First-Chance Opportunities to Qualify for Santa Anita Preakness Challenge, Belmont Stakes Challenge and Del Mar Handicapping Challenge Plus Big Bucks, The BIG One, NHC, BCBC and More Top 19-Featured-Tourney Weekend

“Challenge” is a key word in the world of handicapping contests. “Challenge” is to contests as “Stakes” is to big races. On Easter Sunday, you can qualify for the first time to the 2019 renewals of three Challenges. It’s sure to be, ahem, challenging. As usual, though, the featured-tourney action at HorseTourneys gets started on Friday.

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Faron McCubbins Closes with a Rush to Capture Keeneland’s April 14, 2019 Grade One Gamble

(courtesy of Jim Goodman, Keeneland)

Overcoming inclement weather and late changes to the contest landscape, Faron McCubbins of Mount Washington, Ky., hammered the 9th race at Keeneland with an $800 exacta on 8-10 that paid $28,560, resulting in an incredible final bankroll of $31,560 that bested 180 other contestants in the Keeneland Grade One Gamble. For his efforts, Faron took home $35,000 in prize money, a fully paid Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) berth at Santa Anita worth $10,000, and an entry into the 2020 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) at Bally’s Las Vegas.

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First-Ever Ultra Low Ratio BCBC Qualifier, $75 NHC Qualifier and Initial Chance for Santa Anita NHC Super Qualifier Just Some of the Highlights of 16-Featured-Tourney Weekend

This weekend represents your last chance to spot your Derby horse in prep action—and your first chance to play a couple of exciting new events. It’s all part of a 16-featured-tourneys weekend that gets rolling on Friday.

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The All-Optional Format Returns – Finally

This week, we’ll begin testing the newest version of the All-Optional format here at HorseTourneys.  We’ve been working on this for quite awhile, and are relieved to finally be in a position to roll it out again.

For well over a year now, many of you have been asking us what had happened to it, and when we might be bringing it back.  We don’t blame you, as it’s a format that should be part and parcel of any ongoing tourney platform such as ours.

So you’re probably asking yourself – what in the world took you guys so long?

The answer to that question isn’t simple.  But one thing is for sure: we were lucky we got away with using it when we did. And that’s only because the racing gods spared us circumstances that would have caused havoc.  It was a little like driving in a car we knew had a loose axle.  Eventually and inevitably, the axle would break and we’d go crashing into a tree.  That’s why we shelved using the All-Optional format a couple of years ago before we started work on the new site that launched last August.  But we always vowed to get back to it as soon as we were able.

The main problem was that technically, we were not prepared to handle rare events that would require the return of a pick back to a player’s quiver of selections.  For instance, if a horse was declared a non-starter, rather than treating that like a scratch, you should get your selection back, right?  Or what if a race was declared a No Contest?  All players would need that pick back.  Races from certain tracks cancelled?  We weren’t prepared for that either.

There is a whole series of circumstances that we needed our system to be able to account for that weren’t in place previously.  It took longer than it should have, but at this point we’re confident that we have all contingencies covered.

Related to the fixes, there are two main points that players need to be aware of when playing the All-Optional format:

  • If a horse is declared a NON-STARTER, players will be given that selection back, UNLESS the race is the final race in the tournament. In that case, the non-starter will be treated like an ordinary scratch, with alternates or post-time favorites applied
  • If races are either declared a NO CONTEST, or cancelled, players will also be given back any selections that had been made in those races

If participating in this format, players must acknowledge that if there are circumstances such as non-starters or no contests that occur late in a tournament, it is possible that players may end up with more selections remaining than there are eligible races in which to use them.  This is simply unavoidable as it relates to this format.  What we cannot do as administrators is deal with individual cases on an ad hoc basis.  Therefore, the rules as they relate to procedures in the all-optional format are ironclad.

Aside from the above, the format operates exactly the same as when we used it previously.  Players will make a designated maximum number of selections from the list of eligible races.  Typically, this will be eight or 10 maximum selections among an eligible group of 15-25 races.

If a player needs to “clear” a selection in order to free up a pick, players simply need to un-check a primary selection, which will also clear the alternate pick.  The count of selections available per entry is displayed at the top of your entry in the selections interface:


We’ll likely continue with testing for a couple weeks or so.  Once we’re confident everything is in tip-top shape, we’ll start to work the format into the rotation for the Featured schedules on the weekend, as well as offering it on a daily basis when at least two major circuits are available.

Of course, please notify us of any issues you may come across when playing.  We want to know about anything that may not look right or out of place.

We look forward to making this format a standard part of offerings moving forward.  Thank you in advance for your assistance in getting there.


For Her Incredible Encore, Cheryl Knepper is Going to the NHC; David Brownfield Wins Three Big Prizes Over Two Days; Szalsa, Massis, Blair and Stange All Double Up; (Weekend Recap April 5-7)

There were lots of double winners on this predominantly Pick & Pray weekend, and we’ll get to them all. We’re going to start with Cheryl Knepper, though. She only won one prize per se, but in many respects, she was a double winner too—arguably one of the most impressive such double-uppers that we’ve seen lately.

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Thoughts on the Horse Player World Series

The three-day format of the Horse Player World Series—and Las Vegas, itself—makes for a grueling and intense few days. I happened to add a couple of extra days to my Orleans journey to bet on some baseball and basketball and, as a result, I STILL am catching up on my sleep from last weekend.

My post-mortem thoughts are still pretty scattered at this point. If I neglected to note something obvious or important, feel free to bring it to my attention in the comments section. Otherwise, here goes.

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Special $35,000 Guaranteed Tourney, Plus Free NHC Qualifier, $1,000 BCBC Qualifier and Last Chance for Keeneland Grade One Gamble Headline Wood/Blue Grass/Santa Anita Derby Weekend

Last Saturday, Paul Sadler selected Maximum Security and won $22,500 in our Florida Derby Day $50,000 Guaranteed event. This Saturday, it could be you and your Derby horse that get the spotlight…and the money…in our Wood/Blue Grass/Santa Anita Derby Day $35,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. It’s the highlight of an 18-featured-tourneys weekend that gets started on Friday.

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Last Year’s HPWS Champ Bob Montgomery Takes Day 2 Lead in Bid For Repeat Victory

A year ago, Bob Montgomery was sapped by a severe cold but still managed to prevail over 427 opponents and win $231,120 in the Horse Player World Series. This year, buoyed by good health and a monster Day 2, Montgomery has put himself in line for a repeat victory as the Day 2 leader in the 2019 renewal of the World Series.

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