Long Distance Cheering

I have a few buddies that have qualified for the 17th Annual National Handicapping Championship. – It takes place January 28th – 30th, and there is $2.45 million dollars on the line. It roughly comes out to $800,000 to the winner if you were sitting home wondering. – The NHC is the one contest where players can’t buy in – your spot must be won in a qualifying event. The field consists of 507 individuals, 119 of whom qualified twice, for a total of 626 entries, the largest in NHC history and up from 606 entries last year, a record number at the time. That field size will grow larger as a result of Treasure’s Island’s Last Chance tournament, to be held on Wednesday according to the Daily Racing Form. – There is nothing like it in the world, and I have qualified in past. I think I played in two contests all year, and time just didn’t allow. That’s not an excuse by any means, and if I would have had a 100 attempts, I would probably be sitting here writing this. It’s not for the faint of heart, and if you’re worried about the money to get in the contest. Just go ahead and do something else for the day.

Some of the best players in the world are there, and if you made the grade, it doesn’t matter where you finish. It’s like getting beat in the NFL playoffs, or in the NBA Finals. If it were easy everyone would do it. –  Contest rules have evolved over the years and there are significant changes to the 2016 format, starting with the shift of days from Friday to Sunday to Thursday to Saturday. On each of the first two days of the tournament, players must make 18 $2 win-place bets – this is up from 15 last year. Just like last year, eight of those races each day will be chosen by a selection committee and designated as mandatory. The mandatory races will be announced Tuesday night at approximately 10 p.m. Eastern. The other 10 bets each day will be optional, and can be placed at any race held at one of six tracks on Thursday: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate, Gulfstream, Oaklawn Park, and Santa Anita. On Friday, Tampa Bay Downs will be added to the mix for a total of seven contest tracks.

As the championship has many of us sitting on our couch waiting to play, I may have a little idea for players to get in on next year’s game. – You have to purchase a $50 NTRA membership to be allowed to qualify and you can accrue tour points. For a much better explanation, just go to the NTRA.com homepage for the complete rules. – But here’s a little bonus. For players who are not involved in the contest, and if you purchased your 2016 Tour Membership. This may be your lucky weekend !  – First, NHC Qualify.com is offering you a chance for a $10,000 site credit, or an entry to the Ultimate Betting Challenge at Gulfstream or Santa Anita. Saturday’s contest will feature the first seat to the 2017 National Handicapping Championship offered online. – That’s all nice and sweet, but how about making it FREE to play ? – The top three finishers in the contest will automatically qualify for next year’s NHC contest. I respect the $50 entry and it’s a good idea. But let’s kick it up a notch and let the folks who may have just missed out a shot at the big dance next year. – We’ll still be rooting for our pals to take down the big prize money, but now we have a vested interest in getting out there in 2017.

I would have to say I would be nailed to my computer taking my shot and the NTRA would have more folks signing up. – The handicappers in Vegas will sign up once they get home and that may be the best bet you’ll make all year. – The perceived value is immeasurable and the real cost would be zero. Toss in three more good handicappers for the big dance next year and you’ll have one of the biggest contests all year. – Maybe you’ll feel better not having to face the big timers, or maybe you would pay to get in. But just think about having a “First Chance” shot playing for next year. – I’m a fan of the NHC and when you get out there you’ll feel like a rock star. I did, and I know about 200 players who feel the same. – Think about it. Is it a bad idea, or do you want to wait till everyone gets back and the usual troops will be playing. Think of this as a little extra something for nothing, and by no means is it an easy score. There are so many good handicappers out there, and they’re all not in Vegas. – Give this a try and I bet the NTRA memberships will spike something fierce. – I’d play, would you ?? – I’m pondering going to the Horse Player World Series at The Orleans. I’ve finished in the money three outta’ four times, and I guess since I didn’t make the grade this year for the NHC. – Maybe I’ll have a little luck in the HPWS kicking up on 3/31 – 4/2/16. – But you can bet the heavy handed players will lined up around the block chomping at the bit.