Robert Schintzius Sr. Sweeps Big Bucks Tourneys for a Second Straight Week; Justin Thompson Wins $11,615 Plus a Flo-Cal Faceoff Entry; Michael Odorisio Grabs Two Hawthorne Seats (Weekly Recap, November 15-19)

For the second consecutive week, Robert Schintzius Sr. won both the Saturday and Sunday Big Bucks tourneys. To the best of our recollection, this has never happened before.

Neither victory last weekend was a walk in the park for Schintzius. 

In Saturday’s Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $12,213, Schintzius had Star Racer ($8.60, $5.80) in the final contest race (the 8th at Golden Gate) to jump from 4th all the way to 1st.

His Sunday triumph—in a Live-format game—was even tighter.

He started slowly, but Schintzius (3 wins, 0 places) finished in a tie with Peter Duca (3W, 3P). However, Schintzius got the nod in the tiebreaker because his highest-priced winner ($23.80) was bigger than Duca’s top hit ($11.00). 

Schintzius collected $8,549 on Saturday and another $5,699 on Sunday. Combined with his respective Big Bucks winning of $12,111 and $4,986 the previous weekend, it all added up to a two-week total of $31,345. 

I guess we know what Schintzius will be doing this coming Saturday afternoon.

The only downside of Schintzius’s successes is that they put into jeopardy the nickname of Howard “Big Bucks” Welsh, who has been repeatedly vanquished by Schintzius of late. Shed no tears for Welsh, however, because he had assured himself of a winning weekend even before Schintzius got rolling.

With 2 winners and 3 runners up on Friday, “Little Bucks” Welsh reminded us that he is plenty capable of winning games that don’t carry a four-figure entry fee too. Thanks in large part to Lady Milagro ($104.50, $23.00) in race 8 at Aqueduct, Welsh earned $7,630 in Friday’s HT Tour event, our $15,000 Gtd. Pick & Pray, which had a final overall purse of $16,958.

The first cash game of the week was Wednesday’s $5,000 guaranteed tourney.

Peter Osella (4 firsts, 3 seconds) hit Triple Scout ($9.80, $4.80) in the final contest race, the 7th at Horseshoe Indianapolis, to pocket the $2,557 top prize in a game that ultimately paid out a total of $5,115.

On Thursday, it was Ken Orchard who did the best picking.

Sweetest Princess ($27.60, $8.50) was the apple of Orchard’s eye in race 8 at Aqueduct. In all, he accumulated 5 wins and 3 places in his bushel, and he received $3,546 in Thursday’s $6,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray, which closed with a pot of $7,880.

There was also a special $100 NHC qualifier on Thursday at HorsePlayers.

Keep an eye out for these games as the 2024 NHC gets closer and closer. The winner was Andrew Pinto, whose best winner of four came because he was sold on Sell Something ($28.40, $17.00) in the 8th at Aqueduct. Pinto may also want to send a thank-you note to the NYRA stewards for his NHC seat, as Sell Something was elevated to first via disqualification on what—based on social media reaction—was a somewhat controversial decision.

Eric Brothers kept his hot hand going on Friday.

After winning three tourneys (including a Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier) and also getting a $5,000 partial BCBC seat in another last week, Brothers scooped up a second seat to the $250,000 Gtd. Flo-Cal Faceoff by topping a field of 80 on Friday. The strong turnout meant that the 2nd-, 3rd-, 4th- and 5th-place finishers—Matt “The Fly” Tietze, Chris Bertolucci, Kevin Engelhard and Robert Losier—also came away with $1,500 entries for January 20-21.

Chris Grutsch (4 wins, 1 place) and Jim Sebes (2W, 1P) were the two to grab $3,000 spots in Friday’s play-in to this Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge.

The heaviest lifter for both was Soy Una Dama ($32.20, $14.80) in the 7th at Gulfstream.

Friday’s highest scorer was Robert Ferguson. He won his NHC seat at HorsePlayers the old fashioned way—by picking winner after winner.

Ferguson’s 6 winners came consecutively, and he won this $75 qualifier with a final score of $162.40. Daven Turner couldn’t string together more than one in a row. However, he did pick 4 winners and, like Ferguson, he used 51-1 winner Lady Milagro in race 8 at Aqueduct to account for the second and final available NHC berth.

Michael Odorisio didn’t hit any big bombs on Friday. His biggest winner of the day was Kissedbyanangel ($10.20, $4.40) in the 7th at Laurel.

Nevertheless, Odorisio did rack up 5 firsts and 1 second, and his score of $57.40 was sufficient to capture Friday’s qualifier to the Hawthorne Thanksgiving Contests this Saturday and Sunday in Chicagoland.

As it turned out, not only will Odorisio be playing in two separate one-day contests this weekend in the Windy City, he will be doing so with two paid-in-full entries in each of them.

That’s because Odorisio (2 wins, 3 places) came back on Sunday to earn his second Hawthorne entry within 72 hours by finishing second to Matthew Weisenburger, who led the way with 3 firsts, 4 seconds and a final tally of $78.60.

The richest tourney of the week was Saturday’s HT Tour tourney—our $25,000 Guaranteed cash game.

Jacob Warden got the $11,919 grand prize here thanks to 2 winners and 3 runners up. His two winners were the day’s biggest prices—X Y Point ($21.60, $10.40) in the 10th at Gulfstream and Supersonic Flyer ($60.60, $17.40) in race 5 at Golden Gate.

There were four Saturday winners of $1,500 entries in the day’s Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier. 

Jeff Van Drie (2 wins, 2 places) set the pace in this one, thanks in part to Supersonic Flyer. Also earning Flo-Cal berths were Shane Irish (4W, 2P), Larry Solakis (2W, 5P) and Daniel Goldstein (3W, 0P).

Three players punched their tickets last Saturday for this Saturday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge at Del Mar/

The skillful trio was comprised of Brooks Schuler (6 winners, 0 places), Bruce Dagostini (4W, 3P) and Richard Reese (also 4W, 3P).

No one turned a flat-bet profit in Saturday’s Hawthorne qualifier, but Donald Kloehn came away with the $1,000 in entry fees.

Kloehn hit the final two races to finish with 3 firsts and 2 seconds, and he got up late for the victory with a score of $45.80.

X Y Point at Gulfstream was the big Saturday horse for Blake Courtney (4 wins, 1 place).

Courtney finished first in the Saturday qualifier to the Fall Simulcast Challenge at Lone Star Park. He will be joined there on December 2 by runner up Tim Gavin (4W, 4P).

Tom Walsh and Joe Perry were the two seat winners in Saturday’s $165 NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers…though they took two completely different paths to their Vegas berth.

Walsh amassed 5 wins and 4 places, and his biggest-priced winner returned $12.80. Perry, meanwhile, had Golden Gate race 5 victor Supersonic Flyer, who went off at 29-1. He finished the day with 3 firsts and 1 second.

The big winner of the day on Sunday was Justin Thompson. 

With a name sounding like that of a slugging, left-handed hitting first baseman, it’s little surprise that Thompson would take big swings at horses like Bunty Windemere ($45.00, $18.60) in the 8th at Aqueduct. Thompson knocked 3 over the fence and added a pair of “singles” to win $11,615 in Sunday’s HT Tour event, our Live-format, $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney (final purse: $25,812). And actually, it was that last “single,” a $4.60 place payoff in the finale, that allowed him to get up for the lucrative victory.

Sunday’s Flo-Cal Faceoff was also a Live-format tourney—though Thompson used the same picks in every race except for the last. 

Here, Thompson didn’t hit anything at the end…but he didn’t need to, as he triumphed by $31.80. The other three winners of $1,500 seats in this game were the other three to scale the $90 mark: Jose Giron (3 wins, 4 places), Barbara Small (3W, 3P) and Craig “Home Sweet” Hom (2W, 1P).

Thompson wasn’t the only player to win a pair of grand prizes on Sunday. His closest pursuer in the Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier, Jose Giron, did so as well.

Giron took a backseat to no one in Sunday’s Del Mar Fall Handicapping Challenge play-in. His 3 wins and 4 places included 21-1 Bunty Windemere in race 8 at the Big A. Occupying the second and third positions on the leaderboard were NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman (3W, 2P) and Corey Lonberger (3W, 2P) and they, too, earned $3,000 seats for this coming Saturday.

Bunty Windemere was also on the scorecard of Chris Inman, who picked 4 Sunday winners in all.

Inman is now in…for the December 2 Fall Simulcast Challenge at Lone Star Park.

It was a busy day at HorsePlayers on Sunday with two NHC qualifiers and one for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

William “23” Sadoo (2 firsts, 2 seconds) was yet another who used Bunty Windemere as a springboard to success. Sadoo’s victory came in the $500 Low Ratio NHC qualifier.

There was also a $165 NHC play-in on that was restricted to those who had yet to nail down a 2024 seat. 

The winner was 2022 Spa & Surf Showdown champion Tim Hughes, whose big horse among 2 wins and 3 places was—yep, you guessed it—Bunty Windemere. 

Terry Jerge didn’t come up with Bunty Windemere…but he had Sydney Street ($23.80, $7.20) in the 1st at Del Mar.

Sydney Street was the star among the 3 firsts and 2 seconds that earned Jerge a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in Sunday’s Low Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’ll have our “Weekend Preview” blog out on Wednesday instead of Thursday, so that you can have an early look at the holiday menu. It should be tempting—especially our $15,000 Guaranteed cash game and our first qualifier to the Pegasus World Cup Challenge a little later in the weekend. In the meantime, happy grocery shopping and safe travels to all.