The Inaugural Spa & Surf Showdown, Free NHC Qualifier and Last Chance for Saratoga Highlight Blockbuster First Weekend of August

After months of qualifying, the big days are now upon us. It’s time for the first annual Spa & Surf Showdown.

It takes place on Saturday and Sunday, and it currently has a purse of $164,610, though that amount will increase following the final two qualifiers on Thursday and Friday…and following late buy-in entries. Only the races from Saratoga and Del Mar are in play, and contestants must make a mythical $2.00 win and place play (just like usual) on every race from both tracks each day. Whoever finishes with the highest total by the end of the day on Sunday wins the live-format tourney.

You can buy an entry now for $2,000. Or, as I alluded to earlier, you still have a chance to win your way in. The last chance for that comes on Friday.

The last-chance Showdown throwdown costs $113 to play, and one per 20 will earn a $2,000 entry to the following day’s competition. Like all Friday features, this one is a Pick & Pray.

So is our Friday up-to-$15,000 cash tourney, which carries an entry fee of $190 and guarantees a purse of at least $7,500. A maximum of 90 entries will be taken.

There are big doings at HorsePlayers on Friday as well. It’s a game that virtually all of you should be playing.

It’s a free NHC qualifier, open to all paid-up members of the 2019 NHC Tour. If you are not a member, you can become one at The way this qualifier works is that it’s a two-day affair and those who finish in the top 10% of the standings on Friday move on to play on Saturday when the top five will earn NHC seats. Note that scores do not carry over from Friday to Saturday, and that NHC Tour points are only awarded to the top 10% of finishers on Sunday.

Contest races for the Friday featured events are the 4th, 6th and 7th from Ellis Park, the 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 10th at Saratoga and the 5th and 6th from Woodbine—10 races in all

Saturday, of course, is Day 1 of the Spa & Surf Showdown.

Check back to the HorseTourneys home page for the latest Spa & Surf purse updates, but we are already up to $164,610 in this cash-only contest. Again, it’s a live-format tourney, and players must enter a selection for every race of the Saratoga and Del Mar cards on both Saturday and Sunday.

Despite the existence of the Showdown, we are still offering an up-to-$30,000 Pick & Pray on Saturday with $10,000 Guaranteed. (We reduced our typical Saturday guarantee to $10,000 for this week only because we DO expect some of our up-to-$30,000 regulars to be otherwise engaged!) You can enter this one for $260.

There are three nice qualifier on the Saturday schedule as well, including a two-seats-guaranteed NHC play-in. It’s a “regular” Pick & Pray with an entry fee of $165.

Saturday will also serve as your last chance to qualify for the August 9-10 Saratoga Challenge. An entry fee of $166 gets you in to this Pick & Pray, and if you win (as one in every 25 entries will do), you receive $3,000 in entry fees, which will cover you for each day of the two single-day contests up there…plus $500 for travel.

For just $79, you can take a swing at a $1,000 package ($500 entry plus $500 travel) to the Orleans Fall Classic, which will be held on October 17-19 at The Orleans in Las Vegas. This, too, is a Pick & Pray, and the winning ratio in this event is 1 per 15.

The 12 contest races for the Saturday featured events at HorseTourneys are the 5th through 8th races (all stakes) at Mountaineer, where it’s West Virginia Derby day; the 7th through 11th at Saratoga, where it’s Whitney day; and the 2nd, 3rd and 6th from Del Mar…where it’s always a nice day.

At HorsePlayers, there are two Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifiers lined up for Saturday. One costs $179 to play, the other, $1,000.

The lower-cost option is a “regular” live-format tourney with a winning ratio of 1 in 65. One $10,000 entry/prize is guaranteed to be awarded regardless of how many take part.

The pricier event is a Super Low Ratio BCBC Pick & Pray with a winning ratio of just one in 11. One $10,000 BCBC entry is guaranteed to be awarded here as well.

Saturday, of course, will also be Day 2 of the free NHC qualifier. Those who finished in the top 10% of Friday’s field will take part here with all scores reset to zero.

Per request of the NTRA, we have a different roster of 12 contest races for the Saturday featured tourneys at HorsePlayers compared to the menu at HorseTourneys. The HorsePlayers races are the 8th and 12th at Monmouth; the 7th through 11th from Saratoga; the 8th through 10th at Ellis; and the 3rd and 6th from Del Mar.

Ten of the weekend’s 20 featured events are set for Sunday.

We’ll start with our Sunday cash games, led by our bi-weekly up-to-$20,000 Big Bucks tourney which, two weeks ago, went at just a 3.4% takeout to players. The entry fee is $1,150, prizes are paid just to the top three, and no more than 20 entries will be accepted to this Pick & Pray, which has a guaranteed pot of at least $10,000.

If you like the idea of a $20,000 game, but prefer a lower outlay, there’s our regular, up-to-$20,000 Sunday cash Pick & Pray with $10,000 Guaranteed. There will be more than 20 entrants in this one, but the barrier to entry is just $195.

Our Sunday up-to-$5,000, $1,000 Guaranteed Exacta tourney ent off as an overlay last week. So keep an eye out for that on Sunday. As usual, the entry fee is $125, and the format is live. Players must select a three-horse exacta box in every race.

The $8 Pick 6 Jackpot is up to about $2,346, and you can collect it all for $8 if you get each of the tourney’s six race winners correct. (If multiple players do so, then the jackpot is shared. Frank Fosbre had five of the six winners last Sunday.) If not, you can still shoot for 70% of the pool, which goes to those with the best overall win/place score over the six races. If no one gets all six right, 30% of the pool carries over to the following week’s jackpot.

On the qualifying side of the Sunday street is our qualifier to The BIG One, the high-expectation tournament in which $75,000 in cash, 10 NHC seats, five BCBC entries and five Pegasus World Cup entries will be at stake among a field that will number no more than 57. Sunday’s Pick & Pray qualifier costs $350, and two all-inclusive packages (entry, hotel, travel stipend, welcome dinner, buffets/open bars and more) are guaranteed.

Sunday also brings the second chance of the weekend to win an entry to the Orleans Fall Classic. This Sunday qualifier is an entry-only contest. It’s a Pick & Pray and the entry fee is $59.

There’s also a Sunday Low Ratio Pick & Pray to the Keeneland NHC/BCBC Challenge. Note that this is also an entry-only game. The entry fee is $352 and the winning ratio is 1 per 10.

Sunday will be our second qualifier to the August 24 Monmouth Super NHC/BCBC qualifier (Frank Perri and Gary Machiz won last week’s initial Monmouth play-in. Up for grabs at Monmouth on the 24th will be six NHC spots, two BCBC entries plus cash. Our Monmouth Pick & Pray carries an entry fee of $80, and one per each 15 entries will earn a $500 entry to the tournament plus $500 for travel.

Over at HorsePlayers, the NHC and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge each have a featured tourney on the docket.

The NHC game is a regular, Pick & Pray qualifier with a $165 entry fee and a winning ratio of 1 per 65. Two NHC seats are guaranteed in this one.

The BCBC once again offers a Sunday low-ratio qualifier. It’s a live-format tourney with an entry fee of $500, and a 1 per 23 winning ratio. At least one $10,000 BCBC entry is guaranteed to be in the prize pool.

Best of luck to all of you this weekend—especially those who will be taking part in the Spa & Surf Showdown. We hope you love it, and that this will be the first of many Showdowns.