The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today a preliminary schedule of Daily Racing Form (DRF)/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) qualifying events for the months of February, March, April and May. In addition to a wide array of online qualifying tournaments, many live tournaments are sprinkled throughout the schedule, including a Feb. 12 competition at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
Link to schedule
Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie is one of many live venues either returning to the Daily Racing Form NHC Tour schedule or joining it for the first time. Other such venues on the winter/spring schedule are Northville Downs in Michigan (March 27), Hawthorne Race Course in Illinois (April 16-17) and Foxwoods Resort Casino in Connecticut (April 30). Last year the NTRA announced that, to satisfy increasing demand, non-NTRA member organizations would be allowed to host NHC qualifying events for the first time. The resulting increased number of qualifying berths is one key reason why next January’s NHC Finals in Las Vegas is projected to have a $2 million overall purse, with a grand prize of $1 million. Last month’s NHC Finals, by comparison, carried a $1.1 million total purse, with $500,000 to the winner.
In total, the February-May schedule currently contains 30 tournaments offering a total of 56 qualifying berths to the January 2012 NHC, where an approximate total of 500 qualifiers are expected to compete.
In addition to NHC qualifying berths, $125,000 in additional prize money is available through the Daily Racing Form NHC Tour. Members who join the NHC Tour for a one-time fee of $45 not only make themselves eligible for the NHC Finals should they succeed in a qualifying tournament, they earn NHC Tour points for finishing in the top 10 percent of the standings in a qualifier. At year’s end, the NHC Tour’s leading points earner (based only on his or her five best scores), receives $75,000 as 2011 NHC Tour winner and is also in line for a $2 million bonus should he or she go on to win the NHC Finals. Signups for the 2011 NHC Tour are now being accepted at at www.ntra.com/nhctour.
An added benefit of NHC Tour membership is the opportunity to play in free, online NHC Qualifying tournaments that are restricted to existing NHC Tour members. The next free NHC Tour Online Challenge will take place on Sunday, March 6 at NTRA.com.
“The response to our liberalized rules for hosting NHC qualifiers has exceeded our expectations thus far,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president for the NTRA. “Approximately 400 of our 500 qualifying NHC seats are already accounted for, so we’d urge any facilities contemplating hosting an NHC qualifying tournament to move quickly.”
All NHC Tour members also receive automatic membership in the NTRA Horseplayers Coalition, which supports federal lobbying on issues that affect the nation’s 30 million horseplayers and racing fans. All Tour members will also become eligible for the NTRA Advantage programs, featuring discounts on products from John Deere, Sherwin-Williams, Office Max and Office Depot.
In just its 13th 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.
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horse racing interests consisting of leading thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers, horseplayers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and Rye Brook, N.Y. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA web site, NTRA.com.