Free, Saturday NHC Qualifier to Offer Three of Weekend’s Seven Guaranteed Seats; First Chance/Last Chance Qualifier to Santa Anita Derby Challenge Gets Things Started on Friday

If you have a 2020 NHC Tour membership (and if you don’t, you can get one at, you need to be at HorsePlayers on Saturday for a free, 15-race Pick & Pray qualifier that will reward three contestants with berths to the big dance at Bally’s next February. That tourney represents three of seven guaranteed NHC spots on offer this weekend. There are also three guaranteed Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries available, a guaranteed entry to The BIG One and $61,000 in guaranteed cash. The weekend action (guaranteed to be fun) gets started on Friday.

There’s a one-time-only event on the Friday schedule—a $177 Pick & Pray qualifier to the Santa Anita Derby Challenge, to be played online at Xpressbet, on Saturday. One of every 20 entries will earn a $3,000 entry for Santa Anita Derby Day. Note that you must have or establish an Xpressbet account in order to participate in the final on Saturday.

The day’s major cash tourney is Friday’s $10,000 Guaranteed No Limit Pick & Pray. The entry fee is $190.

Each day this weekend, you can compete for a $2,000 entry to the August 15-16 Spa & Surf Showdown. A $2,000 entry will go to one of every 20 entries in these qualifiers. The buy-in is $113 and the format is Pick & Pray each day. The winners will do battle in two full days of racing from Saratoga and Del Mar on August 15 and 16 for an all-cash prize pool guaranteed to be at least $150,000.

Two Friday staples are on the docket at HorsePlayers.

Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray qualifier at HorsePlayers again has a winning ratio of 1 per 115. Two seats are guaranteed, and NHC Tour points will be on the table, as usual.

Also a Pick & Pray is Friday’s $500 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio qualifier. One seat is guaranteed, and the winning ratio is 1-per-23.

Contest races this Friday at both HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers are: the 6th and 9th from Laurel; the 5th through 9th at Belmont; and the 2nd, 4th and 5th from Santa Anita.

The “bright, shiny object” among Saturday tourneys is the free NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers.

It’s a 15-race Pick & Pray that awards the top three finishers a coveted berth to the 2021 NHC. Note, as always, that in order to play and win, you must be a current member of the 2021 NHC Tour. If you would like to join the tour, visit

There’s also a “regular,” Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray at HorsePlayers on Saturday. The entry fee is $179, the winning ratio is 1-in-65, and at least one $10,000 BCBC entry is certain to be awarded.

The cashier’s window at HorseTourneys will be busy with $35,000 in guaranteed cash getting ready to head out the door.

Everything’s a Pick & Pray on Saturday, including the $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks game. It has an $1,150 buy-in and a limit of 20 signups. The purse could grow as high as $20,000 (or a little bit more). Payouts go to the top three finishers, divvied up on a 70%/20%/10% basis.

There’s also a $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray on Saturday. It carries a more modest entry fee of $260, and there is no limit as to how high the purse can grow.

Saturday brings with it another Spa & Surf Showdown qualifier. An entry fee of $113 gets you in the starting gate, and the winning ratio is 1-per-20. Winners earn a paid-up $2,000 entry to the $150,000 Guaranteed online cash event (August 15-16) in which players handicap two days of full cards from Saratoga (Spa) and Del Mar (Surf).

The other Saturday feature is a Pick & Pray qualifier to the Lone Star Park Spring Betting Challenge. The entry fee is $80, and the winning ratio is 1-per-15. Winners pick up a $1,000 entry for Lone Star’s onsite tournament on June 27.

The 15 contest races for the free NHC qualifier at HorsePlayers are the 6th, 8th and 10th from Laurel; the 5th through 11th (including four graded stakes) at Belmont; the 4th and 9th from Golden Gate; and the 7th through 9th (all stakes, including the Santa Anita Derby and the Hollywood Gold Cup) at Santa Anita. The deadline for entry will be at about 3:10 pm ET.

Twelve of the above 15 make up the Saturday contest race menu at HorseTourneys: the 6th, 8th and 10th from Laurel; the 5th through 10th at Belmont; and the 7th through 9th at Santa Anita.

Nine more featured tourneys come your way on Sunday—seven here and two at HorsePlayers.

We now offer Big Bucks tourneys on back-to-back days and Sunday’s edition is always run in Live format. The buy-in is again $1,150, and the guaranteed purse is $7,500. Sign ups are limited to 20, and only the top three get paid.

More guaranteed money is on the line in Sunday’s $12,500 Guaranteed No Limit tourney. The buy-in for this Pick & Pray is $195.

The grand prize is also guaranteed in Sunday’s Pick & Pray qualifier to The BIG One. Entries are $395 each and limited to 27. In The BIG One, which will be contested here on September 19-20, the top 10 finishers receive their choice of a seat to the NHC, BCBC or Pegasus World Cup plus they receive a piece of cash bonuses that will total at least $75,000. Finishers 11-15 get a choice of either $1,500 or a Horse Players World Series entry. The final field will number no more than 57.

Also a Pick & Pray is the Sunday’s qualifier to the Spa & Surf Showdown. One of every 20 entries, at $113 per entry, will earn $2,000 passes into the Showdown where at least $150,000 will be in the kitty on August 15-16.

We switch over to Live format for Sunday’s Low Ratio NHC qualifier. It’s not a guaranteed tourney—there have to be 10 $500 entries in the hopper for this one to “go”— but this game has never had a problem drawing a crowd. The winning ratio is 1-per-21. (Note that, per NHC Tour rules, Tour points will only be available here if there are enough entries to award two seats.)

Also Live is Sunday’s up-to-$5,000 Exacta tourney with $1,000 Guaranteed. Entries are $125 each and players must select a three-horse exacta box in each contest race.

Last in terms of cost but far from least in terms of fun is our Sunday $8 Pick 6 Jackpot tourney. These are also always run in live-format. The way it works is that 70% of the net pool gets paid to top finishers via the normal, $2 win/place scoring method, while the other 30% gets directed to the Jackpot pool. You win (or share) the Jackpot if you pick the winners of all six races. This week, the Jackpot is up to $12,633.

There are two Live-format features at HorsePlayers on Sunday—one a qualifier to the NHC and the other a play-in for the BCBC.

The NHC tourney is a “regular,” 2-seats-guaranteed qualifier. It carries a winning ratio of 1-per-65, and an entry fee of $165.

The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier is a Low Ratio test with a barrier to entry of $500, and a winning ratio of 1-per-23. One $10,000 BCBC entry is guaranteed to be awarded, however, even if fewer than 23 show up.

With Belmont and Santa Anita finally both in action at the same time, there should be some excellent races to handicap. Whether you decide to play for big money or just play for free, we wish you luck in whichever of this weekend’s 20 featured tourneys you choose.