For the second consecutive year, the Breeders’ Cup released the full ledger of bets from the 457 entries in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, a plethora of data that offers insight to the approach from a record group participating in the event.
Each participant begins with a buy-in of $10,000 – of which $7,500 remains for their bankroll and $2,500 goes to a prize pool, from which the top 15 finishers can win additional prize money and entries to the National Horseplayers’ Championship. More than $1.1 million in additional prize money was up for grabs, with just 3.2% of entries “in the money.” Participants walk away with the value of their bankroll, regardless.
The contest requires players to bet $600 on three of the five Breeders’ Cup races from Friday and $600 on seven of the nine Breeders’ Cup races from Saturday. A failure to miss a required race leads to a penalty which would impact potential prize money earnings. In total, players in the contest accounted for nearly $5.6 million in handle for the pools eligible for contest bets – win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and doubles – of which $3.2 million was bet on-track, or roughly 17% of the total on-track handle for the Breeders' Cup.
To read more about this year’s contest, check out this story on winner Brad Anderson from the Breeders’ Cup. His winning Classic play is below.
On top of Anderson's $145,000 bankroll, he won the $343,000 first prize. To download all of the plays, click HERE for a PDF that includes the full list.
“Without question, releasing the plays is a massive effort in transparency, but that transparency serves to inform the existing contest’s players, potential future contest players or really any interested party to understand the strategy of playing the contest,” says Peter Thomas Fornatale, host of the In The Money Players’ Podcast.
“It’s quite a substantial undertaking to dive into the data, but the fact it exists and gives us a chance to see where players scored big, where they just missed, or innovative ways to attack the puzzle of the Breeders’ Cup races offers a great learning opportunity where one had not existed prior to making the plays public.”
While the data, on its own, is interesting, one area for development could be a more malleable format available for download and greater study.
“The next level in this might be to get the detail in a format where we could easily study how much certain horses were played in the contest and to what degree.”
While the BCBC has served as an unofficial, season-ending live-money contest championship, the sustainable value of live money contests throughout the year is obvious.
“Live money contests are so incredibly different than mythical bet contests,” says Fornatale. “But the greatest benefit is, quite clearly, that live money betting into the pools directly sustains the operation of racing.”
TIF Executive Director Patrick Cummings will join Fornatale on his podcast this Monday, November 18 to discuss the BCBC plays, strategies and value of the data. To listen, visit their website HERE.