11/19/2014 11:52AM

Jerardi: This BCBC team had brains but no 'Beauty'


So, what do you do if you have $26,000 midway through the Saturday portion of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge? My gambling partner Ray and I, playing with our cash and that of our partners, kept firing, trying to blow away the field. When we formed our plan, we had one horse we thought could win us the contest if we had enough money to bet when the race came up. By the time that race was run, we had enough money for that play and two more. We had been right three times. We needed to be right one more time.

I love real-money contests because they replicate the real game with the bonus of a big prize for the highest total. The BCBC is the Super Bowl, and who doesn’t want to be in the Super Bowl?

I don’t love the $2 win-place-show contests because they really have nothing to do with the game I play. But I have no issue with anybody who plays them because this game is always about what works for you.

This is the way we looked at the BCBC: We were putting up $2,500 for a shot to win $230,000.

According to Ken Kirchner, who administers the BCBC, half of this year’s 287-person field qualified online or through an ontrack live tournament. The other half put up $10,000. Everybody started with a $7,500 bankroll, with $2,500 going into the prize money to be distributed. The object was simple: Run up your total as high as possible. If you have the best total, you keep that and also get the first prize, this year a cool $230,000.

“The last two years the winner has qualified online for $110,” Kirchner said. “We have had somebody turn $110 into $300,000.”

There were 75 players in 2009, 95 in 2010, 115 in 2011, 138 in 2012, and 187 in 2013. You can bet win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta. You must bet $600 on at least five Friday races and $900 on at least five Saturday races. Your bets are limited only by the size of your bankroll.

“It grew 60 percent in the last year,” Kirchner said. “Clearly, from a horseplayer’s standpoint, it’s the go-to tournament right now. It’s the Breeders’ Cup, you’ve got two days of full fields with the best horses. The handicapping alone is a challenge, and then you add in the strategy of bankroll management in the contest.”

The winning total this year was $71,000. Last year, it was $125,000. It was $110,000 in 2012.

And how much did those 287 players bet on the Santa Anita races that were included in the contest? Nearly $4 million. So you can see why tracks are really starting to like hosting these real-money contests. The per capita was nearly $14,000. We beat the per capita by a lot. We did not beat the contest.

We hit the Marathon and the Distaff Friday, first with a $200 exacta and then a $500 exacta. I have no clue how we won the Distaff. I thought we lost the photo from the press box right above the finish line and then watching it on TV. We had a $70 trifecta on Saturday’s Filly and Mare Turf to run our total to $26,000. If we had stopped betting, we would have won $16,000 and missed the prize money.

We did not stop betting.

We loved Stonetastic in the Filly and Mare Sprint. We also loved the cold exacta of Stonetastic and Judy the Beauty. We were right about Judy the Beauty. If we had been right about both, our total would have been around $80,000.

We still had enough that, with the right bets and right opinions in the Turf and Mile, we could still take a run at first place. The bets were fine, the opinions were not.

When you play any contest, you can always look back and see what you should or could have done.

We got too caught up in our goal of getting to Stonetastic. We should have bet enough on the Filly and Mare Turf trifecta, which paid $182.80 for $1, to win the contest, if we were right. Even if we were wrong, we still would have had enough to play the Filly and Mare Sprint like we wanted to play it. Turned out we were right in the Filly and Mare Turf, but not right enough.

We did not have an opinion on the Classic, so we cashed in what we had left, learned a few lessons and started planning for Keeneland 2015.