09/12/2014 3:40PM

Fornatale: California players get unique tournament opportunity

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California residents have a great new opportunity to qualify for the $2 million National Handicapping Championship, which takes place Jan. 22-24, 2015, at the Treasure Island in Las Vegas. Calracing.com is sponsoring a two-stage event that is a truly fantastic deal for the player – a chance to qualify for the NHC with no takeout.

Craig Dado, California Marketing Committee chairman, explained how this series of tournaments came about.

“The current emphasis of the CMC is to enhance our product on the track,” he said. “However, we also recognize that without our loyal players, we don’t have a game. We have seen the popularity and success of handicapping tournaments across the country, as well as in California specifically.”

Dado and the CMC decided more could be done to reward the California players for their ongoing support.

“We realized there was a need for a statewide tournament where players could compete head to head from north to south,” said Dado. “We hope this tournament will continue to grow and build into a monthly tradition that players readily mark on their calendars.”

:: Click here to purchase a copy of “The Winning Contest Player” by Peter Thomas Fornatale

Here’s how it works. There are four round 1 events, the first of which already has occurred. The second round 1 event is Saturday. Future round 1 events will take place Oct. 11 and Nov. 8, both Saturdays.

You can play in these events from a host of tracks and simulcast facilities located throughout the state. Here’s a complete list:

* Anderson – Shasta District Fair
* Arcadia – Santa Anita Park
* Del Mar - Surfside Race Place
* Albany – Golden Gate Fields
* Pleasanton – Alameda County Fair
* Fresno – Big Fresno Fair
* Lake Forest – Sammy’s Original
* Lancaster – Antelope Valley Fair
* Los Alamitos – Los Alamitos Race Course
* Monterey – Monterey County Fair
* Perris – Southern California Fair
* Pomona – Fairplex
* Sacramento – California State Fair
* San Bernardino – National Orange Show
* San Jose – Santa Clara County Fair
* San Mateo – San Mateo County Fair
* Stockton – San Joaquin County Fair
* Turlock – Stanislaus County Fair
* Vallejo – Solano County Fair
* Ventura – Ventura County Fair
* Victorville – San Bernardino County Fair

The top 10 finishers from each tournament will qualify for the second round, which takes place Nov. 29. From that tournament, the top three finishers will advance to the NHC itself.

The contest format is simple. Players must put up $50 to play, of which $20 goes into a prize pool that will be paid back 100 percent to contestants. The remaining $30 is real money players must bet as five $2 across-the-board bets on different horses in different races at any Thoroughbred race run in California on those days. On each of the selected contest days, two tracks will be running. Click here for a full breakdown of the purse structure and a more complete look at the rules.