First Qualifier to 2019 Keeneland Grade One Gamble Plus at Least Seven More Guaranteed NHC Seats Among the Highlights of Featured Weekend Menu

There are 12 more shopping days until Christmas—and 30 more qualifying days for the 2019 NHC. We can help you somewhat with the former—via our many cash tourneys—and we can definitely help you a lot with the latter thanks to five more NHC direct qualifiers this weekend that offer at least seven guaranteed seats to the big dance on February 8-10.

Speaking of Christmas, what would be a better present to yourself than a $3,500 package to the April 14 Keeneland Grade One Gamble? Our first qualifier to that anticipated tournament takes place on Saturday…but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. This weekend’s featured action gets started a day earlier than that on Friday.

From a spending money standpoint, the Friday feature is our up-to-$12,500 Pick & Pray with $5,000 Guaranteed. It carries an entry fee of $190 and there is a limit of 75 entries that will be accepted.

There’s also our Horse Player World Series entry-only Pick & Pray on Friday. One in 20 will earn a $1,500 HPWS entry for one of the contest world’s true “majors” at The Orleans next March.

If you’re more concerned with crossing that sometimes elusive “2019 NHC seat” item off your list, then HorsePlayers is the place for you on Friday.

It’s our $75 NHC Pick & Pray qualifier with two seats (and plenty of NHC Tour points) guaranteed to be awarded. One of every 143 entries will punch a ticket to the NHC. If we get up as high as 429 entries, we’ll toss in a third seat.

Contest races for all of the Friday featured events are: the 6th through 8th at Gulfstream; the 7th through 9th from Aqueduct; and the 7th through 10th from Woodbine—10 races in all.

Two more guaranteed opportunities to make the NHC come Saturday at HorsePlayers.

One of those opportunities comes via a “Lower Ratio” qualifier. Here, you pay a little more ($240) to play, but your winning ratio is 1 in 45, rather than the usual 1 in 65. One seat is guaranteed in this Pick & Pray.

Another seat is guaranteed in Saturday’s other NHC qualifier—an NHC “Maiden Special” tourney. It’s also a Pick & Pray, and it’s limited to those who have yet to win a 2019 NHC seat. I suppose it’s a little like taking a drop from open company to state-bred competition. The entry fee is $165, and we will point out once again that—because of the restricted nature of this qualifier—no NHC Tour Points will be awarded in this tourney.

One doesn’t usually think too much about Keeneland in December…but this weekend that might be a mistake.

This week’s new addition to the featured-tourney lineup is Saturday’s first chance qualifier to the Keeneland Grade One Gamble, to be held next April 14. One per each 25 entries (at $164 each) in this live-format qualifier will receive a hefty $3,500 package to the Lexington, Ky. Tourney, including the $3,000 entry fee and $500 for travel. Make it to the “Gamble” and you’ll be competing for Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entries, 2020 NHC seats and plenty of cash.

Also on the Saturday schedule is our richest event of the weekend, our up-to-$30,000 cash tourney with $17,500 guaranteed. It’s a live-format game this week with an entry fee of $260 and a maximum of 133 entries.

Another popular qualifier on tap Saturday is a full-package “play in” to the Horse Player World Series. Winners (one per each 25 entries) in this live-format tourney earn a $1,500 HPWS entry, a four-night hotel stay at The Orleans plus $500 for additional travel expenses.

Ten more featured tourneys are on the Sunday schedule.

The day’s richest competition is our up-to-$20,000 cash game (live format), which carries an entry fee of $195. Regardless of participation, the purse is guaranteed to be at least $10,000. No more than 118 entries, however, will be accepted in this one.

On Saturday, there is an NHC Lower Ratio qualifier at HorsePlayers, and on Sunday, there’s one of those at HorseTourneys. Same general rules apply: $240 to play, a winning ratio of 1 in 45, one seat guaranteed, and the format is again Pick & Pray.

Last Sunday’s first qualifier to the Treasure Island NHC tournament on NHC eve (February 7) was very popular, resulting in five $500 entries being handed out. So, of course, we’ll offer another one this Sunday. Here the format is live, and one in 10 will win. Entries cost just $58.

About five weeks after the NHC is the Horse Player World Series, and Sunday marks our third HPWS qualifier in as many days. This one is an entry-only tourney with an entry fee of $90. One in 20 in this live-format event receives a $1,500 entry.

After last Sunday’s debut, this Sunday marks our second qualifier to the January 4-5 NHC qualifier at Hawthorne—one of the final brick-and-mortar qualifiers on the 2018 NHC Tour schedule. The Hawthorne contests are run as two separate single-day compeitions with two NHC seats at stake each day, and a hefty, million-dollar bonus to each day’s winner should he or she go on to capture the NHC in five weeks’ time. Winner(s) of our Sunday qualifier receive $800 in entry fees for Hawthorne—enough to cover you for both days out there at Hawthorne.

Another “cold-weather” qualifier just a week before Hawthorne is the December 29 Monmouth Park Last Chance NHC qualifier. It is the final contest on Monmouth’s long list of annual NHC qualifiers, and here five NHC seats will be at stake. Our Sunday qualifier to Monmouth carries an entry fee of $71 and winners get a $900 package ($400 entry plus $500 travel). Like the majority of featured tourneys this weekend, this one will be run in live-format mode.

There’s one more Sunday cash game to report: our up-to-$5,000 Exacta box tourney. This contest (always run in live-format) offers a guaranteed pot of $1,000. You pick a three-horse exacta box in each contest race, and whoever gets the highest total returns (no price caps!) over the 12 races takes the spoils.

Once again, there is triple-barrel featured-tourney action at HorsePlayers this Sunday.

Our final two of the seven guaranteed NHC spots available this weekend will be waiting under the tree in a “regular” NHC qualifier with a buy in of $165. This one is a live-format tourney.

This Sunday there are again two live-format, $118 qualifiers to onsite NHC Super Qualifiers held at the end of the 2018 NHC Tour year. One is to the December 22 contest at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, and the other is to the January 5 tournament at Santa Anita (home of the Roulette bet!). One entry per 20 in these Sunday HorsePlayers qualifiers will earn a $1,500 entry plus $500 for travel to Fair Grounds or Santa Anita (as the case may be). The two Super Qualifiers will each offer one NHC seat per every 15 entries, utilizing a wagering format whereby players make 10 live-bankroll $50 win and place plays. So the Super Qualifiers will have an NHC feel from a format standpoint.

May you all successfully chip away this weekend at your holiday shopping lists—and your tourney target lists. Good luck!