Thoughts on the Upcoming HPWS and Saturday’s $50,000 Gtd. Tourney

A record 172 qualifiers from HorseTourneys will be among the field of 600 or so at The Orleans this Thursday, Friday and Saturday for the 2019 Horse Player World Series. We’ll be onsite providing end-of-day recaps on our blog page and we will also post updates on Twitter if…and it’s a big “if”…we can get names to go along with the scores on the leaderboard. (Typically these aren’t posted at the HPWS.)

Each day, players will make 15 mythical $20 win and place plays from the available contest tracks. On Thursday, there are just three tracks available: Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Golden Gate.

On both Friday and Saturday, there will be seven contest tracks: Gulfstream, Tampa, Laurel, Aqueduct, Oaklawn, Hawthorne and Santa Anita. (No Golden Gate.)

Some find the HPWS a tough three-day grind, and some wouldn’t miss it for the world. Some, including me, reside in both camps. To me, it’s a fun, transparently-run contest at an unpretentious venue that’s more about the gambling than anything else. It’s almost a welcome change of pace from what we sometimes see on-track these days.

It’s also, in another respect, the most straight-forward tournament of the year in that there are absolutely no seats to future events to be won at the HPWS. If you’re playing in the World Series, you’re playing for one thing and one thing only: money. This contest isn’t a means to any other end.

This year, the HPWS has a unique–and I presume, unintentional–twist in that there are only three contest tracks on Thursday, as noted above. One of those tracks, Golden Gate, is carding just seven races on Thursday. That means players must make their 15 requisite plays that day from among just 27 races. So in theory, more than half the room will be playing any given race, which almost gives that first day an all-mandatory field. How you do on Day 1 may have as much to do with which races you don’t play as which you do.

This all, of course, says less about the Horse Player World Series and more about the state of racing when so few tracks are operating on a Thursday. Thursday is like the new Wednesday. Heck…it may be more accurate to say it’s the new Monday.

When the NTRA shifted the NHC from a Thursday-Friday-Saturday format to a Friday-Saturday-Sunday format a few years ago, it did so entirely (as I recall) to improve the caliber of racing offered by effectively replacing a Thursday with a Sunday. To the NTRA’s disappointment, the shift caused the demise of the Sunday “First Chance” tournament that offered seats to the following year’s event. Still, with the benefit of hindsight, it seems to have been a very prescient move…one the Horse Player World Series might do well to copy.

On Saturday, there will be another big-money event going on in addition to the World Series, and it will be taking place right here.

It’s our Florida Derby Day $50,000 Guaranteed Tourney with no limit as to how high the purse could grow. It’s a live-format game (which means HPWS players won’t have to worrying about tipping any of their hands) with an entry fee of $495, and feeders for as little as $27 continue all week long at HorseTourneys. There will be 12-15 contest races, and we’ll be sure to only include races from HPWS contest tracks (other than Oaklawn, which isn’t available to us) so players out in Vegas don’t have to do any additional homework.

Whether you’ll be playing live, in cyberspace or both, we wish you good luck and safe travels.