The annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, always free to enter, begins Saturday, January 22 in the Canterbury Racebook. The marathon of a contest with an instant gratification component puts horse players to the test, offering weekly prizes as well as awards to top cumulative scorers over the 16-week event plus a Grand Prize contest with a valuable prize.
The premise of the contest, which began two decades ago, is that horse players of all levels love the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby as prep races are held across the country so a contest allowing those players to make money on their opinions would make perfect sense. Annually it has been the most popular Race Book promotion providing Minnesotans hope that a long winter will eventually end.
Each week one track is featured plus additional prep races are included in the weekly contests when available. Players select one horse in each race at the designated track and add-ons and earn points based on the mutuel payouts of the selections. The Derby prep races themselves are doubled in points. Price seekers trying to find one winner at a number face off against short price punters that hope today is the day they get hot.
There is also an incentive provided to play early beginning Saturday. The Early Speed Bonus! Each weekly winner of contests on Jan. 22, Jan. 29 and Feb. 5 will receive a bonus of 20,000 MVP Rewards points. The player with the highest accumulated points following the Feb. 12 contest will receive a bonus of 25,000 MVP Rewards points.
Scores are tabulated and by mid-week the standings are posted with weekly prizes being $200 for first, $150 for second, $100 for third and $50 and $25 respectively for fourth and fifth. The top three players also earn a Grand Prize contest entry. For cumulative scoring, the lowest four weekly scores are dropped from the total. This allows players to miss a week here and there and take a zero if needed. Top cumulative score gets $1,000 with money being paid down to thirtieth. Top eight overall also earn entry to Grand Prize contest.
This week the Fair Grounds will be the focus track with the Lecomte Stakes being the double pointer. In all there are 14 races with a first post and contest deadline of noon.
Bruce ‘The Oracle’ Meyer, six-time winner of Canterbury Handicapper of the Year suggests that to win the overall one needs to average about 1,000 points per contest. A participant for years and years, he managed to finish second overall last year in Road to Kentucky. He is waiting to claim the ‘unofficial’ title should Medina Spirit be DQ’d from the 2021 Derby and Mandaloun elevated. Moral victory! The Oracle will have a chance to get points with Mandaloun Saturday in race 13 at Fair Grounds, the Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes.
The Race Book opens at 9am when entry forms will be available. While entry is free, to win full prizes players must also wager at least $20 using an MVP Rewards card.
New this year is an additional handicapping contest called Bet on Yourself in R2K. Basically players are betting, there is a $10 entry fee, that their Road score that day will be better than all other who enter Bet on Yourself that day. Best score of all entered takes the entire pool of entry fees. It is a matter of having confidence that the work done is enough to be best and it only costs ten bucks to find out. The winner also receives one 2022 Handicapper of the Year point.
The Grand Prize Contest, exclusive to those winning an entry through R2K, will be May 28 and awards a $3,000 live bankroll entry to September’s Big Ten BCBC Contest at Canterbury. That contest awards eleven $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries to top players.