11/03/2015 1:08PM

Fornatale: Numbers say Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge was a success

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The final numbers are in, and they once again demonstrate why the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is the fastest growing handicapping/betting contest in the world.

The 222 onsite participants wagered $3,063,495 in contest handle at Keeneland. That number represents 15% of the total ontrack handle, and when you factor in bets made outside the contest (including all multi-race bets), and bets made by guests of the contest players, that number soars even higher.

The total contest handle, including all satellite locations, was $4,223,434. That’s a significant increase over last year’s total contest handle of $4,001,000.

Total BCBC participation was up as well. There were 322 players this year versus 287 in 2014. That’s over 12% growth.Twelve of the top 15 finishers played from Keeneland, including eight of the top nine. Both the winner, Tommy Massis, and the second-place finisher, David Kramer, were playing from Keeneland’s prestigious Green Room.

Contest director Tim Schram was thrilled with how the contest – and the Breeders’ Cup in general – all played out. “The overall Breeders’ Cup event at Keeneland was a huge success,” he said. “The BCBC at Keeneland was also a huge success. I have received many emails and text messages from players at the venue and all of them have been very positive.”

It was another strong year of growth for the nascent simulcast program as well. The feedback from players at those sites has also been positive. “Even messages from players at the satellite locations mentioned that they were treated with first-class hospitality, and not one message has been negative,” said Schram. “Many thanks should go out to the satellite coordinators, Chris Bahr, Nate Newby, Nancy Berry and Donny Nelson. All of us associated with the BCBC go out of our way to do everything possible for the BCBC participants and their guests, and it continues to pay dividends.”

Schram sees a future where the BCBC continues to grow. “My expectation for next year’s BCBC is to generate a few ideas where we can make another large leap in growth while maintaining a premium experience for all the players and guests involved,” he said.

One potential new engine of growth could be television coverage. There was a camera crew on hand from Echo Productions, known for producing the World Series of Poker, shooting footage for a so-called “sizzle reel” designed to pique the interest of potential broadcast partners.

“I like to call the BCBC controlled chaos with a lot of interesting characters,” Schram said, “so there’s no reason we can’t be out for all to see.”