Evan Trommer Triumphs With Two Different Sets of Sunday Horses; Rich Constantine Sweeps the Saturday Cash Features; Chris McDonald Achieves Bookend Successes (Weekly Recap, May 3-7)

It was quite a weekend for Evan Trommer.

On Saturday, he staged a late rally to capture the Kentucky Derby Challenge at Xpressbet. On Sunday, he was reinvesting some of those winnings in various tourneys, including the day’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks game.

Trommer picked 6 winners out of 12 races in this $9,159 event to add $6,411 to his burgeoning coffers.

Using the same picks, Trommer could only manage to finish second in Sunday’s one-seat Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. He got beat by some guy who used 12 completely different horses. 

That guy was Trommer.

Trommer is not at all a mean-spirited fellow, but this is a bit like telling people, “I can beat you with one hand tied behind my back!” Here he had 3 firsts and 4 seconds and wound up with a score $1.60 higher than in his Big Bucks triumph.

Trommer didn’t win all of our Sunday features. Actually, these were the only two he won (though he came close in others). Still, it’s an impressive feat to succeed with two entries that have completely different selections.

The featured-tourney week kicked off on Wednesday when Chris McDonald came up with the winners of the first three contest races and also the final two.

McDonald earned $2,986 from a total final purse of $6,636 in taking Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. His big horse was Audrey ($38.60, $14.60) in the 7th at Tampa.

As it turns out, not only did McDonald begin the week on a high note, he finished it on one as well.

McDonald (3 wins, 2 places) was one of two to pick up $2,500 entries in Sunday’s qualifier to the on-track Lone Star Million Betting Challenge on Memorial Day. He and victor Steve Simonovic both hit Clitheroe ($27.80, $11.00) in the first contest race, the 6th at Belmont.

Rewinding back to Wednesday action, Anthony Spinazzola recorded 3 firsts and 3 seconds to take home a $2,500 seat to the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 5-6.

Unlike Chris McDonald, he didn’t have Audrey. Instead, his winners were led by Aaron’s Conquest ($25.60, $10.60) in the 6th at Horseshoe Indianapolis.

Like Chris McDonald, Spinazzola used his Wednesday victory as a springboard to later-in-the-week success.

Spinazzola and first-place finisher Jeff Joffrion each had 2 Saturday winners (plus a place) that included Kuora ($110.40, $34.20) in the 10th at Santa Anita. The cap horse launched both into the 2024 NHC.

Four winners got Keith Fenton into the winner’s circle of Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Fenton’s four paid between $7.60 and $16.00 in the win hole. He collected $3,639 in a tourney ultimately worth $8,087.

The horse you really wanted to have on Friday was Disarmed ($36.00, $10.20) in the day’s first contest race, the 5th at Belmont. No other horse in our 12 races paid more than $12.00 to win. Case in point: Michael Pallidine (4 firsts, 2 seconds) had Disarmed…

…and he went on to victory in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Pallidine bagged the winner’s share of $8,079. In all, the game paid out $17,955.

In almost every Friday feature, the winner had Disarmed. However, there was one very notable exception.

Actually, no one hit Disarmed in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge qualifier…but look what Richard Loftus did hit. Eight winners and one runner up from the final 9 races! Almost impossibly, Loftus managed to win a 25-entry game by $34.00 even though nothing returned more than 5-1 after the Disarmed race.

Mike Elsass came up with Disarmed at the outset of his 3-win, 3-place performance.

Elsass will now be in the starting gate for the final leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple, the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown on the first weekend in August.

The two highest Friday scores came, as they often do, over at HorsePlayers in the $75 NHC qualifier.

Mark Fienberg (6 winners, 0 places) and Jeff Higgins each punched early tickets to Vegas in this one. Obvously, they both nailed Disarmed at the start, but there was certainly a lot of work for them to do thereafter before they could taste victory in this 375-entry tourney.

The lowest Friday winning score also came at HorsePlayers in the 16-entry Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier.

Kirk Tesar was the beneficiary of the low voter turnout in this race. He selected three winners—Disarmed, plus a 9-5 shot, plus a 1-5 shot. Those last two didn’t ultimately matter since Tesar was the only one of the 16 to use Disarmed, and that 17-1 victor game him all the scoring he’d need.

Before the weekend was over, Tesar also grabbed himself a $2,000 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge entry.

Tesar (2 wins, 3 places) finished a fairly distant second on Sunday to Ed Peters (4W, 1P), but both earned the desired $2,000 Monmouth entries. Again, the first contest race was key for Tesar. He and Peters each backed Clitheroe ($27.80, $11.00) in the 6th at Belmont.

Saturday was Derby Day, and while we, of course, couldn’t offer Churchill races in our tourneys, that certainly didn’t bother Rich Constantine. 

Constantine missed out on the day’s 54-1 bomb in the 10th at Santa Anita, but he more than made up for that by picking 6 winners, including Swan Lake ($20.80, $6.00) in race 11 at Gulfstream. That got him to the top in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks game, in which Constatine collected $8,549 from a total prize pool of $12,213. 

Constantine’s score in the 12-entry Big Bucks tourney also stood up in the $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which had 81 entries and a final pot of $24,806.

Here, Constantine pocketed $11,162 for a two-tourney total (TTT) of $19,711. 

Gary Gristick led the way in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Gristick got up at the very end thanks to Unconquerable Keen ($18.20, $9.20) who won the final contest race, the 11th at Santa Anita.

Another who conquered the opposition by picking Unconquerable Keen was Wendy Long (4 wins, 2 places).

Long vaulted from 5th to 1st at the end of Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in at HorsePlayers, and she took home the $10,000 November entry.

Rich Pawlowski rode Kuora to victory in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier.

That 54-1 victor plus 4 other winners and a place brought Pawlowski the $2,000 seat for June 3.

Despite the potential for a “Derby Hangover”, HorseTourneys competitors showed up in full force on Sunday, filling up all of our featured events…including the days HT Tour event.

Gary Machiz made collections in 7 straight races at one point, finishing 3 firsts, 5 seconds and the day’s highest score in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $24,937. Machiz’s share of that was $11,221.

Over at HorsePlayers, Wade Jones compiled 4 firsts and another 4 seconds.

Jones took top honors—and the $10,000 seat—in Sunday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio play-in.

The day’s $210 NHC qualifier was an interesting affair.

With 6 wins and a place that were topped by Join the Dance ($27.60, $8.80 in the 8th at Gulfstream), Dave Duncan cleared the fences and took home one of the two available spots. Runner up Leonard Peterson (4W, 4P) was already double qualified (!). So that left the final Vegas berth for 3rd-place contestant Michael Odorisio (4W, 4P). Odorisio got there by squeaking out a $5.20 place collection in the final contest race, the 7th at Hawthorne—which had a four-horse blanket finish at the end.

Thanks to everyone for making us a part of your Derby weekend. That’s pretty impressive loyalty, and we appreciate it very much. This coming week, our menus include the first qualifiers to the May 20 Preakness Challenge at Xpressbet. So there’s that to look forward to—as well as our other top qualifiers, plus our array of rich cash games. Hope to see you again then.