When the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge first came to be a thing, I never dreamed I’d take part. The $10,000 entry fee just seemed too steep for me. So I watched from afar and wallowed in my jealousy as elite bettors and tournament players had all the fun. But then in 2016 I decided to actually read the rules, and decided then and there I would take part every year. Because it’s not a $10,000 entry fee. It’s a $2,500 entry fee.
For those of you who aren’t familiar, a brief recap off the rules. You pay $10,000 to enter (or win your way in for less), and $7,500 is given back to you to wager with over the course of Friday and Saturday. The rules on betting requirements have changed for 2018, but in a nutshell you need to make at least three bets of at least $600 on BC races on Friday, at least seven bets of at least $600 on BC races on Saturday, and a total of at least $7,500 in wagers over the course of the two days on all races at Churchill Downs ending with the Classic. See the rules for penalties, but just don’t miss any races. It’s stupid and can result in you being DQ’d. Allowed wagers are win, place, show, exacta, trifecta, and double. Nothing else is allowed.
Prizes go to the top 15 finishers in the form of cash and NHC seats. With 400 entires, the cash pool will be $1,000,000. So you are in essence paying $2,500 for a shot at a big cash prize and a trip to the NHC, and trying to turn your $7,500 into a large pile of cash (which you keep). Last year, I walked away with a check from Del Mar in the amount of $25,007. Here’s how it happened:
Friday was frustrating for me. I had win bets on both September and Untamed Domain. Both had troubled trips, both were best, and both lost. So my plan to make a huge bet on Forever Unbridled in the Distaff was mistakenly altered because I was gutless and didn’t want to enter Saturday with a small bankroll. When Forever Unbridled won, I ended Day 1 at around $5,300, down from the original $7,500. But since I love to tell bad beat stories, if September breaks well and if Untamed Domain doesn’t dip his hooves in Solana Beach rounding the turn for home, by bankroll is way higher and I make a larger bet on Forever Unbridled and end the day with at least $10,000. But with $5,300, I was still able to make a move.
Then Saturday came. I’ll spare you a bet-by-bet breakdown, but here are the horses I hit:
-Caledonia Road (had the tri for $1. No win money though. More gutlessness.)
-Good Magic ($500 win and place. And a $100 double to….Talismanic in the Turf)
-Talismanic (No win money because of the live double to Good Magic, but I had the exacta for $100.)
After the Turf, my bankroll was up to $29,407. I then bet $4,400 on the Classic, keying on West Cost. So I lost and ended the day with $25,007. Good for 28th place which became 27th place after the DQ of one of the competitors. I didn’t win a prize, and I didn’t care. It was an amazing day of handicapping. And had I not been gutless, I would have finished much higher.
$10,000 is a lot of money. But other than the Pegasus contest at Gulfstream Park which has an effective entry fee of $0, the BCBC is the event of the year and well worth the investment. Look at it as an investment in yourself. Do it. Stop saying “maybe someday” and sign up. Or win your way in on Horseplayers. Trust me. It’s friggen fun. Just don’t be gutless like I was.