First Chances for Both Wood Memorial and Saratoga Challenges Plus Last Chances for HPWS and Hawthorne Top 19-Featured-Tourneys Weekend

If you’re looking to finally gain an entry to next Thursday’s Horse Player World Series—or to add an additional entry to your portfolio—this weekend is your last chance or else you’ll have to pony up $1,500 at The Orleans. The same applies to the $700 in entry fees for the Hawthorne March contests taking place next Friday and Saturday. On the other hand, you have plenty of time to qualify for Saratoga, with your first chance being this Sunday. It’s also your first chance on Saturday to qualify for the Wood Memorial Challenge at Aqueduct, but there’s definitely not plenty of time for that since the event takes place on April 6. It all makes for a frenzied weekend of featured-tourney action, which gets started on Friday.

The marquee event on Friday is our up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray with $5,000 Guaranteed. It has an entry fee of $190 and entries are limited to 75.

Consider Friday your third-to-last chance to qualify for the esteemed Horse Player World Series. Friday’s entry-only qualifier is a Pick & Pray with a buy-in of $90. Winners (one per 20) receive a $1,500 entry to the big contest a week from Saturday at The Orleans (home of a well-waxed, 52-lane bowling center with all of the amenities and creature comforts discriminating keglers require).

Contest races for the Friday co-features are the 5th, 7th, 8th and 9th from Tampa Bay Downs; the 6th and 7th at Laurel; and the 6th through 9th at Gulfstream—10 races in all.

Saturday offers five featured Pick & Prays, and one live-format game that is simultaneously a first-chance and a next-to-last chance tourney.

The schizophrenic oddball is our qualifier for the April 6 Wood Memorial Challenge. This is a live-format contest with an entry fee of $59 and a winning ratio of one in 10. Win this and you’ll have a paid-up $500 entry for Wood Day at the Big A. Given the constraints of the calendar, you’ll only have one more weekend to qualify for Aqueduct if you don’t get it done on Saturday.

The rest of Saturday’s top events are all Pick & Prays, led by the weekend’s richest event, the up-to-$30,000 Pick & Pray with $17,500 guaranteed. It carries an entry fee of $260, and no more than 133 will be granted admission.

Consider Saturday your next-to-last chance to earn a Horse Player World Series seat—and a nice one it would be since Saturday is HPWS full-package qualifier day. For a $117 buy-in, you could win a $1,500 entry to the World Series on March 28-30, along with $500 for travel, plus a four-night hotel stay at The Orleans (home of an acclaimed food court offering Fuddrucker’s, Baskin Robbins and Subway…as well as Michael Scott’s favorite New York pizza joint, Sbarro).

Saturday also offers a Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier. Winners receive a $3,000 entry into the prestigious April 14th contest plus $500 for travel to Lexington, where everyone will be wearing blue at 7:10 pm ET this evening and hoping that their team can get by without P.J. Washington in the lineup. The winning ratio in this Pick & Pray qualifier is one in 25, and the entry fee is $164.

Over at HorsePlayers, there are two very nice, “regular” Pick & Prays.

One is an NHC qualifier with a price tag of $165 and two seats guaranteed. The other is a $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge “play-in” with at least one $10,000 entry sure to be awarded no matter how many or how few sign up.

On Sunday morning, two things are certain: the NCAA field will be down from 64 to 24, and there will be 11 exciting tourneys to choose among.

Two of them are “last-chance,” Pick & Pray qualifiers. One is to the Horse Player World Series, the other is to the (largely) concurrent March contests at Hawthorne. So play now or forever hold your peace.

There’s also a “first chance,” and it’s a good one—the Saratoga Challenge(s), which will be held this year on Friday and Saturday, August 9-10. Win this one-per-25 qualifier ($166 entry fee) and you’ll be the recipient of a $3,500 package, including $3,000 in entry fees that will cover you for both of the single-day tournaments on the 9th and 10th.

There will be plenty of familiar tourneys as well on Sunday, including our
up-to-$20,000 Pick & Pray that has an entry fee of $195, and a minimum purse amount of $10,000.

The other featured Sunday cash games is the up-to-$5,000 Exacta box tourney. This contest (always run in live-format) offers a guaranteed pot of $1,000. Here, you make a three-horse exacta box play in each contest race, and the winner is based on total return from a $1.00 base play. This tourney carries an entry fee of $125 and entries are capped at 45.

There’s also a qualifier to the April 28 Steve Sexton Challenge at Lone Star Park. This is an entry-only contest with one per every 15 entries—at $79 each—moving on to the final round in suburban Dallas with a $1,000 entry.

Once again on Sunday, there’s an opportunity to grab an all-inclusive (entry/hotel/travel/amenities) package to The BIG One at Laurel Park. The entry fee of $350 gets you a shot to win your way into the high-expectation contest in September that will offer 10 NHC seats, five BCBC spots, five Pegasus entries, five HPWS entries, plus a guaranteed cash prize pool of at least $75,000. Once again in 2019, there will be no more than 57 entries allowed at The BIG One, so those 25 prizes will be divvied up among no more than 25 people. And since Sunday’s qualifier is guaranteed, one package will be awarded regardless of participation levels.

Twenty-seven entries have already been accounted for in the August 3-4 Spa & Surf Showdown, and on Sunday, you can account for one of your own to the $100,000 Guaranteed, two-day, online tournament that will only focus on races from Saratoga and Del Mar. Sunday’s Pick & Pray costs $113 to play and one of every 20 will win a $2,000 entry.

A lot of sports betting will be taking place in the William Hill sportsbook at Monmouth this weekend. On June 1, the high-intensity gambling at Monmouth will revolve around the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament. You can win your way into this important event for $117. One in 25 will earn a $2,000 entry plus an additional $500 for travel.

Two more featured tourneys—one live, one Pick & Pray—are on the menu at HorsePlayers on Sunday. Both are “Low Ratio” qualifiers.

One is a live-format NHC qualifier with one spot guaranteed, and a $500 entry fee that means a winning ratio of one per 21.

The other is a similarly-low-ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge contest with one in 23 earning a $10,000 entry. This one is a $500 Pick & Pray, and as with the NHC qualifier, one grand prize (a $10,000 entry) is guaranteed to be awarded even if we don’t reach 23 sign ups.

There are also Survivor Jackpot (cuurent carryover $366) and Pick 6 Jackpot ($1,292) games this weekend. Another thing to keep an eye out for: feeders (both of the direct and “Round 1” varieties) will continue all weekend leading up to the big Florida Derby Day $50,000 Guaranteed tourney on Saturday, March 30.

Earn yourself a seat in this one, and an already-big racing day will be that much bigger for you.

We hope this weekend is big for you as well. Good luck.

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