Though the ink is barely dry on the results for the $225,000 Flo-Cal Faceoff that saw Thomas Blosser of Cornville, Arizona win over $88,000, there’s no time like the present to begin qualifiers for the next high-stakes cash game on the schedule, the $150,000 Spa & Surf Showdown
The second annual Showdown is slated for Saturday and Sunday, August 1 and 2 and will again carry a $2,000 entry fee and focus solely on the full cards those days from Saratoga and Del Mar. In last year’s inaugural Spa & Surf Showdown, NHC Hall of Famer Paul Shurman won $109,000 from a total purse of $272,000. For the Dix Hills, N.Y. attorney, it was the biggest payday of his illustrious career.
The Showdown jumps straight in to our Friday and Sunday weekend schedules starting…right now!
You can be the first to reserve a spot in the Spa & Surf starting gate for $113. That’s the entry fee for Friday’s first direct qualifier. It’s a Pick & Pray with a winning ratio of 1-per-20. Incidentally…like the Flo-Cal Faceoff (but unlike last year’s Spa & Surf Showdown)…this year’s early-August will offer Day Money bonuses to the top three point-getters on each day.
Also on the Friday docket is our up-to-$15,000 Pick & Pray with $7,500 Guaranteed. As usual, the buy-in for this one is $190.
The Horse Player World Series is now just three weeks away. You can also win a $1,500 entry to in Friday’s 1-per-20 Pick & Pray. The entry fee is $89.
Two more Pick & Prays share the Friday spotlight at HorsePlayers. Friday regulars can probably guess what they are.
One is what has become perhaps our most popular tourney of any given week—the $75 NHC Pick & Pray with two seats guaranteed. Come for the seats…but stay for the chance to rack up early-season NHC Tour points.
A $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry will also be up for grabs in a Low Ratio Pick & Pray with a winning ratio of 1 per 23. It’s $500 to enter.
Contest races for the Friday featured action come from just two tracks—Santa Anita and Gulfstream. The races are the 1st, 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th from Santa Anita; and the 7th through 10th at Gulfstream—10 races in all.
Saturday contains another one of those first chance/last chance/only chance qualifiers.
It’s for the March 14 Laurel Champions Tournament—the always well-run event overseen by Diana Harbaugh and the terrific Laurel staff. This entry-only Pick & Pray costs just $35 to play, and winners get a $300 entry to Laurel. Note that players at Laurel may only have up to two entries each. Prizes at Laurel include two NHC spots, one Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry and one entry to The BIG One in September.
Another Pick & Pray on the Saturday menu is a regular, $165 NHC qualifier with two spots certain. The winning ratio is 1-per-65.
And now we begin the live-format portion of our Saturday programming. For starters, there’s our up-to-$30,000 tourney with $17,500 Guaranteed. It’s $260 to enter.
Also live and in living color is Saturday’s Full Package qualifier to the Horse Player World Series. This $148 tourney offers not just a $1,500 entry to the venerable Vegas competition, but a $500 travel credit and a four-night hotel stay at The Orleans…home of Fuddrucker’s…which I believe is the only place on site where you can purchase Coca-Cola products.
I don’t recall who has the soft drink rights at Keeneland, though many colas there get mixed with bourbon…so it’s not quite as big an issue. If you qualify on Saturday to the April 19 Keeneland Grade One Gamble, sodas will be the least of your concerns. Winners of Saturday’s $236 qualifier receive a $4,000 package to the “Gamble,” where players will compete for a robust prize pool that includes cash, NHC seats and BCBC entries.
The day before the Grade One Gamble is the Spring Betting Challenge at Lone Star Park. This qualifier costs $80 to play, and winners (one per each 15 entries) get a $1,000 entry to the Grand Prairie, Texas, gathering.
The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge will be the object of players’ desires at HorsePlayers on Saturday.
A “regular,” $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray will determine whose desires are fulfilled. One $10,000 seat is certain to be awarded, regardless of participation. The winning ratio here is 1-per-65. (Though less than that, obviously, if fewer than 65 sign up.)
There are some very nice cards from which to choose our Saturday contest races. The 12-race schedule will be comprised of the 9th through 11th (all graded stakes) at Tampa, where it’s Tampa Bay Derby Day; the 5th, 7th, 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th (four of them stakes) from Santa Anita, where it’s Big Cap/San Felipe/Kilroe Day; and the 8th through 10th (all stakes) at Aqueduct, where it’s Gotham Day.
It’s a typically busy Sunday with nine featured tourneys here and another pair at HorsePlayers.
Again, we have double-barrel $10,000 Guaranteed cash games. One is our Big Bucks Pick & Pray for a $1,150 entry fee. Payouts go to just the top three on a 70%/20%/10% basis, and there is a maximum of 20 entrants allowed.
The other is our Sunday up-to-$20,000 game, with a buy-in of $195. It’s a live-format tourney this week.
Another guaranteed all-inclusive package to the 2020 The BIG One at Laurel is on the table Sunday. Fifteen contest seats and at least $75,000 in cash will be at stake September 19-20—shared amongst a field that will number no more than 57. The Sunday Pick & Pray carries an entry fee of $395 and entires are limited to 26. One prize is guaranteed. Winners receive a prize package that includes hotel, travel stipend, welcome dinner, top shelf amenities at Laurel and more. At The BIG One, the top 10 finishers will receive cash bonuses plus their choice of a seat to the NHC, BCBC or Pegasus World Cup. Finishers 11-15 get either $1,500 or a Horse Players World Series entry.
Qualifier #2 to the $150,000 Spa & Surf Showdown takes place on Sunday. This one will be run in live format, and one of every 20 entries, at $113 per entry, will earn a $2,000 ticket to the Showdown this summer.
The third qualifier of the weekend to the Horse Player World Series is set for Sunday. The entry fee is $89, the format is live, and winners take home a $1,500 World Series entry.
The Sunday, live-format qualifier to the April 19 Keeneland Grade One Gamble will be a low-ratio affair. It’s $460 to play, and one in 10 will pick up a $3,500 Keeneland entry plus $500 for travel.
In most of our qualifiers, we tell YOU what the prize is. At Monmouth on June 1, you get to Pick Your Prize. The Sunday Monmouth qualifier (live-format) offers a $2,000 entry plus $500 for travel to New Jersey for the popular tournament where cash, NHC spots and BCBC entries will be on the line.
It wouldn’t be Sunday without an up-to-$5,000 Exacta tourney with $1,000 Guaranteed. These are always run as 12-race, live-format contests. Players pick a three-horse-exacta box in each of the contest races, and receive scores based on the returns of a $1.00 base play.
You can risk a little and win a lot on Sunday in our $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. These are also always run in live-format, and 70% of the net pool goes to top finishers via the normal, $2 win/place scoring method, while the other 30% is directed to the Jackpot pool. The Jackpot remains unhit, and this week it’s up to $5,899. If more than one get all six races right, the Jackpot is shared.
Two live-format play-ins serve as the co-features at HorsePlayers on Sunday.
One is a Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier. The entry fee is $500, and at least one entrant will garner a $10,000 BCBC spot.
The other is a regular ($165) NHC qualifier with two seats guaranteed and a winning ratio of 1-per-65.
Enjoy all of the Derby preps and stakes racing around the country this weekend, and may one of those winners help propel you to tournament glory. Good luck!