01/09/2014 3:35PM

Four last-chance NHC seats up for grabs at DRF Bets


In my last column, I promised to go a bit more in detail about this Sunday’s contest on DRF Bets.com. I asked DRF Bets honcho Josh Tepper about the appeal of this event, and he said: “We hope this last-chance contest on the 12th provides those players who have either not qualified or have one spot and are looking to add that second one to their arsenal with that final possibility to make it to Vegas.”

You must have a DRF Bets account to play, but it’s easy to start one and fund it within minutes . Four National Handicapping Championship seats will be awarded. There is a $50 registration fee, but before you get flustered about that, realize that in addition to the four NHC seats, a total of $5,000 will be paid out to those not getting a seat, with fifth getting $2,000  down to ninth getting $250.
In past versions of this contest, the field has been about 100 deep. If that’s the case here, that would make this a big-time positive expected value on your dollar. The way I look at the world, the total prize pool here is at least $25,000 between the cash and the seats. That means you’d still be getting value for your dollar even if 500 players show up.

Open a DRF Bets account today and get a $125 cash sign-up bonus!

Here’s how it works. You pay your $50 registration fee. Over the course of the day, you must make eight $10 win bets on any race being run at Aqueduct, Gulfstream, or Santa Anita. Sounds simple, right? There’s a leaderboard that updates continuously after each race is official so you can follow along in real time.

The eight $10 bets you make are real money wagers, meaning you get to keep any winnings (that’s why I didn’t account for the $80 when computing the contest’s expected value). The biggest difference between this contest and most online contests is that there are zero mandatory races – typically online contests are all mandatory races, so it’s a totally different type of test. In a bullet contest (one with all mandatory races), you just have to handicap the races on offer and make a selection. The DRF Bets format requires a much different skillset because choosing which races to play amounts to more than half the battle.

What’s the best way to choose which races to play? It depends on what type of player you are. If you’re a grass or maiden race specialist, you can carve out several plays for yourself based on those races. Let’s say you’re a player who is dedicated to the Southern California circuit whose Formulator PPs are loaded with trip notes on the California horses going back five years. Maybe then you want to make all your plays at Santa Anita.

A lot of players look for big fields, knowing that bigger prices are statistically more likely. They are right, but there’s another line of thought. As my friend, the late, great Jeff Sotman used to say, “Short field, long price.” The idea is that you don’t necessarily have to discount races with fewer horses if you can find a price you like. If you hit a longshot in a six-horse field in a contest like this, you might even be the only one who has it and you’ll move up the leaderboard alone.

One other piece of advice I’ll give is that you probably want to save a play or two for the last couple of races. The races get more and more important as the contest goes on. Why is this? Because as you get closer to the end, you have much more information about what score you’ll need to qualify or end up in the money. That said, don’t go crazy chasing the leaderboard in the first two-thirds of any contest. Have a plan and stay the course. As my wise friend David Gutfreund once told me, “The latter part of the contest starts later than most people think.”

It’s also notable in this format that there is no place betting – your starting bank is $80 and you bet it all on the win end across eight races. Between this and all the variety that goes along with an all-optional format, you can expect final scores higher than usual. In typical win-place formats, the winner typically ends up with 2.5 times his/her initial bankroll. For this contest, I’m thinking you’re going to need more like 3.5 times the starting bank or around $280 to get a seat. Plot out your strategy accordingly, knowing you’re likely to have to get somewhere near that number.

Godspeed, handicappers. Now all you need to do is click over to DRF Bets.

CLICK HERE to create your DRF Bets account now.
For contest details, check out the DRF Bets NHC Last Chance Challenge page HERE.

John Herzberg More than 1 year ago
I took your advice and played in the contest. Finished 11th. Had 2 9-1 winners with three seconds. Needed everyone of the seconds to win on order to qualify. Thanks, made some money betting. Await the arrival of your book.
suddenice More than 1 year ago
What is the leaderboard for this contest?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
for the contest leaderboard, try this link: xpressbet.com/contests/contest.aspx?contest=LastChanceChallenge2014&brand=drf&show=results
michaelcancilla More than 1 year ago
no cap= garbage STABFEST!!
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Personally, I get it and don't mind in a contest like this. It's real money and keep what you win so the fee is minimal. You just have to adjust your strategy accordingly. . .if you're not into it, plenty of other contests with caps.
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
There was a question here which the site didn't allow me to approve about the new book. It ships January 17th and you can order now via this link: https://store.drf.com/stores/1/THE_WINNING_CONTEST_PLAYER_P20625.cfm
w More than 1 year ago
Are those that have already qualified twice can also play? I assume if I were to be the highest dual qualifier finishing in the top 4, the 5th place finished will get the spot and I would get the $2K 5th place price as the highest non-grand prize winner. Is my assumption correct? Thanks
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
I am not certain of the answer but I will certainly look into it. Would seem to me it's a fairly unlikely spot for sa dbl qualifier to pick, because so much of the purse is tied into the seats. . .but you never know and 5k cash is nothing to sneeze at. I'll try to report back before the contest starts.
Josh Kamis More than 1 year ago
Peter, I ask what is being done to allow those of us in New Jersey to play? I'm not allowed to open drfbets by law. What will happen next year? Are we here in Jersey being shutout?
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately, as much as I wish we could, there's really nothing we can do abt New Jersey state regulatory laws. I think that's a question for your local assemblyman or congressman or perhaps Bruce Springsteen. I'm not sure what the law of the land over there in New Jersey.. .but I definitely sympathize with how frustrating it must be to not be able to play. Fortunately, there are no geographic restrictions on the NHCQualify or BCQualify contests. Maybe check those out? There's one today at NHCQ and one at BCQ tomorrow.
David G. More than 1 year ago
Question: Are the win prices capped in this particular contest? Nothing was cited in the rules on the website. Thanks
Peter Fornatale More than 1 year ago
SInce these bets are real money (ie, the money hits the pool), I am nearly certain there is no cap. That's actually an excellent point I SHOULD have made in the article. My bad and thank you for bringing it up. Lack of cap another reason why the scores in this contest format have been high and another reason you might want to reach on the longer side of the price scale. . .
John Herzberg More than 1 year ago
I took your advice and played in the contest. I finished eleventh made some money betting. I had 2 9-1 shot winners with three seconds. Needed all those seconds to win in order to qualify. I enjoyed it and am waiting for your book.
Chuck Berger More than 1 year ago
Jeff Sotman........................R.I.P. buddy.