02/26/2015 10:58AM

Fornatale: Big event at Gulfstream on Saturday


The Raise Your Game Handicapping Challenge, presented by Daily Racing Form and Gulfstream Park, is Saturday at Gulfstream Park, where more than 100 players are expected to compete. The contest will take place at Ten Palms, the restaurant on the second floor of the Gulfstream clubhouse.

“We are thrilled to be hosting a live-bankroll contest for the first time, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive,” said contest director Nancy Berry of Gulfstream. “We hope to provide a fantastic experience for all the players. We hope that this is the start of many more of these types of contests to follow because they’re great for the industry overall.”

Players are flying in from across the country – not just to escape the snow in the Northeast. A deep and competitive field is expected, including former National Handicapping Championship winner John Conte among many other big names in the contest world.

It’s not too late to sign up. Buy-in costs $3,000, with $1,000 going to the prize pool – which will be 100 percent returned to the players – and $2,000 as a live bankroll. Players keep all funds remaining in their bankroll.

Walk-up registration will be available on a cash-only basis Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon at Ten Palms.

The contest requires players to wager at least $200 each on eight live races at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, a card featuring three graded stakes: the Grade 2 Herecomesthebride, the Grade 2 Swale, and the Grade 3 Palm Beach. The remaining $400 must be wagered in minimum increments of $200. Players can bet up to their entire bankroll at any time. Permitted wagers are win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta.

Based upon 100 entries, there will be $53,500 in cash prizes, five spots to the NHC, two full $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries, and three partial $2,500 entries to the BCBC awarded. Up to 200 entries will be allowed Saturday, so these prizes could double if there is full participation.

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The contest is being conducted along with a series of seminars held Friday at Gulfstream featuring DRF contributors such as Andy Beyer, Marty McGee, Mike Watchmaker, and Mike Welsch. DRF Live will provide live streaming coverage throughout the event Saturday, with Matt Bernier, Dan Illman, and me providing analysis of the races and the contest itself.

DRFQualify.com hosted a number of online qualifiers for the event. For just $80, online contestants could win their $3,000 buy-ins plus a travel allowance. In the end, 43 players qualified for the event this way, several of whom are expected to buy second entries. Current NHC Tour leader Jonathon Kinchen is among those looking to play a second entry. “I like the idea that if I buy a second entry, I can be more aggressive,” Kinchen said.

Online qualifying for the March 14-15 Santa Anita Betting Challenge will continue Sunday, with another $80 buy-in event on DRFQualify.com. Also on Sunday, NHCQualify.com will host a $165 buy-in contest where players can win up to five seats to the NHC.