First Online Qualifiers to the 2024 NHC and Last Chances for Laurel This Friday, Saturday, Sunday

The ink is barely dry on the oversized check that Paul Calia earned for winning last weekend’s NHC…and already it’s time to focus on the 2024 renewal of the world’s most prestigious handicapping contest.

This weekend at HorsePlayers, you have two opportunities to put yourself in the field of those who will try to dethrone Calia at this time next year. Not only that, but this weekend’s winners get a full year’s worth of anticipation and happy NHC daydreams at no extra charge! Your first chance to make that fantasy a…more realistic fantasy…comes this Friday.

Since it’s Friday, what else could the entry fee be to the first 2024 NHC qualifier but $75?! And obviously, since we are now officially into the 2023 NHC Tour year, potentially valuable NHC Tour points will be on offer in addition to two guaranteed seats. 

That initial NHC qualifier is a Pick & Pray—and so are all six of the Friday features at HorseTourneys.

This is the final weekend of qualifying for the March 25 Laurel Champions tournament—an on-track-only affair. One of every 10 who pony up the $59 entry fee on Friday will garner a $500 berth for a week from Saturday.

Friday’s HT Tour event is our $15,000 Guaranteed, No Limit Pick & Pray. The cost of participation is $190, and the purse could reach $20,000 or more depending on how many sign up…but it won’t be less than $15,000.

There will be a qualifier on each day of the upcoming weekend for the Players Championship, the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge, the Keeneland Grade One Gamble and the Florida Derby Challenge. 

The Players Championship qualifier is a $156, l-per-15 scrimmage. Winners grab a $2,000 seat for the $350,000 Guaranteed second leg of the 2023 Tourney Triple here on Friday and Saturday, April 7-8.

Another $156, 1-per-15 test is our Monmouth Pick Your Prize qualifier. Winner(s) of Friday’s Pick & Pray earn a $2,000 entry for the popular on-track/online hybrid tournament to be held on June 3.

The Keeneland Grade One Gamble annually draws a large, competitive field of handicappers. This year’s Gamble is slated for April 15. You can pick up a $3,500 entry on Friday (and Saturday and Sunday) for $207. One of every 20 entrants on each day will do just that. 

The Florida Derby Challenge qualifier on Friday is a $118 Pick & Pray. One of every 15 contests earn a $1,500 entry—playable at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park or Xpressbet—for April 1 (two weeks from Saturday).

Contest races for Friday are the 6th through 9th from Gulfstream; the 5th and 6th at Aqueduct; the 7th and 9th from Tampa Bay Downs; and the first two races of the day at Santa Anita—10 races in all.

After two straight weekends in which Pick & Prays were the order of the day, Live-format tourneys get their time to shine this week. We have seven such marquee games—plus one lonely Pick & Pray—on Saturday

Saturday’s HT Tour event, is our richest tourney of the week—a $30,000 Guaranteed cash game. The entry fee is $350.

The lone Saturday Pick & Pray is our $10,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney. The cost of a starting berth is $1,150, and the winner receives 70 percent of the net pool, the runner up gets 20 percent, and the third-place finisher picks up the remaining 10 percent. Entries are capped at 20, and if we reach that figure, the total purse will exceed $20,000.

On Saturday, we offer our first of two weekend qualifiers to the April 22 Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge. One of every 15 entrants, at $79 per entry, will take home a $1,000 seat for the on-track contest deep in the heart of Texas.

As mentioned earlier, there will again be qualifiers on Saturday for the April 1 Florida Derby Challenge ($118 entry fee), the April 7-8 Players Championship ($156), the April 15 Keeneland Grade One Gamble ($207) and the June 3 Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge ($156). The price points and winning ratios for each are the same as those in place for Friday. On Saturday, though, all will be run in Live format.

The weekend’s first Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge qualifier is the sole featured tourney on Saturday at HorsePlayers.

It’s a Live-format, $179 play-in that guarantees at least one $10,000 entry for the important live-bankroll contest in November. The winning ratio is 1-per-65.

Sunday is our busiest day of the week. On the day when the NCAA cagers trim themselves down to a Sweet Sixteen, we will be offering what we think is a pretty Sweet Ten.

The newcomer on this day is a qualifier for the April 1 Florida Derby Challenge, which is playable at Gulfstream, Santa Anita or at Xpressbet. This play-in requires an entry fee of $118, with one of every 15 earning a $1,500 entry for April Fools Day.

All 10 of Sunday’s features will be operated in Live format, including the day’s HT Tour event, our $20,000 Guaranteed cash tourney.  An upfront investment of $250 will get you in. 

Another Sunday cash game is our $7,000 Guaranteed Big Bucks tourney. It’s an up-to-$20,000 game with entries going for $1,150. Payouts go just to the top three finishers on a 70/20/10 basis.

A qualifier to the Laurel Champions contest on March 25 rejoins the featured-tourney lineup on Sunday. It’s $59 to enter, and one in 10 will get a $500 seat for the following Saturday’s on-track competition.

For the third consecutive day, we’ll have direct qualifiers to the Players Championship, the Keeneland Grade One Gamble, the Florida Derby Challenge and the Monmouth Pick Your Prize Challenge. All four are Live-format games.

A qualifier to the April 22 Lone Star Spring Betting Challenge is also back on the board for Sunday.

Over at HorsePlayers, the 2023 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and the 2024 NHC share the Sunday, featured-tourney spotlight.

Sunday’s BCBC qualifier is a Live-format, Low-Ratio tourney. The entry fee is $500; the winning ratio is 1-per-23; and at least one $10,000 seat is certain.

The NHC game is a “regular,” $165 qualifier with two seats to the 2024 renewal guaranteed. It, too, is a Live-format gathering, and the winning ratio here is 1-per-65.

Good luck with all your contest pursuits this weekend…and also with your NCAA brackets. Speaking of which…I’ll be up in Albany for a few days, taking in the games up there, so you’ll next see me in these cyberspace parts next Thursday, when there will be another menu of weekend tourneys to preview and consider. In the meantime, may the buzzer beaters go your way!