07/21/2015 8:32AM

Fornatale: BCBC registration now open


Registration is now officially open for the 2015 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge. This will be the seventh edition of the live-bankroll event. The buy-in costs $10,000, with $2,500 going to the entry pool and the remaining $7,500 acting as a live bankroll for races held at the host track over the two days of the Breeders' Cup.

From its inception, the BCBC has provided an amazing opportunity for those who play contests. Not only do all of the entry fees get paid back to players but there is a significant amount added to the prize pool. "It's one of the great things about the BCBC," said tournament director Tim Schram. "There is incredible value for the horseplayer."

This year, in addition to an estimated $875,000 in cash, players will also compete for 15 seats to the National Handicapping Championship, as well as $35,000 in interests to horses campaigned by event sponsors West Point Thoroughbreds. All totaled, the expected prize pool will approach -- and might well exceed -- $1 million in cash and prizes for the first time.

Keeneland, the Breeders' Cup host site, will house the main contest room, an exclusive area on the third floor grandstand of the track that overlooks the paddock. The Breeders’ Cup and Keeneland will also comp additional tickets to the Championship weekend to each BCBC participant.  "This is important to keep in mind because that the event itself is practically sold out," Schram said. "This is a great way to enter the gates at Keeneland and receive great hospitality."

For the second year, the BCBC will also allow play from other locations. This year, the satellite locations will be Santa Anita, Del Mar, Bally's Casino in Las Vegas, Belmont Park, and Gulfstream Park.

Tim Schram expects these changes will fuel the growth of the event. "Now we've got three sites out west, where a high percentage of our players are located," he said. "Many of them have attended the last three Breeders' Cups at Santa Anita and will be easily able to attend the next two in Southern California, so maybe this year it might make sense to play from closer to home."

Competition for accommodations that weekend in Lexington is fierce, but this won't be as much of an issue for BCBC particpants -- at least not for those who sign up early. Schram has a certain amount of rooms blocked for contest players. "If you want one of my discounted block of rooms, sign up now," he advised.

A field of around 350 is expected, up from 287 last year. It's important to note how much the industry as a whole benefits from the BCBC. In addition to the marketing and additional exposure the contest provides, the pari-mutuel effect is palpable. In 2014, 17 percent -- $3,488,000 -- of the entire Santa Anita on-track handle was bet within the confines of the contest. "If you consider the bets our players made outside the contest and the money bet by their guests, that number climbs to over 20 percent for sure," Schram says.

One entertaining quirk of the BCBC is the program for the event that Schram himself produces every year. It's called Handicapping the Handicappers, and Schram provides a little one line assessment of each player competing in the event. The program has taken on a life of its own. "Now when some people qualify they tell me, 'Make sure I get a get a good quote this year,' " said Schram, "but what they don't realize is the more I get to know them, the more comfortable I feel ripping on them."

Last year's BCBC winner Robert Traynor qualified on BCQualify.com and went on to win $300,000. Second-place finisher Paul Weizer also qualified via BCQualify.com and he walked away with over $180,000. Both men have already signed up for the 2015 edition.

Registration is open now via www.breederscup.com/bcbc.  Players who have already qualified online at BCQualify.com or at any live event do not need to register since they are automatically registered and fully funded.  However, players who won a partial BCBC entry would need to fund any balance due at that same website above.

BCQualify.com will be running online qualifiers for the remainder of the year. For a current schedule of events, check out http://www.bcqualify.com/schedule.aspx.

Additionally, players may qualify for the BCBC out of one of the following tournaments:

Date      Tournament       Contact

July 25-26    Del Mar                Chris Bahr (858) 792-4294

Aug. 12-13             Saratoga Race Course    Don Nelson (718) 659-3532

Aug. 22       Laurel Park          Diana Harbaugh (301) 470-5432

Aug. 29-30             Woodbine           Sue Clark (888) 675-7223 x2513

Sept. 12               Kentucky Downs              Michele Vise (270) 586-7778 x262

Sept.12-13    Canterbury Park               Jeff Maday (952) 496-6437

Sept. 19              Gulfstream Park               Nancy Berry (954) 457-6284

Sept. 19               Mohegan Sun    Zach Montoya (860) 862-8543

Sept. 26-27   Laurel Park          McKay Smith (859) 340-1694

Oct. 2-3              Players Challenge            Kevin Geraghty (949) 421-5065

Oct.11     Keeneland Race Course                Jim Goodman (859) 288-4261


For further information, including complete BCBC rules, contact Tim Schram at (859) 422-2658.