Evan Trommer Finishes First Three Times on Saturday and Once More On Sunday; Raj Satyan Captures Pair of Friday Features (Weekly Recap, May 17-21)

Who has been the star of the Triple Crown series so far? As far as we at HorseTourneys are concerned, it’s not Mage, National Treasure or any other horse. The correct choice is clearly Evan Trommer.

On Derby Day, the Floridian captured the Kentucky Derby Challenge at Xpressbet, and then followed up the next day (May 7) here by winning a Spa & Surf Showdown seat plus $6,411 in our Big Bucks tourney.

Unlike many of the Kentucky Derby connections, Trommer was unfazed by the two-week turnaround for the Preakness. 

Preakness Day was a near carbon copy of his May 7 exploits. He won a Spa & Surf Showdown seat…

…and also finished first in our $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks game. This one was worth $9,261 to Trommer. 

As a cherry on top of his Preakness day, the already-double-qualified Trommer also finished first in the $165 NHC Pick & Pray at HorseTourneys.

He won’t get a seat for his Cheetara-led efforts here. Those went to 2nd- and 3rd-place finishers Matt Strutzel (4 wins, 2 places) and Mickey Hopkins (4W, 0P). However, Trommer did earn NHC Tour points, and the way he’s been going this year, those could mean a lot to him down the line.

In fact, the way Trommer has been going lately meant a lot to him the very next day.

His scoresheet wasn’t gaudy this day—just $49.20—but therein lies the beauty of Low Ratio tourneys. Here, Trommer’s top return among 3 winners and 3 runners up was with Fancy Joke ($9.30, $5.90) in the 7th at Belmont. The prize was plenty gaudy, though…a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat.

Over the next three weeks, expect Trommer to head out for several, long, slow, stamina-building workouts and perhaps a session or two in the hyperbaric chamber. He does, after all, need to be ready for Belmont Stakes weekend.

We’re not sure what his training regimen was like, but Darren Rudnick certainly did some of his best running at the end of Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Rudnick (4 firsts, 1 second), hit the final two winners, including the Steve Asmussen-conditioned Gigante ($68.00, $17.00) in the 8th at Horseshoe Indianapolis. He collected $3,172 from a total final pot of $7,050.

John Kostin (3 firsts, 5 seconds) missed Gigante, but he smoked out Forever Noted ($23.20, $9.60) in the final contest race on Wednesday.

Kostin thereby earned a $2,000 entry for the June 3 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge.

Rudolph Hardin’s Thursday running style was “slow early-fast late.”

Hardin whiffed on the first 4 contest races of our $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, but he amassed 3 winners and 2 runners up from the final six…including two winners that paid $23.00 or more. Hardin picked up the winner’s share of $3,608 in a game ultimately worth a total of $8,018.

Another who found his best stride in the latter stages was Raj Satyan on Friday.

Satyan hit the final 3 winners to finish with 4 wins and 1 place and earn a $2,000 seat in Friday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge play-in. The second available Monmouth spot went to Jackson Muniz (2W, 2P). The top horse for each was Taxed ($24.00, $8.80) in the final contest race, the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.

The same picks also served Satyan well at HorsePlayers.

Here, he won a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seat in the day’s Low Ratio qualifier.

Friday’s other feature at HorsePlayers produced the day’s highest score, courtesy of Tory Cameron.

Cameron (5 wins, 2 places), Phil Hoedebeck (5W, 2P) and Evan Littman (4W, 2P) all had Taxed, and all will be heading to the NHC next March after finishing one-two-three in Friday’s $75 qualifier.

Another who was feeling Taxed on Friday was Bobby Shoemaker.

Shoemaker recorded 4 firsts and 2 seconds en route to a victory worth $8,678 in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which offered a total purse of $19,285.

Eric Pineiro also profited from Taxed.

She was one of 3 winners and 2 runners up that Pineiro put together on the way to victory in Friday’s qualifier to the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.

While “Taxed at the end” was where you wanted to be on Friday, “Cheetara at the beginning” was the optimal strategy on Saturday.

It was a winning formula for Turner West (4 firsts, 2 seconds) in Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

West won $15,800 in a game that closed with $35,112 in the till. It was one of two HT Tour events offered on Saturday. The other was a Live-format, $20,000 Guaranteed tourney.

Nancy Spence (6 wins, 1 place) got off to a cheetah-like start with the fast-finishing Cheetara, and she pocketed the $11,250 top prize in a game whose takeout turned out to be 3.8%.

Cheetara was on the 2-win, 2-place scorecard of Mark Stillmock.

That performance got Stillmock $1,000 in entry fees for the Hawthorne OTBs Spring NHC qualifier. Those will be run on June 24-25…which means the “Spring qualifier” will actually be taking place in the summer!

Marc Infante (5 firsts, 2 seconds) had Cheetara at the outset.

He was the winner of the $2,500 entry in Saturday’s play-in to the Lone Star Million Betting Challenge, taking place on Memorial Day.

Getting back to Cheetara, she won the Skipat Stakes at Pimlico. Skipat was a prolific, stakes-winning distaff sprinter in the 1980s. She won the Barbara Fritchie Stakes twice. What I don’t think I ever realized until this weekend (or once knew and quickly forgot) was that Skipat was bred in the racing hotbed of…Connecticut. Perhaps her breeders got special state-bred incentives when Skipat’s Maryland victories were piped into the New Haven Teletrack.

(The New Haven Teletrack, incidentally, was the site of the infamous “Frisk Me Now tournament” in 1997. That contest quickly became the inspiration for payoff caps.)

We’re guessing that Massachusetts native George Chute made it to the Teletrack a time or two. 

The 2023 Skipat Stakes victor was one of 6 winners picked by Chute in the course of winning Saturday’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers.

There were three winners of $2,000 entries in Saturday’s Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge qualifier.

Congratulations to Daniel Edwards (5 wins, 0 places), Brent “Better Talk Now” Johnson (3W, 1P) and Tim Darnell (5W, 0P). What may be most notable here is that Darnell got the job done despite not having Cheetara. 

Only one other person did that on Saturday.

That “one other” was David Atwell (6 firsts, 1 second). He hit Elm Drive ($13.40, $7.60) in the final contest race, the 8th at Santa Anita to get up late and capture Saturday’s NHC Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

So on Friday, the key horse to have was Taxed, and on Saturday, it was Cheetara. On Sunday, there were not many big prices…which usually means multiple pathways to victory. However, on Sunday, you really wanted to have Millennium Condo ($19.00, $7.20) in the final contest race, the 9th at Gulfstream.

Mark “Santana” Tabakman used Millennium Condo. In fact, that was his only winner of the day.

Thanks in part to 3 place collections, Tabakman still got home first in Sunday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed with a purse of $8,142. Tabakman’s share of that was $5,699.

Timothy Jacobs (3 firsts, 1 second) hit both of the day’s double-digit winners.

Jacobs earned the $2,500 berth in Sunday’s qualifier to the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 5-6.

Having Millennium Condo in the final race propelled Rick Bruton (3 firsts, 4 seconds) all the way from 19th to 1st at the end of Sunday’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray.

Bruton bagged $11,517 of a total final pot that came to $25,593.

Braden Selvig (2 wins, 4 places) moved from 5th to 1st in the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge play-in thanks to Millennium Condo.

There were enough entries to award a second grand prize, and that other $2,000 Monmouth seat went via tiebreaker to George Carr, who selected 7 winners compared to 3 for Timothy Jacobs. Even our HorseTourneys stewards were able to make the call in that photo. Carr (7W, 1P) missed Millennium Condo, though he didn’t miss very often. His highest win price during the day was $6.60.

Another who managed to prosper without Millennium Condo was Brooks Lewis. 

It seemed to be a good Sunday for Brookses everywhere. Our Brooks came up with 7 wins and 1 place to lead the way in the $165 NHC Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers. Jose Raphael (5W, 2P) got the other available berth. He took the more conventional (for the day) approach of using Millennium Condo.

Chris Inman (3 firsts, 4 seconds) was the victor in Sunday’s Lone Star Million Betting Challenge qualifier.

In 5th place with one race to go, Inman nailed Millennium Condo at the end, moving himself on to victory over…Eddie Inman.

Contests are almost always a zero-sum game—sometimes even within one’s own family. We hope you and your family came out ahead last weekend. Thanks to all of you for competing.