By Noel Michaels
In the 20-year history of the National Horseplayers Championship [NHC], there has never been a bigger on-track super qualifier than the one Monmouth Park is set to host on Saturday, June 2, 2018 with its Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge. Players from all over the country and Canada are already on their way to the Jersey shore to compete in this not-to-be-missed qualifying opportunity hosted by a track that has become the leading gateway in terms of sending tournament players to the major year-end championships.
Monmouth Park has put together a contest format and prize structure that have made the New Jersey track a can’t miss destination for tournament players trying to qualify for the NHC. What Monmouth is doing certainly seems to be working. The Pick Your Prize Challenge costs $2,000 to enter and still managed to attract 205 entries. Monmouth is taking that money and returning it to the players in the form of a record 20 NHC qualifying entries, plus 6 more BCBC spots and cash purse money of $78,340.
“Monmouth Park is proud to host the biggest NHC qualifier in history at Saturday’s Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge,” said Monmouth marketing manager and contest director Brian Skirka. “Thanks go out to the players from 23 different states plus Canada who supported this unique contest format and will be competing for 20 NHC seats, 6 BCBC seats, and over $75,000 in cash.”
The $2,000 entry fees are divided into $1,000 for the prize fund, and $1,000 going to players’ live contest bankrolls. Contestants must bet a minimum of $100 per race on a minimum of 10 races (no maximums) with win, place, show, and exacta wagers on the races from Monmouth, Belmont, or Gulfstream. Players keep their final real-money bankrolls, and the 26 players who accumulate the highest contest totals will take home prizes.
“This year’s Monmouth contest is probably the best opportunity for a player to qualify for the NHC with 20 spots plus BCBC spots and significant cash,” said Brooklyn-based tournament regular Joe Scanio. “The odds of winning some form or prize are better than 8-1 which increases your chances over most, if not all, other contests”
The Pick Your Prize purse format is somewhat unique, and is definitely part of the draw that attracted so many players to the event. Cash prize money is fixed for the first five finishers, with $14,100 for first, $7,835 for second, $4,390 for third, $2,820 for fourth, and $2,195 for fifth.
The contest’s prize board contains the rest of the prizes, including the 26 various qualifying spots plus seven more cash choices ranging from $18,800, to $10,340, to $5,640, to $4,700, $3,760, to $2,350, to $1,410. The top seven finishers get two choices from the prize board. Finishers 8 through 26 continue to pick their preference of the remaining prize choices.
Monmouth Park has made a long-standing commitment to the NHC and to tournament players, and the Pick Your Prize contest is just the latest one in a long line of player-friendly events. No racetrack in the country has sent more players to the NHC over that last 3 years, and no one will send more players to the 2019 NHC than Monmouth Park.
“Monmouth, like Keeneland and NYRA, is an extremely player-friendly location,” said Joe Scanio. “Not only do they offer a generous prize structure, but they also go out of their way to accommodate the players and make sure they have everything they need. The customer service can’t be beat, and that matters to horseplayers.”