06/23/2016 1:00PM

Chance to qualify for $1M bonus in Santa Anita contest


Every once in a while in horse racing and life in general, someone comes up with an idea so good that others hear it and say, “Why didn’t we think of that sooner?” Such is the case with the new Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge million-dollar bonus at Santa Anita.

“It’s a game changer,” said live-bankroll veteran Kevin McFarland. “I think it’s exactly what we need to take contests to the next level.”

The premise is simple: Win a Santa Anita live-bankroll contest in 2016, and if you back that up with a BCBC victory, you receive a cool million bucks. Should that same player go on to win the National Handicapping Championship in January, he would receive an additional million. With the proliferation of live-bankroll contests around the country, this is an idea whose time has come. It’s no surprise that Santa Anita, long the standard bearer for innovation in live-bankroll contests, was the one to initiate it.

This weekend’s Santa Anita Gold Cup Challenge marks the next chance for players to participate. The buy-in is $4,500. Of that total, $1,500 will go to the prize pool, and the remaining $3,000 will act as a live-bankroll over the two days. There is only one contest track: Santa Anita. Win, place, show, exacta, and daily-double wagers are permitted. Players must play at least four races each day at a minimum of $250 per race and must bet their entire $3,000 bankroll over the two-day event. There are no maximums on wagering. Players can go all in whenever they wish.

Players were also able to win their way into the Gold Cup contest through the new DRF Tournaments platform. In addition to weekend qualifiers, DRF Tournaments ran weekday tournament feeders, potentially allowing someone a chance to win north of $1 million for an initial buy-in of only $25.

“Working with DRF has been great,” said Santa Anita vice president of marketing Nate Newby. “I think we’re going to get a whole new pool of players who are going to get introduced [to contests].”

Players will be coming in from all over the country for the event. Asked if he’d be attending, noted NHC Tour player and Florida resident Brett Wiener did his best Austin Powers/Dr. Evil imitation, presumably with his pinky in his mouth: “For one million dollars?” Wiener said. “That would be a yes.”

As for the prize pool of the contest itself, Santa Anita will pay out 100 percent of the entry fees in the form of BCBC seats, NHC seats, and cash. In addition, both the Day 1 leader and the player who turns over the most money throughout the contest will receive paid entries into the Santa Anita Autumn Handicapping Championship on Oct. 8-9, the final chance to qualify for the million-dollar bonus.

Based on 90 entries, there will be three BCBC seats, five NHC seats, and $85,000 in cash. But given the excitement about the bonus, it’s conceivable that the field size for this contest will exceed 100 players. In that case, additional money will be added to the purse as cash. The million-dollar bonus was announced on the eve of the Santa Anita Preakness Challenge, but this is the first contest where it has been promoted in the weeks leading up to the event.

Entries will be accepted until there are four races left on Saturday’s card. Players looking to sign up on the morning of the contest can do so by paying cash. Simply go to will call and say that you’ll be playing in the contest. Then you can head up to the Eddie Logan Suite and register. If you want to register in advance, call Newby at (626) 574-6391, or you can find him via the Santa Anita website.

To view the official rules, go to www.santaanita.com/events/gold-cup-betting-challenge.