Common Questions: Regular, Pick & Pray and All-Optional Formats – What Are They?

If you’re new to HorseTourneys, you may notice that we run a variety of different contest formats daily.  The varying formats are designed to give players options for contest play that are most suited to their preferences.

There are three primary formats utilized at HorseTourneys.  All three utilize the same $2 Win/Place scoring system.

(1) REGULAR (Live) Format:

This is the traditional format most experienced handicapping are used to encountering at both on-track and online contests.  In this format, selections may be made up to the post time for each contest race.

At HorseTourneys, selections are closed as the second half of the field is loading into the starting gate.  In most cases, we endeavor to close selections once the last two horses are loading into the gate.  However, to ensure that picks do not get shut out, a player should operate under the practice of always having a pick made before the FIRST horse enters the starting gate.

The regular format is the primary format used in HorseTourneys qualifying events, particularly those that carry entry fees of more than $100.

(2) PICK & PRAY Format:

In the Pick & Pray format, selections for ALL contest races close once the FIRST contest race goes off.  Note that sometimes the second race in the schedule may be run before the first contest race in the schedule (due to normal schedule delays).  Selections for all contest races will close once the first race in the schedule (in any chronological position) goes off.  Players may not edit selections throughout the contest as they can in the Regular (Live) format.

Pick & Pray contests are popular among players due to the reduced time investment required to participate in them.  Moreover, the Pick & Pray format mitigates the “late bomb” factor inherent in live events, since players are locked into their selections regardless of their results in previous contest races.  At HorseTourneys, selections for all races are displayed for all players on the leaderboard page for that specific contest, so players may follow along with 100 percent transparency.

The Pick & Pray format is the most popular choice for lower-priced Feeder events and lower-priced qualifiers, but it may also be used in major events like NHC Qualifiers from time to time.


The ALL-OPTIONAL format most closely mirrors what players typically encounter at on-track, bricks and mortar contests around the country.  In the ALL-OPTIONAL format, players are presented with a large list of eligible races (typically 20), and may only make a maximum number of designated wagers of those eligible races (typically 10).

The ALL-OPTIONAL format is desirable for players that like to have a larger selection of races from which to choose their plays.  Moreover, the ALL-OPTIONAL format by its nature mitigates bomb-throwing and puts a premium on picking winners, particularly in races that may not be popular plays by the majority of contest players.

Generally, because of the time investment required to participate in them, ALL-OPTIONAL contests are limited to major qualifying events, such as those for the NHC or “The BIG One” at Ellis Park.  ALL-OPTIONAL format contests are always run under the regular (live) format.

If you have any questions on the formats utilized, get in touch with us at