First-Chance Opportunities to Qualify for Santa Anita Preakness Challenge, Belmont Stakes Challenge and Del Mar Handicapping Challenge Plus Big Bucks, The BIG One, NHC, BCBC and More Top 19-Featured-Tourney Weekend

“Challenge” is a key word in the world of handicapping contests. “Challenge” is to contests as “Stakes” is to big races. On Easter Sunday, you can qualify for the first time to the 2019 renewals of three Challenges. It’s sure to be, ahem, challenging. As usual, though, the featured-tourney action at HorseTourneys gets started on Friday.

We hope that our up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray with $5,000 Guaranteed makes this Friday a particularly “Good” one…and that the winnings don’t “Passover” you. This tourney has an entry fee of $190 and entries are limited to 75.

Contest races for this event are the 6th and 8th at Aqueduct; the 7th through 9th at Keeneland; and the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th from Santa Anita—10 races in all.

The richest tourney of the weekend takes place on Saturday.

It’s our up-to-$30,000 Pick & Pray with $17,500 guaranteed. (What better weekend than Easter weekend to do a lot of praying?) The entry fee is $260 with a limit of 140 entries.

The first “Challenge” for which you can qualify this weekend comes via our Saturday qualifier to the August 9-10 Saratoga Challenge. (Note that this Pick & Pray has been moved from Sunday to Saturday this week.) Winners—one per each 25 entries—receive $3,000 in entry fees (good for both of the single-day tournaments up there) plus an additional $500 for your travel to upstate New York.

HorsePlayers has a trio of live-format, featured events on Saturday.

Two of them are Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers. One is a Super Low Ratio play-in with one $10,000 entry guaranteed. It carries an entry fee of $1,000 and one per 11 will win…but at least one person will win even if fewer than 11 sign up.

The other BCBC qualifier also has one grand prize guaranteed. This one carries a more customary entry fee of $179, and the winning ratio here is one per 65.

There is also an NHC qualifier on Saturday. The winning ratio here is also 1 per 65, and this “regular” tourney has a price tag of $165.

Saturday contest races are the 6th and 8th at Keeneland; the 1st, 6th, 7th and 8th at Santa Anita; the 8th, 10th, 11th and 12th from Gulfstream and the 8th and 9th at Aqueduct—a dozen races all together.

Sunday is Easter Sunday. That means Aqueduct, Keeneland and some other tracks will be closed, but not only are we open for business, we have no fewer than 13 featured tourneys across the HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers platforms, including 11 right here at HorseTourneys.

Three of the Sunday qualifiers are “first chance” tournaments, affording you an early opportunity to land a seat at some high-end contests.

One such play-in tourney is that for the May 18 Santa Anita Preakness Challenge. One per every 20 entries—at $207 each—will earn a $3,000 entry to tackle the Preakness card at Santa Anita (where the infield will be a lot less crowded and noisy). You’ll also receive $500 for travel.

Another first-chancer, sticking with the Triple Crown theme, is for the Belmont Stakes Challenge on June 7-8. Sure, you may have to deal with crowds and noise at Belmont, but having a paid-up $10,000 entry should help you focus on your handicapping there. Again, winners in this 1-per-25, $495 qualifier will receive $500 to defray their travel expenses to New York.

Also available for the first time on Sunday is a seat to the very popular 2019 Del Mar Handicapping Challenge, held this year on July 27-28. Like the Santa Anita and Belmont Stakes qualifiers, this one is a Pick & Pray. It has a buy-in of $400, and one per each 25 entries will garner an $8,000 entry plus $500 for travel.

Those are the three “first chances,” but we also have a “last chance” on Sunday—namely to the Steve Sexton Mile Day Challenge at Lone Star Park on April 28. A $79 entry fee in this Pick & Pray gets you a 1-in-15 chance at a $1,000 entry.

There are three other Sunday qualifiers that are neither first nor last chances, but a seat to any of these events would be a welcome egg to add to any contest player’s Easter basket.

One is to the August 3-4 $100,000 Guaranteed Spa & Surf Showdown. The Showdown is a two-day, online tournament that will only focus on races from Saratoga and Del Mar. Sunday’s Pick & Pray qualifier costs $113 to play and one of every 20 will win a $2,000 entry. (No travel stipend since there’s no travel involved!)

Another is to The BIG One at Laurel Park. The entry fee of $350 gets you a shot to win an all-inclusive package to the high-expectation contest on September 21-22 that will offer 10 NHC seats, five BCBC spots, five Pegasus entries, five HPWS entries, plus a guaranteed cash prize pool of at least $75,000. Once again in 2019, there will be no more than 57 entries allowed at The BIG One, so those 25 prizes will be divvied up among no more than 25 people. Have a decent couple of days, and you should leave with something worthwhile. And since Sunday’s qualifier is guaranteed, one package will be awarded no matter what.

There’s also an Easter Sunday qualifier to the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament. You can win a $2,500 package for this June 1 event for $117. One in 25 will be victorious in this Pick & Pray.

Eggs are nice, but the best thing to line an Easter basket with is always money, and you have four opportunities for that this Sunday, including a pair of $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Prays.

One is our bi-weekly Big Bucks tourney with an entry fee of $1,150 and a maximum of 20 entries. If 20 sign up, the purse will exceed $20,000, with payouts going to just the top three on a 70/20/10 percent basis. The purse will not be lower than $10,000, however, regardless of participation.

The other $10,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray on Sunday has a more modest entry fee of $195. Here, up to 118 playing slots are available, and the purse could grow as high as $20,000.

The other two Sunday cash events on the schedule our up-to-$5,000 Exacta box tourney, and the Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. This Exacta game (always run in live-format) offers a guaranteed pot of $1,000 and requires participants to make a three-horse exacta box play in each contest race. The winner is based on total return from a $1.00 base play. This tourney carries an entry fee of $125 and entries are capped at 45.

Meanwhile the Pick 6 Jackpot event offers 70% of the net pool to the winners and 30% to those who pick all six of the contest races correctly. If no one does that, then the 30% goes into the carryover pool for the next event. This contest carries an entry fee of just $55, and the carryover amount currently sits at $1,541.

HorsePlayers features two Low Ratio tourneys on Sunday—one to the NHC and one to the BCBC.

The NHC qualifier is a Pick & Pray with one seat guaranteed and an entry fee of $500. The winning ratio is 1 in 21.

The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio play-in also has one grand prize (a $10,000 entry) guaranteed and a buy-in of $500. This one is a live-format event with a winning ratio of 1 in 23.

Sunday races were yet to be drawn as of press time, but expect Santa Anita and Gulfstream to supply a good number of the day’s contest races with perhaps some Woodbine, Lone Star and/or Golden Gate sprinkled in.

Something else to keep an eye out for? The all-optional tourneys that are back at HorseTourneys and better than ever. Here are just some of the Friday offerings, which require players to make eight (mythical win-place) plays from 18 available contest races at Keeneland and Santa Anita.

Wherever you will be spending the holiday weekend, we hope it is an enjoyable one for you and yours. We’ll do our part in this corner to try and help make it just a little bit more fun. Good luck!