Who will join the ranks of Riley Drexler and Dan Wilde and become the third-ever winner of the Players Championship? We’ll find out on Saturday night.
A bit younger than its Tourney Triple series counterparts (January’s Flo-Cal Faceoff and August’s Spa & Surf Showdown), the third edition of the Players Championship will take place this Friday and Saturday and offer a guaranteed purse of $350,000.
Carrying a $2,000 entry fee, the Players Championship—operated in All Optional Live format—requires contestants to make 15 plays each day from among 30 eligible contest races. The four contest tracks each day will be Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Keeneland and Santa Anita—and there will be intensified excitement on Saturday with Aqueduct, Keeneland and Santa Anita playing host to the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes and the Santa Anita Derby, respectively.
If the racing, itself, doesn’t get you excited, then the prize money should. Last year, Chicago resident Drexler earned $161,212 for his victory, and the overall prize pool wound up totaling $451,780.
Even those numbers may seem small to David Wolff.
The New Jersey attorney, by virtue of his victory in last January’s Flo-Cal Faceoff, will earn a $1 million bonus if he can capture this weekend’s Players Championship. Should Wolff do that, and then go on to also win the Spa & Surf Showdown, he will receive another million-dollar bonus.
Actually, bonus opportunities abound for way more players than David Wolff.
Points are awarded to Top-100 finishers in each leg of the Tourney Triple series, and seats to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship, the NHC and The BIG One have been set aside for the top three points accumulators throughout the series.
Due to the Easter holiday, the two-day Players Championship takes place this year on Friday and Saturday (as was also the case in 2021). On both days, HorseTourneys will again offer its popular Players Championship live webcast (available on the HorseTourneys Youtube channel, broadcast times TBA). Emerald Downs track announcer Bill Downes and NHC Hall of Fame handicapper Chris Larmey will again provide live coverage and analysis of the last several races each day.
The 30 contest races that players will choose from on Friday are the 2nd through 10th on the opening day card from Keeneland, the 4th through 9th at Gulfstream; races 3 through 8 from Aqueduct and the full 9-race card at Santa Anita. The deadline to enter the Players Championship is approximately 1:32 pm ET (Post time for race 2 at Keeneland).
In addition to the Players Championship, six other featured-tourneys will be offered on Friday—two at HorsePlayers and four here at HorseTourneys.
The Players Championship is an HT Tour event…and so is Friday’s $15,000 Guaranteed, No Limit Pick & Pray. The entry fee is $190.
A week from Saturday, the Keeneland Grade One Gamble will be hosted on track and at Xpressbet. You can compete for a $3,500 entry to it on each day of the weekend, including Friday. The entry fee is $207, and the winning ratio is 1-per-20.
Qualifiers to the June 3 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge will also be offered on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. One of every 15 entrants, at $156 per entry, will garner a $2,000 entry to the fun battle in which winners “draft” their prize at the end of the day.
Friday is also the final day in which to qualify for Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby Challenge. The barrier to entry is $118, the winning ratio is 1-per-15, and one of every 15 competitors get a $1,500 entry to play the following day at either Santa Anita or Xpressbet.
On Friday at HorsePlayers, there will be opportunities to qualify for both the NHC and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
The NHC tourney is a $75 NHC qualifier that guarantees two spots for next March. The winning ratio is 1-per-143. There will also be quite a bit of 2023 NHC Tour points available for those who finish in the top 10 percent of the field. Remember—you must be a paid-up member of the 2023 NHC Tour in order to win this or any other NHC qualifier. If you’re not a member, you can become one quickly and easily for $50 at NTRA.com.
The BCBC game is a $500 Low Ratio Pick & Pray. One $10,000 berth is certain to be handed out, and the winning ratio is 1-per-23.
The Friday featured-tourney race schedule consists of 12 heats this week (rather than the usual 10). They are the 5th through 10th (including three stakes) from the opening day Keeneland slate; the 5th and 7th (a graded stakes) at Aqueduct; the 1st and 6th from Santa Anita; and 8th and 9th at Gulfstream.
Saturday is Day 2 of the Players Championship. It’s also a very big day of racing with it being Wood Memorial Day, Blue Grass Day and Santa Anita Derby Day. We’ll have seven featured tourneys to try and further supercharge the day. All seven are Pick & Prays.
Saturday’s HT Tour skirmish is a $20,000 Guaranteed Pick & Pray. The price to play is $350.
Another Saturday cash game Pick & Pray is our $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney. Entries are $1,150 each. The winner receives 70 percent of the net pool, the runner up gets 20 percent, and the third-place finisher picks up the remaining 10 percent. Entries are capped at 20, and if we reach that figure, the total purse will exceed $20,000.
On Saturday, we offer a qualifier to the April 22 Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge. One of every 15 contestants, at $79 per entry, will scoop up a paid-up $1,000 seat for the on-track-only tournament later this month in the Dallas area.
As mentioned earlier, there will again be qualifiers on Saturday for the April 15 Keeneland Grade One Gamble ($207 entry fee) and the June 3 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge ($156). The price points and winning ratios for each are the same as those in place for Friday.
Two more marquee games are on the Saturday board at HorsePlayers.
The NHC qualifying opportunity is a $165 Pick & Pray guaranteeing 2 seats. The winning ratio for this one is 1-in-65.
The same winning ratio applies to Saturday’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge Pick & Pray. An upfront stake of $179 is required as a prerequisite for participation.
The 30 available races for Day 2 of the Players Championship are the 5th through 11th from Aqueduct, the 5th through 11th at Keeneland; the full 12-race program at Santa Anita; and races 8 through 11 from Gulfstream.
The seven featured Pick & Prays at HorseTourneys and HorsePlayers will be decided on the following dozen contest races: the 5th, 6th, 8th and 9th (all graded stakes) from Keeneland; the 8th, 10th and 11th (including 2 graded stakes) at Aqueduct; and the 6th through 10th (including 3 stakes) from Santa Anita. Closing time is slated for approximately 2:50 pm ET.
Sunday is Easter Sunday—which means a lot of tracks are closed. We, on the other hand, are open for business…with eight games (including two brand new ones) in our featured-tourney basket.
Part of our Easter Sunday buffet is a $20,000 Guaranteed, No Limit Pick & Pray. You can fill your plate with 12 selections in this one for $250.
Sunday’s Big Bucks tourney is the only Live-format game of the weekend. It’s an up-to-$20,000 affair with a purse guarantee of $7,000. Entries cost $1,150. Payouts go strictly to the top three finishers on a 70/20/10 basis.
Your Easter NHC qualifier is here at HorseTourneys. It’s a $165 “two seater” with a winning ratio of 1-per-65.
We mentioned above that there are two new games on our slate this day. One is a qualifier to the Kentucky Derby Challenge on May 6. That main event can be played either at Santa Anita or Xpressbet. You can win your $3,000 entry to it on Sunday in a $177, 1-per-20 Pick & Pray.
A week prior to Derby Day, Golden Gate Fields/Xpressbet will host the Golden Gate Gold Rush Challenge. On April 29, the entry fee will be $1,000, but you can earn a spot for $118 if you prosper in Sunday’s $118, 1-per-15 Pick & Pray.
And, for the third straight day, we’ll have direct qualifiers to the Keeneland Grade One Gamble and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge.
The lone Sunday feature at HorsePlayers is pegged to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.
It’s a $500, Low-Ratio Pick & Pray. The winning ratio is 1-per-23; and at least one $10,000 seat is guaranteed to be won regardless of participation count.
Good luck to all of our Players Championship participants…and we hope you spot something good during your last weekend of “scouting” for your Derby horse.
On behalf of everyone at HorseTourneys, we wish you and your family a Happy Easter.