07/22/2010 2:49PM

Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge a rich event

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The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is the richest tournament on the Daily Racing Form /NTRA National Handicapping Championship qualifying schedule.

Held during the Breeders’ Cup, this year slated for Nov. 5-6 at Churchill Downs, the tournament has a $10,000 buy-in for the live bankroll format, which has up to 120 players putting their money into the pari-mutuel pools. The buy-in puts $2,500 toward the prize pool – expected to be $340,000 with the entry fees plus $40,000 added by tournament organizers – and $7,500 is used as the live bankroll. Players keep all proceeds from their winning tickets. They also will play for prize money and six berths up for grabs for NHC XII, which will be held Jan. 28-29, 2011, at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas for the fourth straight year.

Not everyone has $10,000 to enter the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, so the tournament has borrowed an idea from the World Series of Poker − it will offer satellite tournaments at BCqualify.com for people to earn spots at a fraction of the cost: $100 per entry.

For those familiar with the NHCqualify.com Web site, which conducts tournaments in which players can qualify directly to the NHC, you’re one step ahead of the game. The BCqualify.com site uses the same software and has similar rules. It is conducting a two-tier contest in July and August, with the qualifiers from three preliminary $100 buy-in contests facing off in the finals Aug. 21, for the six berths in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The first pre-qualifier is being held Saturday, July 24. There is a limit of 300 entries per tourney and two entries per person, and by Thursday morning, there were 82 spots available. Players will make mythical $2 win-and-place wagers on six races from Saratoga (races 5-10) and four races from Del Mar (races 3-6). Prices are capped at $42 to win and $22 to place. The top 30 finishers, assuming a full field of 300, advance to the Aug. 21 finals. There are no additional cash prizes.

The other pre-qualifiers are being held Saturday, Aug. 7, and Sunday, Aug. 15, with the same $100 entry fee and limit of 300 players. The 90 survivors will then square off Aug. 21 under the same format, with the top six finishers earning Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge berths. Winners are responsible for their transportation and lodging during the Breeders’ Cup, but receive two tickets per day, including seating in the Gold Room on the sixth floor at Churchill Downs, along with other benefits.

BCqualify.com is also planning to hold single-day qualifiers Saturday, Sept. 11, and Saturday, Oct. 2. The entry fee is $400, and the fields are capped at 175. Up to five Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge spots will be awarded − that’s one berth for every 35 entries, according to contest rules.

More NHC notes

This Saturday is also the third of five free online tournaments for NHC Tour members, and the top three finishers will earn NHC XII seats. The NHC Tour uses the qualifying schedule as a circuit to award 10 additional NHC berths to players who earn enough points without already making the field.

There are two levels of memberships. A Level I memberships costs $100 and comes with five free tourneys and a chance to be the top point-earner for a $2 million bonus if you win NHC XII. A Level II membership costs $500 and involves playing for seasonlong prize money, with a $75,000 prize going to the champ; NHC XIII berths also go to the top six finishers.

Saturday’s contest races were still undecided by Thursday but were scheduled to be posted at ntra.com/nhctour on Thursday night. The races were expected to be from Saratoga, Woodbine, and Del Mar.

◗ Saturday is also the date for the Claiming Crown Ultimate Handicappers Open at Canterbury Downs in Shakopee, Minn. The tourney has a $2,000 buy-in, with $1,000 going to the prize pool and the other $1,000 used as a live bankroll. The top three make the NHC field.

◗ Next weekend is also a big NHC qualifying weekend with the Keeneland Handicapping Challenge on Saturday, July 31 ($150 entry fee; 3 berths); Del Mar Handicapping Challenge on Saturday and Sunday, July 31 to Aug. 1 ($6,000 buy-in with $5,000 used as live bankroll; 5 berths); the Ultimate Handicapping Challenge at Emerald Downs ($125 entry fee; 9 berths); as well as the monthly finals of the Station/Fiesta Casinos DRF /NTRA Qualifier at the Santa Fe Station in La Vegas ($200 entry; 2 berths).

◗ The inaugural Saratoga Handicapping Challenge on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 11-12, ($1,000 entry fee; limited to 100 entries; 3 berths) is sold out.

◗ Thomas Noone of Redondo Beach, Calif., is still atop the NHC Tour leaderboard heading into this weekend with 7,347 Tour points. The rest of the top five are Eric Yee of Staten Island, N.Y. (6,325); Donald McNeil of Chicago (5,625); Joe Jarvie of Renton, Wash. (5,524); and Steve Meyer of Coeur d’Alene, Idaho (5,200). All five are Level II members.

◗ NHC features stories, and a link to previews of all upcoming qualifying tournaments, are available at drf.com/nhc/2010/nhc.html