(This was an April Fools joke.)
No one can fault the sport of horse racing or any other industry for trying new things from time to time. In life and in business, if you aren’t growing, you’re losing to the competition. Having said that, the new contest format announced this week on HorseTourneys may be a step too far, and as a contest player myself, I hope this experiment dies as quickly as it started…after I give it a try and lose a few bucks. I don’t hate the creativity. But I don’t love the idea.
For those of you who don’t read the HorseTourneys blog every day, allow LoneSpeed to bring you up to speed. Starting April 9th, daily Quick Early Bird feeders to all weekend NHC qualifiers will be contested under the new “All Mandatory Surprise” format. Until now, those contests required players to play six races in the Pick and Pray format in an attempt to win a seat in that day’s qualifier. In an All Mandatory Surprise contest, players have to pick 18 races, but only six races will count. Which six? Well, that’s the surprise. You don’t know which races will be used for scoring until the the last race in the contest is declared official.
“We thought about calling the new format ‘Pick and Pray and Then Pray Again’ because that’s essentially what you’re doing,” said McKay Smith, President of HorseTourneys. “The All Mandatory Surprise format gives players who missed that 14-1 winner in an Early Bird a chance to dodge the bullet, so to speak. We’ve talked about trying to go after lottery players for a while in hopes of drawing new money into the world of handicapping contests, and this gets us a bit closer. And we think it will be a lot of fun. Imagine missing that 14-1 winner that Dylan Donnelly and Doc Trezza both had, and then seeing that it didn’t count but your 8-5 winner does count.”
What is still unclear to me is how the six official scoring races will be chosen. Is it random? Will the races be chosen before the contest starts? What is clear is that HorseTourneys hopes this contest format will be a hit, and that they can start using it for more than just Quick Early Birds.
“I don’t think we’ll use this format for qualifiers to big events just yet,” said Smith. “It will likely stay an Early Bird format until we see how popular it is. From there, who knows? The goal would be to bring new players into the contest world and then keep them playing. So if this format does the trick, then yes, I would say you could see it expand to regular qualifiers.”
Contest veteran Garett Skiba is among those who aren’t excited about the new format. “It’s fucking stupid and it fucking sucks and anyone who plays these contests is a fucking moron.”
The takeout for All Mandatory Surprise feeders will be 19%.
We’ll be talking more about this format and how to play it the right way on an upcoming episode of The LoneSpeed Show, starring Justin Dew and Brent Schraff, later this month. Check your local listings.