Why I Love Pick & Pray Tourneys — Even When I’m Not Playing


Virtually every day at HorseTourneys, there are several Pick & Pray tournaments with solid prizes and high participation levels. And that is especially true on the weekends. This Saturday, for example, there is a Pick & Pray NHC qualifier with three seats guaranteed. There should be 200+ players for that one.

Like most people, whether playing in a tournament or straight up against the tote, I prefer to do my own handicapping and let my skill (or lack thereof) determine my results.

I will admit, however, that I can be a bit of an action junkie sometimes, wanting to make a play or two (or three or four) even when I haven’t had time to do any handicapping.

I know I am not alone there. An industry friend has commented to me how surprised he constantly is by people’s willingness to pay good money for other people’s picks.

What I prefer to do, though, is not to lean on a particular “favorite handicapper” (and certainly not to pay for his picks!) but, rather, to go to the Leaderboards section of an in-progress Pick & Pray event on HorseTourneys, and check out who the Top 10 in the standings like in any given race. If you’re going to, ahem, “consult” with an outside handicapper, doesn’t it make sense to do so with someone who is already having a good day and apparently “seeing the ball well”?

Sometimes the picks of the Top 10 in a given tourney will be all over the map. But it’s surprising how often the sharp players gravitate en masse to the same hidden-value, overlaid horse that plays well in a tournament…and also in a straight parimutuel situation. Available ($25.20 to win, $10.20 to place) in Laurel’s 6th race last Sunday was just such a horse. Obviously, he was 11-1 on the tote, but it was a big field and he was more like 2-1 among the leaders of that day’s The Big One Pick & Pray qualifier.

Yes, I know that the selections page of a Pick & Pray tourney can also be instructive to new players as a way of learning the types of horses experienced contest players like to play in a tournament setting. But I think the leaderboard pages have a value all their own in the cold, crass world of parimutuel wagering as well.

Is my “system” mindless? Absolutely. Am I glomming off other people’s handicapping efforts? 100%! Does that make me feel guilty? Hell, no! For me it’s part of the fun of the whole HorseTourneys experience.