This “Weekly Preview” blog usually comes out on Thursdays, but it’s a day late this week. That was no accident.
It was because we were stalling a bit to see what the situation might be with the weather in Southern California—and its possible impact on the Flo-Cal Faceoff. That situation is now clear (even if the weekend forecast in Arcadia is far from clear). Santa Anita yesterday canceled its Saturday card and, as a result, the Flo-Cal Faceoff will be hosted here on Saturday and Sunday, January 21 and 22 instead of this weekend.
No one likes postponements, but our fingers are crossed that the delay will now allow us to utilize four full cards to determine the outcome of the lucrative and prestigious Flo-Cal Faceoff—and also to have two of those cards provide a much more representative sample of the high-quality racing that gave “The Great Race Place” its nickname.
Here are a couple of more positives to consider: The Flo-Cal Faceoff purse has already exceeded its $250,000 Guarantee, having reached $266,827 through Thursday’s action. And because of the postponement, we are able to add another week of qualifiers to our featured schedule. So the final purse amount figures to increase significantly between now and a week from Saturday.
As for THIS Saturday, one of the day’s 10 features is one of those newly-scheduled Flo-Cal qualifiers.
Extra Flo-Cal Faceoff qualifier #1 (the first one in blue) is a $118, 1-per-15 Live-format game. Winners get a $1,500 entry for the January 21-22 competition that requires players to make selections in each race of the cards from Gulfstream (Flo) and Santa Anita (Cal).
Saturday’s HT Tour game calls for a bit of extra explanation compared to usual. Normally it’s a $30,000 Guaranteed, No Limit cash tourney. Due to the expectation that the Flo-Cal Faceoff would be taking place, we scheduled this week’s as a $15,000 Guaranteed game with a reduced entry fee of $190 (rather than $350). We considered adjusting the guaranteed purse and entry fee back up to normal levels…but we ultimately decided to leave things as they were when we first listed the game on our schedule. Remember, though, that it’s a No Limit tourney, so the only ceiling to the purse is the number of people who purchase $190 entries.
Saturday’s other rich cash game is our Big Bucks tourney, which always goes as a Pick & Pray, and it operates with a $10,000 purse guarantee. It’s an “up-to-$20,000” affair with entries—at $1,150 each— limited to 20. Payouts go just to the top three finishers with the winner collecting 70 percent of the net pool, the runner up getting 20 percent, and the third-place finisher picking up the remaining 10 percent.
There will be live-format qualifiers on both Saturday and Sunday for the January 28th Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship and the February 10-11 Tampa Bay Downs High Rollers Contest (also an on-track-only event).
Winners of our $384, 1-per-20 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship qualifiers garner a $6,000 Pegasus entry and an additional $500 for travel to Florida (in case they decide to play on-track at Gulfstream instead of at Xpressbet).
The Tampa Bay High Rollers Contest will be held on Friday and Saturday, February 10 and 11. Those who advance in Saturday’s $80, 1-per-15 qualifier will earn a $1,000 entry to play on-track at the suburban Tampa track.
Also slated for Saturday and Sunday are Live-format play-ins to the NHC First Chance/Last Chance contest, which will be held on NHC Eve at Horseshoe Las Vegas (formerly known as Bally’s). It’s a “Last Chance” because if you don’t already have two entries for the 2023, you can win one of those. It’s a “First Chance” because if you are already dual qualified for 2023, you can nail down an early 2024 berth instead. In our qualifiers, one of every 10 entries, at $59 per entry, will scoop up a $500 entry.
Another competition on the Saturday (and Sunday) bill of fare is a Live-format play-in to the NHC qualifier on January 28 at Sam Houston Race Park. Entries here this weekend cost $79, the winning ratio is 1-per-15, and winners receive a $1,000 seat for the on-track-only contest.
On Sunday, January 29, there’s a $500 on-track NHC qualifier at Hialeah Racetrack (a fairly easy drive from the previous day’s Pegasus contest at Gulfstream…but not an easy drive from the previous day’s Sam Houston tournament). You can get a $500 seat to it for $59 in this Saturday’s 1-per-10 Live-format tourney.
Over at HorsePlayers, there will be two Pick & Pray features.
One is a $210 NHC qualifier with a winning ratio of 1-per-50 and two spots certain.
The other is a $179 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge play-in. The winning ratio is 1-per-65, and at least one $10,000 BCBC seat is guaranteed to be awarded.
Contest races for the Saturday features are the 5th, 6th, 7th and 9th from Tampa; the 6th through 11th at Gulfstream; and races 7 and 9 from Aqueduct—12 races in all. Closing time is scheduled to be 2:33 pm ET.
This week only, our richest game could very possibly take place on Sunday.
It’s our $20,000 Guaranteed No Limit tourney. It’s a Live-format, $250-buy-in battle that serves as the day’s HT Tour event.
For the second straight day, we will offer direct qualifiers to the Flo-Cal Faceoff, NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament, the Sam Houston NHC Qualifier, the Hialeah NHC qualifier, the Tampa Bay Downs High Rollers Contest and the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. All will once again be Live-format tourneys carrying the same price points and winning ratios as their Saturday counterparts.
Our Sunday Big Bucks tourney will also operate in Live-format mode (as it does every week). It has a purse guarantee of $7,000, though that could go to $20,000 (or slightly above) if we reach our entry limit of 20. Entries cost $1,150—which is why we call it “Big Bucks”—and payouts go just to the top three finishers on a 70/20/10 basis.
Three events crowd the normally-small featured-tourney stage on Sunday at HorsePlayers.
The sole Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier available is a Low Ratio Pick & Pray. The entry fee is $500; the winning ratio is 1-per-23; and at least one $10,000 seat will definitely be won by someone.
There are two Live-format NHC qualifiers on tap. One is a special $500 Low Ratio qualifier. It carries a winning ratio of 1-per-21, but it will only be run if we get at least 10 entries. Note that, per NHC Tour rules, NHC Tour points will only be awarded if there are enough entries (in this case, 42) to give out two seats.
The other NHC qualifier is also special in a different way. It’s a $165 game restricted to those who have yet to earn a 2023 seat. One seat is guaranteed and, because this is a restricted competition, no NHC Tour points will be awarded no matter how many people sign up!
The 12 Sunday contest races are expected to be the 5th through 9th from Tampa Bay Downs; the 7th through 10th at Gulfstream; and the 7th through 9th at Aqueduct.
Thanks to all Flo-Cal Faceoff participants for your patience throughout the rescheduling process. We wish our California friends some better weather ahead—and we wish all of you good luck in your contest play this weekend.