12/08/2017 5:30PM

Two players disqualified for collusion in BCBC


Breeders’ Cup has disqualified the entries of two of the participants in the live-money handicapping tournament the organization held in conjunction with its two-day event in November, including that of the ninth-place finisher, according to a statement released by Breeders’ Cup on Friday.

The entries of the two participants, Eric Moomey and Roger Ball, were disqualified following an investigation triggered by complaints from a number of other players that the two colluded on entries in the tournament, which required a $10,000 buy-in for each entry. Moomey and Ball both had two entries in the tournament, with one of Moomey’s entries finishing with a total of $53,377, good for ninth place.

Due to the disqualification of the Moomey entry, the players who finished 10th through 19th will each have their entries moved up one spot, with the purse redistributed for those finishers.

In a statement, Breeders’ Cup said the investigation had determined that Moomey and Ball colluded on the entries by using the four entries to cover every horse in the Juvenile Fillies Turf on Friday and every horse but one in the Juvenile Turf later on the card. Ball’s two entries and one of Moomey’s went bust after the Juvenile Turf, according to tournament records.

“Combining four separate entries to create a larger bankroll to permit wagering on more horses in a single race is an unfair advantage over other participants playing one or two entries,” Breeders’ Cup said in a statement.

In an interview on Friday, Moomey denied colluding with Ball, but he also outlined gray areas in contest play, citing the number of longtime friends or partners who discuss their strategies during the tournament.

“Obviously, it’s not a very fun experience to be accused of cheating and then getting DQed,” Moomey said. “It’s unfortunate, and I think there’s a sense out there that there is a larger concern about how people play, whether that’s reality or perception.”

A number of participants in the tournament and other veterans of handicapping contests raised concerns about possible collusion even before the contest had concluded on Nov. 4. Five days after the event, a group of the concerned players sent a formal statement protesting the outcome, and Breeders’ Cup quickly responded that it would conduct an investigation.

Although the statement also raised concerns about the strategy employed by the winner, Nisan Gabbay, and his longtime playing partner, Kevin McFarland, Breeders’ Cup said that “there is insufficient evidence to support a finding that a violation of the rules has occurred” in how the pair played. Both Gabbay and McFarland had one entry each, and Gabbay did not begin wagering until late on the Saturday card, after McFarland had very nearly tapped out.

Gabbay and McFarland co-own a limited liability company to manage their tournament play.

“Mr. Gabbay and Mr. McFarland stated unequivocally that they do not collaborate on winning strategy even though they share tournament winnings,” the statement said. “The BCBC official rules do not prohibit the sharing of winnings and the investigation concluded that such sharing does not violate the rules in effect.”

Players also had raised concerns about a rule change that was put in place for last year’s tournament that allowed players to be assessed penalties if they failed to play the minimums on each day of the tournament. Gabbay, especially, took advantage of those rules by limiting his plays to the last three races on Saturday, with the penalties being assessed against his final score.

The statement said that Gabbay’s strategy “does not warrant the disqualification” of his entry, but the statement went on to say that the organization is reviewing its official rules “to encourage wagering throughout the two days of racing while mitigating penalties for those players that unintentionally failed to meet the minimum wagering requirements.”

In addition, Breeders’ Cup said it has formed a wagering committee made up of members of its organization and four horseplayers, including one who signed the formal complaint. The committee is expected to “review the operation of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge as well as the rules governing play.”