Random Thoughts About the BCBC

I played in this year’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. It was the first BCBC I ever attended, let alone participated in. The participation part didn’t go well at all. I lost every bet I made. But bad handicapping notwithstanding, I found the event enjoyable. The 3rd-floor Horsemen’s Lounge where I was seated seemed like a terrific spot, combining an outdoor setting with a pretty prime view of the paddock. I definitely felt like I was at Del Mar as opposed to some random simulcast facility. Very nice.

I didn’t notice very many glitches. I was aware of some unrest about complimentary drink tickets only because there was a sheet passed around early on Day 2, explaining why some of us hadn’t received any. So I assume there were some complaints. But I was only drinking Diet Pepsis anyway, and those were free, so “no harm, no foul” on that front.

And there were a couple of times when the race-by-race score updates available via email and at didn’t seem to be fully updated. I may have been quicker to notice this than others since I was sending out updates via Twitter. But if these were the main problems, then I think it suggests it was a very well run tournament. Kudos to Tim Schram of Breeders’ Cup and Chris Bahr of Del Mar.

The introduction of Daily Doubles to the 2017 BCBC betting options seemed like the only new wrinkle from what I could gather. Personally I liked the option to play those, if only because it meant I could cover two mandatory plays with one horse by wheeling a double with one play, and then making a straight play the following race on the keyed horse in question. Though it became painfully obvious soon enough that all the strategy in the world isn’t much good if you can’t…you know…pick a horse that can hit the board.

If you look closely at this photo (courtesy of, you can see American Pastime in the green and gold colors finishing 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. This represented the high point of my handicapping weekend.

It is always nice going to a live event and meeting some HorseTourneys players for the first time—like Las Vegas resident Ron Ferrise and his wife Michelle. I know Ron liked those Daily Doubles…because a $75 play on Stormy Liberal and Bar of Gold made his entire tournament, propelling him to a second-place finish worth about $367,000 in total.

Of course, Breeders’ Cup is as much about lifestyle and fashion as it is about the races. And I particularly liked Ron’s Saturday ensemble: a Vegas Golden Knights long-sleeve t-shirt smartly accessorized by a Vegas Strong button. My kind of guy.

Another thing that impressed me was that I saw no overt displays of temper during the two days. I am from New York, and I figured that placing the kind of bets needed to have an impact in such a high-end tournament was sure to evoke a momentary tirade of profanity or at least the tossing of a plate of short ribs. Nope. Good contest players clearly know how to take their setbacks gracefully. I will confess to some slight disappointment at this—only because misery loves company. But overall, I do believe that things like maturity and restraint are praiseworthy.

My general takeaway is that you need either need some big hits or some really good strategy to win the BCBC—preferably a bit of both. I had neither. But I still look forward to playing again next year at Churchill Downs in the hope that my performance will improve.

And that someone with throw a Hot Brown or a Mint Julep or something.