If you’re really into the Kentucky Derby prep races, this isn’t your weekend. It seems as though they were all held last weekend…or next weekend. On one level, it’s disappointing. From the standpoint of contest play, however, it’s pretty meaningless. By now, we hope you’re done watching replays to determine how many karats the Oaklawn gold rail was on Monday…or to answer the time-honored question, “Are Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair stars or are Noble Indy and Instilled Regard bums?” Instead, you can just throw yourself into this weekend’s tourneys, having the comforting knowledge that the Fountain of Youth (and our up-to-$75,000 contest) will be back the following weekend.
As usual, we get the HorseTourneys weekend rolling on Friday with a pair of Pick & Prays.
Our Friday up-to-$10,000 Pick & Pray with $6,000 Guaranteed will certainly have at least a few people thinking “TGIF.” Entry fee for this event is $190 with a limit of 60 entries. As with all pool-style games, the more that play, the more we pay.
The Horse Player World Series takes place is now T-minus two weeks away and counting. As a prelude to Sunday’s HPWS Entry-Only Blowout, we offer this traditional entry-only qualifier costing $87 to play with one entry per 20 earning a $1,500 entry at the March 8-10 “major.”
We’ll use 10 featured-tourney contest races for Friday: races 7 and 8 from Laurel; the 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th from Santa Anita; and the 8th through 11th from Gulfstream.
Friday is a pretty big day at HorsePlayers as well.
It’s our first $75 qualifier to the 2019 NHC. These budget-friendly contests are sort of the price point counterparts to the $500 NHC Super Qualifiers. Both have become very popular due to their respective merits—but the $75 qualifiers especially so. Make no mistake, you need to have a good day, but there just aren’t all that many opportunities to take a crack at the NHC for a soup-to-nuts price of $75. Two NHC seats are guaranteed, and this, too, is a Pick & Pray. It will use the same contest races noted above.
Three more featured tourneys are scheduled for Saturday—including another NHC qualifier.
This live-format NHC contest is a “regular” qualifier with one entry per 65 (at $165 each) earning a spot, and two seats are guaranteed to be awarded regardless of participation.
On Saturday, there’s also another qualifier to the Keeneland Grade One Gamble. These games have been very popular at HorseTourneys. We average awarding about three seats per Keeneland qualifier based on player turnout. With an entry fee of $164 and a winning ratio of 1 in 25, this tourney could yield, we hope, at least another three winners on Saturday.
No need to guess about the minimum amount of money players will be shooting for in Saturday’s richest cash game—it’s $20,000 Guaranteed. Though it could be as high as $30,000. Saturday’s Pick & Pray carries an entry fee of $260 and entries are capped at 133. Pick & Pray well enough, and you will be Prevailing & Pocketing.
Contest races for Saturday are the 8th, 9th, 11th and 12th from Gulfstream; the 8th and 10th from Tampa; the 8 th and 9th from Aqueduct; and the 4th through 7th from Santa Anita—12 races in all.
Again, our busiest day of the weekend is Sunday, with 10 featured events including our Horse Player World Series Blowout.
The Horse Player World Series—with plenty of available cash, food and even racing forms—is always a good time. Sometimes they throw in an Arabian race too just to keep you on your toes (though, happily, not this year). Our HPWS Blowout will see one out of every 10 entries earn a $1,500 seat at The Orleans for the March 8-10 extravaganza. So you simply have to finish in the top 10 percent to win. It’s $175 to play in Sunday’s Blowout.
We take careful precautions to ensure that there are never any Arabian races at The BIG One. That’s one of many reasons to do what you can to earn a spot for it at Laurel in September. We run qualifiers bi-weekly—each with two all-inclusive spots guaranteed. This weekend’s winners will be the seventh and eighth to land a spot for the 2018 renewal. In addition to strong cash prizes, the field (limited to no more than 57) plays for 10 NHC seats, 10 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries and 10 HPWS entries (or $1,500 cash if the player prefers). Sunday’s qualifier will be run as a live-format game (we try to alternate this every two weeks), and it carries an entry fee of $515.
We’ll also another qualifier to the The Stronach Group Ultimate Betting Challenge (two “thes” intentional). It takes place on Sunday, March 11, and you can play from either Santa Anita or Gulfstream. (We recommend Santa Anita if you will be coming straight from the Horse Player World Series.) One winner per each 25 entries will receive a $4,500 entry plus $500 for travel—just like Sean O’Malley and Brian Herrity did last weekend.
Qualifiers will also be held on Sunday for “sister” events to be held at Aqueduct. One is for the March 10 Gotham Challenge and the other is for the April 7 Wood Memorial Challenge. Both qualifiers carry $59 entry fees with one in 10 earning a $500 entry to the respective finals where one Belmont Stakes Challenge seat and two NHC berths will be up for grabs (along with cash) each time.
Coming up even soon than the Gotham Challenge is the Laurel Park Champions contest on March 3. The entry fee at Laurel for this is a budget-friendly $300 and our qualifier, therefore, carries an ultra-reasonable (easy for me to say) entry fee of $35. At Laurel, there will be prize money plus four available tournament seats—two to the NHC, one to the BCBC and one to The BIG One. Similar to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize event, the higher you finish, the sooner you get to choose which prize you want.
Speaking of the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge, it takes place on June 2 and offers an array of BCBC, NHC and straight cash prizes. One per 25 entries in our Sunday qualifier will receive a $2,000 entry plus $500 for travel to Oceanport, N.J., which is somewhat conveniently located (as long as it’s not Haskell Day) off the Garden State Parkway.
Cash players always have at least a couple of seats at the HorseTourneys Sunday Featured Tourney table. Once again, we’ll be offering an up-to-$20,000 Pick & Pray with $12,000 guaranteed regardless of participation levels. This one costs $195 per entry with entries capped at 118.
There is also an up-to-$5,000 Exacta tourney with an entry fee of $72 (maximum of 79 entries) and guarantees a purse of at least $2,000. All you do is pick a three-horse exacta box for each contest race. Last week’s winner, Kyle Fitzgerald, did all of his damage with just a single successful three-horse-box play from 12 races.
HorsePlayers gets back into the featured-tourney action on Sunday.
Sunday’s NHC opportunity is a “regular” Pick & Pray for $165 with one in 65 ‘getting qualified” for a chance to succeed Chris Littlemore as NHC Champion. Two NHC seats are guaranteed to be awarded here.
Lastly, a reminder that feeders continue each day for our up-to-$75,000 Fountain of Youth Day tourney with $50,000 Guaranteed. The big game comes up just a week from Saturday.
We wish you luck in whichever tourneys you choose. And, if you win, we doubt you’ll even remember that there weren’t any Derby preps this weekend.