05/01/2014 9:07AM

The Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge is the best way to enjoy the Breeders' Cup


It might be Kentucky Derby day, but for a lot of racing fans, it’s never too early to start thinking about the Breeders’ Cup. And if you’re a contest player, thinking about the Breeders’ Cup means thinking about the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The BCBC is the country’s foremost live-bankroll handicapping contest. Non-qualifiers pay a $10,000 buy-in to participate. The contest takes place over the two days of the Breeders’ Cup, to be held this year at Santa Anita on October 31 and November 1. Cash prizes in excess of $500,000 are expected this year and 15 seats to the National Handicapping Championships will be awarded. All competitors receive first class amenities for the Breeders’ Cup where they’ll get to experience two fantastic days of racing up close and personal.

There are two types of events at BCQualify.com. There are one-day qualifying events, where the buy-in is $165 and the contestants with the highest scores advance directly to the BCBC, and there are the two-stage events like the one this weekend on Sunday, May 4. For the two stage event, players finishing in the top 10% of the leaderboard of the stage one events (held on May 4, May 11 and May 18) advance to the finals, which are held on May 25. The top eight finishers in the finals (assuming full participation) will punch their tickets to the BCBC. Buy-in for the two-stage qualifying event is just $110, meaning you can qualify for the BCBC for just a fraction of the actual tournament buy-in. In 2013, two of the top three finishers qualified via BCQualify.com.

There are other advantages to the two-stage qualifying set-up. One excellent gauge of a contest player’s skill is his or her ability to finish in the top 10% of a contest. In reality, in a 200 person event, the difference between finishing in the Top 20 and finishing first is often just a bit of luck. And yet, to qualify in many contests, you have to finish in the top 2%. By allowing players in the top 10% to advance, the two-stage format rewards excellent play and consistency, and minimizes the role of luck to some degree.

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You can also qualify for the BCBC through live events. Here is an up-to-date list:

May 17th-18th  Santa Anita
June 14th   Churchill Downs
July 6th   Monmouth Park
July 11th-13th  Surfside, Del Mar, CA
July 13th   Arlington International
July 19th   South Point Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
July 26th-27th  Del Mar
August 16th-17th  William Hill Race & Sports Book,  Reno, NV
August 23rd-24th  Woodbine
September 10th  Kentucky Downs
September 13th-14th  Canterbury Park
Sept 26th-27th  Players Challenge, South Dakota
September 27th  Mohegan Sun, Uncasville, CT
October 4th-5th  Hawthorne Race Course
October 11th-12th  Laurel Park
October 19th   Keeneland

Come Sunday, another Derby will be in the books. But that’s no reason for a handicapper to feel let down. Sign up for Sunday’s contest at BCQualify and start preparing for your trip to the Breeders’ Cup.