08/09/2017 12:20PM

Field growing for World Championship of Handicapping

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So far, 25 players have qualified for the World Championship of Handicapping, with Sam Richman and David Wilganowski being the latest to add their names to the roster for the $1 million, no-takeout WCH. Players can buy in for $5,000, but both men won their seats in last Saturday’s Grade 1 qualifier. The WCH is an online contest that will take place in January.

Richman, of New Hampshire, has been a racing fan for more than three decades. A trip to the 1987 Kentucky Derby was what won him over. He discovered contest play five years ago and has been participating ever since.

“I really enjoy contest play, although I can’t pinpoint the exact reasons,” said the 50-year-old psychologist. “Maybe it’s something about both having a winner and seeing my name on the leaderboard.”

His biggest winner on Saturday was 13-1 Thundering Sky in the penultimate contest race. “I was lucky that he won and even more fortunate that only one other contest player had him,” he said.

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He’s looking forward to the WCH. “I’m hoping that the combination of an online contest and mythical wagers as opposed to live bankroll will play to my strengths and bring me luck,” he said.

Wilganowski, a 54-year-old electrician, had never played in a contest before purchasing “The Winning Contest Player” in December 2013. Contests have been an important part of his betting repertoire ever since.

As a resident of Houston, where there is no online wagering into live race pools, contests have a particular appeal to Wilganowski. “It’s not always easy to get to the track, so now at least I can play when I can’t get out there,” he said. “Online play enhances the experience of being a racing fan.”

Contests also help him keep up with what’s going on in the sport. “I like the bigger tracks, and I love the Triple Crown and the Breeders’ Cup,” he said. “When I’m playing in contests, it’s like playing fantasy football. You pay attention a lot more than you would otherwise, so now I can keep up with everything.”

The next Grade 1 qualifier takes place on Alabama Day, Saturday, Aug. 19. Entries can be purchased for $580 or won via first-round contests every operating day at DRF Tournaments. First-round contests cost $95 to play, and one in seven entries will advance to the Grade 1. From the Grade 1, one in 10 entries will win their $5,000 shots at their share of $1 million.

For more information, including a list of all the DRFT contests, go to tournaments.drf.com.