Aug. 20 live-money handicapping tourney: ‘Very player-friendly’

Judy Wagner, the First Lady of handicapping contests

HENDERSON, Ky. — (Thursday, August 3, 2017) — One of the fundamental principles for serious horseplayers is finding value. And you won’t find many tournaments that offer competitors the value of the Aug. 20 live-money Bluegrass Tournament at Ellis Park, whose top four finishers earn trips to handicapping’s most prestigious competition.

“Yay! Ellis is back in the fold. With (track owner) Ron Geary, they’ve always been a great host,” said Judy Wagner, the First Lady of handicapping tournaments and winner of the 2001 National Handicapping Championship, now known as the National Horseplayers Championship. “This contest is very player-friendly, with absolutely no takeout from the players’ live bankroll. Nothing is coming on the backs of the players.”
Entry fee to participate is $500, of which $200 goes toward prize money, with Ellis Park and contest administrator AmWager taking no money out. The remaining $300 is the player’s live bankroll, with participants keeping any money they make or have left at the end of the tournament. In addition, the top four finishers will earn a berth in the 2018 National Horseplayers Championship in February in Las Vegas, along with hotel room at tournament site Treasure Island Hotel & Casino and airfare up to $500. The NHC winner also is honored with the Eclipse Award as North America’s champion handicapper.
    “With a generous 100-percent payback of the prize pool and four NHC seats offered on top of that, The Bluegrass Tournament at Ellis Park carries one of the most player-friendly prize structures of any contest in North America,” said Eric Wing, communications director at HorseTourneys and longtime emcee of the National Horseplayers Championship. “It’s a great opportunity to win significant cash and qualify for the NHC — and to do so for a very modest outlay.”
    Joe Kristufek is the paddock analyst at Ellis Park, Churchill Downs and Kentucky Downs and a leading voice in educating the public about betting horses. He has been involved in past NHC competitions and says players often make decisions on where they play based on the tournament structure.
   “For tournament regulars targeting a spot in the NHC, the value is obvious, but local horseplayers with limited contest experience should not be intimidated,” Kristufek said. “If you’re going to play the races at Ellis anyway, you might as well jump into the tournament. If bankroll is an issue, team up with some friends to offset the cost. It’s so much fun, and four trips to Vegas to play in the biggest contest of all are on the line.”
    The tournament, to be held in Ellis’ Gardenia Room on the second floor of the clubhouse, will involve betting a minimum of $20 (win, place, exacta or daily double) on each of 10 races that players select from Ellis’ card and optional races. The $75,000 Ellis Park Juvenile and Debutante Stakes will be mandatory races. The tournament is capped at 150 entries, with players allowed to have up to two entries.
   Registration, rules and more information are available at www.amwager.com/bluegrasstournament. Advance registration is highly encouraged, though participants can sign up at the track the morning of the tournament.
    Feeder tournaments providing their winners with the $500 entry fee are being staged at horsetourneys.com.
    The National Horseplayers Championship and the NHC Tour are owned and operated by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Participants in the Bluegrass Tournament must be members of the NHC Tour in order to earn a qualifying spot for the NHC in Vegas. NHC Tour membership costs $50 per year and can be obtained through ntra.com/nhc.
    The Bluegrass Tournament will be run by AmWager and its parent company AmWest Entertainment, a diversified account-wagering and international simulcast services company based in Prospect, Ky.