Eric Boyd Captures Back-to-Back Spa & Surf Showdown Qualifiers; Wendy Long Follows Suit—and Adds an NHC Seat for Good Measure; Zachary Agamenoni Wins BCBC and Del Mar Entries (Weekly Recap, July 19-23)

With just a couple of weeks left before the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown here on August 5-6, qualifying is really starting to heat up, with 101 spots already accounted for. Given that there’s so much money on the line on the first weekend in August, many want two $2,500 seats in the Showdown, not just one.

Just ask Eric “B Connected” Boyd…or Wendy Long.

Boyd and Stephan Gravina ensured their places in the final leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple by each turning in scorecards that contained 3 firsts and 2 seconds, including Wednesday’s top winner, Grand Hideaway ($24.80, $9.40) in the 5th at Hawthorne. 

On Thursday, Boyd made sure that he would have double-barrel action in the Spa & Surf Showdown.

This time Boyd (3 wins, 1 place) was joined on the podium by Douglas Schenk (3W, 2P). Again Boyd—and his closest pursuer—came up with the day’s biggest price. It was Whisper Not ($30.80, $11.40) in race 9 at Saratoga.

At this point in the week, Boyd sort of passed the Spa & Surf Showdown baton to Wendy Long.

Long (3 wins, 1 place) led a group of three $2,500 seat winners here that also included Hubert Gaffney (2W, 3P) and Curtis Adams (3W, 2P). There were two big, victorious longshots out there on Friday—17-1 Mongolian Legend in the final contest race (the 4th at Del Mar) and 28-1 Firsttimeinforever in Del Mar’s 3rd race. Long had the former, while Gaffney and Adams smoked out the latter.

Like Boyd on Thursday, Long was back for more on Saturday.

Ho-hum. Another day, another $2,500 Spa & Surf Showdown seat. Long had three $20+ horses in her 5-win, 1-place Saturday portfolio, including Warrens Candy Girl in the contest finale. Also earning $2,500 berths for August 5-6 were Greg Altieri (5W, 3P) and John Rice (3W, 4P, including a pair of $27 winners).

Actually, we’ve kind of given Long short shrift up to now…because we glossed right over another big success she had on Friday.

The same picks that got Long her first of two Spa & Surf Showdown entries also landed here an NHC seat in Friday’s $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers.

The two to outdo Long on Friday were the now-Vegas-bound Todd Faro (5 wins, 1 place), who had the day’s highest tally, and Mike McIntyre (4W, 2P). Here’s a look at their scorecards:

Rewinding back to the start of the featured-tourney week on Wednesday, Samuel Thompson (5 wins, 2 places) and Sandra Coulter (3W, 1P) prevailed in the day’s Saratoga Challenge play-in.

Thompson and Coulter both nailed Grand Hideaway ($24.80, $9.40) in the 5th at Hawthorne.

Max Schnepf was also a Grand Hideaway fan.

Schnepf (4 firsts, 3 seconds) pocketed $3,017 for finishing first in Wednesday, $5,000 Guaranteed tourney, which closed with a purse of $6,705.

Thursday’s featured cash game went to Jerry McClenin (3 firsts, 0 seconds).

McClenin’s three victors returned $15.20, $30.80 and $20.00 in the win hole, and he went on to collect $3,203 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed up shop with $7,119 in the register.

Rick “I-65” Broth also picked 3 winners while eschewing runners up.

Broth came to a boil in the final race with his most productive pick—Itsallcomintogetha ($20.00, $5.00) in the 10th at Saratoga—and, indeed, it did come together for Broth as that winner got him the $1,000 seat in Thursday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier.

Friday was the first of three consecutive days of Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifiers.

Craig Siedler got the $6,500 package for this coming weekend with 4 winners (and, again, no placings). His top horse was Firsttimeinforever ($58.60, $24.80) in race 3 on opening day at Del Mar.

Timothy Jacobs not only had Firsttimeinforever in the 3rd at Del Mar, he hit Mongolian Legend ($37.80, $11.60) in race 4 at the Southern California oval.

Jacobs (3 firsts, 2 seconds) got the top spot—and the $9,351 that went with it—in Friday’s HT Tour game, our $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which wound up paying out a total of $20,781.

Mark Elliott and Angelo Partipelo each selected 2 winners and 2 runners up on the way to success in Friday’s Saratoga Challenge qualifier.

Elliott profited with Firsttimeinforever. Partipelo did likewise with Mongolian Legend.

Over at HorsePlayers, Firsttimeinforever helped put Zachary Agamenoni in the winner’s circle.

Agamenoni (3 firsts, 2 seconds) got the $10,000 berth in Friday’s Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier.

By a margin of 30 cents, Samantha Reidy earned $14,691 in our richest tourney of the week.

Reidy picked Warrens Candy Girl ($22.20, $11.00) in the final contest race, the 7th at Del Mar, and that one paid just enough to give Reidy the top prize in Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed cash game over HT Tour heavy head Mark Stillmock. The total prize pool in this HT Tour game came to $32,648.

A similarly close margin decided the outcome of Saturday’s Woodbine King’s Plate qualifier.

Kevin Engelhard (3 wins, 1 place) escaped 40 cents to the good of Ron Tang here to come away with the $1,000 seat. Like Samantha Reidy, Engelhard is very thankful for Warrens Candy Girl.

Tang did get a more pleasurable result in Saturday’s $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks Pick & Pray.

Tang had Geaux Rocket Ride ($27.40, $9.40) in the Haskell among his 3 firsts and 2 seconds, and he pulled in $9,973 of what was a final pot of $14,248.

Frank Mirahmadi seems to have been very well received thus far at Saratoga. And in other track announcer news, the Churchill Downs race caller is headed to Del Mar!

Perhaps that last sentence was a tad misleading. However, Travis Stone (3 wins, 3 places) did pick up a $6,500 package for running second to Linda Rodriguez on Saturday in the Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier. They both finished the day with 3 winners plus 3 runners up.

At HorsePlayers, Sean Nolan (3 wins, 5 places) and Geoffrey Schutt (5W, 2P) punched their tickets to Vegas in Saturday’s $165 NHC qualifier.

You could say that the United Nations at Monmouth was a “Nolan and Schutt case.” They both had Therapist ($26.60, $8.60).

The other Saturday feature at HorsePlayers was a $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.

David Browning counted Taking Candy ($27.60, $11.40) in the 8th at Saratoga among his 5 firsts and 1 second. He garnered the $10,000 entry, and runner up Thomas Michael Abinanti completed the exacta to earn a $5,000 partial entry.

Back here at Horsetourneys, there were three winners of $1,000 Saratoga Challenge entries in Saturday’s qualifier to the August 12 competition.

Congratulations to Matthew Walsh (4 wins, 2 places), Jared “Paint it” Black (2W, 5P) and Gary Lee Russell (3W, 2P). Walsh and Russell picked Geaux Rocket Ride in the Haskell.

The next day, Russell came back to win a seat 10 times as valuable.

Russell (2 firsts, 2 seconds) enjoyed a big payoff with Order and Law ($31.60, $12.80) in the 6th at Del Mar, and he won the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry in Sunday’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Michael Caposio had a very nice Sunday.

Like Russell, Caposio had 2 wins and 2 places that culminated with Order and Law. The quartet of cashes gave him a $44 victory in Sunday’s Guaranteed qualifier to The BIG One.

The BIG One is in October, Caposio will also have bigtime action this coming weekend.

Using the same selections, Caposio bested all but Zachary Agamenoni (4W, 1P), who won this Del Mar Summer Challenge qualifier 48 hours after taking Friday’s BCBC Low Ratio play-in. Caposio and Agamenoni will both be coming into Del Mar hot!

Jim Bohnhoff hit the day’s final two winners—at odds of 14-1 and 7-1, respectively—to finish with 4 wins out of 12 races.

The late rally got Bohnhoff up by $4.10 in Sunday’s HT Tour battle, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash game. Bohnhoff’s winner’s share came to $12,403 in a game ultimately worth a total of $27,562.

Three players on Sunday added their names to the roster of paid-up participants for the $400,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown.

Ivar Cuellar led the way with 3 winners plus a runner up that played like a winner since it returned $21.40 to place. Ronald “Winter” Cote picked 6 winners to report home second. The third and final $2,500 seat winner was Paul Shurman (3 wins, 2 places). Shurman was the first-ever winner of the Spa & Surf Showdown back in 2019.

Michael Solakis had 14-1 Order of Law plus two other winners and a runner up that paid $19.40 to place.

Solakis earned a $10,000 seat in Sunday’s play-in to the August 20 Woodbine King’s Plate Challenge.

Joseph Zuer’s best return came in the first contest race with Irish Meadow ($17.80, $5.40) in the first contest race, race 9 at Monmouth.

Zuer went on to add two more winners followed by three runners up, and he took home the top prize of $4,986 in Sunday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which closed with a final purse of $7,122.

Gilbert Maldonado and Bill Shurman both started fast with Irish Meadow.

They were the two seat winners in Sunday’s $165 NHC qualifier here at HorseTourneys. For Maldonado, Irish Meadow was the first of 8(!) winners he picked during the day.

Nick “529” Fazzolari (4 wins, 1 place), Thomas Labordo (also 4W, 1P, including the last 2 winners) and Jerry McClenin (3W, 2P) were Sunday’s three winners in our Saratoga Challenge qualifier.

Fazzolari’s top horse was Irish Meadow at the beginning. McClenin had a $7.20 place collection at the end to get up for 3rd. On Thursday, McClenin won $3,203 in the featured cash tourney.

With Saratoga and Del Mar now both in action, it’s safe to say that summer is now in full swing. Thanks for being a part of the first such weekend of 2023. More featured events coming your way on Wednesday.