It’s Showdown Time

Last year, the Spa & Surf Showdown set what is believed to be a record for an online horse racing handicapping contest by offering a final purse of over $644,000. That mark could be in jeopardy this Saturday and Sunday when many of the nation’s finest contest players square off in the third annual Showdown, which features two days of full-card selections on every race from each day’s Saratoga and Del Mar cards.

The stakes have never been higher for the Showdown—or any event in HorseTourneys history. Last year, Scott Fiedler earned over $248,000 for his Spa & Surf victory. This year, both Alan Levitt of Baltimore and Dan Wilde of Austin, Texas, are eligible for $1 million annuity bonus should one of them win the 2-day, Saturday-Sunday event. Levitt is alive for the seven-figure payout by virtue of his victory in January’s $570,000 Flo-Cal Faceoff, while Wilde made himself bonus eligible by capturing April’s $555,000 Players Championship.

Alan Levitt
Dan Wilde and his wife Beth

The Flo-Cal Faceoff, the Players Championship and the Spa & Surf Showdown, collectively, comprise HorseTourneys’ new Tourney Triple series that, in addition to the mega-bonuses, offers important contest seats to the three players who do best (based on a points system) across the three competitions. Anthony Mattera is the current points leader on the strength of Top-10 finishes in both the Faceoff and the Players Championship.

The current guaranteed purse for the Spa & Surf Showdown is already up to over $367,000. Buy-ins, at $2,500 each, will remain available right up until post time for Saratoga’s first race on Saturday (1:05 pm ET), and direct qualifiers will continue through Friday—when the HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers featured weekend schedules get under way.

For the last day of Spa & Surf qualifying we’ll have both a $147 multi-track Pick & Pray with a winning ratio of 1-in-20 and a $368, 1-per-8 Pick & Pray. Also keep an eye out for single-track, full-card qualifiers on such tracks as Saratoga and Del Mar.

As for the rest of the featured schedule… there’s Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed No-Limit Pick & Pray. The entry fee for this one is $190. As a Friday/Saturday/Sunday featured cash tourney, this one is also an HT Tour event.

There will also be a daily qualifier this weekend to the NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament at Bally’s on August 26. On Friday, one of every 10 entrants—at $59 per entry—will earn a $500 berth into the annual NHC Eve event. At stake on August 26th at Bally’s will be cash plus a 2021 NHC seat for the following day…or, if you’re already double-qualified for 2021, a seat for 2022 instead.

Once again on the Friday schedule is a $295, 1-per-20 Pick & Pray play-in for the August 21 Del Mar Pacific Classic Betting Challenge. Winners receive a $5,000 entry for the live-bankroll contest that may be played on the 21st at either or on-track at Del Mar. 

The NHC and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge are again the focus of important qualifiers on Friday at HorsePlayers. 

Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray offers two guaranteed places in the 2022 event plus NHC Tour Points if you finish in the top 10 percent of the field. The winning ratio is 1-per-143. Remember—you must be a 2021 NHC Tour member, prior to the start of the contest, in order to be eligible for an NHC package in this or any other NHC qualifier. If you’re not a member, you can become one quickly and easily at for a $50 membership fee. 

The other marquee game at HorsePlayers on Friday is a $500 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Low Ratio Pick & Pray. At least one $10,000 BCBC entry is certain to be won at the conclusion of this competition.

Contest races for the Friday featured events are the 9th and 10th from Saratoga; the 8th and 9th at Gulfstream Park; and races 1,3,4,5,6 and 7 from Del Mar—10 races in all. Note that the Friday featured schedule begins (and ends) later than usual, owing to the fact that Del Mar is one of the few Friday tracks that doesn’t figure to be subject to very high temperatures…so plan accordingly. 

Without question, the highlight of the Saturday slate is the Spa & Surf Showdown (which also serves as the day’s HT Tour event), but there are several other featured offerings as well

There is no limit as to how high the purse could grow in this $350 buy-in test, but it won’t be any less than $30,000.

In deference to the Showdown, we’re giving the usual $30,000 Guaranteed cash game a week off. However, we are still hosting a Saturday “up-to-$20,000” Big Bucks Pick & Pray. Here, the purse is guaranteed to be at least $10,000. Entries—at $1,150 each—are limited to 20 (unless we get a late arrival or two from last-minute Saturday feeders…in which case the pot will exceed $20,000). Payouts go just to the top three finishers with the winner collecting 70 percent of the net pool, the runner up getting 20 percent, and the third-place finisher picking up the remaining 10 percent.

The other cash feature of the day is our $15 Jackpot Pick 4 tourney. The carryover pool is $697.  In our Pick 4 Jackpot games (always run as Pick & Prays), going four-for-four means you win or share the Jackpot. (You don’t have to be the only winner.) Meanwhile, 70% of the daily net pool gets paid out to players via the traditional $2.00 win/place scoring system. The other 30% goes to the Jackpot pool. Entries in these Jackpot Pick 4 tourneys are limited to three per person.

Saturday’s Pick 4 Jackpot races are the 9th, 10th and 11th from Saratoga; and the 4th at Del Mar.

On the qualifying front, Saturday is the second consecutive day in which you can compete fora spot in the Bally’s NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament. Saturday’s play-in will be contested in Live format with an entry fee of $59 and a winning ratio of 1-per-10. 

There will also be a Saturday qualifier to the brand new Exacta Extravaganza ($50,000 Guaranteed) here on September 11-12. This qualifier will be run in Live, Exacta Box format—just like the Exacta Extravaganza, itself. Winners of this $59, three-horse-box, 1-per-10 play-in, will earn $500 entries for the 11th and 12th when they’ll be making similar exacta box picks on the full cards from Kentucky Downs and Woodbine.

A Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier is the featured tourney on Saturday at HorsePlayers.

It’s a $179 Live-format play-in. At least one $10,000 BCBC entry is guaranteed, and the winning ratio is 1-per-65.

The 12 contest races for Saturday (for all features other than the Spa & Surf Showdown) are the 7th through 11th from Saratoga; the 8th and 9th at Woodbine; and the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th from Del Mar.

At the end of Sunday, we’ll be crowning our newest Spa & Surf Showdown champion. At the beginning of Sunday, we’ll have 12 featured tourneys to contemplate.

Sunday’s HT Tour event—and featured cash game—is our $20,000 Guaranteed, No Limit tourney. You can take part in this Live-format affair for $195.

The Sunday Big Bucks game is always operated in Live format. It’s an up-to-$20,000 tourney with $7,500 Guaranteed and an entry fee of $1,150. Entries are limited to 20, and payouts go just to the first three finishers.

Our other Sunday featured cash tourney is the $15 Pick 4 Jackpot tourney (always a Pick & Pray). The Jackpot amount will depend on how many took part in the Saturday Pick 4 Jackpot tourney—and whether anyone hit it. Check our website or our Twitter feed starting on Saturday night for updates.

Sunday’s guaranteed qualifier to The BIG One (Sept. 18-19) is a Live-format competition this week. It requires an entry fee of $395, and the winner gets a $500 bonus in addition to a spot in the field of no more than 57 for The BIG One—where there will be significant cash at stake plus 10 seats to the winners’ choice of the BCBC, NHC or Pegasus World Cup. Also note: the runner up in this Sunday’s qualifier gets a $395 consolation prize/refund. Entries for Sunday are capped at 27.

Sunday represents your second opportunity of the weekend to take part in a Del Mar Pacific Classic Betting Challenge qualifier. As on Friday, the entry fee will be $295, the winning ratio will be 1-per-20, and the grand prize is a $5,000 entry to the on-track/ contest on August 21.

There are $2,600 worth of entry fees at stake on Sunday in the Kentucky Downs King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge qualifier. The top prize will cover you for all three of the two-day contests that Kentucky Downs will be hosting during its 2021 meet. Projections call for $100,000 in cash plus 13 2022 NHC seats and three BCBC entries to be in the prize pool over the three contests. The Challenge will be contested at Xpressbet and TVG. Our Sunday live-format qualifier costs $204 to play, and one in every 15 will advance.

Another Sunday Live-format qualifier is that for the October 16th Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge. This one has an entry fee of $206 and a winning ratio of 1-per-20. Winners pick up a $3,500 entry to the always-popular game, which can be played either on-track or at Xpressbet.

On Thursday, September 16th Canterbury Park will host its Big 10 BCBC Handicapping Contest. You can win a $3,000 entry to it on Sunday for an entry fee of $177. Your chances of winning are 1-per-20 in this Live-format test. The Canterbury/Xpressbet final will offer cash, 10 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries and two 2022 NHC spots.

Unsurprisingly, the NHC First Chance/Last Chance tournament at Bally’s is on the Sunday schedule. We’ll have a $59, 1-per-10, Live-format qualifier, with the winner(s) earning $500 entries for August 26th out in Vegas on NHC Eve. And look for single-track, full-card Bally’s qualifiers on the Saratoga and Del Mar programs as well.

As was the case on Friday, the NHC and Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge share the spotlight at HorsePlayers on Sunday.

The NHC game is a “regular,” $165, 1-per-65 Live-format tourney. Two seats to the 2022 event are guaranteed. 

The BCBC qualifier is a Low Ratio Pick & Pray. It carries an entry fee of $500 and a winning ratio of 1-per-23. At least one $10,000 entry is certain to be won regardless of how many or how few sign up.

It’s another great weekend of summer racing on tap, and we hope that the Spa & Surf Showdown does its part to make Saturday and Sunday just that much more exciting.. Good luck to all!