By Noel Michaels

The Breeders’ Cup is almost here, and for tournament players one of the annual highlights of Breeders’ Cup weekend is the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge [BCBC].  While Breeders’ Cup championship racing is being conducted on the racetrack at Churchill Downs on Friday and Saturday, November 2-3, another kind of championship contested at the betting windows will also be on the line. Just like in the races at the Breeders’ Cup, a large purse will be at stake in the handicapping tournament, as well.

Now in its 10th year, the BCBC is a two-day live-money handicapping tournament expected to offer a purse in excess of $1 million based on a field of 400 or more entries. Players can buy-in for $10,000, and many have earned qualifying berths worth that much through an extensive feeder program of tournaments throughout the year. Players begin with a $7,500 real-money bankroll, with the remaining $2,500 of the entry fee going to the cash purse fund.

This year’s Breeders’ Cup wagering menu features several new bets and the BCBC features some important new rules, so pay close attention to the rules and the “Players’ Advisory” from the Breeders’ Cup attached to the bottom of this blog if you’re planning to play.

The top 15 finishers will earn prize money from roughly $300,000 down to $10,000, and the top 15 finishers will also earn qualifying seats into the upcoming 2019 National Horseplayers Championship [NHC].

BCBC Purse Structure (based on 400 entries)

1st Place – $300,000 6th Place – $50,000 11th Place – $20,000
2nd Place – $200,000 7th Place – $40,000 12th Place – $17,500
3rd Place – $110,000 8th Place – $35,000 13th Place – $15,000
4th Place – $75,000 9th Place – $30,000 14th Place – $12,500
5th Place – $60,000 10th Place – $25,000 15th Place – $10,000

In the nine-year history of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, the tournament has grown to more than four times the field of 100 players it attracted in its first year. It has become the preeminent live-money handicapping contest in existence – second only to the NHC in terms of prize money and prestige.

The real fun of participating in the BCBC tournament is the opportunity to play on-track at the live Breeders’ Cup venue and enjoy all the perks associated with it including admission and prime hospitality in a dedicated contest area. However, if you’re unable to make it to Churchill Downs for the Breeders’ Cup, players can also enter and participate at several satellite locations including Gulfstream Park, Monmouth, Santa Anita, and online at and

BCBC Field is a Who’s Who of Handicapping Champions

Approximately 200 players competing in the BCBC will have qualified for their entries into the tournament based on wins or high finishes in feeder qualifying contests, which were held at racetracks like Monmouth Park, Del Mar, Laurel, Belmont, Hawthorne, Churchill Downs, Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Keeneland, and Woodbine, and at the Mohegan Sun Race Book, as well as nline qualifying contests held at throughout the year.

Those already confirmed in the field for the 2018 BCBC include reigning NHC champion and Eclipse Award-winner as Horseplayer of the Year, Chris Littlemore, who is eligible for a $3 million bonus if he can win the BCBC. Other NHC winners or NHC Tour winners in the field will include 2017 NHC champion Ray Arsenault (buy-in), 2013 NHC champion Jim Benes (qualified at Hawthorne), NHC Hall-of-Famer and 2011 NHC Tour champion Paul Shurman (qualified at NHC Tour), and 2015 NHC Tour champion Jonathon Kinchen (qualified at Del Mar).

The field for the BCBC as always will feature a who’s who of top names in the handicapping tournament world, and many of those players had earned multiple BCBC qualifying berths in qualifying tournaments during the year including Thomas Albinanti, Christian Hellmers, Joe Johnson, Kenneth Jordan, Tom Maloof, Frank McGoey, Stephen McNatton, Jim Meeks, Jim Metzger, Eric Moomey, Gregory Newell, Steven Pereira, Robert Rosette, Garett Skiba, Stephen Thompson, Anthony Trezza, Evan Trommer, Rick Vasquez, Lorne Weiss, Brett Wiener, and Tim Yohler.

Other notable qualifiers for the 2018 BCBC are led by NBC hockey and horse racing commentator Eddie Olczyk, who earned his BCBC berth with a victory in the 2018 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship on January 27 while undergoing chemotherapy for colon cancer. As the Pegasus World Cup winner, Olczyk, a former BCBC top 40 finisher, is eligible for a $1 million bonus if he goes on to win the 2018 BCBC.  When talking about the BCBC, you also have to mention that perhaps most successful player in the history of the event is qualified again in 2018. That player is two-time former champion Patrick McGoey of New Orleans. McGoey won the BCBC back-to-back in 2011 and 2012 – the latter year taking home $255,000 including the $170,000 first prize plus his winning bankroll of $85,000. McGoey, Hellmers and  Benes also will take down a million dollar bonus if they can win the BCBC.

How much money will it take to win the BCBC in 2018?  That target score to shoot for is always anyone’s guess because it fluctuates so dramatically from one year to the next. Last year’s final winning score of $176,000 posted by Nisan Gabbay, 40, from San Francisco, far outdid the final scores of other recent winners of the BCBC.

Recent BCBC Winners and Their Final Scores

Year    BCBC Winner             Score

2017    Nisan Gabbay             $176,000

2016    Joe Appelbaum           $64,000

2015    Tommy Massis            $90,682

2014    Robert Traynor            $71,000

2013    Peter Behr                   $124,115

2012    Patrick McGoey          $85,000

As mentioned, Patrick McGoey‘s bankroll reached $85,000 in 2012, and that total was in the same ballpark as Robert Traynor, of Oceanside, Calif, who won with $71,000 in 2014, and Tommy Massis, who won with a $90,682 total in 2015.  The 2013 BCBC was won by Peter Behr of London, Ontario, who scored a very high $124,115, while in 2016, Joe Appelbaum‘s final total of $64,000 – all earned on his final wager of the tournament – was low by comparison but still enough to earn him the victory and the big winner’s share of the prize money.

I hope you’ll be in the field for the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. It’s truly one of the richest and most exciting events in all of horse racing and I wish everyone the best of luck who is going for their share of the estimated $1 million in prize money that will be up for grabs to the top finishers. Most of all, I wish you all an enjoyable, successful, and lucky 2018 Breeders’ Cup weekend. The best is yet to come!


Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge

Players’ Advisory

Dear Valued BCBC Participant,

We are looking forward to your participation in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (the “BCBC”).  In anticipation of the event, we strongly encourage you to review the 2018 BCBC Rules as these Rules have recently been revised.  Most notably, we want to bring attention to the new minimum wager requirements which include:

  1. A minimum of $600 must be wagered per race on a minimum of three (3) of the five (5) Breeders’ Cup Championship races occurring on Friday, November 2, 2018.
  2. A minimum of $600 must be wagered per race on a minimum of seven (7) of the nine (9) Breeders’ Cup Championship races occurring on Saturday, November 3, 2018.
  3. If a player fails to wager a minimum of $7,500 on any races (undercard and Breeders’ Cup Championship races) over the two days of Breeders’ Cup World Championships, the player will be disqualified.

If a player makes all but one (1) of the required minimum $600 wagers over the entire two days (three (3) of the five (5) Friday Breeder’ Cup Championship races and seven (7) of the nine (9) Saturday Breeders’ Cup Championship races), Ten Thousand (10,000) points will be deducted from the player’s total score.  If a player fails to make two (2) or more of the required minimum $600 wagers over the entire two days (three (3) of the five (5) Friday Breeder’ Cup Championship races and seven (7) of the nine (9) Saturday Breeders’ Cup Championship races), the player will be disqualified from the BCBC but permitted to keep the player’s remaining Bankroll.

We recently received a few questions from horseplayers regarding the BCBC rules.  In response, we are issuing the following statement with respect to (i) collusion and (ii) the determination of minimum wagers using daily doubles.

  1. Collusion.

Collusion among players shall be grounds for immediate disqualification and forfeiture of all entry fees and tournament prizes.  Collusion is often defined as “an agreement or cooperation especially for an illegal or deceitful purpose”

For the purpose of tournament play, the BCBC Compliance Officer shall have full and final authority as to the occurrence of collusion among players.  Examples of collusion are, but are not limited to, the following circumstances:

  • “Dutching” of multiple entries in different names to gain an unfair bankroll advantage. In other words, the collusion among two or more players to cover many or all combinations in a particular race.
  • The use of multiple entries in different names to wager all or a substantial portion of players’ bankrolls in an effort to pool interests to have an unfair bankroll advantage. For example, six entries among three players go “all in” on a particular race on separate horses, and one entry remains with a balance.
  • Any blatant strategy among two or more players to combine entries that results in an unfair advantage. For example, when examining wagering patterns, it is determined that two or more players coordinated their wagering choices on multiple races.
  1. Daily Doubles.

In order for a daily double wager to be included as part of a calculation to reach a daily minimum wager requirement, the first leg of that daily double must be a Breeders’ Cup World Championship (“BCWC”) race and the entire wager amount will be applied to the first leg of the daily double (nothing will be applied to the second leg) for purposes of wagering minimums.

For example, if a player wagers a $600 daily double on the 4th race on Friday (the 4th race is not a BCWC race but the 5th race is a BCWC race), no amount of this wager will be used in order to reach the $600 per race daily minimums (the $600 would apply towards the overall $7,500 requirement).  However, if a player wagers a $600 daily double on the 9th race on Friday (the 9th race is a BCWC race but the 10th race is not a BCWC race), the $600 amount of this wager would be used towards satisfying the $600 minimum wager for the 9th race.   If a player wagers a $600 daily double on the 8th race on Friday (the 8th and 9th races are both BCWC races), the $600 amount of this wager would be used towards satisfying the $600 minimum wager for the 8th race (no amount would apply towards the 9th race).

Additionally, when placing any daily double wager, a player’s bankroll will decrease at the time that the wager is made but the scoreboard will not display a difference until the wagering results are final after the second leg of that daily double.

Thank you again for your participation in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Best regards,

Breeders’ Cup Limited