Ed Peters Wins Spa & Surf Showdown Seat Plus $13,500; Ron Tang Grabs Saratoga Challenge Entries on Back-to-Back Days; Michael Bailey Qualifies for NHC and BCBC (Weekly Recap, June 21-25)

Last week’s 26 features tourneys were predominantly Live-format affairs, including the first one of the week on Wednesday, a $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney won by Peter Osella.

Osella chipped up unassumingly with 4 place collections, before chiming in with two winners. One of them was something of a knockout blow—Great Coolness ($40.00, $18.20) in the 5th at Horseshoe Indy. That one plus a 6-1 victor in the very next race brought Osella the top prize of $2,768 in a game that closed with a final purse of $6,152.

On Thursday, there were three marquee games, and a Belmont longshot turned out to be a veritable prerequisite for success.

Neal Thomas didn’t cash a thing over the first six races, but he nailed three out of the last four, including Tryinmyheartout ($87.00, $32.40) in race 8 at Belmont.

The late salvo earned Thomas $3,763 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which paid out a total of $8,364.

Jonathan Holden also had Tryinmyheartout. In fact, that was his only winner.

Holden’s scorecard also included three place collections, and the extra $10.10 he made from those made the difference in him winning Thursday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Over at HorsePlayers, there was a special $100 NHC qualifier on Thursday.

The Mendoza Line was $111.80, but in this case, that was a very high bar. Congratulations to Norma Mendoza, who had Tryinmyheartout plus two other winners and one runner up to punch her ticket to the 2024 NHC.

Three more players earned their way into the NHC at HorsePlayers on Friday.

Instead of a single, outsized winner, there was a smattering of solid, mid-priced horses on Friday. Mark Stovall (6 wins, 1 place) did the best job of making sense of it all. His score of $103.60 was the day’s best…followed closely by FOX Sports’ Chris “The Bear” Fallica (6W, 2P). Here’s a look at their scorecards.

There were enough entries in this one to award three NHC seats, and the last of the three went to Howard “28 Flavors” Johnson, who picked 6 winners. He, Stovall and Fallica all had Khali Magic ($12.60, $6.20) in the 8th at Belmont.

The other feature on Friday at HorsePlayers was a Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray.

Like HoJo, Robert Childress also picked 6 winners out of the 10 races to get where he wanted to be. His biggest collection came in the next-to-last race with Stop and a Tres ($21.40, $8.60) in the 7th at Los Alamitos.

Stop and a Tres was also the heaviest lifter for Tom O’Connor.

O’Connor selected 3 winners and 1 runner up to capture Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot $17,788. O’Connor’s share of that was $8,004.

The 2021 NHC Tour winner, Joseph “Kevin” Costello, made collections in each of the first seven contest races on Friday.

Those 3 wins and 4 places meant that Costello wasn’t harmed by whiffing on the final three races. He will now be in the starting gate with a paid-up $2,500 entry for the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 5-6.

A week after the final leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple, NYRA and NYRABets will host the Saratoga Challenge.

Kirk Rockwell led the way in Friday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier. His 5 firsts and 1 second were topped by Born Dancer ($20.20, $10.80) in the 9th at Belmont. Also winning entries for August 12th were Rick Vasquez, Justin Waitekus and Drew Keaton.

On Saturday, the horse you really wanted to have was Carry Back Stakes winner Lightning Tones ($58.40, $14.40) in race 8 at Gulfstream. That was the only horse that paid more than $20.00 to win. Gary Blair had Lightning Tones and the day’s second biggest price as well.

In all, Blair came up with 5 wins and 2 places, and he posted the day’s highest score in taking Saturday’s Haskell Challenge qualifier. Also winning $1,000 berths in this one were the other two to reach the century mark—Frank Okasaki (4W, 1P) and Michael Somich (3W, 2P).

Ed Peters, the 2017 The BIG One champ, had a highly enjoyable Saturday.

Lightning Tones was among 5 winners and 1 runner up found by the Granite Stater en route to a victory worth $13,500 in Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed tourney, an HT Tour event that went off with a takeout to players of 6.8%.

Peters played those same picks back in Saturday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Same result…and Peters will now be competing for a share of the $400,000 Guaranteed all-cash purse here on August 5-6.

Another double winner on Saturday was Michael Bailey (who was 3rd in the $30,000 Gtd. cash game). He experienced his best success over at HorsePlayers.

Lightning Tones plus 2 other winners and 3 runners up got Bailey the $10,000 seat in Saturday’s $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.

Those same selections worked nicely for Bailey in Saturday’s $210 NHC qualifier.

Here, Bailey bested all but Kevin Engelhard, whose 4-win, 2-place scorecard also included Lightning Tones.

Brian “BC” Chenvert (4 firsts, 3 seconds) also had Lightning Tones.

Chenvert came away with the hefty $6,500 package in Saturday’s Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier.

Another Lightning Tones fan was David May (4 firsts, 3 seconds).

May will have action in July at the William Moore Classic, hosted by Delaware Park.

Lightning Tones was part of a 3-win, 3-place day for Adam Lewis.

Lewis claimed the winner’s share of $9,261 in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with $13,230 in the kitty.

Saturday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier was unique.

Three players garnered $1,000 seats in this one—Craig Rowe (4 wins, 0 places despite failing to enter one of his picks), Dr. Ron Tang (4W, 2P) and Robert Pennell (3W, 1P). This qualifier was unique because it was the only featured tourney all day in which someone succeeded without having Lightning Tones. So extra kudos for that to Ron Tang.

On Sunday, Tang earned even more kudos.

You really can’t put a price on kudos…but you can on a Saratoga Challenge seat ($1,000) and Tang (3 wins, 3 places) got his second one of those in as many days for finishing third to Gregory Lewis (5W, 1P) and Stephen Diaz (3W, 2P). The big hit for Lewis was No One to Blame ($33.40, $19.20) in the 9th at Laurel.

Evan Trommer (4 wins, 2 places) and Thomas Labordo (3W, 1P) each had No One to Blame.

They were the two to leave with $1,000 entries at the conclusion of Sunday’s Haskell Challenge qualifier.

Sunday’s top scorer was Robert Reidy with $128.30. He hit the final two races to finish with 5 winners and 1 runner up on the day.

The six collections got Reidy the up-top money of $11,221 in Sunday’s $20,000 Guaranteed cash game, which closed with a purse of $24,937.

Sunday’s other featured cash event was our $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which had a final pot of $9,159.

Jayson “Radio City” Rockett (2 firsts, 2 seconds) took home the $6,411 grand prize here. He didn’t have No One to Blame, though. In fact, his top collection came via a $22.00 max place payoff on a 60-1 runner up in race 9 at Laurel.

Another who prospered without the benefit of No One to Blame was Shad Walton over at HorsePlayers.

Walton’s biggest payoff in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio tourney was with Kant Hurry Love ($27.60, $9.60) in the 8th at Belmont. He finished with 4 wins and 2 places and took home the sought-after $10,000 entry.

Sunday’s NHC qualifier took place here at HorseTourneys, where Bronson Cambra (3 double-digit winners, 1 place) and Tony Marzolla (4W, 2P) secured their spots in Vegas.

They each had the day’s top two winners along the way.

Richard Gorzkowski posted 3 winners (including No One to Blame) plus 4 runners up.

The seven collections made Gorzkowski the winner of our guaranteed qualifier to the Oct. 21-22 The BIG One at Laurel Park. Gorzkowski’s package to The BIG One (where he will be in a field of no more than 57 playing just one entry each) includes hotel, a welcome party, full food and open bar amenities on track and a $500 winner’s bonus.

Marc Infante (5 wins, 2 places) and James Lisowsky (5W, 1P) were the two to earn $2,500 entries in Sunday’s Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier.

Lisowsky earned his seat via tiebreaker over the aforementioned Richard Gorzkowski. Lisowsky had five winners to Gorzkowski’s three. At least Gorzkowski has The BIG One to look forward to. (And there’s still time for him to qualify for the Spa & Surf.)

Thanks to all of you for another robust week of featured-tourney competition. There will be more where that came from…starting on Wednesday.