January is a huge month for horse handicapping contests, starting with Coast Casinos’ Horseplayer World Series at The Orleans, scheduled for Jan. 19-21 (still time to enter — see last week’s GT for details).
Also on tap is the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), to be held Jan. 27-28 at Bally’s Las Vegas.
Sponsored by the Daily Racing Form and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the NHC is the country’s most prestigious handicapping tournament. It brings together contestant who qualified at satellite tournaments held throughout the country during the previous calendar year.
Although there are no buy-ins or entries to the Championship, players in Las Vegas can still qualify via "Last Chance" tournaments that will be held at Bally’s on Jan. 22 and Jan. 25.
The NHC is expected to draw 200-250 participants, who will compete for a top prize of $225,000. The total prize pool of about $500,000 will also include daily bonus payouts, team prizes and payments to the top 20 finishers.
The contest format features players making a total of 30 wagers over the two-day period: 15 mythical $2 win and place wagers per day on 15 individual races.
Eight of those wagers are placed on mandatory races selected by tournament officials, and seven are placed on races chosen by the contestant (from a list of approved tracks).
Win and place wagers must be placed on a single horse — contestants cannot split the win/place wagers among different horses.
Contestants won their seats in the NHC at various racetracks, off-track betting facilities and even Internet sites such as youbet.com and TVG.
The Last Chance satellite tournaments at Bally’s will award five spots into the National Handicapping Championship (two on Jan. 22 and three on Jan. 25).
Each tourney will have an entry fee of $250; players will also be required to wager $750 of their own bankroll.
For more information, call Bally’s race supervisor Chris Eggers at (702) 967-4540.