Fall Keeneland 2018 Tournament Schedule

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Continuing a long tradition of support for the National Horseplayers Championship and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Keeneland is proud to announce the dates of two big handicapping tournaments during the 2018 Fall Race Meet.

On Saturday, October 13, we will conduct a live bankroll tournament, the Keeneland $400 Fall Challenge, a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee. Players will be able to wager any amount on any race at Keeneland, with no minimum wagers or minimum number of races. This tournament may be played from anywhere on the track; all tickets and admissions must be handled separately by the player. Please see rules here.

Based on an estimated 250 entries, one BCBC and four NHC spots will be awarded.

On Sunday, October 14, the prestigious BCBC-NHC Challenge returns, with a $3,000 buy-in and as many as 6 spots in the BCBC and 10 in the NHC up for grabs. This tournament will be held in the Lexington/Kentucky Room with the best seats in the house. This year we have use of the entire room, so your guest may sit with you, and the dress code has been relaxed to business casual; no more ties required! Please see rules here.

Entries became available online on August 13, 2018, and players registering for the BCBC-NHC Challenge may also enter the Saturday tournament with one process.

We hope that the Saturday tournament will complement the BCBC-NHC Challenge, and that many players will take advantage of the scheduling to compete in both tournaments and have a great Keeneland weekend.

Source: Keeneland

Los Alamitos Racing Association to Offer 3 NHC Seats this Saturday

NTRA NHC logoPress Release

The Los Alamitos Racing Association will offer a cash prize, three seats to the 2018 National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas and more with a live money handicapping contest Saturday, Sept. 23.

In addition to the berths in the NHC, there will be also be five spots available for the Autumn Handicapping Contest at Santa Anita (Oct. 6-8) as well as three to next year’s NTRA Last Chance Horseplayers Championship Qualifier in Las Vegas.

Cost to enter the Los Alamitos Fall Qualifier is $500. Of that amount, $100 will be placed in the contest prize pool with the remaining funds going towards a live-money wagering card.

Contestants must enter prior to 2 p.m. – post time for the first race – Sept. 16. Players can begin entering the contest once track gates open at 9:30 a.m. that morning and participants can purchase a maximum of two entries.

Tournament races will include the entire card at Los Alamitos with permitted wagers including win, place, show and exactas. Each entry must bet at least $100 on four races, but there is no wagering limit.

The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the day will be declared the winner and the player with the second highest bankroll will be the runner-up.

The winner will receive 50% of the prize pool, which will be capped at $10,000. The remaining payoffs: 20% (2nd place), 15% (3rd place), 10% (4th place) and 5% (5th place).

Players can sign up for the handicapping contest at losalamitos.com as well as review complete contest rules. For any further questions, contact larace@losalamitos.com or by telephone at 714-820-2690.

Qualifying Begins for $300,000 Kentucky Derby Betting Championship

The best handicappers will join the best three-year-olds for the 2nd annual TwinSpires.com Kentucky Derby Betting Championship on May 5-6 at Churchill Downs.

Featuring a $12,000 buy-in and the ability to play anywhere through TwinSpiresTournaments.com, the KDBC is a live-money handicapping tournament with $4,000 of the entry fee going to an estimated prize pool of $300,000 and a top prize of $150,000. Last year’s winner, Ron Myeress, won $152,752 in cash and prizes.

Churchill winner's circle“After the success of our inaugural Kentucky Derby Betting Championship, we’re looking forward to growing and improving it this year thanks to our players and Churchill Downs Race Track,” TwinSpires.com President Ted Gay said. “The addition of ‘play-from-anywhere’ through TwinSpires.com should add to the player and prize pool, truly making this one of the top live-money tournaments on the circuit.”

 TwinSpires.com partnered with Breeders’ Cup to offer online play of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship, an option that helped grow that contest to record levels this year. In conjunction with that partnership, TwinSpires.com and Churchill Downs Race Track will offer a $1-million bonus if the KDBC winner also wins the 2017 BCBC.

“It was a thrill to welcome the best contest players to the most exciting two minutes in sports at last year’s Kentucky Derby,” said Churchill Downs Racetrack President Kevin Flanery. “The Kentucky Derby is all about the best of Thoroughbred racing, and adding a big-money live tournament to the mix enhances the race’s brand as the premier week in the Sport of Kings.”

Registration for this year’s Kentucky Derby Betting Championship is now available with a $500 deposit at KentuckyDerbyBettingChampionship.com. The website is also updated with rules, prize structure, and information on how to qualify via satellites on TwinSpires.com.

2016 NHC Tour Comes Down to 5 Tournaments this Weekend


LEXINGTON, Ky. (Thursday, December 29, 2016) – The 2016 NHC Tour’s cash prize pool of $315,000 as well as eligibility for additional bonuses at the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament – the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC), Jan. 27-29 at Treasure Island Las Vegas – will come down to five final events this weekend. A Saturday contest on NHCQualify.com, three days of qualifiers at Del Mar’s Surfside Race Place, and a New Year’s Day grand finale at Monmouth Park represent the only remaining chances for players to accrue NHC Tour points and increase their potential prize money.

The top 20 finishers on the NHC Tour will share in $175,000 of prize money, with the 2016 NHC Tour champion taking home $75,000, a trophy, and an automatic berth to the NHC 19 in January 2018. Second place will take home $20,000 and a trophy. The remainder of the cash prize pool is scaled from $15,000 for third down to $1,000 for 20th.

nhc final table vegasNHC Tour veteran Cheryl McIntyre enters the final weekend of play in first place with 19,898 points, more than 1,000 ahead of Tony Zhou in second with 18,698.

A separate “Second Half” prize pool will pay $10,000 to each of the top five finishers based only on results posted after August 1. Sam Alipio holds the edge in that race, though any top-five finish returns the same prize amount.

The top 150 NHC Tour point leaders receive an automatic berth to NHC 18 in four weeks (those that have already qualified do not receive an additional berth). The top 40 NHC Tour finishers will compete for the $25,000 Tour Bonus, which goes to the individual within that group with the highest finish at NHC 18.

Two lucrative bonuses restricted to specific players will also be decided this weekend. Friday’s NHCQualify.com tournament, the year’s final online qualifier, will determine shares of a $25,000 “Cyber Stars” bonus pool for the top five players based on NHC Tour points earned on NHCQualify.com, with $10,000 to the winner plus eligibility for a $1 million bonus should that player go on to win NHC 18. A $15,000 “Rookie” bonus pool will go to the top five player that signed up for the NHC Tour for the first time in 2016, with $5,000 to first.

George Chute, 15th in the overall NHC Tour standings, leads the “Cyber Stars” standings, while Peter Dresens, 47th overall, is the “Rookie” leader.

Full standings for the 2016 NHC Tour and the bonus divisions can be accessed online via the NTRA website at https://www.ntra.com/nhc/leaders.

Online registration for the 2017 NHC Tour opens Sunday, Jan. 1, at nhctour.com.

 In its 18th year, the NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. There are no bye-ins to the NHC. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. In addition to the founding title sponsor, Daily Racing Form, the NHC is presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas.

For more information on the NHC Tour and a complete contest schedule, visit NTRA.com/nhc.

About the NTRA

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and Horse PAC, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).

Record $2 Million Purse for the 2015 National Handicapping Championship (NHC)

NEW YORK CITY (Thursday, June 19, 2014) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that the estimated purse for the 16th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC), presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas, has been increased 25 percent to a record $2 million. The 2014 NHC purse was $1,590,000.

An additional $200,000 in previously announced prize money will be distributed as part of the 2014 NHC Tour, bringing the estimated NHC and NHC Tour purses to $2.2 million.

The purse increases are fueled by robust participation in NHC qualifying contests by NHC Tour members (Tour membership is a requirement to be eligible to qualify for the NHC).    
“Virtually all of our qualifying tournaments – onsite and online – continue to perform very well,” said Keith Chamblin, Senior Vice President of the NTRA. “We have more than 1,350 new Tour members thus far in 2014. The NHC will only grow as more people are introduced to tournament contests and experience the thrill of competing for a spot in Las Vegas and a chance at the winner’s share of $2 million in prize money. These are life-changing sums being offered to the top finishers.”
The 16th NHC will be held January 23-25, 2015 at Treasure Island Las Vegas. The 2014 NHC Tour schedule and the official rules for the 2015 NHC have been posted online at NHCTour.com. For the second year in a row, the Championship will feature a three-day format with a Final 50 and Final Table of 10.
Three tournaments scheduled for Saturday, June 21, offer NHC berths, including two online contests currently open for registration. DRF Bets (DRFBets.com) hosts the first of two Super Summer Challenge preliminary rounds leading to a July 5 final with four NHC spots up for grabs and HorseTourneys.com presents a “Live Format” NHC Qualifier with three guaranteed NHC entries available. The Belmont Park Handicapping Challenge at Belmont Park is sold out.
About the NHC
In its 16th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers. There are no “buy-in” entries at the NHC. It is the culmination of a yearlong series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. Every year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. The 15 NHC Champions since the event’s inception, in chronological order, are Steven Walker, Judy Wagner, Herman Miller, Steve Wolfson Jr., Kent Meyer, Jamie Michelson, Ron Rippey, Stanley Bavlish, Richard Goodall, John Conte, Brian Troop, John Doyle, Michael Beychok, Jim Benes and Jose Arias.

New Format Announced for $1.5M National Handicapping Championship in Vegas

“Final 50” and “Final Table” Segments to Highlight the New Third Day of Competition

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today the format for the $1.5 million- guaranteed Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) held at Treasure Island Las Vegas January 24-26, 2014.

Next January’s 15th annual renewal of the NHC will feature a number of firsts. The competition has been expanded to three days and will feature a “Final 50” and “Final Table” on Day 3 of the tournament. Players reaching the “Final 50” will each be guaranteed prize money and compete for a seat at the “Final Table,” which will feature a five-race competition. The individual advancing to the Final Table and accumulating the highest individual cumulative bankroll from his or her 45 mythical win-and-place wagers placed over the three days will receive an estimated $750,000 grand prize and an Eclipse Award as the Handicapper of the Year.

“The new three-day format is designed to preserve the many aspects of NHC competition that our players have said they appreciate most—including two full days of robust tournament play featuring both mandatory and optional plays—while generating new points of intrigue and excitement on Day 3, including the ‘Final 50’ and ‘Final Table’,” said Keith Chamblin, Senior Vice President of the NTRA. “These changes to the NHC have been some 18 months in the making and are being undertaken after extensive research, input and feedback from thousands of NHC tournament players. In particular, I want to thank the NHC Players’ Committee and its chairman, Mike Mayo, for the important work the committee performed in helping us identify and develop this new format.”

The first two days of the tournament will have a familiar feel to past NHC contestants. Each of the first two days—Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25—will consist of 15 mythical $2 win and place wagers from among contest tracks. On Days 1 and 2, eight of the 15 plays will be on designated mandatory races, and seven will be on optional races of each player’s choosing. There will be no $4 best bet wagers at the upcoming NHC.

The top 50 individual scorers at the conclusion of Day 2 will move on to the “Final 50” on Day 3. A player may earn as many as two entries into next January’s NHC. However, there will be a maximum of one entry per individual in the “Final 50”.  If a player has two entries placing among the top 50 scores after Day 2, the higher-scoring entry will move on to the Final 50, and the player will receive a cash bonus for his other entry.

Fiftieth place will serve as the NHC’s “money line”—which means that all 50 Day 3 finalists will be assured of a cash prize. All Day1/Day2 scoring totals will carry over to Day 3 for these finalists.

All those not in the top 50 at the end of Day 2 will have their scores reset to zero and be entered into a free, 10-race,  $60,000-guaranteed consolation tournament on Day 3.

The “Final 50” and Consolation competitions on Day 3 will take place simultaneously from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. local Pacific time. Each of the competitions will consist of $2 win and place plays on 10 races.  Three of the 10 plays will be on mandatory races, and seven will be optional race plays. The Final 50 and Consolation tournaments will utilize the same contest tracks and same mandatory races.

At the approximate 1:00 p.m. PT cutoff time, the Consolation tournament will conclude. Also at that point, the top 10 scorers (including any contestants tied for 10th place) will move on to the final segment of the NHC—the Final Table.  Those Top 50 contestants not advancing to the Final Table will have their final finishing positions determined based on their scores as of the 1:00 p.m. Day 3 cutoff.

Final Table participants will again have their running score totals carry over into the Final Table.  The Final Table segment will begin at approximately 2:00 p.m. PT (following a scoring audit) and consist of five $2 win and place selections—all on mandatory races.  All Final Table selections must be made no later than approximately three minutes to post time, and all selections will be publicly announced in advance of the race. Contestants will not know their opponents’ selections at the time their own selections are entered. Updated standings will be announced following each Final Table mandatory race.

NHC Tour membership is mandatory in order to earn an entry into the NHC Finals—the lucrative culmination of the year’s qualifying schedule. Signups for the 2013 NHC Tour are now being accepted. There is a one-time 2013 membership fee of $50.

Click here for the complete format and rules for NHC 15

What do you think of these changes?  Comment here on AGameofSkill.com

Discover a Great Aspect of the Handicapping Scene

By Ross Gallo

I’ve been going to the track since I have memory.  Fell in love with this grand game of horse racing at first site, even loved the smell of the Daily Racing Form.  (I know, crazy right?)  So, I’ve been making a living playing the horses for the better part of thirty years, but it wasn’t until around 1997 that I discovered a wonderful and often overlooked alternative way to play and enjoy the races.  It is the reason I’m writing this article and it is for those of you that are either not familiar with, or have not ventured into, the world of handicapping tournaments.

Horse Racing Handicapping Tournament

Popular Bankroll-based Tournament founded by Ross Gallo

In a game that has declining attendance and handle nearly across the board.  Has tracks closing their doors.  Questions surrounding drug use by super-trainers, odds changes during the running of races, questionable stewards decisions, and a myriad of other problems; there is one cross section that is growing and thriving, handicapping tournaments.  The NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Championship (NHC), our U.S. Open so to speak, which was introduced in 2000 with a purse of $200,000, offering $100,000 to the winner; will be having it’s 13th rendition in January of 2012 at Treasure Island In Las Vegas. 

You can only participate by qualifying, which is unlike any other tournament we have and what makes the NHC so special; well that and the fact that this year the purse has grown to $2,000,000 with $1,000,000 going to the winner!  That kind of growth in a mere 13 years, and for some reason we’re not singing it’s praises to the rafters?! 

I’m not much of a preacher, but this is a worthy cause.  You love the game of horse racing like me?  Good.  Then do the game and yourself a favor and start playing handicapping tournaments.  They are eventually going to pull the game back into the mainstream of Americana.  You don’t know me, but I know what I’m talking about so take a leap of faith, you won’t be sorry.  There are so many different formats out there, I’m positive you can find one you like.  Don’t want to leave your couch?  Well there are probably, on average, 10 opportunities a week, maybe more to play online.  There are low-end, high-end and in-between entry fees.  There are even some free tournaments that offer trips to the NHC.  There are tournaments away from the NHC and its Tour as well.  So many opportunities to have fun, win money, and many times for a very small investment.  Go to ntra.com or horseplayersqualify.com or nhcqualify or bcqualify or twinspires or drf or derbywars or horsetourneys or publichandicapper (note I stopped with the .coms they’re all .coms got sick of .com-ing) or even your local tracks website.  There are sooooo many places to get started, and you don’t have to do anything but turn on your computer.  What are you waiting for?  Go.  Play.

“…over the last decade-plus I have met some of the best people on this planet.  Men and women I consider lifelong friends.”

Okay, so I’ve hooked you a little, admit it.  Now I’m playing my trump card.  Online tournaments are great, but you know what’s even better?  Going to a venue for a tournament.  Awesome!  When I first started, there weren’t any online tournaments, you had to travel.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, in my professional life at least.  You see there is an amazing phenomenon attached to handicapping tournaments; they attract the highest class of human beings I’ve ever met in any walk of life.  In what I call “real” life, I’d say the percentage of how can I put this? (I’m not a fisherman but it rhymes with bass poles).  The percentage of “bass poles” is really high, maybe 75%.  Hey, takes one to know one right?  But anyway, at handicapping tournaments it’s like 2% counting me. 

Allow me to illustrate further.  If you put 800 tournament players into a ballroom or two at the Orleans in Vegas for a three day event, you MIGHT be able to ferret out 16 “bass poles” if you try hard.  Put 800 conventioning doctors, lawyers, funeral home directors, bricklayers, writers, plumbers etc in the same couple of rooms and guaranteed you’ll have three quarters “bass poles.”  Three.  Quarters.  Bass.  Poles.  Just saying!

Seriously though, over the last decade-plus I have met some of the best people on this planet.  Men and women I consider lifelong friends.  Some I talk to nearly every day, others I just catch up with when we get together and others somewhere in between. 

You see handicapping tournaments draw thinking people.  Ours is a cerebral game.  Any shmoe can sit down with two cards in front of him or her and play poker.  Horse racing requires more use of the brain, and what the hell is wrong with that?  Let me tell you something else about these people.  We go to tournaments and try to beat each other’s brains out, but when we get to the point where we know we can’t win, we GENUINELY root for our friends to win.  No lie.  Find that in a poker room or your local boardroom.  I haven’t been to a tournament in ten years where a bunch of us haven’t gone out for dinner after the last races were run.  I would like to mention names, but they wouldn’t mean anything to many of you, and if I left anyone out, I’d feel like a crumb. 

The bottom line is this: handicapping tournaments are fun, convenient to play from home, can offer value, trips to Vegas and also the opportunity to meet some of the finest people you’ll meet in your life.  Eventually someone will figure out how to bring them to television in an entertaining way (YEAH I know how already, just ask me!!!) and that is when we will rejoin the “real” world, and return to the glory days of the early to mid-part of the 20th century.  If you care about horse racing, be a part of the solution while improving your quality of entertainment at the same time, and maybe enriching your life while you’re at it.  Once you go to a handicapping tournament, you’ll no never go back.

Exciting, new Tournaments at DerbyWars.com

If you are into handicapping tournaments or always wanted to try your hand in one, check out the new site DerbyWars.com, the branchild of longtime racing executive Mark Midland. DerbyWars offers free games, NHC qualifiers as low as $25, and cash games with guaranteed pots. Sunday’s (Oct. 9) game is a lucrative $15,000 pot. $115 entry fee.