It’s Closing Weekend at both Saratoga and Del Mar, so Handicapping Figures to be a Labor of Love During Extended, Four-Day Holiday Stretch

Parting is such sweet sorrow, especially where Saratoga and Del Mar are concerned. We’ll try to keep the accent on the sweet—and not so much on the sorrowful—during a Labor Day Weekend that offers a rare HT Tour event on a Monday plus daily qualifiers to The BIG One and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Of course, there will be plenty of big-money cash tourneys and qualifiers to the NHC and Keeneland as well. The weekend fun (four days’ worth this week) gets started, as usual, on Friday. Included in the Friday mix is a special Last Chance qualifier.

It’s “Last Call” for Kentucky Downs on Friday. You can earn $2,600 worth of entry fees in Friday’s Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge qualifier. The grand 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 awarded over the course of the three contests. The Challenge will be hosted at Xpressbet and TVG. Our Friday Pick & Pray requires $204 to play, and one in every 15 will have six days of exciting September contest action beginning this Sunday.

Another, new-to-Friday, qualifier on the slate is a qualifier to the Exacta Extravaganza, a $50,000 Guaranteed event, 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 Extravaganza…where they will again be making exacta box picks on the full cards from Kentucky Downs and Woodbine each day.

One thing you can count on throughout the Labor Day weekend is a guaranteed qualifier each day to The BIG One. We call it the “High Expectation Tourney” and here’s why. The field for the two-day event will number no more than 57 (and no one is allowed to play more than one entry). Up for grabs among those 57 will be a cash-prize pool that currently sits at $114,000 and should continue to grow between now and September 18…plus 10 seats to top onsite tournaments around the country.

If you finish in the Top 10, you get a choice of a seat to the 2022 NHC, the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge or the 2022 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. (The only “catch” is that in order for us to be able to award NHC Tour points in The BIG One, which we will be doing, at least two of the 10 seats awarded have to be NHC seats, according to NHC Tour rules. So if no one in the top eight select NHC berths, those will automatically be assigned to the 9th- and 10th-place finishers.)

The BIG One is a two-day, mythical bankroll ($2.00 win and place plays), All Optional Live tourney with contestants each day making 12 plays from 30 eligible contest races. (Contest tracks/races will be determined during the week of the event.)

Also, the winner of every qualifier to The BIG One gets a $500 cash bonus to go along with the seat (even if it’s a short field), and the runner up gets a $395 consolations prize/refund. So there are plenty of reasons to give it a whirl.

We also have several qualifiers this weekend to the October 16th Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge. Friday’s has an entry fee of $206 and a winning ratio of 1-per-20. Winners earn a $3,500 entry to the Central Kentucky tournament, which can be played either on-track or at Xpressbet.

As far as cash games go, there’s Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed No-Limit Pick & Pray. The entry fee here is $190. As a Friday/Saturday/Sunday (and this holiday weekend…Monday) featured cash tourney, this one is also an HT Tour event.

As per usual, the NHC and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge are the targets on Friday at HorsePlayers. 

Friday’s $75 NHC Pick & Pray offers two guaranteed spots 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 feature 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 awarded.

Contest races for the Friday featured events are the 7th through 10th from Saratoga; the first three at Del Mar; and races 6, 8,and 9 from Gulfstream—10 races in all.

A bevy of stakes action at Saratoga and Del Mar serve as the sizzle for the Saturday featured tourneys—which even without the stakes, always offer plenty of steak.

Your second chance of the weekend to nail down a spot in The BIG One comes on Saturday. Once again, it’s a $395 Pick & Pray with one berth fully guaranteed regardless of participation.

The richest tourney of the weekend is Saturday’s $30,000 Guaranteed No Limit game, which goes this week as a Live-format test. The  is no limit as to how high the purse could go in this $350 buy-in competition, which is also an HT Tour event.

A very nice grand prize will also be on the line in Saturday’s “up-to-$20,000” Big Bucks Pick & Pray. Here, the purse guarantee is $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.

If you’re still riding the high from participating in last weekend’s NHC…or you’re still ticked off that you didn’t—you can try to qualify for the 2022 renewal (just five months away) right here at HorseTourneys on Saturday. It’s a $165 Live-format play-in with two spots to January’s event guaranteed.

There will also be a Saturday qualifier to next weekend’s new Exacta Extravaganza, the $50,000 Guaranteed weekend tilt here on September 11-12. A $59 entry fee in this $59, three-horse-box, 1-per-10 play-in, will buy you a chance at a $500 entry for the Extravaganza.

Of course, we’ll also offer $15 Jackpot Pick 4 tourneys on Saturday and Sunday. 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 10th and 11th at Saratoga and the 7th and 8th from Del Mar.

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 are the 2nd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th and 9th (including two stakes) from Del Mar; the 9th through 12th at Saratoga (including the Flower Bowl and the Jockey Club Gold Cup—two Belmont staples being run upstate for the first time this year) and the 9th and 10th from Woodbine. Closing time should be at about 5:00 pm ET.

Nine featured tourneys are on tap for Sunday, including a pair of higher-end qualifiers.

One of them is our guaranteed play-in to the Sept. 18-19 The BIG One. Same buy-in for this one—$395—but note that the format this time will be Live.

For an entry fee of $384, you can shoot for a $6,000 entry to January’s Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship. The winning ratio is 1-per-20 and the format is Live.

Xpressbet will be offering the Santa Anita Opening Weekend Challenge on Saturday, October 2nd. Buy-ins will cost you $1,500 that day, but on Sunday you could pick up a $1,500 spot for $118 in this 1-per-15, Live-format qualifier.

Keeneland is back on the featured board on Sunday with a Live-format play-in to its Keeneland Fall BCBC/NHC Challenge. This one has an entry fee of $206 and a winning ratio of 1-per-20. Winners grab a $3,500 entry to the October 16th tournament, which can be played on-track or at Xpressbet.

The Canterbury Big 10 BCBC Handicapping Contest (Thursday, September 16th) is right around the corner. An entry fee of $177 could get you a $3,000 seat in this 1-per-20, Live-format affair. The Canterbury/Xpressbet final will offer cash, 10 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries and two 2022 NHC seats.

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

The Sunday Big Bucks game is always operated in Live format. It’s an up-to-$20,000 game with $7,500 Guaranteed and an entry fee of $1,150. Entries are limited to 20, and payouts go strictly 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 went 4-for-4. Check our website or our Twitter feed starting on Saturday night for updates.

The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge again has the stage to itself at HorsePlayers on Sunday.

It’s a Live-format, Low Ratio qualifier, carrying an entry fee of $500 and a winning ratio of 1-per-23. At least one $10,000 entry is guaranteed to be won.

With just one exception, all of the featured tourneys on Labor Day will be Pick & Prays, so you can spend more time behind the barbecue grill…or the stirring wheel…as the case may be. 

That one exception is our Exacta Extravaganza qualifier, which—like the Extravaganza, itself—will be contested in Live, Exacta Box mode. A payment of $59 in this 1-per-10 game will have you making three-horse exacta box picks in each featured-tourney race. Winners get a $500 entry for next weekend’s $50,000 Guaranteed tournament right here at HorseTourneys.

In Pick & Pray format will be our Monday qualifiers to The BIG One (1 spot guaranteed), Keeneland and Canterbury.

Our Labor Day featured cash game is a very good one—a $25,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray with an entry fee of $260. Note that (despite the day of the week) this is, indeed, an HT Tour event—so valuable points can be earned towards a year-end bonus if you finish in the Top 10.

Not only is HorsePlayers in on the Labor Day fun, they have double-barreled action this day.

For NHC aficionados, there’s a $100 Pick & Pray qualifier. Two seats are guaranteed and the winning ratio is 1-per-100.

There’s also a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier—a Low Ratio Pick & Pray with a price of admission of $500 and a winning ratio of 1-per-23. At least one $10,000 entry is guaranteed.

Good luck with your final days of Saratoga and Del Mar for 2021—and have a fun and safe weekend with family and friends.