12/17/2012 12:48PM

Ellis Park to host $300,000 handicapping tournament in 2013

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Ellis Park in western Kentucky will host a $300,000 handicapping tournament next year over Labor Day weekend with the vast majority of the 55 seats for the contest provided through online tournaments held earlier in the year, the track and tournament organizers said Monday.

The $300,000 purse would make the tournament the third-richest currently on the calendar, behind the National Handicapping Championship, which in 2012 awarded more than $1.5 million in prize money, and the $10,000 buy-in Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, which earlier this year distributed $370,000 in purses.

The top 10 finishers in the tournament will receive automatic berths to the National Handicapping Championship.

Tournament organizers said they plan to make 50 of the 55 seats available to be won through qualifying tournaments at horsetourneys.com, a handicapping contest website owned by Ellis. Each entry in the qualifying tournaments will cost $190. The remaining seats in the $300,000 contest will be sold for a $10,000 buy-in.

“It’s our hope to move 50” seats in the qualifiers, said McKay Smith, operator of horsetourneys.com. “If we move less than that, if we move 35, then we’ll open up more seats for the buy-ins.”

First place in the tournament will earn the winner approximately $120,000. Prize payments will go down to 10th place.

The contest will be conducted over two days, Aug. 31-Sept. 1, and mirror the format of the National Handicapping Championship, requiring players to make selections in 15 races a day.