Breeders' Cup bettors' brouhaha

Something went rotten in Del Mar, say seasoned horseplayers

Gun Runner at the finishing line
  • Gun Runner at the finishing line
  • photo from breederscup.com

Just after the Del Mar Racetrack showed off its beauty to the sport’s largest worldwide horse-racing audience, a controversy has developed over one betting aspect of the Breeders’ Cup.

With over 400 bettors ponying up a $10,000 entry fee for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, with a $1 million purse, a group of 11 seasoned horseplayers have alleged irregularities.

The allegations, reported in the Daily Racing Form on November 9, contest that several players cooperated with each other when placing bets on multiple entries — a violation of tournament rules.

As reported by the Daily Racing Form’s Matt Hegarty, the cup has delayed issuing payments in the live-money handicapping tournament. Hegarty noted that the paper has severed its ties with the administrators of the bettors’ challenge and launched its own investigation into the organizers, the National Horseplayers Championship Tour.

According to Hegarty’s report, while it’s recognized that many players know each other and discuss strategies, specifically first-place winner Nisan Gabbay and ninth-place finisher Eric Moomey, along with player Kevin McFarland, were mentioned in the complaint. The investigation will look into when they placed their wagers and their tournament standings at the time those wagers were placed.

“This is a joke,” McFarland reportedly stated. “This is people who are sore losers.” Hegarty reports that Gabbay and McFarland co-own a company that manages their tournament play and shares their winnings. “I’ve known Gabbay since high school. I have my own mind and he has his,” stated McFarland.

In a published statement, Breeders’ Cup officials said that they and “the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club will take all actions necessary to ensure that the integrity [of the challenge] is not compromised.” A full investigation has been launched.

“The investigation could have enormous financial implications,” reports Hegarty. The winner of the challenge is eligible to win a $3 million bonus if he or she goes on to win the Horseplayers Championship.

Reportedly, Breeders’ Cup officials were very pleased with their first time at Del Mar. Enthusiasts, pointing to the perfect weather and beatified track, are saying there is no reason for the “Super Bowl of Horse Racing” to go anywhere else each November. The Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s Crosby Season runs until November 26.

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