Updated on 12/11/2014 2:58PM

NHC Tour prize money increases 25 percent


The National Thoroughbred Racing Association has announced the rules for the 2015 NHC Tour. Overall prize money for the Tour has been increased 25 percent to $250,000 total.

Membership for the 2014 Tour was up over 50 percent. There were also significant gains in entries for both live and online tournaments, resulting in this year’s National Handicapping Championship having a record purse of over $2 million. “Overall we were very pleased with the results of this year’s Tour,” said NTRA vice president Keith Chamblin. “At the same time, we continue to see areas where we need to make some tweaks.”

The most significant change is a new bonus available to players who finish in the money on the 2015 Tour. Those top 20 Tour finishers will be eligible for an additional $25,000 that will be awarded to the person in that group who finishes highest at the 2016 NHC. This individual also will earn a berth in the 2017 NHC.

“We hope this will motivate participation and play,” Chamblin said, “and we like the idea that more players will be eligible to qualify for an end-of-the-season competition. While it’s not incredibly lucrative, $25,000 isn’t chump change.”

Chamblin left open the possibility that if this contest-within-a-contest is successful, there could be room to grow it in the future. “It’s something different,” Chamblin said, “And we’re curious how players will react to it.”

The overall number one Tour finisher will also receive an automatic entry into the 2017 NHC. “This is the first time in a number of years we’ve done this,” Chamblin said, “But it seems like a fair reward for such a difficult achievement.”

Tournament scoring is another area that will change. In 2014, a Tour points calculator was used that increased the value of tournaments with a high number of unique entrants at the expense of smaller tournaments. “From the feedback we’ve received, we may have overcorrected,” Chamblin explained. “So we’ve tweaked the scoring calculator where there won’t be as much of a difference. We’ve also gone back to a system where tournament size will be based on the number of total entries, not the amount of unique participants.”

To play in the National Handicapping Championship, one must purchase a $50 Tour membership. For the first time in 2015, players have a way to potentially subsidize the cost of the Tour. NHC title sponsor Daily Racing Form is offering a special for Tour members on past performance subscription packages – a 15 percent discount for first-time Tour members and 10 percent for those renewing. “This offer gives players a chance to pay for the cost of Tour membership,” Chamblin said. “We’re hopeful players will react well to that and that we’ll continue to see a lot of new players coming into the pipeline.”

As was the case this year on the Tour, the top 150 Tour points leaders will be guaranteed entry into the 2016 NHC, where the overall, season-ending NHC Tour points leader will be eligible for a $2 million bonus should he or she capture the 2016 NHC.

The 2015 Tour officially kicks off Monday, Jan. 26, and continues through Dec. 31. A tentative schedule of 2015 NHC qualifying events will be released in coming weeks. Registration is already open. To sign up now, go to ntra.com/en/nhc/2015-become-a-member. The complete rules are posted at ntra.com/en/nhc/2015-nhc-tour-official-rules.