Hello, my name is John Cherwa and welcome back to our horse racing newsletter as we talk about the biggest handicapping tournament of the year.
We’re going to go a little off script today and talk about a handicapping tournament, something we never do. But the National Horseplayers Championship, heretofore known just as NHC, is going on Friday through Sunday at Treasure Island in Las Vegas.
There’s about $3 million in prize money plus some added bonuses if you meet different qualifications, such as where you qualified and what your resume looks like. The big winner gets $800,000 and an Eclipse Award.
Where did the money come from? It’s a combination of entry fees and sort of a rights fee that tracks pay to host a local tournament. There is no entry fee once you get to Las Vegas. Each player gets four nights at Treasure Island and the travel, up to a point, is paid for as well.
There are about 700 spots in the tournament filled by 570 people. Some have earned two entries into the tournament. Now, I’m extremely proud to say that 100% of our current thoroughbred handicapping experts made the tournament. Both Bob Ike and Rob Henie are in the tournament. Rob even has two entries.
Now what other free newsletter can boast two of the top 570 handicappers in the country are regular contributors? We’ll be following their progress. In fact, some of our subscribers might even be in the tourney. Let us know if you are.
The tournament works like this. Friday and Saturday each person is given a mythical $2 win and $2 place bet. They bet eight mandatory races and 10 optional races from a pool of eight tracks that include Santa Anita and Golden Gate.
After Saturday, they cut to the top 70 and ties and move on to Sunday morning’s semifinal round of 10 optional races. Then they take the top 10 and ties and move to the final round in the afternoon of seven mandatory races.
A race of $6,250 claimers at Golden Gate has never been more important.
--Santa Anita had 39 players who listed that track as their first qualifier. (Remember, some people qualified at more than one place.) It’s the most of any racetrack. Los Alamitos had 12 and Del Mar 10.
--California led all states, not a surprise, with 78 people who list the state as their primary residence. San Diego led all California cities with six.
--The bulk of entrants came from online sites HorsePlayers.com and horsetourneys.com. Guess that internet thing is going to last.
Still want more? We have links to a couple of question and answer sessions with contributor Jennie Rees.
--Here’s what defending champion Ray Arsenault has to say about his experience at NHC. Just click here.
And finally, the players were asked to answer a few questions, and here’s what some said about what they would do with $800,000 if they won. (My answer would be staying someplace nice at the Kentucky Derby, which should exhaust most of the money.)
Jason Avila of Long Beach: “Buy my cats gold flea collars.”
Cheryl Kaufman of Hacienda Heights: “I guess I will have a lot to think about what good I could do after I win.”
Donald Menaguale of Corona del Mar: “Increase travel. Perhaps purchase a vacation apartment in Paris or British Columbia. Increase charitable donations, especially horse-racing related charities.”
William Shurman of Danville: “Pay all the taxes due, then save the rest for when the iPhone XI comes out.
(Note: My nephew once won a ton of money on “Jeopardy,” and he said there is an IRS guy right there when you walk off the stage. So, I’m guessing you won’t even make it to the buffet before paying your taxes.)
Good luck to all, but especially Bob and Rob and our subscribers.
For the past year, every once in a while I get a question of where Les Onaka of TVG has gone. He was a mainstay covering Los Alamitos, making picks and offering commentary. Well, sad to report that Les has fallen on hard times healthwise. This isn’t anything new, he’s battled these issues for a while. So, he needs some help to continue his fight and a GoFundMe page has been set up for him. Visit the site by clicking here and get caught up on his situation.
Slightly better than average Thursday card with three races with a purse in the neighborhood of $55,000. The second and third races have troublesome six-horse fields but everything else seems well stocked. So, on the whole, a good day.
The second race is likely considered the feature, a six-furlong allowance for Cal-breds 4 years old. The eighth race, one of three on the turf, is an allowance/optional claimer going a mile.
The field sizes, in order, are: 9, 6, 6, 8, 8, 10, 10 (1 also eligible), 12 (1 AE).
Golden Gate weekend preview
Now a look at the best racing coming up at Golden Gate. New race caller and all-around good guy Matt Dinerman is our host to previews and other musings. So, take it away, Matt.
“The feature race at Golden Gate Fields this week is the $50,000 California Oaks for 3-year-old fillies. Leading the local cast of characters are Aniva Bay and Divine Mercy, the top two finishers in an allowance race last December, and Bornonvalentineday, who has rattled off two impressive victories for well-respected trainer Tim McCanna.
“Four Southern California invaders add intrigue to the race. Two of the four entrants, Mapit and Dr. Ann, come into this stake off maiden wins at Santa Anita. A third filly, Consolida, has been training in Southern California with Paddy Gallagher and makes her first start in the U.S., while Tinabud comes off an allowance optional claiming score at Santa Anita and makes her stakes debut for the Bill E. Morey barn. The California Oaks goes as the seventh race on the nine-race card, with a scheduled post time of 3:45 PM.
“An interesting first-time starter headlines a maiden special weight field this weekend. J and L, who debuts for the Jerry Hollendorfer barn, RNA’d for $500,000 and makes his first career start in the sixth race Saturday. This son of Medaglia D’Oro is out of the mare Achieving, who has produced two stakes winners: $272,000 earner Counterforce and European stakes performer Arabian Hope. Also entered in the same race is Southern California invader Liberal Lunacy.
“To end things, we’ll make a quick note that William Antongeorgi III is four wins away from 1,000 career victories while Francisco Duran is just one win shy of 1,500 career trips to the winner’s circle. We wish Francisco and “Billy the Kid” the best of luck in achieving these milestones, which this announcer knows is an exciting accomplishment for both riders.”
Bob Ike’s SA play of the day
SEVENTH RACE No. 8 River Boyne (5-2)
Sophomore colt from the Jeff Mullins barn was an impressive maiden winner here on opening day and looks like he can repeat in this first-level allowance spot. He clearly liked this course with a romping five-length win, so hopefully the shorter distance (going from 1 1/8 miles to 1 mile) won't compromise his late run.
Sunday Result: NoCal shipper Kochees ($7.00) was a very comfortable winner in eighth race.
Bob Ike is a Partner/VP of Horsebills.com and the proprietor of BobIkePicks.com (full-card picks, 3 Best Plays and betting strategy).
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And now the star of the show, Thursday’s entries.
Santa Anita Entries for Thursday, February 8.
Santa Anita, Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California. 25th day of a 59-day meet.
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $54,000. Maiden Special Weight. Fillies. 3 year olds. State bred.
|1||Pegasus Party||Geovanni Franco||122||Michael Machowsky||5-1|| |
|2||Letsgotomarfatexas||Modesto Linares||122||Vernon E. Aguayo||30-1|| |
|3||Perfect Portrait||Stewart Elliott||122||Neil French||8-1|| |
|4||Dee Way to Go||Tyler Baze||122||Jorge Periban||15-1|| |
|5||My Scarlett||Alonso Quinonez||122||Jorge Periban||20-1|| |
|6||Wishful||Diego Sanchez||122||Leonard Powell||8-1|| |
|7||An Eddie Surprise||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||6-5|| |
|8||Nana's Rule||Juan Ochoa||122||Nestor M. Capitaine||20-1|| |
|9||Nothing But Heat||Corey Nakatani||122||Peter Eurton||5-2|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $56,000. Allowance. 4 year olds and up. State bred.
|1||Tribal Roar||Tyler Baze||120||Genaro Vallejo||10-1|| |
|2||Miracle March||Rajiv Maragh||122||John W. Sadler||8-1|| |
|3||Gigantis||Tiago Pereira||120||Bruce Headley||5-2|| |
|4||Hardcore Troubador||Ruben Fuentes||122||Edward R. Freeman||3-1|| |
|5||Swiss Minister||Brayan Pena||122||Genaro Vallejo||7-2|| |
|6||Portando||Flavien Prat||122||Michael W. McCarthy||2-1|| |
6 Furlongs. Purse: $33,000. Claiming. Fillies. 4 year olds. Claiming Price $32,000.
|1||Betdesilvergold||Tom Lefranc||114||Michael Machowsky||10-1||32,000|
|2||Vai||Tyler Conner||121||Mark Glatt||5-1||32,000|
|3||Kentan Road||Joseph Talamo||121||John W. Sadler||7-2||32,000|
|4||Fair Regis||Rafael Bejarano||121||Robert N. Falcone, Jr.||3-1||32,000|
|5||Starr of Quality||Geovanni Franco||121||David Jacobson||7-2||32,000|
|6||Li'l Grazen||Tiago Pereira||123||Jack Carava||2-1||32,000|
6 Furlongs. Purse: $20,000. Claiming. Fillies and Mares. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $16,000.
|1||Divine Spark||Drayden Van Dyke||123||Bob Baffert||6-1||16,000|
|2||Tee Em Eye||Maria Falgione||113||Michael Machowsky||5-2||16,000|
|3||Sally Simpson||Joseph Talamo||123||Patricia Harrington||10-1||16,000|
|4||Pomp and Party||Stewart Elliott||123||Philip D'Amato||2-1||16,000|
|5||She'sluckythatway||Alonso Quinonez||123||James F. Sayler||15-1||16,000|
|6||Tuscany Beauty||Tiago Pereira||123||Jack Carava||10-1||16,000|
|7||Coronado Cool||Geovanni Franco||123||J. Eric Kruljac||6-1||16,000|
|8||Winner's Dream||Martin Pedroza||123||Jack Carava||6-1||16,000|
About 6½ Furlongs Turf. Purse: $29,000. Maiden Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Prices $50,000-$40,000.
|1||Captain Ron||Mario Gutierrez||122||Doug F. O'Neill||5-2||50,000|
|2||Bob's Bad Boy||Stewart Elliott||122||Mike Harrington||12-1||50,000|
|3||Taste's Legend||Geovanni Franco||122||Marsha D. Schwizer||5-1||50,000|
|4||Kopitar||Austin Solis||120||Philip D'Amato||8-5||40,000|
|5||Secret Bend||Victor Espinoza||122||James M. Cassidy||20-1||50,000|
|6||Glorious Crown||Rajiv Maragh||122||Robert B. Hess, Jr.||4-1||50,000|
|7||Harliss||Tyler Baze||122||Val Brinkerhoff||8-1||50,000|
|8||Dixie Rival||Edgar Payeras||115||Bobby Wayne Grayson||20-1||50,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $14,000. Claiming. 4 year olds and up. Claiming Price $6,250.
|1||Rim Ditch||Maria Falgione||111||Victor Fernandez||8-1||6,250|
|2||Mizter Kool Cat||Christian Aragon||121||Mike Harrington||30-1||6,250|
|3||Stoneys Mr Cruiser||Tiago Pereira||123||Charles S. Treece||6-1||6,250|
|4||Four Gaels||Edgar Payeras||114||Kelly Castaneda||6-1||6,250|
|5||Indavidualist||Matt Garcia||121||Gary Stute||5-1||6,250|
|6||Black Tie 'n Tails||Stewart Elliott||121||Peter Miller||7-2||6,250|
|7||Mr. Louis||Franklin Ceballos||116||John W. Sadler||8-1||6,250|
|8||Pat the Bear||Cesar Franco||114||Javier Jose Sierra||6-1||6,250|
|9||Ajac||Brayan Pena||121||Marcelo Polanco||10-1||6,250|
|10||Bargaining||Juan Sanchez||121||Jose Jesus Avalos||6-1||6,250|
1 Mile Turf. Purse: $56,000. Allowance Optional Claiming. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $75,000.
|1||Magic Musketier||Kent Desormeaux||120||Jerry Hollendorfer||6-1|| |
|2||Minoso||Martin Pedroza||120||Matthew Chew||20-1|| |
|3||Move Over ||Mike Smith||120||John W. Sadler||3-1|| |
|4||Martin Riggs||Rajiv Maragh||120||Mark Glatt||8-1|| |
|5||Tap Fever||Tyler Conner||120||Jerry Hollendorfer||10-1|| |
|6||Kylemore||Rafael Bejarano||120||Eoin G. Harty||6-1|| |
|7||Platinum Equity||Geovanni Franco||120||Richard Baltas||15-1|| |
|8||River Boyne ||Flavien Prat||120||Jeff Mullins||5-2|| |
|9||Buckstopper Kit||Tyler Baze||120||Jeff Mullins||8-1|| |
|10||Here Is Happy||Joseph Talamo||120||Craig Anthony Lewis||15-1||75,000|
|11||Dynamic Duo||Cesar Franco||113||Charles R. Stutts||50-1||75,000|
5½ Furlongs. Purse: $18,000. Maiden Claiming. Fillies. 3 year olds. Claiming Price $20,000.
|1||Ocean Bound||Franklin Ceballos||117||Steven Miyadi||7-2||20,000|
|2||Magnificent Q T||Victor Espinoza||122||James M. Cassidy||6-1||20,000|
|3||Bragging Rights||Tyler Baze||122||John W. Sadler||9-2||20,000|
|4||Yolanda's Stone||Stewart Elliott||122||Raymond J. Bell||20-1||20,000|
|5||Starship Treasure||Manuel Chaves||122||Howard L. Zucker||6-1||20,000|
|6||Dixie Lassie||Modesto Linares||122||John C. Ivory||30-1||20,000|
|7||Lanacakes||Ruben Fuentes||122||Paul G. Aguirre||4-1||20,000|
|8||Rossmoor Way||Edgar Payeras||115||Mike Harrington||30-1||20,000|
|9||Mi Pajarito||Cesar Franco||115||Jorge Periban||15-1||20,000|
|10||California Cactus||Tom Lefranc||115||Felix L. Gonzalez||50-1||20,000|
|11||Cinnamon Twist||Joseph Talamo||122||Simon Callaghan||4-1||20,000|
|12||Mergie Troid||Geovanni Franco||122||Alfredo Marquez||30-1||20,000|
|13||Sunny Sweet||Santiago Gonzalez||122||Antonio Garcia||15-1||20,000|