07/20/2017 11:46AM

Summer season starts with Spa, Del Mar contest qualifiers

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It’s a busy weekend at DRF Tournaments, with a host of qualifiers to go along with one of racing fans’ favorite weekends of the year: the start of the Del Mar and Saratoga meets.

The biggest contest of the weekend in purse value and the most critical in terms of timing is the last-chance qualifier for the Del Mar Handicapping Challenge. The Challenge itself takes place July 29-30 and is one of the highlights of the summer for many players. It’s a live-bankroll event that costs $7,000 to play. A large field is expected, and to sweeten the deal, any player who wins Del Mar and goes on to win the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge will receive a bonus of $1 million.

Players have a chance to get involved for a lot less than $7,000, however. Participants in Saturday’s qualifier will put up $400, and one entry in 22 will win a full berth for Del Mar plus $500 in travel. The qualifier will use the live format, where picks can be changed until the start of each race.

:: First time ever! Get Del Mar Clocker Reports for the 2017 summer meet

One week after Del Mar’s contest will be the Wynn Handicapping Challenge at the Wynn Las Vegas on Aug. 4-5. This is another must-attend event for many tournament players. It is a mythical-bankroll contest with a unique set of rules, including a double bet each day and no continuously updated leaderboard. The Wynn contest costs $2,000 to play, and there are three chances to win in this weekend.

The most popular Wynn qualifier this weekend will take place on Sunday. As of Thursday morning, 27 players had fed into it for as little as $12. Sunday’s event uses the all-in format – all picks must be in before the scheduled post time of the contest’s first race – and costs $108 to play. One in 27 players will win a Wynn entry plus a $500 travel voucher.

Players willing to spend a little more for a more player-friendly ratio of prizes to entries will want to look at the qualifiers happening Saturday and Sunday. In those, players stake $290, but one in 10 will win the $2,500 prize, which includes a Wynn seat plus the travel money.

On the heels of the Wynn contest comes the Saratoga Handicapping Challenge on Wednesday and Thursday, Aug. 9-10. The Saratoga Handicapping Challenge actually is two separate contests, each with a $1,000 buy-in. Players looking to win their way in can try to do so both Saturday and Sunday. Once again, the entry fee is $290, and one in 10 will win a prize worth $2,500, which includes two Saratoga entries and a travel stipend.

:: Saratoga Clocker Report: Get in-depth workout analysis for the 2017 summer meet

Other contests this weekend include first-round events for the World Championship of Handicapping. They cost $95, and one in seven players will advance to the Grade 1 qualifier for the WCH on July 28. From there, one in 10 will win their $5,000 entries to the $1 million, no-takeout WCH finals.

In addition, there will feeders, credit-builders, matchups, and winner-takes-all contests this weekend. For a list of all the action, go to tournaments.drf.com.