03/13/2015 1:28PM

Fornatale: Free NHC qualifier Saturday


The year’s first free NTRA online qualifier for the National Handicapping Championship is Saturday. Four NHC seats will be on offer. These contests typically attract massive fields with more than a thousand players. But they’re a good opportunity for a couple of reasons.

For one thing, they’re a free roll for NHC Tour members. If you don’t yet have your NHC Tour membership, this is a good time to spend the $50 and join. You’ll get to play in all the free qualifiers, you’ll be eligible for the NHC seats offered in the free PublicHandicapper.com contest that starts Derby weekend, and you’ll be eligible for all the contests on NHCQualify.com throughout the year. You can’t qualify for the NHC without being a member.

The free contest also could also have major NHC Tour implications. Under changes to the points scoring system, this contest is likely to award the most Tour points ever awarded in a single contest. The top 10 percent of finishers will earn points from a pool estimated at 250,000 points, assuming there will be 1,500 players. The total number of points available will be determined on a sliding scale according to the number of entrants.

At year’s end, the top 150 players on the Tour who haven’t qualified directly for the NHC will receive automatic berths. This year’s NHC offered a purse of $2.3 million.

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The contest will consist of 10 mythical $2 win-place wagers on mandatory races across the country. The races (with estimated Eastern post times) are:
2:05 Oaklawn 1
2:18 Aqueduct 3
2:43 Parx 5
3:00 Gulfstream 5
3:30 Gulfstream 6
3:40 Tampa 7
4:14 Oaklawn 5
4:40 Tampa 9
5:00 Santa Anita 4
5:30 Gulfstream 10

To sign up for the NHC Tour, go here.