01/06/2017 1:32PM

Two-stage qualifiers back for BCBC

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Sunday sees the return of the two-stage qualifying format for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge to DRF Tournaments. This month there will be a little bit of a twist. The first contest, this Sunday, requires a $100 buy-in and the top 10 percent will advance, as in the past.

On Saturday, Jan. 14, the round one contest has a $200 entry fee but the top 20 percent will advance to round two. Then on Jan. 21, there will be a $100 round one using the all-in format, and a live $200 round one. Round two will take place on Sunday, Jan. 22, where up to eight full $10,000 BCBC seats will be on offer.

These are among the best opportunities for contest players for multiple reasons.

For many players, the best aspect of the two-stage qualifiers is that you don’t have to have a miracle day where everything hits and beat out 59 other players in order to get a spot. You simply have to beat out nine other players to advance to a second round, where once again you’ll have to finish in (approximately) the top 10 percent to advance.

Looking at raw numbers, it might not be immediately apparent how much better of a situation this is for many players. But the fact is that many devoted players are more comfortable making selections in the lower- and middle-odds ranges. Other players love playing cap-type horses, and one-day formats are great for them. But if you’re the type to focus lower on the odds spectrum, the two-stage format offers you a chance to have two good days and make your goal. It’s an achievable way for a player to essentially win $10,000.

That last part bears going over. In one sense the dynamic is similar to the National Handicapping Championship qualifiers: When you win a BCBC seat you are winning an entry to a major contest. But unlike the National Handicapping Championship, you immediately have $7,500 in equity when you win a BCBC seat  -- the cash bankroll portion of your entry which can be cashed out at any time; $2,500 goes to the prize pool.

The other great thing for a tourney player focused on the BCBC is that the amount you can win is not limited. While it’s true that you’re only allowed to play two entries – as this year’s winner Joe Appelbaum did masterfully – there is no cap on the number of seats you can win. With the NHC, you can win your two seats and from there you’re looking at extracting money from the tour (doable, but a lot less straightforward).

NHC tour champion Cheryl McIntyre won four entries for this year’s BCBC. She transferred (she could have sold) two of them and played the other two. She took her shots at the Breeders’ Cup – an event any horseplayer is betting anyway – and ended up cashing those two entries for just under $13,000. Another important difference between the BCBC and NHC: At the end of the NHC, even if you don’t end up in the prize pool, you can walk away with cold, hard cash.

This is a really interesting business model for a horseplayer to consider. Play in BCBC feeders for as little as $11 or $21, do well in round one, have another day in round two, collect $10,000. Rinse, wash, repeat.

You can sign up for Sunday’s contest now at tournaments.drf.com.