06/19/2014 2:27PM

National Handicapping Championship purse raised to $2 million

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What had been rumored for the last couple of months is now a fact: The purse of the 16th Daily Racing Form /National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship has been raised to a record $2 million. That represents an increase of about 25 percent over the 2014 NHC purse, which was $1,590,000.

The purse increase is the result of growth across all corners of the contest world, from online sites like NHCQualify.com to brick-and-mortar NHC Tour events at racetracks, casinos, and off-track betting facilities across the country. To that latter point, the New York Racing Association’s Belmont Park Handicapping Challenge, a key midseason contest taking place this weekend, already has sold out.

One cannot simply buy into the NHC – spots in the contest must be earned via qualification. Online and live venues purchase “seats” to the NHC from the NTRA, and this money, along with a $50 registration fee for the NHC Tour, fuels the overall purse. In addition to the main-event money, an additional $200,000 in previously announced prize money will be distributed as part of the 2014 NHC Tour, which rewards players with the highest overall finishes in tour events. This brings the estimated NHC and NHC Tour purses to $2.2 million.

“Virtually all of our qualifying tournaments – on-site and online – continue to perform very well,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of the NTRA. “We have more than 1,350 new tour members thus far in 2014. The NHC will only grow as more people are introduced to tournament contests and experience the thrill of competing for a spot in Las Vegas and a chance at the winner’s share of $2 million in prize money. These are life-changing sums being offered to the top finishers.”

The 16th NHC will take place Jan. 23-25 at Treasure Island Las Vegas. The 2014 NHC Tour schedule and the official rules for the 2015 NHC have been posted online at NHCTour.com. For the second year in a row, the championship will feature a three-day format with a final 50 and a final table of 10, with the overall winner expected to take home $750,000.

In 2014, payouts were made to the top 50 finishers in the overall tournament. The number should be similar next year. Full details on the payout schedule will be made available by the NTRA as the event gets closer and the purse is finalized. Further increases are still possible.

For a full list of qualifying events, check out http://ntra.com/en/nhc/nhc-tour-schedule.