Keith Fenton Captures HT Tour Cash Features on Friday and Sunday; Brett Wiener Wins Seats to Keeneland Fall Challenge and The BIG One (Weekly Recap, September 13-17)

They say money goes to money. At least that was the case around here last week.

Keith Fenton recorded 5 winners and 1 runner up—all over the first seven contest races—and he took top honors, and the $7,256 that went with them, in Friday’s $15,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray, an HT Tour event that closed its doors with $16,126 in the prize pool.

On Sunday, Fenton reinvested $250 of his winnings very wisely.

This one was a Live-format game, though Fenton again did his best work early, nailing North Highland ($40.80, $14.60) in the 7th at Pimlico. Fenton finished the day with 3 firsts and 1 second, good for $9,942 (and more HT Tour points) in Sunday’s $20,000 Gtd. Tourney, which ultimately paid out a total of $22,093. Fenton’s weekend winnings added up to $17,198.

The first featured cash game of the week was Wednesday’s $5,000 gtd. get-together. Final margins of victory don’t get much closer.

In the final race of the tourney, the 9th at Kentucky Downs, Michael Foster connected with Crown Imperial ($29.46, $12.32). That penny breakage in Kentucky proved crucial for Foster. Due to a premature termination of the Wednesday Parx card, all seven contest races were from Kentucky Downs, and Foster (2 wins, 2 places) wound up finishing ahead of runner up Vineet Sharma by 2 cents. (Sharma also had Crown Imperial in the finale.) Foster earned the winner’s share of $2,695 from a final pot of $5,391. Sharma’s two-cent deficit meant he had to settle for $1,078.

Gary Blair had just two place collections over the first seven contest races on Thursday, but he swept the final three heats.

The last of the three for Blair was Supers Lucky Lady ($17.40, $10.60) in the 10th at BAQ, and that put Blair over the top in Thursday’s $6,000 Gtd, Pick & Pray, which had a final purse of $7,258—$3,266 of which went to Blair.

A big winner on Friday was Brett Wiener.

Wiener had Ny Traffic ($19.20, $8.00) in the 7th at BAQ among his 3 firsts and 1 second. That secured for Wiener one of the 57 available spots in the $200,000 Gtd. The BIG One at Laurel Park on October 21-22. Wiener also gets a $500 bonus, plus all the additional trappings, including hotel, welcome party, open bar and buffet at the track and more.

Wiener played those same picks back in Friday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Callenge qualifier.

Here, Wiener picked up a paid-up $3,500 entry, and he now has lucrative contest action coming up on consecutive October weekends.

Over at HorsePlayers, Kenny McMahan (4 wins, 1 place) led the way in Friday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray.

McMahan’s top collection came with 8-1 Ny Traffic in the 7th at BAQ. David Basler finished second to grab himself a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

The $75 NHC qualifier on Friday at HorsePlayers was a bit of a weird one.

BCBC seat winner McMahan finished 2nd and 4th…but he is already double qualified. The 2021 NHC Tour winner, Joseph “Kevin” Costello came in first and third. However, NTRA rules only permit a player to win one seat in a given contest. So available NHC seat #2 dropped all the way down to 5th place—and into the lap of this year’s Flo-Cal Faceoff champion David Wolff. Here’s a look at Costello’s and Wolff’s seat-winning scoresheets:

Saturday’s $165 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers was more straightforward. 

Allan Carrick led the way with 4 wins and 1 place, including Dollarization ($39.60, $15.00) in the short-field, big-price race 7 at Pimlico. Anthony DeCaspers (3W, 1P) ran second to get the other available NHC spot. His best return came with Gilda’s Girl ($35.40, $17.00) in the 11th at Pimlico.

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

Linda Rodriguez had both Dollarization and Gilda’s Girl, and she added four place collections to those two winners to walk off with the $10,000 seat. John Gaspar reported home second to snag a $5,000 partial BCBC entry.

The richest tourney of the week was Saturday’s $30,000 cash game, an HT Tour event, which went off with a takeout to players of 2.6%.

Clint Littlejohn (2 firsts, 2 seconds) earned the $13,500 winner’s share in this one. Like Rodriguez, Littlejohn came up with both Dollarization and Gilda’s Girl.

Barbara Small is hoping that the 2023 The BIG One turns into The Small One.

Small had the day’s final three winners to finish with 5 firsts and 1 second on the day. She will now be one of no more than 57 players competing for $200,000 and enjoying the many amenities on October 21-22.

There were two winners of $3,500 seats in Saturday’s play-in to the Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge.

Congratulations to Edward Enborg (2 wins, 4 places) and Stephan Gravina (4W, 2P). They both had Gilda’s Girl in the tourney finale.

We mentioned earlier that David Wolff won an NHC seat on Friday. He wasn’t the only 2023 HorseTourneys “major” winner to fare well last week.

Lucas Van Zandt, this year’s Players Championship hero, put up 3 winners and 3 runners up to collect $7,124 in Saturday’s $7,000 Gtd. Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which closed with a purse of $10,177. His best pick was Apple Picker ($18.20, $10.20) in the 9th at Pimlico.

We ran our first “two-seats-guaranteed” qualifier to The BIG One on Sunday.

Gary Johnson (2 wins, 1 place) comfortably locked down the first seat, putting up a score ($80.30) that was more than twice that of his nearest pursuer. That nearest pursuer—Mike McIntyre—also landed a The BIG One berth, though, despite a modest score of $38.80. More than his his total came on a max $22.00 place collection on a 53-1 runner up in the final contest race, the 9th at BAQ.

Sunday’s $165 NHC qualifier took place here at HorseTourneys, and two players hit paydirt in that one too.

The two to spike the ball (or at least their pens) at the end of this one were G.T. Nixon (2 wins, 2 places) and Ed Reidy (2W, 0P). They both hit it big with 96-1 bomb Giramonte in the longshot-driven 9th at BAQ.

Kirk Tesar (2 firsts, 1 second) came up with North Highland ($40.80, $14.60) early on in the 7th at Pimlico.

That price horse helped Tesar claim the $4,000 entry in Sunday’s qualifier to the September 30-October 1 Santa Anita Opening Weekend Challenge.

Anthony Laurino (1 win, 4 places) also smoked out North Highland.

Laurino finished first in Sunday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge play-in, which also saw runner up Bill “Giramonte” Shurman (2W, 2P) land a $3,500 berth.

Jake Brown didn’t nail either of the day’s big longshots, but he made up for that by racking up six winners, topped by Quick Munny ($13.20, $5.80) in the 9th at Pimlico.

Quick Munny was the first of four straight late-game winners for Brown, who raked in $5,699 for taking Sunday’s $7,000 Gtd. Big Bucks tourney. The final pot in this one came to $8,142.

The lone Sunday feature at HorsePlayers was a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier won by 2022 NHC Tour champ Jay Johns.

Johns picked 3 winners—headlined by North Highland—and a second-place finisher. Earning a $5,000 partial berth was runner up Loyal Sprague, the reigning (i.e. 2019) Horse Players World Series champion.

This coming week, Pennsylvania Derby Day on Saturday will serve as the centerpiece (whether the folks at Parx know it or not!) for what promises to be another five days of exciting featured-tourney action at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. We hope you can join us for at least a portion of the fun. In the meantime, thank you for support during the week just completed.