Winning the annual $2 million National Horseplayers Championship is one of the most difficult feats in handicapping. Players must qualify to get to the February event in Las Vegas and this weekend Canterbury offers a pair of contests that can initiate that journey.
Saturday’s Ultimate Handicapper’s Weekend Satellite, with a $100 entry fee, will move winners into the Sept. 7 Ultimate NHC Qualifier and the 22nd annual Dog Days of Summer Contest on Sept. 8 -9. Winners in those contests qualify for the NHC and the Dog Days winner also earns a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry.
Sunday’s Ultimate NHC Satellite has a $50 entry fee and winners earn entry to the Sept. 7 contest at Canterbury. Both contests this weekend have the same format: 10 mandatory races where entrants select a horse in each race with points awarded based on mutuel prices of selections.
There is an additional betting contest Saturday night using the ‘Ultimate’ format devised by tournament veteran Ross Gallo and used in the Ultimate Handicappers Invitational. Players put up a live cash bankroll, in this case $500, and make wagers using that bankroll. On Saturday it will be six of Canterbury’s live races. The catch is that each wager must be at least one-half of the existing bankroll. The first bet is $250 minimum. The next wager is half what is left after the first race is official. The player that has the largest bankroll at the end of the contest wins $4,000 in addition to what could be a substantial bankroll. There is also a $1,000 bonus paid to the player that wagers the most money over the six race sequence.
Saturday live racing begins at 6pm. The contest races will be determined after entries but is sure to use the three turf stakes that night: the $100,000 Mystic Lake Turf Express, the $50,000 HBPA Distaff Stakes, and the $50,000 Brooks Fields Stakes.