Jim Settle Captures Five Featured Tourneys on Saturday; Plenty of Close Finishes on Sunday—but not for Kirk Tesar, who Tops $200 Level; Mark Heider Does Likewise on Friday (Weekly Recap, April 12-16)

When anyone saw Jim Settle’s name among their list of opponents on Saturday, it means they pretty much had to settle for second place.

Settle was on fire on Saturday, posting the day’s highest score.

Of course, when you put up the high featured-tourney score of the day, it means your winnings are only limited by how many games you play. Settle didn’t limit himself very much.

Buoyed by Kosuke ($85.50, $35.40) in the 7th at Aqueduct, Settle settled up for $14,275 in Saturday’s HT Tour event, our $30,000 Guaranteed tourney, which had a final purse of $31,724.

Settle added another $7,000 to his wheelbarrow in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks game (which had a takeout of 3.4%).

The same picks got him a hefty $6,500 package in our first qualifier to the July 29-30 Del Mar Fall Challenge.

Settle also won a seat in our Friday qualifier to the May 6 Kentucky Derby Challenge. 

The seat in this one was worth $3,000.

Congratulations to Michael “Copa” Kavana, who hit the final two races of the day to finish with 5 wins and a place.

Kavana was the only Saturday player to compete in a featured tourney against Settle and manage to come away smiling. Kavana and first-place finisher Settle each grabbed early $2,500 spots in the August 5-6 Spa & Surf Showdown, which will have a guaranteed purse of $400,000.

Pulling out the old TI-30, we can determine that Settle won $21,275 in cash and another $12,000 worth of seats (and travel stipends) on Saturday. Bravo, Jim!

The featured-tourney week began on Wednesday—a chalky day in which the top winner of our 10 races paid just $8.94.

Scott Thacker had that winner plus 6 others—and a place collection on top of that. His 7 firsts and 2 seconds from 10 races earned him $2,923 in Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed its doors with $6,497 in the till.

Prices were more generous on Thursday. Michael Lynch Jr. fired off 3 winners right from the outset, including Mercante ($23.40, $12.60) in the 6th at Aqueduct.

Thanks in part to Mercante, Lynch’s victory in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray was a unanimous decision—one that earned him the winner’s share of $4,168 in a game ultimately worth a total of $9,262. (It was an 8-race game due to the Thursday cancellation of the Gulfstream card.)

After hitting Mercante, Tim Kindlon was sent to a neutral corner so his foes could collect themselves.

Kindlon (3 firsts, 1 second) scored a knockout win in a specially-scheduled $100 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers. (And for those of you under the age of 60, Arthur Mercante was the referee in the first Ali-Frazier fight in 1971 at Madison Square Garden). 

One of the best performances of the week came from Mark Heider on Friday.

Heider hit two cap horses plus two $20+ winners, and he dominated Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers by more than $86.00. (It’s rare that someone wins this particular game by that much given how many players typically enter it.)

There were enough entries to award three seats instead of two, and those second- and third-place berths went to Seth Morris and Mark Stovall.

Heider finished with a total of $211.28. Meanwhile, the other Friday feature at HorsePlayers was won with a score of $55.60. 

Russell Priola (2 firsts, 2 seconds) got the $10,000 seat in this BCBC Low Ratio Pick & Pray thanks in large part to 9-1 Chez Pierre (who was a lot larger than 9-1 as he entered the Maker’s Mark Mile starting gate).

Ed Peters dined out on Chez Pierre—twice.

The Maker’s Mark Mile upsetter of Modern Games was one of 3 winners that paired nicely with 2 runners up for Peters, who collected $8,902 for triumphing in Friday’s HT Tour battle, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a purse of $19,783.

The same selections also enabled Peters to prevail in Friday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge play-in.

Chez Pierre also left a good taste in the mouth of Ronald Tang, the other $3,000 seat winner. Tang did need some dessert, though—a $7.94 place collection with Mr. McGregor at the end to get up for 2nd.

Things weren’t as tight for Tang at the end of Friday’s Golden Gate Gold Rush Challenge qualifier.

Here, he took the top spot, securing for himself a $1,000 entry—playable at Golden Gate or Xpressbet—on April 29.

Troy Robertson (3 firsts, 1 second) did most of his Friday scoring with Praise and Honor ($98.90, $31.48) in the 8th at Keeneland.

Robertson was the winner of a $2,000 entry in Friday’s qualifier to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge on June 3.

On Saturday, a select few tourneys were won by someone other than Jim Settle.

John “The Clocker” Nichols had to “settle” for 3rd place in both the Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier and the $31,724 cash game, but he took a backseat to no one in Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. His biggest return among 5 wins and a place was with Dekanter ($25.00, $10.20) in the 10th at Aqueduct.

The first lady of the contest world led the way in Saturday’s Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge qualifier.

Judy Wagner (2 wins, 2 places) will journey from Louisiana to Texas this Saturday to compete in the Lone Star event. Her heavy lifter was Kosuke ($85.50, $35.40) in the 7th at Aqueduct. One of her opponents in Grand Prairie will be Tim Plumeri (5W, 2P). Plumeri enjoyed a fast start, hitting each of the first four winners.

The two to reach triple figures were the two to collect NHC seats in Saturday’s $165 play-in at HorsePlayers.

Congratulations to Michael Marlaire (3 wins, followed by 3 places) and Stephan Gravina (4W, 2P). They both had the fast-closing Federico Tesio winner Perform ($22.00, $10.00) in race 10 at Laurel.

There were a lot of prices to be had on Sunday, including two cap horses. You’d think that the winning margins would be large but they weren’t. 

Howard Welsh counted Boudoir Burlesque ($68.08, $26.94) among his 3 wins and 2 places, and by a margin of $7.60, he took Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed tourney. The final pot in this 142-entry affair was $31.062, and Welsh made off with $13,978 of it.

Welsh played those same picks in Sunday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which attracted a grand total of 9 entries. So surely Welsh blew this field apart…right?

Not exactly. Welsh won…but only by 80 cents here in what has to be considered a tough beat (or unlucky entry placement, to say the least) for Mark Stillmock. Here, Welsh pocketed $6,411 in a game that closed its doors with a pot of $9,159.

Another photo finish came in Sunday’s Golden Gate Gold Rush Challenge qualifier.

Again, the margin of victory was 80 cents, this time with Nick “Boudoir Burlesque” Seevers getting the nod over Michael Caposio, who had to be disappointed that his 9-2 winner at the end only paid $11.00 on the nose and that his place money wasn’t a little more generous perhaps.

At least Caposio didn’t have to curse his luck in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Caposio’s score of $100.60 got the job done here and got him a berth in the $400,000 Guaranteed final leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple. He had bomb Boudoir Burlesque and the earlier-alluded-to Russian Alphabet ($11.00, $6.20) in the contest nightcap.

Our 2021 The BIG One champ Ken Seeman captured a pair of Sunday tourneys.

He, too, came up with Boudoir Burlesque, and then he made collections in each of the final three races to eke out a two-dollar victory over fellow seat winner Michael Kiatipis in this $165 NHC qualifier.

The same picks also brought Seeman a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge entry.

Here, Seeman was joined on the victory podium by Michael Cherello, who finished $6.50 behind in 2nd. Cherello’s big horse was Lady Milagro ($28.80, $11.60) in the 8th at Aqueduct. Cherello then swept the final three races at odds of 8-1, 5-2 and 9-2 to make his successful late push for the second available Monmouth berth.

One player whose Sunday victory was not close at all was Kirk Tesar.

All Tesar did in Sunday’s Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge qualifier was smoke out the four highest-returning horses of the day, including 25-1 and 33-1 cap horses.

It WAS close for the second available $1,000 entry. Mark Stovall (3 wins, 1 place) got it thanks to an $8.80 place collection at the end. Note that the Last Chance qualifier for Saturday’s Lone Star tournament will be offered here on Wednesday.

Sunday’s Kentucky Derby Challenge play-in was similar to the Lone Star qualifier in that it wasn’t close for first place, but it was, indeed, close for second place.

Edward Enborg racked up 6 wins and a place to draw off by more than $46.00 for the win. Ryan McCarthy (4W, 4P) snatched the other $3,000 entry by a mere 88 cents. The best return for both came via Lady Milagro ($28.80, $11.60) in race 8 at the Big A.

It’s been a good year so far for David Wolff.

The New Jersey attorney won $187,000 in January’s Flo-Cal Faceoff, and on Sunday he secured his place in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge thanks to 3 winners in the day’s $500 Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Thanks to all of you for your strong support of what was a pretty busy featured-tourney schedule. We’ll be back on Wednesday to ramp things up once again. Hope to see you then…or shortly thereafter!