06/11/2015 12:06PM

Fornatale: Double chances for tournaments seats


There's a unique opportunity in the Daily Racing Form family of tournaments this weekend. For the first time in a long time, players will be able to compete simultaneously in online contests for seats at the two most important handicapping contests in the world, the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge and the National Handicapping Championship.

On Saturday, at BCQualify.com, there is a $190 buy-in and two seats to the BCBC are guaranteed. The winner will also receive an NHC seat. NHC Tour membership is required to compete for the NHC seat, but no Tour points will be allowed as only one NHC seat is on offer.

On Sunday, over on NHCQualify.com, buy-in is $165 and two NHC entries are guaranteed, with a BCBC seat also going to the winner. Tour membership is required for the NHC seats and this event will award Tour points.

"We wanted to try something different," explained tournament director Ken Kirchner. "We had run these types of events several years ago and they were very popular. The positive is that someone can win an entry to the two major handicapping events, the NHC and BCBC if they have a great day.  That's a good thing, especially for new players.  Further, if someone wins a second BCBC spot those are transferable – so no downside there."

The National Handicapping Championship takes place in January and is the most prestigious handicapping contest of them all. You can't buy-in to the NHC -- you must qualify. The winner gets an Eclipse Award for Handicapper of the Year. This year, $2.5 million in prize money is expected to be awarded at the NHC. The contest uses a fixed-bankroll, mythical-money format that is a blend of optional and mandatory races.

The Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge is the greatest test of betting acumen that there is and the biggest live-bankroll contest. Held over the two days of the Breeders' Cup, players can buy-in for $10,000, $7,500 of which acts as a live bankroll where players can wager in all vertical pools except the superfecta on the host track races on the Breeders' Cup days. Last year, Bob Traynor qualified on BCQualify.com and won over $300,000.

Gold Cup qualifier

Also on Saturday, DRFQualify.com is running the second-to-last qualifier for the June 27 and 28 Gold Cup Betting Challenge at Santa Anita. Buy-in for the qualifier is $100 and up to two $5,000 seats for the Santa Anita contest will be awarded with one guaranteed. The prize pool -- in cash and seats -- is expected to be valued at $100,000.

There are some media reports that Triple Crown winner American Pharoah will be on hand to parade at Santa Anita on Gold Cup Day. That would be another added incentive to make the trek to the Great Race Place to play in the contest. Why buy-in for $5,000 when you can win in for $100?

On Sunday, DRFQualify will host a qualifier for the Sept. 19 Gulfstream Park contest. The buy-in for the qualifier is also $100 and up to three $3,000 seats will be awarded with one guaranteed.

All of this weekend's qualifying contests feature the typical live format -- 12 races where contestants must make one $2 mythical win-place bet on one horse in each race. Highest scores advance. Here are the races that will be used for Saturday's contests:

3:24    Belmont 5

3:55    Belmont 6

4:00    Santa Anita 2

4:11    Arlington 5

4:41    Arlington 6

4:57    Belmont 8

5:00    Santa Anita 4

5:28    Belmont 9

5:41    Arlington 8

5:59    Belmont 10

6:00    Santa Anita 6

6:30    Santa Anita 7

Check back on DRF.com later in the week for a closer look at some of the Saturday contest races from current NHC Tour leader Ryan Flanders. The sequence as a whole is turf-centric, with seven races on the grass, and maiden players will be  pleased to see three of their preferred events, with two maiden special weights and one maiden claimer in the mix.

To sign up for the BCQualify.com contest, go to https://www.bcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.

To play over at DRFQualify.com, check out https://www.drfqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx