05/13/2015 9:05AM

Fornatale: Rich Santa Anita event includes Preakness


The next stop on the National Handicapping Championship Tour is Santa Anita Park. On Saturday and Sunday, the Great Race Place will host its Preakness Challenge, with an expected prize pool worth around $100,000 in cash and seats to the NHC and Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

An exciting subplot for the weekend will be a faceoff between the current top two players on the NHC Tour. Ryan Flanders will be making his way to Santa Anita from his home is Carlsbad, Calif., and Jonathon Kinchen is flying in from Austin, Texas, for the event. The two are in a virtual dead heat for first place on the tour, and the big prize of $75,000 plus a shot at a $2 million bonus at the NHC finals could very well come down to which player can get an outright win in an onsite contest.

For a full explanation of how the tour works, check out www.ntra.com/en/nhc/2015-nhc-tour-official-rules.

Santa Anita has established itself as the market leader in live-bankroll events, having hosted them regularly for the past several years. It also is well known for the excellent customer experience it provides for tournament players. Contestants will have access to several VIP areas throughout the contest, including the FrontRunner bar and restaurant, private suites, the Gallop Out, and the Eddie Logan Suite. There will be a reception for all competing players in the Gallop Out on Saturday night.

Many of the participants this weekend won their way in for a $90 buy-in on DRFQualify.com, but players also may buy in for $4,000. Of that sum, $1,000 goes into the prize pool, which will be fully distributed in cash and seats, and the remaining $3,000 will act as a live bankroll. At the end of the contest, players keep whatever remains of their bankrolls.

The contest races will be the full cards from Santa Anita on Saturday and Sunday as well as the Preakness Stakes itself.

“We decided to focus on Santa Anita and the Preakness and not include the entire card from Pimlico,” said contest director Nate Newby. “I am planning to ask for some player feedback as we may change that policy and include Pimlico next year.”

Players must bet four races each day at a minimum of $250 per race. The other $1,000 portion of the bankroll must be bet over the two days on eligible races. Included wagers are win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta.

“We like to give players the ability to pass races they don’t like and be aggressive on races they like, so I believe the format is very player-friendly,” said Newby. “There are no maximums on wagers, so players can rebet as much of their winnings as they wish.”

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Steven Wells parlayed a win on DRFQualify.com into more than $50,000 at the last Santa Anita live-bankroll contest back in March. He is expected to be on hand again, looking for a repeat. It’s very difficult to predict what score will win a live-bankroll event since there is a lot more variance than in mythical-money contests. Back in March, Wells ended up with 7.3 times his initial bankroll.

It’s notable that the cutoff for getting an NHC seat last time was less than three times the initial bankroll. The prize pool will be finalized after registration for the contest closes at midday Saturday.

Players wanting to join in the fun can contact Newby at (626) 574-6391 or at www.santaanita.com/events/santa-anita-preakness-challenge/#.VVNFXflViko. Players looking to sign up Saturday morning can do so by paying cash at will call before heading up to the Eddie Logan suite to register.

For contest rules, check out www.santaanita.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/2015PreaknessChallenge_v.2.pdf.