08/08/2016 1:55PM

Battle of Saratoga has some tweaks


The Battle of Saratoga starts on Wednesday at Saratoga. There will be two separate contests this year -- one Wednesday, one Thursday. Both will be live-bankroll events with a buy-in of $1,000. Of that total, $600 will act as a bankroll and the remaining $400 will go to a prize pool, 100 percent of which will be paid back to players in the form of seats to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and  National Handicapping Championship as well as cash.

This is a new format for this tournament, which used to be a mythical-money event. Last year, real money was used, but the bankroll was fixed. The change represents the latest example of the trend toward live-bankroll formats over mythical-money ones.

On Wednesday, the contest tracks are Saratoga and Delaware. For Thursday, Saratoga and Gulfstream will be included. Permitted wagers are win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta.

Because of a New York State statute dictating that any contest held in the state must contain at least half New York races, the rules are slightly more complicated than the average live-bankroll contest.

Contestants must wager a minimum of $60 on 10 different races ($600 total). They may bet more races or more than $60 per race if they choose. They can also wager less than $60 in any race as long as they wager a minimum of $60 in 10 total races.

Here’s the tricky part. Per that statute, contestants must wager a minimum of $60 on at least five races at Saratoga. If a contestant wagers a minimum of $60 on more than five different Saratoga races, they may also bet on more races from a non-NYRA track. However, a contestant may not wager on more non-NYRA races than NYRA races.

For example, it is permitted to wager $60 on six separate Saratoga races, and then wager $60 on four Gulfstream races, plus any dollar amount on two additional Gulfstream races. It is not okay to wager $60 on six separate Saratoga races, and then wager $60 on four Gulfstream races and any dollar amount on three additional Gulfstream races.

To follow the Saratoga tournament, make sure to check in at live.drf.com and via the @DRFTournaments Twitter feed.

Anthony DiMartino More than 1 year ago
The tournament and tournament atmospheres are a fantastic growing part of our game. But changes need to be made to bring bigger attention to horse racing. I feel nighttime racing particularly in the major circuits. Belmont, Saratoga, Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita and Del Mar would be a tremendous asset to the entire sport.  Churchill Downs made the move to nighttime racing and it has been a successful business decision albeit without a national telecast on television. Even more important besides bringing nighttime racing is to have live national coverage of these nighttime races similar to the way the NFL has Monday, Thursday or Sunday Night Football. Weekend racing sustains itself but if a Wednesday Racenight could be added with a national broadcast from 2 or 3 tracks, it would allow rapid races staggered with 10 -15 minutes of downtime per race and if produced correctly would have the opportunity to draw attention to many younger sports fans. Along with this would include advertising to account wagering platforms and advertising to big days and promotions to draw people to come to live races. This is my best idea to broaden the sport of horse racing in an attempt to raise its popularity once again 
Jamaal More than 1 year ago
Your not alone who feels this way Steve, I have attended the Saratoga tournament every year since its inception and will not be attending this year because of the format change. Saratoga use to be my favorite tournament on the tour, but I have lost interest in this format and how watered down the prize pools have become due to live money. I admit that live money tournaments is not the tournament format that I feel that I have any chance winning, to me they favor high bankroll players who excel and better structure and have no issue going all in at any time.

The only thing I disagree with is the market will not drive format decisions, Tracks have been sold the idea that live money tournaments increases handle and churn. What players want is now irrelevant, disappointing to say the least. No sense debating the pro's and con's of each format because it falls on deaf ears, tracks have spoken and that is how thing will be going forward. People who agree who agree can not really comment because their hands are tied.
SteveDeCaspers More than 1 year ago
"The change represents the latest example of the trend toward live-bankroll formats over mythical-money ones."

With 2 separate tournaments, I think Saratoga missed a great opportunity to use both formats instead of make a complete change. One day could have been the new real money format, and one day could have been the old fixed $ wager format. 

I don't care for the "format extremism" I keep hearing in the contest world, which comes primarily from the high-stakes live bankroll guys. I hope that some tournament venue sees an opportunity to mix and match and runs with it. Heck, with insurance-based bonuses being in vogue, they could offer a $100,000 bonus to someone who won both days under different formats. Now that would be an accomplishment.

The market will ultimately drive format decisions, and if I'm the lone voice in favor of non-live bankroll tournaments, then I'll just fade away. However, I hope that the demands of some vocal high-profile players don't lead tournament directors to ignore other formats, or stop innovating on new formats. Otherwise, the growth in tournaments that has been so strong could begin to slow, or even decline.

I think handicapping tournament world and the golf-tournament world are so similar: and in golf, you don't see everything coalescing around one format. There are different types of courses, different weather conditions, different degrees of difficulty and (in a few cases), different scoring systems. Format diversity should be an area of strength for handicapping tournaments, not something that we are trying to get rid of. 

Perhaps Saratoga (or someone) could pull together the best of both worlds next year. 
rberto64 More than 1 year ago
They are a group of 40 to 50 guys that have unlimited bank role they are thinking of forget about the small guys this is getting to be a joke have two separate tourament let the rich guys have there tourament and the small guys there to so every body have a chance instead if taking care the rich
rberto64 More than 1 year ago
What a joke leave contest the way it was not broke don't fix people always coming up with stupid ideas