by David Stratton | With only a few weeks before the Triple Crown series kicks off with the Kentucky Derby, horse players can test their skills in several handicapping tournaments in Las Vegas.
First, the Orleans will host its Handicapping Championship, April 3-5, which features over $350,000 in prizes. Entry is $500 with a maximum of three per person.
The top 50 contestants in the Handicapping Championship will qualify for the 2009 Coast Casinos Horseplayer World Series.
The format requires contestants to make 12 mythical $100 win wagers per day, chosen from the designated race tracks.
Later in the month, Sams Town features its popular "One Day Contest" on April 17. Entry is $100 with a maximum of two per player. The top five finishers will win a seat in the 2009 Coast Casinos Horseplayer World Series.
The new South Point kicks off its Handicapping Contest Series on April 24. Entry is $150 with a maximum of two per person.
The format requires contestants to pick five mandatory races and five of their own choosing. Points are awarded on the basis of mythical $20 win, place and show bets. Anyone picking winners in all five mandatory races will receive a free entry (worth $500) into the South Points Finale Handicapping Contest, to be held later.
Last but certainly not least, the Las Vegas Hilton hosts its semi-annual Pick the Ponies Invitational contest in the days leading up to the Kentucky Derby.
Set for April 30 through May 2, the Invitational has a $500 entry fee ($400 if paid by April 15), with up to three entries allowed per player.
As usual, the top 30 finishers receive cash prizes, and the Hilton SuperBook will toss in $15,000 in daily bonus prize money.
You can sharpen your skills before the Invitational by playing in the Hiltons SuperBook Saturdays weekly handicapping contests.
For more information, visit the casinos race books for details.