01/12/2017 3:17PM

Crunch time for NHC qualifiers

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There are just two weekends left to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship, which takes place from Jan. 27-29 at the Treasure Island in Las Vegas. A field of around 650 and a purse of $2.5 million are expected.

DRF Tournaments will be hosting four events, starting this Saturday, with a live-format contest that costs $252 to enter. One winning package – which includes $1,000 in travel expenses and a four-night stay at TI -- will be awarded for every 45 entries. Two seats are guaranteed, but that number will likely swell to at least four.

On Sunday, the buy-in for the live qualifier goes up, but the ratio improves. It costs $400 to play and one winning package will be awarded for every 28 entries. Two seats are once again guaranteed with more likely based on participation.

Full details for next weekend’s events have yet to be announced, but Saturday’s contest will use the all-in format, where all picks must be in before the first race, and Sunday’s tournament, the final online qualifier, will feature the live format once again. DRF Tournaments will be running feeders starting on Monday for the Martin Luther King Day holiday, where players can win in to those last NHC online qualifiers.

You’ll be able to find more information at tournaments.drf.com.

Players looking to qualify for the 2017 NHC – or get a jump on the 2018 event if they are double-qualified – should look into Saturday’s First Chance/Last Chance event. Buy-in for the on-site event is $400, with $200 funding the prize pool which will include two NHC seats. For more information, contact Nancy Berry at Gulfstream Park (nancy.berry@gulfstreampark.com).

Following that, the only other opportunity to qualify will be at the Last Chance contest held at Treasure Island on Thursday, Jan. 26.

Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge

It’s another weekend of Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge round one qualifiers on DRF Tournaments as well. The ever-popular two-stage format continues with an added twist.

On Saturday, buy-in is $200, but the top 20 percent of finishers will advance to round two on Sunday, Jan. 22, where up to eight $10,000 BCBC seats will be awarded. The expansion to the top 20 percent advancing is great news for players more comfortable at the lower end of the odds spectrum as the cutoff to advance will be lower than in the typical round one format, where only the top 10 percent advance.

The traditional round one format will reign on Sunday, where the buy-in goes back to $100 and the top 10 percent will move on for a shot at a seat to the most prestigious live-bankroll contest there is, the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.