03/02/2011 3:31PM

Breeders' Cup handicapping tournament grows

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Breeders’ Cup will cap the number of players who can participate in a $10,000 buy-in handicapping tournament held in conjunction with the November event at 125 this year, up from 120, the organization announced on Wednesday.

Because of the additional slots, the maximum amount of prize money for the tournament will rise to $350,000, up from $340,000 last year. Of the $10,000 buy-in, $2,500 is contributed to the prize pool, while the other $7,500 is used for the player’s live bankroll. Breeders’ Cup also kicks in $25,000 to the prize pool.

Breeders’ Cup will be held this year at Churchill Downs for the second year in a row. Players in the tournament are given access to the track’s sixth-floor “Gold Room.”

Last year, in the tournament’s second year, 95 players participated; 21 of those players earned free entries by winning online tournaments sponsored by Breeders’ Cup or Twinspires.com, the account-wagering operation owned by Churchill Downs Inc. Ken Kirchner, the simulcasting and wagering consultant for Breeders’ Cup, said that the tournament’s organizers felt confident that the number of players would increase this year.

“Positive response to the tournament was so overwhelming last year that we think another 20 or 25 players are going to enter,” Kirchner said. “We had players tell us that not only are they going to play again, but they are bringing other people to sign up.”

This year, at least 29 spots in the tournament will be offered through online qualifying tournaments sponsored by Breeders’ Cup, with the first being held this Saturday. Entries in the qualifying tournaments cost a minimum of $100. Kirchner said that twinspires.com is also expected to hold additional online qualifying tournaments later this year.

The tournament allows participants to make live win, place, show, exacta, and trifecta wagers on any of the 14 Breeders’ Cup races. The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the event receives half of the prize pool, with the other half distributed among the next nine players with the highest bankrolls.

Last year, the winning bankroll was $44,863. Combined with the winner’s share of the pool, the winner, Robert Hansan of Reston, Va., took home $181,863.