The National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Daily Racing Form have announced a National Handicapping Championship Tour that will offer additional prize money and qualifying births to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, and have launched a coalition that will target legislation related to pari-mutuel wagering.
The NHC Tour will be open only to officially registered contestants and will be based on performances at NHC qualifying events throughout the year. Should the overall tour winner go on to capture first place in the NHC finals, he or she will receive a $2-million bonus.
To become eligible for the tour, participants must pay an annual $125 registration fee. Tour members then receive points for top-20 finishes in NHC qualifying events held during the year.
At the end of the year’s qualifying events, the overall point leader will receive a bonus of $100,000. The second-place finisher earns $50,000. Third place is worth $25,000, fourth place is worth $10,000, and the fifth-place finisher will earn $5,000.
There will be cash rewards to the top 50 players on the tour. In addition to cash prizes, the top three NHC Tour point leaders will receive automatic entry into that January’s NHC finals in Las Vegas if they have not already qualified for the event during the NHC Tour year.
Additional benefits for NHC Tour members include automatic enrollment in the Horseplayers’ Coalition. Now in the formative stages, the coalition will focus on seeking legislative and regulatory solutions to tax and business issues that impact pari-mutuel racetracks and their customers, and providing grassroots support for the NTRA’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill.
“The NHC Tour will reward our sport’s sharpest, most avid tournament players, and will more closely link the qualifying tournaments that lead to the National Handicapping Championship,” NTRA senior vice president Keith Chamblin said in a statement. “We believe that the tour will also encourage greater tournament participation by fans—including those who have already qualified for the National Championship.
“We also see the tour as an avenue for drawing casual fans further into our game. The first phase of the tour includes implementation of a points system. Other elements under consideration include a ‘rookies’ bracket for first-year tournament players and officially sanctioned tournaments limited to tour players only.”
In its 10th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities, and horse racing and handicapping Web sites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. This year’s 278 finalists, who will meet in Las Vegas Jan. 25-26, advanced from one of 93 local tournaments held at 54 different sites across North America from February through December 2007.
Fans can register for the Tour at www.ntra.com/nhctour beginning Feb. 15. All officially sanctioned NHC qualifying events in 2008, including those held prior to Feb. 15, will be included in tour scoring.