It’s always a little disappointing once Saratoga and Del Mar finish their meets though, for some, the disappointment is more about the passing of summer than an impending downturn in their wagering fortunes. Indeed, if you are among the many horseplayers who found Saratoga and Del Mar really hard—even extra hard—this year, perhaps you can take solace in the fact that Belmont is now back, Kentucky Downs is still with us, and Laurel is about to embark on what many consider the best part of its racing schedule. So there’s that to look forward to, as well as a full slate of featured tourneys this weekend—17 to be precise—that will keep you engaged, entertained and, if you’re skillful, nicely rewarded.
The weekend schedule gets rolling on Friday.
Our Friday Pick & Prays have been getting more and more popular. Last week’s was a near sell-out. Regardless of how you do, they’re a fun way to end the work week. They offer a purse of up-to-$12,500 with $5,000 Guaranteed regardless of the number of sign ups. It’s $190 to enter and there is a limit of 75 entries overall.
Contest races for the Friday featured tourneys are the 5th through 8th from Belmont Park’s opening-day card; the 7th through 10th from Laurel, where there’s a really nice Friday card shaping up; and the 8th and 9th from Gulfstream—10 races in all.
Using the same races, HorsePlayers gets its weekend started with another reliable Friday offering—a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray.
This entry fee here is $500, which gets you a winning ratio of just 1 in 23 for grabbing a $10,000 BCBC seat.
The more budget minded among us may prefer Friday’s $75 NHC qualifier with two packages to Vegas for the big dance guaranteed. This, too, is a Pick & Pray and one per each 143 entries will win, though there will be no fewer than two winners in any event.
Kentucky Downs is the centerpiece of our Saturday featured-tourney race schedule and with good reason. They’re offering five grass stakes and they’ll all (plus one non-stakes 12-horse field) be part of the Saturday Challenge. Here’s what you’ll be playing for:
The richest contest of the day is our up-to-$30,000 live-format tourney with $17,500 guaranteed. The entry fee is $260 and no more than 133 entries will be accepted. Last Saturday’s renewal closed with a nice pot of over $25,000.
There’s also an entry-only qualifier to the 2019 Horse Player World Series at The Orleans. This one costs $90 to play and one per each 20 entries earns a $1,500 HPWS seat.
We’re also offering on Saturday $1,000 packages to the prelude event at The Orleans to the Horse Player World Series. It’s the October 11-13 Orleans Fall Classic. In this live-format qualifier, one in 15 entries—at $79 each—will win a $500 entry plus $500 for travel.
The full list of Saturday contest races is as follows: the 5th through 10th at Kentucky Downs; the 7th through 9th at Belmont; and the 9th through 11th at Gulfstream—a dozen races in all.
HorsePlayers will use the same 12 races for its two featured tourneys (both live-format) on Saturday.
On the BCBC side, there’s a “regular” qualifier with a $179 entry fee and one $10,000 entry/prize guaranteed.
In addition, there will be an NHC Low Ratio qualifier with a $500 entry fee and a winning ratio of just one in 21. One NHC berth is guaranteed even if fewer than 21 enter.
Sunday offers nine featured tourneys, including one last chance and one first chance.
The last chancer is our live-format qualifier to the September 15 Woodbine Mile Horseplayers Tournament where cash, plus two BCBC entries and four NHC berths will be up for grabs. Woodbine regulars are said to be expecting lobster tails to again be served in the players’ buffet in case you needed any more motivation to try and qualify. One per each 20 entries wil win our qualifier and receive a Woodbine entry fee of $3,500 (Canadian) plus $500 in U.S. dollars for travel.
We also have a “next-to-last chancer” on Sunday—a two-all-inclusive packages-guaranteed qualifier for the Sept. 22-23 The BIG One at Laurel. Just four online seats remain available for this and after Sunday, there will be just two. Win or finish second in this $515 buy-in affair and you’ll be competing for cash, 10 NHC seats, 10 BCBC entries and 10 Horse Player World Series entries from a field of no more than 57 at Laurel in a couple of weeks. And while you’re there, your travel, hotel, welcome dinner, transfers to the track and food and drink at the track will all be covered. All you have to do is pick winners.
Sunday brings with it another “Big Bucks” tourney as well. No more than 20 players will compete for between $15,000 (guaranteed) and $20,000. The entry fee is $1,150 and prizes go only to the top three (on a 70/20/10 basis). Keep an eye out for low-cost feeders to the Big Bucks tourney too. They’ll be running right up until Sunday.
Speaking of cash, there’s an up-to-$20,000 live-format game on Sunday. This one has an entry fee of $195, and it has $10,000 Guaranteed.
Since it’s Sunday, that means there’s also an up-to-$5,000 Exacta box tourney scheduled. You select three horses in each contest race, and the winner is determined by who compiles the most money based on $1 exacta box payoffs. It’s fun, and there are never any payoff caps in our Exacta tourneys. A purse of at least $2,000 is guaranteed.
The last of the Sunday qualifiers is our play-in contest for the October 14 Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge. One in 25 entries in this tourney will earn a $3,500 package ($3,000 entry fee and $500 for travel) to an always-well-run event at one of America’s nicest race meets/racetracks.
There are three featured tourneys at HorsePlayers, and one is a new offering.
Many of you are no doubt familiar with “regular” BCBC qualifiers ($179 entry fee and “Low Ratio” BCBC qualifiers ($500 entry fee). Now, if you want to play your way in but wish to tip the odds even further in your direction, you can enter our first-ever $1,000 BCBC qualifier on Sunday. (You might think of it as a Super Low Ratio qualifier.) That super low ratio in this case works out to one in 11. And it should be noted that one $10,000 entry will be guaranteed no matter what. That means that if fewer than 11 enter, the tourney (live-format) will run either with no rake or as an overlay to players.
If we’re throwing too much new stuff at you, then you might prefer Sunday’s more familiar looking “regular” NHC qualifier, in which two seats are guaranteed. The entry fee for this live-format game is $165.
For those of you hunting for a Saturday or Sunday Pick & Pray, your search was not in vain. You can play Sunday’s qualifier for the NTRA/Belmont Park Super Qualifier on September 29, when one NHC berth will be awarded per each 15 entries. Winners of our Sunday qualifier (one per each 20 entries) receive a $1,500 entry to the Belmont NHC Super Qualifier plus $500 for travel. (That’s an extra good deal for you New Yorkers out there.)
See? There is, indeed, life after Saratoga and Del Mar—and pretty good life at that. We hope you can join us for some of it this weekend.