The 2021 Edition of The BIG One Set For September 18-19 Again Here at HorseTourneys; First Qualifier Offered This Sunday.

For the second consecutive year, The BIG One — racing’s “High Expectation Tournament” — will be hosted online here at HorseTourneys rather than onsite at its traditional home, Laurel Park.

A reflection of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, the decision to keep the event online for another year means that The BIG One will again have one of the most player-friendly prize structures of any contest in the country.

Limited to a maximum of 57 entrants, The BIG One will offer top 10 a seat to one of three top events—the 2022 National Horseplayers Championship, the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge or the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. The top 15 finishers will also share in cash payouts that are guaranteed to total at least $150,000.

The “15-out-of-57” prize format is not the only reason we refer to The BIG One as “The High Expectation Tournament.”

Another is because the September 18-19 competition has no takeout built into its payout schedule. All takeout for the event is covered in the feeders and qualifiers that lead up to September.

The first direct qualifier will take place this Sunday, February 14. The buy-in is $395 (the same as last year) and there is a limit to 27 entries per qualifier. The first-place finisher receives a berth to The BIG One plus a winner’s bonus of $500 credited to his or her HorseTourneys account. The runner up in each qualifier receives a consolation prize of $395.

Each week there will also be 1-per-5 Round 1 and Round 2 feeders for $22 and $92, respectively, as well as 1-per-10 direct feeders for $46 per entry.

The final, precise amount of the cash prize pool at The BIG One will again be dependent on participation in our weekly qualifiers. The qualifier takeout rate will be a level 13.9% each week. After takeout and payment of the qualifier winners each week, the remainder will be allocated to the prize pool for The BIG One—both to cover the cost of the 10 contest seats and to generate the cash-prize component.  

As per usual, we’ll be maintaining a purse/qualifier status page — updated weekly — for your perusal throughout the year whenever you want an update on how the 2021 The BIG One prize pool is progressing. Last year’s The BIG One champion, Ted Apple of Fairfield Glade, Tenn., earned $91,500 and a BCBC seat. The overall cash-prize pool in 2020 was in excess of $228,000.

We mentioned earlier that the top 10 finishers get a seat to one of three major tournaments. How does that work?

At least the first eight finishers (and possibly all 10 of the “Top 10”) will receiver his or her choice of:

a) a 2022 NHC package, including 4-night hotel stay and $500 travel stipend;
b) a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry; or
c) a $6,000 entry to the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship plus a cash supplement (expected to be $4,000) designed to bring the prize up to a value of $10,000.

In order to ensure the awarding of 2021 NHC Tour Points for a top finish at The BIG One, it is mandatory that at least two NHC seats be awarded. So, therefore, if no NHC seats have been selected after the first eight picks, then the final two prizes (to the 9th and 10th place finishers) would have to be NHC packages. But if at least two NHC spots are chosen by the first eight, then the 9th and 10th place finishers will also have their choice of any prize from the three cited above.

The 2020 renewal of The BIG One was a record breaker, and we hope that this year’s prizes will exceed last year’s. It’s always fun to play in a tournament in which you have to be good—but not necessarily perfect—in order to come away with a great return. Between the high percentage of winners and the player-friendly takeout, we hope you see fit to join us on the 2021 road to The BIG One. It all begins this Sunday.