By Noel Michaels
Free NHC Tour qualifying contests have long been a perk of NHC Tour membership, and this year is no exception with the NTRA hosting several of the free online events throughout the year. Now, there’s a brand-new free contest on the calendar from the people who brought you the ever-popular Public Handicapper contests of years gone by. The new tournament host, website, and free NHC qualifier is called Sport of Kings, and it’s getting ready to launch its first contest on August 1.
What’s different about this new contest website, SportofKings.net, you ask? The answer is that it’s entirely free, including all daily, weekly, monthly, meet-long and qualifying contests that will eventually fill the site. The website will feature past performances for all contest races, and those will be entirely free, as well.
Sign-ups for the free Sport of Kings NHC qualifying contest will open on the website the last week of July, for a contest start date of Saturday, August 1, which will begin the first round of the site’s NHC qualifying contest. The contest will conclude on Breeders’ Cup Saturday, when two NHC spots will be awarded, in addition to NHC Tour points to the top 30 finishers.
SportofKings.net is the brainchild of 12-time NHC Finals Qualifier Scott Carson, a long-time presence on the tournament scene who is well known to almost everyone on the Tour. Carson has not only distinguished himself as a player who has won several racetrack tournaments including Monmouth, Saratoga, and Kentucky Downs, and who also advanced to the NHC Final Table in 2018, he has also already established himself as a success entrepreneur in the sport with his 20-year run as founder and contest director at PublicHandicapper.com. You’ve probably heard of Public Handicapper, which hosted free NHC qualifying contests for over a decade until folding in 2019. Maybe you were even a player on the site. More than 12,000 tournament players participated including 3,000 entries in the site’s final year.
The Sport of Kings site is a totally different free concept that is new and improved in terms of what it will have to offer.
“Sport of Kings is not just a contest website that’s fun for contest players. It’s designed to create new fans, and nurture new contest players,” Carson said. “And everything is free. It’s all about free contests, free PPs, and growing the sport.”
When Sport of Kings launches, it will feature Race of the Day contests. The first round of the NHC qualifier will start on Day One.
“Because our first contest is a free NHC qualifier, NHC Tour players are going to want in,” Carson said. “NHC Tour points will also apply.”
Sport of Kings Free NHC Qualifying Contest will be a two-round event. Round 1 contests will be held monthly in August, September, and October. Each of the months will be independent of each other, so if you tank one month, you start over again the next month. Each month’s contest will consist of win-and-place bets on 4-5 races per weekend. The 100 top-scoring players at the end of each month will advance to Round 2, which is the finals of the contest that will consist of every Breeders’ Cup race.
Beyond the aforementioned free NHC qualifier, which will be annual, and the Race of the Day contests, which will have their own finals on the weekend after the Breeders’ Cup for prizes such as contest entries, swag, and past performance packages, Carson envisions a wide array of tournament possibilities for the Sport of Kings site. In the future, Carson hopes to secure tracks to sponsor contests and provide prizes, such paid contest entries and maybe even more NHC spots.
“It’s a site that will give fledgling handicappers a chance to learn the game in a risk-free environment, and they may even win a prize. When new players get the confidence to bet, they’re going to become horseplayers and contribute to the sport,” Carson said.
To start, all contests on SportofKings.net will use the win-and-place format, and contest picks can be changed at any time up until 3 minutes to post (i.e. not “pick and pray”). The site will automatically compile detailed stats and records, which every player can access for themselves on their own player page.
Only NHC Tour members will be eligible to qualify for the NHC in the Sport of Kings free qualifier. If you are not already a member of the 2020 NHC Tour, you can sign up now for as little as $50 by going to www.ntra.com/membership.
In addition to the Sport of Kings free contest, August also will feature the biggest free event on the 2020 NTRA calendar, starting on Aug. 6 and concluding on Aug. 29, when five NHC berths plus NHC Tour points will be awarded. Starting with the contest on Aug. 6, a total of four free feeder contests will be hosted at HorsePlayers.com on August 6, 13, 20, and 27, with the top 10% of finishers from each feeder advancing to the Aug. 29 finals.
Continue to check the NTRA website at www.ntra.com/nhc/nhc-schedule for updates throughout the year, and good luck on your qualifying quest for the 2021 NHC. See you there!