All-Optional Tourneys Make a Long-Awaited Return on Saturday and Sunday During Mammoth, 25-Featured-Events Memorial Day Weekend

It’s Memorial Day Weekend, which means four days of featured-tourney action instead of three. All counted, we have 25 different big-prize events this weekend—which I believe is a HorseTourneys record. The star of the weekend, however, is not the largesse, but the return of an old friend…one that many of you said you missed. The All-Optional Format.

This coming Friday and Monday will be Pick & Pray days at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers. Saturday and Sunday, though, will largely be “All Optional-Live” (AOL?) days at HorseTourneys. We select 25 races, and you decided in which 10 of those races you want to spend your 10 allotted $2.00 win/place mythical plays. If you don’t like a race, you can skip it. If you want to save bullets for the end, you can do that. If you want to try and jump out to an early lead while others are obsessed with saving bullets, you can fire away early.

It’s a format that gives players more discretion, and we’re delighted to offer it after taking a couple of years (yes, a couple of years!) working out some issues in our previous iteration of the all-optional format that could have created problems in the event of canceled races or horses being declared non-starters after a race. These things don’t happen too often, but we all know that they do happen on occasion, and we just weren’t comfortable offering a format that we felt wasn’t 100% buttoned up.

Anyway, we are ready to roll now. Better late than never! Do note this weekend, though, that—at least for now—HorsePlayers will be continuing on with traditional live and Pick & Pray tourneys (all Pick & Pray this particular weekend.) Also note that Sunday’s Del Mar Handicapping Challenge qualifier at HorseTourneys will be run in traditional Pick & Pray mode. That event didn’t fill last weekend, and so some entries were carried over to this Sunday. We didn’t think it was right to change the format on those who had entered expecting a traditional Pick & Pray the previous weekend.

We kick off the Memorial Day weekend on Friday with three featured Pick & Prays, including the first of three weekend qualifiers to the Spa & Surf Showdown and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament.

The Spa & Surf Showdown on August 3-4 is now up to 48 participants, all of whom have won their entries here at HorseTourneys. You can add your name to that roster on Friday, Sunday and again on Monday. By then, there is a chance that the purse of the Showdown will poke past the guaranteed amount of $100,000 (and it will keep growing thereafter).

We also have three qualifiers this weekend (Friday, Sunday, Monday…just like with the Spa & Surf Showdown) for the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament on June 1. This is for the very good reason that this weekend is your last chance to qualify for the popular Monmouth event a week from Saturday that will (based on 200 entries) offer 16 NHC seats, five BCBC entries plus several cash prizes. So play now or forever (until next year) hold your Picks.

And yes, Virginia, there is also a Friday up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray with $5,000 guaranteed. It has an entry fee of $190 and entries are capped at 75.

HorsePlayers also has a Pick & Pray of its own that will likely attract a large crowd of hopefuls.

It’s a $75 NHC qualifier with two spots to the 2020 event guaranteed. The winning ratio here is 143, and, as per usual NHC Tour Points will be proffered to those finishing in the top 10% of the field.

Contest races for the four featured events at HorseTourneys/HorsePlayers on Friday are: the 6th, 7th and 9th at Belmont Park; the 7th through 9th at Gulfstream and the 5th through 8th from Santa Anita—10 races in all.

Saturday is the first of back-to-back “All Optional Live” days at HorseTourneys with four such featured events.

One of them is the weekend’s richest game—an up-to-$30,000 cash tourney with $17,500 Guaranteed. The entry fee is $260 and no more than 133 may sign up.

Also up for grabs on Saturday is a $3,000 entry (plus $500 for travel) to the Saratoga Challenge (August 9-10). The event is run as two single-day tourneys, and your $3,000 entry, should you win it here, will cover you for both days. Entries to this “AOL” qualifier are $166 each, and the winning ratio is 1 per 25.

Another tourney on the Saturday menu is a qualifier to the June 22 Santa Anita Spring Challenge. Winners (one per 20) in this $176 contest receive a $3,000 entry to the Santa Anita competition where (based on 100 entries) two seats each will be awarded to the NHC, the BCBC and the Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. Bonus money will also be part of the prize pool there. Should you win one of these available $3,000 entries, you can choose to play the Spring Challenge in person at Santa Anita or at

There is also a “regular” NHC qualifier at HorseTourneys on Saturday. Two seats are guaranteed, and the entry fee is the standard $165.

The 25 available contest races for the four above tourneys are the 7th through 13th at Monmouth; the 5th through 10th at Belmont; races 7 through 12 at Gulfstream; and the 3rd through the 8th from Santa Anita. That’s 25 races in total, and players have to choose one horse in 10 of them to comprise their contest selections.

Keep in mind that entries for these four contests (and all All-Optional contests) close when the first race closes. You can’t enter one of these, say, eight races in to a 25-race tourney (even though just 10 picks are required0. If you want to play, enter before the first race.

Over at HorsePlayers, there are a couple of more traditional Pick & Prays—both tied to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

One is a Super Low Ratio game with a buy-in of $1,000, one guaranteed seat and a winning ratio of just one in 11. The other is a “regular” tourney with a more customary entry fee of $179. One $10,000 entry is guaranteed to be awarded here as well, while the winning ratio for this event is one in 65.

The contest races for these two BCBC qualifiers are the 9th through 13th at Monmouth; the 10th and 12th from Gulfstream; the 9th and 10th at Belmont; and the 5th through 8th from Santa Anita—a dozen races in all.

The Sunday slate has 10 featured games to pick from, including seven more All-Optional tourneys.

Two of those All-Optionals are $10,000 Guaranteed cash games. One is a “regular” up-to-$20,000 tourney with an entry fee of $195.

The other is a “Big Bucks” game with a stiffer entry fee of $1,150 but a maximum of 20 entrants permitted (as opposed to 118 in the other game). Payouts in Big Bucks events go only to the top three finishers on a 70%/20%/10% basis.

Among the prizes available in Sunday’s qualifiers is an all-inclusive package to The BIG One, a high-expectation, onsite tournament in September at Laurel Park that awards 10 NHC seats, five BCBC spots, five Pegasus entries, five HPWS entries, plus a guaranteed cash prize pool of at least $75,000. No more than 57 entries allowed at The BIG One, which is why it’s considered a “high expectation event”. Have even a decent weekend and you should leave with something good. And since Sunday’s qualifier is guaranteed, one package will be awarded regardless of participation. Winners receive their entry plus hotel, transfers from hotel to the track and back, and a welcome dinner, plus buffet/open bar at Laurel and a $500 stipend for your travel.

You can also take a $495 swing at earning a $10,500 package to the Belmont Stakes Challenge on Belmont Stakes eve and Belmont Stakes Day (June 7-8). There will be one winner per each 25 entries in this competition with that winner (or winners) earning a $10,000 entry plus $500 for travel to Elmont, N.Y., where attendance is not expected to be capped this year.

On Friday, we offered Pick & Pray qualifiers to the Spa & Surf Showdown and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize tournament. On Sunday, you can try to play your way into those two again—this time via the All Optional format. Entry fees and winning ratios are the same as on Friday: $113 and one per 20 for the Showdown…and $117 and one per 25 for the Pick Your Prize.

Sunday’s up-to-$5,000 Exacta box contest also gets the All-Optional treatment. Offering a guaranteed purse of $1,000, this game requires players to choose 10 races in which to place a three-horse exacta box play. 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.

A couple of Sunday’s featured events will NOT be run in All-Optional format. The Jackpot Pick 6 tourney is one of them since the big challenge here is to go six for six. (Going six for 25 just doesn’t have the same cache.) The entry fee is just $8, with 70 percent of the net pool going to the winners, and 30% being directed to the carryover pool should no one get all six contest races right. If someone does, though, that $8 would take down the jackpot pool. If more than one player does so, then the jackpot pool is shared

The other featured Sunday affair that will not be run in All Optional mode is our Del Mar Handicapping Challenge Pick & Pray. As noted earlier, this was scheduled as a Pick & Pray last week but it didn’t fill, so we are bringing it back in the same format, so as to be consistent/fair to those whose entries carried over to this week. This one costs $400 to play, and one per each 25 entries will earn an $8,500 packages to beautiful Del Mar.

Over at HorsePlayers, the BCBC takes center stage again.

The Sunday selection is a Low Ratio Pick & Pray. The barrier to entry is $500, and one per 23 will win a $10,000 entry. One prize is guaranteed regardless of how many (or few) sign up.

There’s a nice lineup of five featured contests—all traditional Pick & Prays—across the HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers platforms on Memorial Day.

The monetary highlight of Memorial Day is a $15,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray with no limit as to how high the purse can grow. The entry fee is $195.

Monday is also your third and final chance of the weekend to play in Monmouth Pick Your Prize and Spa & Surf Showdown qualifiers. In fact, its your absolutely last chance to play in a Pick Your Prize qualifiers (at least the 2019 version). The Monmouth competition takes place a week from Saturday.

The other two holiday Pick & Prays are over at HorsePlayers. One is an NHC qualifier and the other is a BCBC play-in.

We wracked our brains to come up with an NHC qualifier that would appeal to those for whom $165 was too expensive and $75 was too cheap. Voila! A $125 qualifier! Two seats are guaranteed, and the winning ratio is one per 86.

The BCBC tourney is a Low Ratio Pick & Pray with one seat guaranteed. The winning ratio is 1 per 23 and $500 gets you in the door.

There you have it—25 featured tourneys, including a bunch with a fun new (old?) format. We hope you can play one or two—and that you enjoy a fun and safe holiday weekend with friends and family.