09/12/2014 3:59PM

Fornatale: Two-stage entry to NHC open to California residents

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California residents have a new opportunity to qualify for the $2 million National Handicapping Championship, to be held January 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 0 percent 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 that more could be done to reward the California players for their ongoing support.  “We realized there was a need for 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.”

Here’s how it works. There are four round-one events, the first of which has already occurred. The second round one event is Saturday, Sept. 13. Future round one events will occur on 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 ten finishers from each tournament will qualify for the second round, to be held on 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. Twenty dollars of that goes into a prize pool that will be paid back 100 percent to contestants. The remaining $30 is real money that 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.