The Orleans and Las Vegas Hilton is providing a wonderful lead-up to the Kentucky Derby with separate major thoroughbred racing handicapping contests.
The first jewel in the Triple Crown is not part of this racing exacta for Las Vegas horse buffs, these April contests will more than feed the flame for the greatest two minutes in sports.
The festivities begin with The Championship at The Orleans set for April 3-6. Hailed by the Orleans as, "the greatest handicapping contest ever," the event offers $400,000 in prize money based on 700 entries. The cocktail party preceding the four-day selection bonanza takes place Wednesday, April 2 from 7-9 p.m.
Not to be outdone, the Hilton launches its Pick The Ponies XXII contest from April 30-May 2. The entry fee is $400 for customers signing up before April 14 ($500 after that date) for "the best race handicapping contest in Las Vegas."
The Hilton runs separate handicapping contests, with the second taking place in the fall, usually in October.
"We are looking forward to another very successful "Pick the Ponies," said Cyril Burger, the Hilton’s race and sports manager. "The past two tournaments sold out quickly, so customers should hurry and enter today."
Here is how to enter in greater detail:
First place prize money figures to be $112,000, based upon 32 percent of the entry fees. Second place would be worth $56,000, with third paying off $28,000. Money will be awarded for the top 80 finishers. The purse will be raised or lowered pending the number of entrants over or under 700.
If a tie exists for any position, the prize money will be split equally by the tied contestants. Example: if there is a tie for first, the first and second place money would be added together and then split between the two winners.
The format calls for each contestant to make 12 individual $100 win wagers per day at selected racetracks. Contestants may play any race from those specified tracks. More than one horse can be picked per race, but each wager must be for $100 to win. No place or show betting will be accepted.
Full track odds will be paid on the first $20 with the remainder paid at a limit of 20-1. (Example: If a horse pays $100 to win, it would be worth 2,680 points.) Scratches are worth no points and must be re-bet. Point totals accumulate over three days. Entries are limited to three per person.
All contestants will receive a player tracking card at the time of registration. Complimentary rooms, restaurants and shows will be based on daily race play.
Players are responsible for showing their tracking card prior to wagering in order to be considered for complimentary items. All room rates will be put in at the contest rate of $60 and will be adjusted according to points earned with the Turf Club cards.
Daily average play to be considered for comp room is $2,000. Registration begins Wednesday, April 2 at 9 a.m. and continues until Thursday, April 3 at 1 p.m. The final awards presentation is Sunday, April 6 at 9:30 a.m.
There is a maximum of two reserved seating signs upon registration. Each entry may only have one partner.
The Orleans is also holding an early bird signup contest Sunday, April 6 with a purse of $20,000. First place is worth $10,000, with second earning $5,000. Third through fifth will receive $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively. Entries had to be in by March 12.
To qualify for the Daily Bonus Prize Money, registration and entry fees must be completed and received at the resort by 5 p.m. Monday, April 14. The Hilton will provide $15,000 in bonus prize money ($5,000 per day) independent of all entry fees.
First place is 38 percent of all entry fees or approximately $38,000. Second place is 19 percent or $19,000, with third at 9 percent or $9,000. The contest is limited to 200 entrants with payments awarded through the first 30 positions.
If ties exist, prize money will be divided equally by entrants finishing in all the positions involved in the deadlock. Cumulative prize awards will be made based on overall standings posted on Saturday, May 3, 2003. Unofficial standings will be posted each evening.
The format calls for each entry to be allowed $3,000 in wagering per day. All contest wagers are made for $300 per horse, with betting done in increments of $100 for first, second and third. Net contest dollars will be awarded based on full track mutual payoffs for the first $50.
There will be an aggregate of $15,000 awarded in daily bonus money. First prize is $2,500, second $1,500 and third $1,000. Designated tracks for wagering include Aqueduct, Churchill Downs, Hollywood Park, Bay Meadows, Calder, Hawthorne and Pimlico.