John Farrar Hits for $39,674 in Two-Day Breeders’ Cup Tourney; David Nelson Earns $28,479 After Picking Seven Winners in Saturday BC Pick & Pray (Weekly Recap, November 1-5)

A total of $385,388 in cash was paid out last week at HorseTourneys as the 40th Breeders’ Cup served as the centerpiece of a wide array of Live-format and Pick & Pray games. 

The person who got the biggest slice of that $385,388 was John Farrar.

Of course, we made Farrar work twice as hard for his money, as his victory came in the two-day Breeders’ Cup tourney that only included the 14 Breeders’ Cup Championship races (five on Friday, nine on Saturday). At the end of Day 1, Farrar was in second place behind Daniel Goldstein.

By the end of Saturday, the same duo were still at the top of the leaderboard—just in inverted order.

The result was in doubt until the very last race—which, this year (somewhat strangely), was the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. On the strength of a nice 12-1 hit with Nobals in the BC Turf Sprint, Farrar was nursing a slim 40-cent lead over Goldstein going into the tourney nightcap. Understandably, Farrar hitched his wagon to race favorite Elite Power. Understandably, Goldstein opted for someone else and landed on The Chosen Vron. When Elite Power emerged victorious, Farrar added $9.00 to his total, while Goldstein stayed put after The Chosen Vron finished off the board. So Farrar earned the biggest prize of the weekend—$39,674. Meanwhile, after playing a great tournament, Goldstein had to settle for $15,869.

Here’s a look at the 2-day, 6-winner scorecard that propelled Farrar to the top of the heap.

As noted above, Farrar could only play the five Breeders’ Cup races on Friday. That meant that he wasn’t allowed to opine on the Senator Ken Maddy Stakes, which went as race 3. However, Peter Kovic had an opinion on that race—and it was a good one.

Kovic had Wet My Beak ($49.60, $16.00) in the Maddy, which seems to be a great betting race every single year. As you can see, Kovic (2 wins, 2 places) did almost all of his damage in the first 3 undercard races. All the double-digit payoffs allowed Kovic to weather a five-race dry spell, and he prevailed in Friday’s $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which blew past its guaranteed and paid out a total of $50,277.

Kovic’s winner’s share came to $20,111. Finishing second and earning $8,044 was Kimberly Moffatt who had grabbed the lead from Kovic midway through the day. However, Kovic grabbed it back in the next-to-last race thanks to a $17.60 place payoff with Mountain Bear in the next-to-last race, the BC Juvenile Turf. Going for big prices certainly served Kovic well during the day.

Like Kovic, Daryn Goodwin also came up with Wet My Beak.

A little later, Goodwin (3 firsts, 2 seconds) also connected with Hard to Justify ($20.20, $8.00) in the BC Filly & Mare Turf. Goodwin then blocked Dale Hatfield at the end of the day with Hejazi, and Goodwin came away with the grand prize of $16,019 in Friday’s $30,000 Guaranteed Live-format tourney, which closed with a pot of $35,599.

The most lucrative tourney on Saturday was our Live-format, $85,000 cash game, which went off at a slight, 1% overlay to players.

HorseTourneys may not have made any money off this game, but Joseph “Kevin” Costello certainly did. Nobals was Costello’s “heavy lifter” among 6 firsts and 1 second. The 2021 NHC Tour champ received $34,000 for his efforts.

Some people complained that Breeders’ Cup Saturday wound up being too chalky. David Nelson wasn’t one of those complaining.

After a 7-1 winner with Seal Team in race 2, Nelson picked five short-priced winners in a row, starting with Goodnight Olive in the Filly & Mare Sprint and concluding with Auguste Rodin in the Turf. In all, Nelson finished with seven Saturday winners, and despite missing out on Nobals in the Turf Sprint, Nelson still came out on top in Saturday’s $60,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a final purse of $71,198. Nelson’s share of that was $28,479.

Sticking with the cash-game theme, the featured-tourney week got underway on Wednesday with our $5,000 Guaranteed tourney. It had a takeout to players of 9.6%.

Frank Okasaki got his Breeders’ Cup week off to a good start by taking down the $2,500 first-place prize in this one. He picked just two winners, but they were good ones—a 12-1 hit in the 4th at Horseshoe Indy and a victorious 11-1 proposition in the 9th at Parx. Those were Wednesday’s two highest-priced winners by far.

On Thursday, the cash-game king was Mark Stillmock.

Mark Stillmock and Chris McDonald were the only two players among 89 entrants in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray who smoked out 100-1 winner Bertrille ($202.50, $80.50) in the grassy 9th at Aqueduct. Bertrille aside, Stillmock outdid McDonald by a grand total of 10 cents, and that made the difference in Stillmock earning the up-top money of $2,768 and McDonald getting second money of $1,230. 

(On a related note, Bertrille is out of the mare Silly Sister…and today is the 77th birthday of Sally Field.)

Thursday’s $6,000 Pick & Pray wasn’t the only “flying” finish of the week for Stillmock.

In the 9th at Aqueduct on Sunday, Stillmock nailed Berning Honor ($21.60, $10.00). In the very next contest race, the 8th at Gulfstream, Stillmock (3 firsts, 1 second) hit a 6-5 winner, and that got him up and over in the day’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney, which drew just 6 entries and went off at a 1% overlay to the sextet. Stillmock’s winner’s share here was $4,900.

In addition to cash, five NHC seats were up for grabs last week. The first two of those were won on Friday in the $75 qualifier at HorsePlayers.

Both Suresh Bowman (3 winners and 1 double-digit place collection) and Randy de la Gardelle (4W, 2P) correctly landed on Wet My Beak in the down-the-hill Ken Maddy Stakes. Bowman also came up with a big winner in Juvenile victor Fierceness ($35.00, $12.80).  Here’s a look at Bowman’s and de la Gardelle’s scoresheets:

The two available NHC seats on Saturday went to Wes Herek (3 wins, 2 places) and Daniel Hawkins (6W, 0P).

Herek’s best return in the $165 Pick & Pray came with Nobals in the Turf Sprint. Hawkins’s came with 7-1 Seal Team in race 2 of the undercard. Arguably the biggest winner for Hawkins, though, came at the end with Madiha ($15.40, $6.80) in race 12.

There was also a Saturday qualifier to the Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge on November 25th.

Kirk Rockwell counted Nobals ($26.00, $13.20) among his 4 firsts and 3 seconds, and he got the $3,000 entry—playable either on-track at Del Mar or online at

With all of the rich cash games and NHC/Del Mar qualifying going on, Saturday’s $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney sort of got overlooked. Though that was good news for the five who did show up—because the game went off at a 21% overlay.

The primary beneficiary of the unmet guarantee was Anthony Mastropietro. He had 1 winner (Nobals) and 3 runners up to exit with the 70% winner’s share of $4,900.

Sunday was a “travel day” for many players, but the featured-tourney action was still going on strong around here.

Quality Chic ($30.00, $10.80) in the 7th at Aqueduct was the horse you really wanted to have on Sunday. Keith Fenton had that one plus two other double-digit winners—and 4 place collections to boot—in the day’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. Fenton earned $9,646 from what was a total final purse of $21,437.

Bruce Dagostini (3 firsts, 3 seconds) also selected Quality Chic.

Dagostini exited with the $3,000 entry in Sunday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge qualifier.

Last but not least, Quality Chic was among the 4 winners and 2 runners up picked by James Morgan at HorsePlayers.

Morgan was the winner of Sunday’s NHC qualifier that was restricted to those who had yet to win a 2024 seat.

Thanks to everyone for spending a portion of your Breeders’ Cup weekend with us. More featured-tourney action is on the way this coming week, including our very first qualifier to the 2024 Flo-Cal Faceoff, which will feature a guaranteed, all-cash purse of $250,000 on January 20-21. Hope to see you then.