03/13/2017 11:03AM

DeCicco has bang-bang Saturday


Seven entries for major contests were awarded this weekend on DRF Tournaments. The biggest winner was Samuel DeCicco, who pulled an impressive double on Saturday, winning his $3,500 entry to Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble and a $2,500 entry to the Wynn Challenge in a banner performance on Saturday. DeCicco also receives $1,000 in travel money for the two tournaments.

DeCicco showed off one powerful multi-tabling strategy by playing the same exact cards in the two events. After all, if you’ve done the work and you feel good about your selections, why not try to maximize your potential reward? He put up a big number in the process. His $110 total was the result of seven collections and put him far ahead at the end in both contests. In fact, he would have qualified in both events even without hitting Shehastheritestuff ($22.20 win-place combined) in the penultimate contest race, Santa Anita’s sixth. His biggest winner was Arthemisa ($47) in Gulfstream’s 11th.

Arthemisa was also key for Jerald Seagall ($84.60), the other Keeneland qualifier. He had five collections overall and needed the key $8 in place points he received from Cascade Kid in Santa Anita’s seventh to just get past unlucky third-place finisher Eric Liebmann.

In the Wynn contest, Bassam Stephan ($85.20) ran second to DeCicco. He was in great position after Arthemisa and just hung on despite collecting only $2.40 in the contest’s last third. Perhaps his most clever pick from a strategy perspective was taking Stanford in the opening leg of the contest. Stanford, a short-priced favorite in the Challenger Stakes at Tampa, is a horse a lot of contest players would be loath to take based on his short price. But points in a contest that few others are willing to take can have outsized value. That $5.20 was the difference between his winning $3,000 and zero. Not too bad for a legitimate 1-2 shot.

Sunday’s featured contest saw three players win their way into the Horse Player World Series, the next major tournament on the schedule. The HPWS is a three-day, mythical-money marathon that takes place March 30-April 1 at the Orleans in Las Vegas.

Traci Richards was the overall winner with $98.70, nearly $20 clear of second place. She had a stellar day, with nine collections in the 12-race contest, none bigger for her or more important than her first one. She tabbed Isabell’s Tiger ($27 win-place combined) in Oaklawn’s first race to send her on her way.

It was an unusual contest in that the three qualifiers had three different runners as their best prices in the sequence. For James Henry ($78.90), that winner was Stratocruiser in Oaklawn’s seventh race ($43.20). Henry, known as "The Man in Black" in contest circles, managed four small collections prior to that and backed it up with successive sub-$10 scores in the next two events to get into position. Henry won the Horse Player World Series back in 2013 with a record score.

Third-place finisher Jorge Hernandez ($73.70) also advances. He started off with several near misses. In the contest’s first half, he collected in every race, but four of the five were place horses who returned less than $4. He got going for real with City Sage ($18.20) in Oaklawn’s sixth, and needed Sky My Sky ($26.80) in the anchor leg, Gulfstream’s 13th, to secure his position.

Action continues on DRF Tournaments on Wednesday with a full slate of feeders, credit builders, and match-up contests. Check out the new five-player, winner-take-all option. For more details, go to tournaments.drf.com.