Derby Wars: Setting a New Standard for Online Handicapping Contest

If you want to standout in an industry you have to be innovative and offer something the other guys don’t.  When it comes to online handicapping contest there is no one more innovative than Derby Wars.

Derby Wars

The new kid on the block having only been around since October 2011 has built upon the successful features of other online handicapping contest sites as well as created many new features that are more in tune with what their customers want.

Simply put the team behind Derby Wars did not invent online handicapping contests they just made them better.  Just like Facebook replaced MySpace and Google replaced Yahoo Derby Wars is positioning itself to takeover the online handicapping contest market.

Give the Players What They Want

You know the saying the customer is always right?  While that may not always be true listening to your customers and giving them most of the things they want is a formula for success.

Lower Takeout

What is the number one topic that comes up in any discussion about horse racing?

Takeout rates.  The blended average at most race tracks is over 20%.  Horseplayers seeking a lower takeout need look no further then Derby Wars.

The typical takeout rates on most Derby Wars contests are between 13% and 17%.  The best value is often found in the biggest contests each week otherwise known as The Big Game.  The Saturday and Sunday Big Games offer the largest prize pools and tend to lean towards the low end of the aforementioned takeout range.

Online Handicapping ContestPrize Money

The biggest complaint of most players is a lack of prize money in most online handicapping tournaments.  With the exception of the free weekly contest offered by Equibase and those offered by ADW’s such as Twinspires and Xpressbet none of the dedicated contest hosts offer prize money.

Derby Wars not only offers contest with prize money they give players the choice of playing for modest size pots against fewer opponents and for a lower entry fee or large pots against more opponents and for a higher entry fee.  The typical Big Game on Saturday, for example, offers over $5,000 in prize money.

Rewards Points and Tokens

Most industries give their customers rewards points for doing business with them and Derby Wars has followed that model by awarding rewards points for various actions such as playing in tournaments and inviting friends to join the site.  Rewards points can be used to play in contests that award more rewards points and in contests that award prize money.

Tokens are basically gift cards that are earned by placing highly in some of the contests.  Tokens are given a cash equivalent value and can be used to pay the entry fee for future contests.

NHC Qualifying Spots

The biggest handicapping contest each year is the National Handicapping Championship or NHC for short.  The only way to participate in the NHC is to earn a qualifying spot.  Qualifying spots are awarded by both live contests held at racetracks, OTB’s and casinos and by online contests at sites such as Derby Wars.

Give the Players More Choices

Five Days a Week

Most online handicapping contest sites only offer contests on the weekends.  Derby Wars offers contests at least five days a week generally Wednesday through Sunday.

Multiple Contests Each Day

Most online handicapping contest sites only offer one contest per day.  Derby Wars offers several contests each day with some days having more then 10 different contests.

Different Size Fields

Derby Wars offers handicapping contests with field sizes ranging from as small as 2 to as big as 200.  Generally the more players the higher the degree of difficulty but also the bigger the potential prize money.

Different Tracks

Most online handicapping contests focus on a small group of tracks which changes depending on the time of year.  Derby Wars mixes it up by not only offering contests with the biggest tracks but also offering contests with small and mid-level tracks as part of the rotation.

Other Perks

Live Chat and Friends List

Unless you have been living in a cave for the last few years you know that social media has exploded in popularity.  With sites like Facebook and Twitter garnering millions of visits everyday it would be foolish to ignore this trend.

Embracing that concept Derby Wars launched with a built in chat feature that allows players to talk to one another during the contests.  Players can also build a friends list which offers the option of private chats, email notifications of when friends enter a contest and sharing of picks before the race closes (with the option to disable this function).

Countdown to Post

Most online handicapping contest offer real time selections, meaning players can change their selections right up to post time.  Derby Wars goes one step further by providing a countdown clock to post time.  With this feature players know exactly how long they have until their selections are locked in.

Alternate Selections

Many sites have began to offer players with the opportunity to select an alternate horse in case their top choice is scratched.  Rather than getting the post time favorite players can select a back-up (or alternate) and in the event that their top choice is scratched they will get that horse.  The team behind Derby Wars realized this was an important feature and made sure to include it from day one.

Emailed Results after Every Contest

After a contest is over most sites simply post the final leader board which is all well and good but Derby Wars goes one step further by sending each player an email with their results.

Contest Results History

Many online contests have an archive of past contest results and Derby Wars is no different.  Once again however Derby Wars goes a step further by providing an archive of each players results which can be viewed by logging in, clicking on their name, then clicking profile and selecting tournament history.

Final Thoughts

In just four months Derby Wars has shot to the top of the online handicapping contest scene.  By giving players what they want and making their product readily accessible Derby Wars is in a position to runaway from the pack. After speaking with two of the Derby Wars team members, John Doyle (last years NHC champion) and Mark Midland (co-founder of Derby Wars) at this years NHC I am looking forward to even bigger and better things in the coming months from the most innovative site for online handicapping contests.

If you haven’t already done so be sure to check out Derby Wars and if you happen to play in the same contest as me (I play under the name Equinometry) be sure to say hello and send me a friend request.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of AMagill


  1. Great piece about DERBY WARS! I will try and play more this Spring!

    • Matt,

      Definitely and just after I posted this they announced their biggest contest to date. On March 10 they are hosting a $25,000 handicapping contest with nearly $10,000 going to the winner.

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