06/02/2016 2:26PM

Tournaments site offers packages to NHC, BCBC

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It’s a busy weekend in the contest world. Let’s start by taking a look online at the new DRF Tournaments site, tournaments.drf.com.

The headline event is a $162 buy-in, one-day qualifier for the National Handicapping Championship. Winners will get a chance to win their share of $2.5 million at the NHC, $1,000 for travel, and a four-night stay at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. This contest will use the all-in format. All picks must be made before the scheduled post time of the first contest event.

Also on Saturday, tournaments.drf.com will be running the final online qualifier to the Belmont Betting Challenge. The buy-in is $325, and one $10,000 entry will be awarded for every 38 entries, along with $500 for travel. This contest is utilizing the live format, so selections may be altered until the off time of each race.

Also on Saturday, there will be a $21 feeder for Sunday’s BCQualify event. The top 10 percent of finishers will receive their $190 entry fees for a contest that will send players to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge. This contest will use the all-in format. All picks must be made before the scheduled post time of the first contest event.

Here are the 12 races for Saturday’s contests (all times Eastern):

4:09 Belmont 6

4:20 Monmouth 8

4:41 Belmont 7

4:52 Monmouth 9

5:00 Santa Anita 1

5:13 Belmont 8

5:24 Monmouth 10

5:30 Santa Anita 2

5:45 Belmont 9

6:00 Santa Anita 3

6:17 Belmont 10

6:30 Santa Anita 4

Monmouth draws a crowd

The Monmouth Pick Your Prize contest looks to be a huge hit. Initially, 100 entries were expected, but that number swelled to 145 based on the amount of interest. Saturday’s prize pool will be comprised of 13 NHC seats, four BCBC seats, and $56,670.

“The Pick Your Prize Challenge was about 18 months in the making,” said Monmouth marketing manager and tournament director Brian Skirka. “I wanted to branch into the world of high-entry-fee contests, but at the same time, I wanted to come up with a contest idea that was different.”

Knowing that some contest players prefer to play to get into the NHC, some prefer the BCBC, and some prefer cash, Skirka’s new idea was to offer players their choice of prizes. “From there, it was a lot of talking to players and a lot of number crunching to find the right entry fee and bankroll amounts that would appeal to our players and also give me the opportunity to come up with a strong prize board,” he said. “The response to this contest has truly been better than I ever expected, and I have to thank the players for that.”

Monmouth has developed a reputation as a market leader when it comes to contests, and that shows in the quality of players who regularly compete there. “Our qualifiers have had great success in the NHC, especially lately,” said Skirka. “We’re proud to have sent the highest number of players to the NHC of any track in the country the last few seasons, and we’re excited to do that again this year.”

While the new contest format helps Monmouth generate more ontrack handle, it’s important to Skirka and the Monmouth team that the players benefit as well. “I think it’s important to talk to the players to see what they like and what they don’t like,” he said. “Of course contests are good for our business, and we want to structure them thusly, but we also want to make sure they are structured to benefit the players.”

Live contest at Canterbury

For those who were asleep at the switch regarding the Monmouth tournament, the news is not good – entries are closed. But there is another opportunity to play in a live contest this weekend – at Canterbury Park. Canterbury has made waves lately with the announcement of its new horseplayer-friendly takeout (15 percent for win, place, and show; 18 percent for exotics), and many contest players plan to go out of their way to support Canterbury, particularly at its Dog Days of Summer contest in September.

For Saturday’s contest, players put up $100 and must make 10 mythical $2 win/place wagers on 10 races of their choice, selecting one horse in each race. The two players with the largest mythical bankrolls will win NHC seats plus accommodations and $450 for airfare.

For more information, contact contest director Jeff Maday at Canterbury Park via JMaday@canterburypark.com or give him a ring at (952) 292-7524. “I recognize that with the Monmouth contest going on, we won’t have as many shippers as we get for the Dog Days of Summer,” said Maday, “but I like the idea of one of our local players getting the chance to go to the NHC. It’s a one-of-a-kind experience for a horseplayer.”