Who will be the 2022 National Turf Handicapping Champion and earn the instantly-iconic belt as the trophy?
The Belt is back!
Kentucky Downs will again award the Global Tote King of the Turf Championship Belt, designed to mimic boxing’s famous world-championship belts, to the overall winner of the meet’s online King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge presented by Daily Racing Form.
This year’s tournament competition at the FanDuel Meet at Kentucky Downs will have three stand-alone one-day, online handicapping contests on Thursday Sept. 1 (opening day) and Sundays Sept. 4 and 11. The live-money tournaments have buy-ins of $400, $500 and $800, respectively. Half of the buy-in amount goes to the entrant’s live bankroll and the other half goes toward the prizes.
Seats at the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) will be awarded to the top finishers in each tournament, with seats for the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) also up for grabs in the final two contests. The NHC seats include airfare reimbursement up to $400 and hotel. The BCBC seat includes the $10,000 buy-in.
The cumulative winner, who must compete in all three tournaments, will be named King of the Turf: National Turf Handicapping Champion and will receive a BCBC seat and the Global Tote belt at the NHC awards dinner in Las Vegas. The 2023 NHC is set for March 10-12 at Horseshoe Las Vegas (formerly Bally’s).
“It’s an honor to be back for Kentucky Downs’ third King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge,” said tournament director Brian Skirka. “Over the past two seasons, Kentucky Downs’ full fields and all-turf cards have proven the ultimate handicapping challenge and I expect nothing less this year.
“Our three individual contests will award seats in the nation’s premier championship handicapping events – the NHC and BCBC – plus cash. But it’s the unparalleled National Turf Handicapping Champion belt – awarded to the player with the highest three-contest cumulative total – that may be the most coveted prize.”
Players must bet (win, place, show, exacta and/or double) with a specified minimum amount wagered on each of a minimum of five races per contest, with no maximum. All tournaments are based on Kentucky Downs racing that day.
The format has been adjusted from last year, when there were three two-day competitions. As part of that change, the buy-ins also have been lowered, while the minimum amount that must be wagered per race has increased to reflect 10-percent of the buy-in. With live-money tournaments, the contestant keeps any remaining bankroll at the end of the competition.
“We are always striving to make even highly successful ventures better,” said Kentucky Downs Vice President for Racing Ted Nicholson. “Each year our team, led by Brian, weighs player feedback, evaluates the previous year and the upcoming handicapping-tournament terrain and makes adjustments to best fit our dates and to appeal to the greatest number of contest players. Our goal is to have a majority of players compete in all three tournaments.”
Kenny Mollicone, a 47-year-old real-estate developer from Somerset, Mass., earned the first instantly-iconic Global Tote King of the Turf Championship Belt as the 2021 National Turf Handicapping Champion.
“Absolutely, I’m going to defend my crown,” Mollicone said. “I’m not relinquishing it without a fight. It’s a mythical crown, but you get a real belt. How many people have that? Everyone loved the belt. My wife bought a case for the belt. I’m actually building a new house and it will be right there up on the wall of my office.
“I like the three one-day tournaments. It’s good for a lot of people. Sometimes you can’t do all three, and they stagger the buy-in amounts. Fortunately I can do all three. But it gives everybody the opportunity to participate. Kentucky Downs is great. It’s unique. Where else do you run up and down the hills? The purses are incredible. The value is there. I love betting turf races anyway, and it’s the ultimate bang for your buck. You can’t beat it.”
Tournament contestants must play through special TVG/4NBETS or Xpressbet accounts. Contact Brian Skirka at [email protected] or call 732-571-6595 to register. Feeder contests are available on horsetourneys.com, providing the opportunity to win fees-paid entries.
Complete rules here.
Here’s a summary of the three contests (prizes based on 150 entries per contest):
Thursday Sept. 1: $400 buy-in, $40 minimum bet per race. Projected prizes: three NHC prize packs, $5,000 to the winner down to $400 for 10th.
Sunday Sept. 4: $500 buy-in, $50 minimum bet per race. Projected prizes: One BCBC seat and $10,000 buy-in, two NHC prize packs, $5,800 to the winner down to $450 for 10th.
Sunday Sept. 11: $800 buy-in, $80 minimum bet per race. Projected prizes: Two BCBC seats and $10,000 buy-in, three NHC prize packs, $8,000 to winner down to $550 for 10th.