Aqueduct Gotham Challenge and Hawthorne March Contests Join the 19-Tourney Weekend Schedule; Spa & Surf Showdown Qualifier Added to Friday Lineup

It’s another busy weekend with 19 featured tourneys stuffed into the Friday-Saturday-Sunday period, and Fridays just got a little bit more fun.

The Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers have been popular thus far—16 have already earned $2,000 entries to the August 3-4 online event. So we’ve added a Friday qualifier to go along with the usual Sunday qualifier. It’s $113 to play this Pick & Pray and one in 20 will move on to the $100,000 Guaranteed competition featuring just Saratoga and Del Mar races.

Another one per 20 qualifying proposition is Friday’s entry-only Horse Player World Series play-in tourney. It, too, is a Pick & Pray and the buy-in is $90. Winners get a $1,500 entry to The Orleans.

Friday cash gamers can again count on our up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray with $5,000 Guaranteed. It has an entry fee of $190 and entries are limited to 75.

There are 10 contest races for the Friday featured events at HorseTourneys: the 6th through 8th at Aqueduct; the 8th, 10th and 11th at Gulfstream; the 8th and 9th from Tampa Bay Downs; and the 4th and 5th at Santa Anita—10 races in all.

The tilt towards Pick & Prays continues on Saturday.

Our up-to-$30,000 cash game with $10,000 guaranteed merits top billing on Saturday. This Pick & Pray costs $260 to enter and the field is capped at 133.

A popular Saturday staple is our Keeneland Grade One Gamble qualifier, available this week in Pick & Pray format. Winners receive a $3,000 entry for the April 14th contest plus $500 for travel to Lexington, Ky., where the track is right across the street from the airport. The entry fee is $164.

Saturday is also full-package day for the Horse Player World Series. For your $117 buy-in, you will compete for a $1,500 entry to the three-day, World Series on March 28-30, plus a four-night hotel stay at The Orleans, plus another $500 for travel (and airfares to Las Vegas are typically extra reasonable in late March).

HorsePlayers joins the weekend fun on Saturday with a pair of “regular” qualifiers—one to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and one to the NHC.

The BCBC game is a Pick & Pray with an entry fee of $179. One in 65 earn a big $10,000 entry, and at least one grand prize is guaranteed.

Note that the day’s NHC qualifier is the one featured tourney on Saturday to be run in live format. Two 2020 seats are guaranteed to be awarded in this event, which costs $165 per entry.

Sunday will be customarily busy with 11 featured events—two of them being offered for the first time.

The “new kids on the block” are qualifiers to the Aqueduct Gotham Challenge (March 9) and the Hawthorne March contests (March 29-30).

The Gotham qualifier costs just $59 to play, and winners get a $500 entry. There’s a new twist to the April Aqueduct tournament this year…you don’t have to be at Aqueduct. If you wish, you can use a NYRA Bets account to play your entry or entries on March 9. You can get all the details at

The Hawthorne qualifier costs even less to play—just $55. The winning ratio here is one per 15, and if you win, you get $700 in entry fees, which will cover you for both of the single-day tournaments. This is a good contest to focus on if you won’t be heading out to the HPWS, where many contest players will undoubtedly be.

Along with the Sunday newcomers come the familiar faces. Two of the most familiar are the Spa & Surf Showdown and the Horse Player World Series entry-only qualifiers…since we just crossed paths with them on Friday.

But they’re back here just 48 hours later with their fun and prizes. Both are Pick & Prays with one in 20 winning ratios. The Showdown qualifier costs $113 to enter; the World Series tourney, $90.

Another Sunday regular (this year, anyway) is our qualifier to The BIG One which, in 2019, carries a reduced entry fee of $350. Winners earn an all-inclusive package to Laurel for the high-expectation contest with 10 NHC seats, five BCBC spots, five Pegasus entries, five HPWS entries, plus a guaranteed cash prize pool of at least $75,000.

We mentioned earlier the March 9 Gotham Challenge. Also on March 9 is the TSG Ultimate Betting Challenge, which can be played at Gulfstream, Santa Anita or on So it’s not unrealistic to say that you could play in both. Matthew Rentze and Ed Peters earned $3,500 packages to this event last weekend in our first qualifier for it. Qualifier number 2 (of just 3) comes this Sunday.

Of slightly less urgency from a calendar standpoint is our qualifier for the June 1 Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament. You can play in this Pick & Pray for $117, and one in 25 will earn a $2,000 entry plus $500 for travel to “The Shore’s Greatest Stretch.” (Not sure if they still use that slogan at Monmouth…but it sticks with me, nonetheless.)

Of course, there are two featured Sunday cash games to consider as well. One is our up-to-$20,000 Pick & Pray that has an entry fee of $195, and a minimum purse guarantee of $7,000.

The other is Sunday’s up-to-$5,000 Exacta box tourney. This contest (always run in live-format) offers a guaranteed pot of $1,000. Here, you make a three-horse exacta box play in each contest race, and the winner is based on total return from a $1.00 play. This tourney carries an entry fee of $125 and no more than 45 are allowed in.

Also on tap are two featured events at HorsePlayers on Sunday.

One is a “regular” NHC Pick & Pray with two seats guaranteed. (Entry fee: $165).

The other is a guaranteed, Low Ratio Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier (Pick & Pray) with one in 23 earning a $10,000 entry. The entry fee here is higher–$500—but the winning ratio—one in 23—is lower.

May your highs outnumber your lows in your contest play, and all your pursuits, during the weekend ahead.