Kirk Tesar Wins BCBC Entry on Friday, Keeneland Seat on Sunday; Michael Caposio and Drew Keaton Each Double Up as Well (Weekly Recap, September 27-October 1)

This week, I was very careful to double-check that all of Kirk Tesar’s apparent victories were played through to the end of each tourney. It’s now official. After winning a seat to The BIG One (and just a seat to The BIG One) last week, the Hoosier came back strong with two featured-tourney wins this past week.

With “Belmont at Aqueduct” canceling, Friday’s features were seven-race affairs. At HorsePlayers, Tesar finished his seven races strongly, nailing Aurelian Man ($11.20, $4.80) in the 7th at Santa Anita and Kirstenbosch ($15.00, $5.40) in the 8th at The Great Race Place to finish with 3 firsts, 1 second and 1 $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry. Evan Trommer reported home second in the Low Ratio get together to garner a $5,000 partial entry.

Two days later, Tesar was at it again—in more ways than one.

Not only did Tesar win again (this time in Sunday’s Keeneland Fall BDBD/NHC Challenge qualifier), but he did so by again hitting the final two contest races. This time, his closest pursuer at the finish was Terrence Severson (2W, 1P). Severson also received a $3,500 Keeneland entry for his efforts.

And just when you thought things couldn’t get any better for Tesar, there was more good news. At the end of the day on Sunday, the Chicago White Sox had no more games remaining on their 2023 schedule!

The featured-tourney week got started on Wednesday…with a victory by an NHC Hall of Famer.

Dennis Decauwer (4 wins, 3 places) dwelt a bit at the start, but he more than made up for that by making collections in each of the final seven contest races to take Wednesday’s $5,000 Guaranteed cash tourney. Decauwer, whose best return came via an $18.80 place payoff in the next-to-last race, earned $2,783 of the final overall purse of $6,083.

As was the case with Decauwer , Thomas Michael Abinanti’s top Wednesday winner paid $7.60.

Abinanti actually had a pair of $7.60 winners—plus three other victors and one runner up—and he came away with the $3,500 berth in Wednesday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge qualifier.

Allison Lindsay picked 5 Thursday winners, topped by Sundog ($17.00, $8.60) in the 8th at Delaware.

In all, Lindsay recorded 5 firsts and 2 seconds…

…and she collected $3,577 in Thursday’s $6,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray, which closed its doors with a total of $7,949 in the kitty.

With 3 winners and 1 runner up from 7 races on Friday, The BIG One alum Michael Caposio earned a return trip to Laurel for the 2023 renewal.

Those same Pick & Pray selections also worked nicely for Caposio in n Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray. 

Here Caposio bagged the winner’s share of $7,780 in a game that was ultimately worth a total of $17,290. 

Brian Arrigoni (4 wins, 1 place) had the biggest winner of the day, 6-1 Kirstenbosch in the 8th at Santa Anita, to capture Friday’s Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge qualifier.

Arrigoni was followed across the line by Terry Jerge (3W, 2P) who caught a $5.20 place collection in the finale to get up for 2nd (and the other $3,500 seat) by 60 cents.

At HorsePlayers, the two seat winners in the day’s $75 NHC play-in were Joseph Rosen (4 wins, 2 places) and Patrick Kennedy (4W, 1P).

Rosen connected with Kirstenbosch at the end. Kennedy’s late rally was even more dramatic. He swept the final three contest races.

The big winner on Saturday was Drew Keaton.

Keaton continued his recent hot streak by compiling 6 firsts and 3 seconds…including a run of 4 straight winners at one point. The nine collections got him the grand prize of $13,500 in Saturday’s HT Tour battle, our $30,000 Gtd. tourney, which went off with a takeout to players of 1.4%.

The same picks on Saturday brought Keaton a $3,500 Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge entry.

Evan Trommer (3 firsts, 4 seconds) checked in 2nd to reel in the other available Keeneland spot. His successful selections included Baby Steps ($18.20, $7.40) in the 8th at Gulfstream.

The NHC qualifying opportunity on Saturday was at HorseTourneys, and the two players to punch their tickets to Vegas in this $165 play-in were the two who were able to eclipse the $70 mark.

Congratulations to David Mullin (6 wins, 4 places) and Frank “Plaster of” Paros (5W, 4P). Paros took Baby Steps to get his seat. Meanwhile, Mullin’s top winner paid $8.80—which is $1.40 more than what Kenneth Arnerich’s most lucrative winner returned.

Of course, lucrative is as lucrative does. Arnerich finished with 4 winners and 5 runners up, and he took home the up-top money of $5,699 in Saturday’s $7,000 Gtd. Big Bucks Pick & Pray, which finished up with a pot of $8,142.

The lone Saturday feature at HorsePlayers was a $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier that guaranteed one $10,000 seat to the big live-bankroll contest in November.

It turned out there were enough entries signed on to distribute two seats, and those went to Rogelio Garcia (6 wins, 2 places) and Paul Cush (4W, 4P). Baby Steps was the greatest common denominator of their scorecards.

The highest scorer—and biggest winner—on Sunday was Ken Kieras.

Kieras (3 wins, 3 places) was loving life after Living Life took the 3rd at Santa Anita at 87-1. He added two more winners thereafter, though, to get where he wanted to be. Kieras pocketed $10,631 for capturing Sunday’s HT Tour matchup, our $20,000 Guaranteed tourney. The final prize pool for this one came out to $23,625.

John Gaspar (4 wins, 1 place) and Mark Bogdanoff (2W, 1P) will both be down at Laurel on October 21-22 after prevailing in Sunday’s two-packages-guaranteed qualifier to The BIG One.

Gaspar’s big horse was Callaloo ($22.20, $9.60) in the 8th at BAQ, while Bogdanoff struck it rich with Living Life.

Travis Pearson always has an eye for good value, and when he saw that the Sunday $7,000 Gtd. Big Bucks game was coming up light on entries, he pounced.

How Bout Dat ($12.40, $7.20) in the 8th at Gulfstream led a hit parade of 3 firsts and 3 seconds for Pearson, who scooped up the $4,900 winner’s share in an event that went off as a 1.4% overlay to players.

Joseph Paese had the day’s two highest-priced winners (Callaloo and Living Life) among his 3 firsts and 2 seconds, and, as a result, Paese is no longer eligible for the tourney that he won on Sunday.

That’s because, at HorsePlayers, Paese captured the NHC qualifier that was restricted to players who had yet to earn a 2023 seat.

The other Sunday feature at HorsePlayers was a $500 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in.

For the second straight day, the BCBC qualifier paid out two seats rather than the guaranteed one seat. Kenny “Living Life” McMahan got the top spot with 3 wins and 1 place. Jason Barkley earned the other available $10,000 entry on the strength of 4 firsts and 2 seconds. Barkley’s biggest return came with a $13.20 winner.

Here’s an early heads up: Next Sunday HorsePlayers will host another free NHC qualifier, with March 2024 seats going to the top three finishers. As always, you must be a 2023 NHC Tour member in order to play and win.

Thanks to all for playing last week. Featured tourneys resume on Wednesday—and Keeneland joins the fray on Friday. Hope to see you then.