From the KY Downs Media Team / Jennie Rees:
Chris Larmey knows a good handicapping tournament when he sees one, and that’s why he will be playing in the Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form on Tuesday, Sept. 15 and Wednesday Sept. 16.
Larmey is a 14-time qualifier for the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), chairman of the NHC Players’ Committee and in the NHC Hall of Fame.
The Kentucky Downs Turf Handicapping Challenge is a pair of standalone live-money tournaments staged online this Sunday and Wednesday, the final days of Kentucky Downs’ six-date meet, that will award multiple seats at the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship and the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC). The twist is that the player with the highest aggregate two-day total will be crowned the National Turf Handicapping Champion, receiving additional prize money and a BCBC spot, worth $10,000.
“I just like the racing at Kentucky Downs,” Larmey said. “It’s such a unique experience, the track configuration, all turf racing, really big, competitive fields. That’s exactly what you like to see in a handicapping contest. I like turf racing, so I think the all-turf format is unique and cool. I like the format. It forces you play a lot of races, so you have to get out of your comfort zone. But you still have the ability to bet more on your stronger opinions and make those kinds of betting and handicapping decisions. I think it’s a good blend.
“To me, it’s got everything you’d like in a handicapping contest… Especially in contest settings, I really like the turf racing because you typically have more competitive and larger fields. Kentucky Downs has that in spades. It has the largest, most competitive turf racing in the country.”
The separate online tournaments are live-money events, meaning that entrants use a real bankroll and get to keep whatever they might earn. The competition will be based on Kentucky Downs’ all-grass cards, with the Sept. 13 contest also offering the option to play turf races from New Jersey’s Monmouth Park. Betting in the tournaments will be conducted through Xpressbet, TVG and 4NJBets online-wagering platforms.
The Sept. 13 tournament has a $1,000 buy-in, with $500 comprising the player’s bankroll and the other $500 going to the prize pool. The buy-in is $600 for the Sept. 16 tournament, with $300 going to the prize pool and $300 for the contestant’s bankroll. Players must compete in both tournaments to be eligible to earn the distinction of being National Turf Handicapping Champion and recipient of its prize package. Competitors also must be an NHC Tour member prior to the start of the contest to be eligible for NHC seats.
Both contests require entrants to bet a minimum of $50 (win, place, show and/or exacta) on a minimum of 10 races on Sept. 13 and six on Sept. 16. Monmouth Park marketing director Brian Skirka is the tournament director. Players must pre-register with Skirka by emailing [email protected] or by calling 732-571-6595.
Larmey already has qualified for the maximum two seats at the NHC next February. He notes that players who already are double-qualified for the NHC get a cash prize instead. He’s really hoping to land a second Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge spot to go with one he already has.
The handicapping Hall of Famer said that in addition to Kentucky Downs’ field sizes, which in recent years have averaged around 11 horses per race to lead the country, the track’s low takeout structure makes betting those races even more appealing. Takeout is the amount taken off the top of each dollar wagered that goes toward purses, any state parimutuel taxes or designated programs and the track’s cut. The lower the takeout, the more money returned to bettors.
“The low takeout is really nice, especially in the exotic wagers,” Larmey said. “That’s definitely a plus for players. And since it’s a live-bankroll contest, you benefit from that in the contest as well.”
Information about the tournaments, including the rules, is available at kentuckydowns.com/racing. This will be the link to the contest leaderboard both days: https://members.breederscup.com/bcbc/kentuckydowns