the 7th at Tampa capped off a run of three straight double-digit winners for Meier.

Kirk Tesar put up a nice total of $124.50 in taking Friday’s Players Championship qualifier.

Michael “Copa” Kavana (3W, 1P) finished second to earn the other available $2,000 seat into the middle leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple. Tesar and Kavana both had Audrey.

The high score of the day was recorded over at HorseTourneys where Ben Clayton took the $75 NHC qualifier. 

The 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers, Ciaran Thornton and Michael Kavana, were already double qualified and, thus, playing for NHC Tour points. That meant that the two remaining NHC seats went to Dennis Tiernan and Suresh Bomman, who tied for 4th. Ironically, Tiernan and Bomman had the exact same four winners, but they had no other picks in common…and no other cashes!

Following in the footsteps of Alexa Zepp on Wednesday and Michael Somich and Steven Meier on Friday, Peter Rogers finished first in two tourneys on Saturday.

Rogers counted Tampa race 9 longshot Dreaming of Snow ($78.00, $15.20) among the 3 winners and 1 runner up that got him a $3,500 Keeneland Grade One Gamble entry.

The same picks worked similarly well for Rogers in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge play-in.

Rogers received a $2,000 entry in this one. Like the Keeneland Grade One Gamble, the June 3 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge can be played on track or via Xpressbet. (The Monmouth contest can also be played at 4NJBets if you live in the Garden State.)

In 2021, Jorge Cruz-Aedo was the first-ever HT Tour champion. On Saturday, he took his first big step towards trying to become the 2023 champ.

Cruz-Aedo had Dreaming of Snow plus 2 other winners and 1 runner up on the way to a $16,354 payday in the week’s richest event, our $30,000 Guaranteed tourney. The final pot in this HT Tour battle amounted to $36,344.

Michael Guadagno (3 firsts, 1 second) was another who prospered nicely from choosing Dreaming of Snow.

Guadagno earned a $2,000 entry into the $350,000 Guaranteed Players Championship—an all-cash contest to be played in All Optional Live format—right here at HorseTourneys on Friday and Saturday, April 7-8.

Seven players earned $500 NHC First Chance/Last Chance spots on Saturday.

Chief among them was Dreaming of Snow backer Mike McIntyre. The other six were “Captain” Frank Sorensen, Peter Yan, Kevin Engelhard (his second such entry won during the week), Anthony Schiavone, Francis Boustany and Daniel Kaplan.

There were two Pick & Pray features on Saturday at HorsePlayers.

Jay Johns may well have wrapped up the 2022 NHC Tour championship with his first-place finish in Saturday’s $210 NHC qualifier. He was double-qualified, though, so that meant he wasn’t eligible for one of the three available spots for next month. Those went to 2nd-, 3rd- and 4th-place contestants Cara Yarusso (who got the job done despite not having Dreaming of Snow), Adam “Kentucky” Burgoon and Barth Mroz.

In the other HorsePlayers marquee game, Dreaming of Snow was one of 5 winners for Tim Kindlon.

Kindlon earned a $10,000 entry for November in this $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.

There were two big longshots lurking out there on Sunday—Celestial Glaze ($98.00, $25.60) in the first contest race (the 6th at Gulfstream) and Centavo ($37.60, $15.60) in the 6th at Aqueduct. Unless I am missing something (which is entirely possible), the only player in our featured tourneys to nail both of them was 2018 NHC champ Chris Littlemore.

Littlemore wound up with a lot more scoring than his foes in Sunday’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance qualifier. However, Paul “Morning” Kloeker, Robert Pennell, Matthew Ache, Brent Johnson, Patrick Grippo and Mike Elsass also earned $500 entries for finishing in the top seven.

Littlemore wasn’t the only past NHC hero to taste success on Sunday. Another was 2017 title holder Ray Arsenault. 

Arsenault’s only winner across 4 collections was Celestial Glaze, and Arsenault was the one to leave with the $2,000 entry in Sunday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

For Jon Petoskey, the Sunday longshot of choice was also Celestial Glaze.

That cap horse plus 3 other winners and 1 place horse earned Petoskey $13,387 in Sunday’s HT Tour game, our $20,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a purse of $29,750.

Nick “48 Hrs.” Noce had Celestial Glaze at the beginning…and then he blocked Michael Kavana at the end.

Noce (4 wins, 1 place) will now spend 48 hours participating in the $350,000 Guaranteed Players Championship here on April 7-8.

Thomas Labordo’s big Sunday horse was Centavo.

Labordo (4 wins, 3 places) hopes he can find a couple of more Centavos on April 15 when he will be competing in the Keeneland Grade One Gamble.

Howard Welsh’s big Sunday winner was also Centavo.

After further review, Centavo was Welsh’s only winner. That one plus two runners up got Welsh the top prize of $7,124 in Sunday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed its doors with $10,177 in the till.

Sunday’s highest score came in one of the two featured tourneys over at HorsePlayers. It was put up by Brandon Leigh.

Leigh uncovered 4 winners, including Celestial Glaze, plus 2 placers to lead the way in this $165 NHC Pick & Pray. There were enough entries here in this final “2022 NHC Tour contest” to hand out three Vegas spots and the other two were grabbed by the other two players to crack triple figures, Aaron Dobbin and Brandon Stauble.

Lastly, the other Sunday feature at HorsePlayers was a $500 Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray.

Ryan Flanders got the win, and Anthony “ATM” Mattera finished second to earn a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

Congratulations to all of last week’s winners and thanks to all for taking part. Next weekend is Presidents Day Weekend, so even more winning should be in store. Hope to see you then.