09/10/2015 11:55AM

Fornatale: Three major seats up for grabs at Kentucky Downs


Contest players who love turf racing should take notice: On Saturday, Kentucky Downs, home of the lowest blended takeout in the country, will be hosting a one-day handicapping contest. Two players will win seats to the National Hanidcapping Championship and one to the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge.

"It's our big day," said contest director C.J. Johnsen. "We have four stakes races and full fields and are excited to be hosting a contest for the eighth straight year."

In the past, Kentucky Downs has offered either NHC seats or a BCBC seat but this year they decided to do both. "We really wanted to make sure there is a lot of value for the players so spread around the prizes," Johnsen explained.

Entries cost $150 and are limited to two per player. It's a mythical-money format where contestants must place one $2 win-place wager on each of the 10 races at Kentucky Downs on Saturday. There is a 20-1 odds cap and the highest scores win.

The overall winner gets to choose between a BCBC seat and an NHC seat. If that player elects the NHC seat, the second-place finisher will choose one of the other two tournament seats. The player who finishes third gets the remaining seat. Finishers from fourth to 20th receive cash, from $1,000 down to $150.

Sign up so far has been a little on the low side, which could create a great opportunity. "We probably won't have as many entries as a lot of tournaments," Johnsen said, "but we're still offering plenty of spots."

Experienced contest players will be attracted by the seats and the chance to compete and wager at such a player-friendly facility. Johnsen also points out that the low price-point and mythical-money format of the tournament are meant to attract newer contest players. "We want to appeal to the new player and make it simple for them," he said. "If you don't win a seat you still have a chance to win cash."

Players can sign up until the races begin on Saturday. Simply go to to the second floor of the clubhouse to register. To sign up now, check out http://www.kentuckydowns.com/live-racing/handicapping-contest/

Gulftstream deadline approaches

Entries are closing this weekend for the Sept. 19 Raise Your Game contest at Gulfstream Park. Interested players should contact Nancy Berry at Gulfstream as soon as possible. She can be reached via email at nancy.berry@gulfstreampark.com or by phone at 954-457-6284. The entrie prize pool will be paid out in cash and seats to the National Handicapping Championship and Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge.

The Gulfstream contest has a $3,000 buy-in, $1,000 of which goes to the prize pool, the other $2,000 of which will act as a live bankroll to be bet on races at Gulfstream  and Belmont Park. Players are required to wager a minimum of $200 per race and on at least 10 races, with a minimum of five races from Gulfstream Park.  Players must wager at least their $2,000 bankrolls over the course of the contest.  Permitted wagers are win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta.

This contest is the rescheduled version of the Gulfstream contest from February that was washed away. Players who competed in the February event will be playing for an additional seat to the National Handicapping Championship.

For more information, go to http://www.gulfstreampark.com/portal/raise-your-game.

Saturday qualifiers

There is still one final opportunity to qualify for the Gulfstream contest via DRFQualify.com. For just $90, up to two players will have a chance to win their $3,000 bankrolls plus a $500 travel allowance.

Also on Saturday, there is another Round One contest on BCQualify.com. Players can buy in for $165 and the top 10 percent of finishers will advance to the Round Two contest later this month where up to 12 players will win their full BCBC entries plus a travel allowance.

Here are the races that will be part of Saturday's contests:

3:47    Churchill 7

4:02    Woodbine 7

4:18    Churchill 8

4:35    Kentucky Downs 5

4:46    Belmont 8

4:49    Churchill 9

5:08    Woodbine 9

5:19    Belmont 9

5:20    Churchill 10

5:38    Kentucky Downs 7

5:52    Belmont 10

6:09    Kentucky Downs 8

There are are eight stakes races, five of them graded, and 11 of the 12 races have 10 or more horses.  Full past performances are available at the contest sites. For your last chance to win in to Gulfstream, go to https://www.drfqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx. To win your way into the Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge, check out https://www.bcqualify.com/buy_advanced.aspx.