Collecting more than $120,000 in the final race of the tournament and taking down the largest winning total in event history, Kentucky native Sean Boarman has been declared the official winner of the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. The announcement was made upon completion of a full audit, in accordance with BCBC rules and regulations.
The 15th annual BCBC, Thoroughbred racing’s biggest live-money tournament, drew a record 571 entries as top horseplayers wagered Nov. 3-4 on the 40th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.
The tournament players generated an all-time contest-record wagering handle of $7,759,434. Over $4.6 million of that total was wagered at Santa Anita Park, representing more than 23.6 percent of the total on-track handle.
In the 2023 BCBC, each player was required to fund a $2,500 buy-in and a $7,500 betting bankroll. All buy-in monies were applied to the prize pool, making the total prize pool $1,427,500. Players made real wagers (win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and daily double) with their $7,500 bankroll and kept all monies earned from their wagering.
Boarman, 43, finished with a total score of 231,238 points. Combined with his first-place prize of $411,125, he earned a grand total of $642,363, the highest total any player has achieved in BCBC history. Kevan Strom of Niskayuna, N.Y. finished second, with 215,453 points, and with his $274,075 prize money added, he amassed a total of $489,528. Mike Mulvihill of Palatine, Ill. finished third with 173,160 points. Combined with prize money of $148,450, he earned a grand total of $321,610.
In addition to those playing at Santa Anita, players competed from satellite locations at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., and Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J. Players also participated online over approved advance deposit wagering sites in the U.S. and Canada.
Boarman, born and raised in Lexington, became interested in horse racing more than 20 years ago while a student at the University of Kentucky. He still lives in Lexington with his wife and two children.
“Winning the BCBC is obviously a huge financial windfall, but it means much more than that to me,” said Boarman. “I was very confident going into the contest that I had a good strategy mapped out and to see that come to fruition against the best of the best in the BCBC is very gratifying.”
Boarman’s strategy centered around putting himself into position to make a large wager on White Abarrio in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He achieved that when he landed a $6,500 daily double wager on Inspiral capturing the Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf with Goodnight Olive taking the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. That wager yielded approximately $36,000. Three races later, his win bet on White Abarrio returned $126,000, and set him up in third place overall with two races remaining.
“I knew that I did not want to risk the entire 126,000 in order to win the contest, and ultimately settled on making a $20,000 bet in the last race, the (Breeders’ Cup) Sprint.” Boarman recalled. “I played a $16,000 exacta with Elite Power on top of Gunite and $4,000 worth of saver trifectas with Gunite third, as insurance.”
The exacta play returned $128,000, boosting his point total to more than $231,000 and securing the BCBC title.
“I am particularly proud of finding a way to make a winning wager using my handicapping opinion of the last race without risking my entire bankroll to do so,” Boarman added.
The Breeders’ Cup has published complete tournament results. Participant Vince Foglia made a place wager on his own horse, a violation of BCBC rules which was discovered during the audit. As a result, the $14,000 in winnings from this non-approved wager were deducted from the final score, which resulted in Foglia dropping from 8th place to 13th place in the final standings.