Following the success of the Inaugural Hawthorne Horseplayers Invitational in the spring of 2018, the second edition of the event returns on March 30, 2019. What started out in a marketing brainstorming session has evolved into a major event to open the spring meet at Hawthorne Race Course. Hawthorne has been an innovator in the category of handicapping contests, leading the charge of transforming the format of handicapping contests. For many years, contests were based upon a basic $2 win/place return. Through the development of software to expand the contest, Hawthorne moved to the open bankroll format, allowing for players to have to truly manage a bankroll, instead of focusing on a single horse in a race.
In recent years, NHC qualifiers at Hawthorne have been a major attraction, with numerous seats being awarded to the National Horseplayers Championship. Hawthorne contest winners have made a great showing in the Vegas finals as the interest in the local contest has grown. While Hawthorne continues to host NHC qualifiers throughout the year, the Hawthorne Horseplayers Invitational will be taking things one step further.
Presented by Xpressbet and Tito's Handmade Vodka, a few new wrinkles have been added to the second annual Horseplayers Invitational. In year one, 25 of the top handicappers in the country competed as 2013 NHC Champion Jim Benes took home the top prize. Benes is back this year as he will look to repeat against an expanded field of handicappers. Joining Benes will be 2019 NHC Champ Scott Coles, 2019 NHC Tour Champ Dave “The Maven” Gutfreund, and 2018 Pegasus Handicapping Champ and NHL Star Eddie Olczyk just to name a few.
In addition to those invited to play, Hawthorne is opening up the opportunity for every day fans and contest players to get their opportunity as well. On Friday, March 29, Hawthorne will be hosting a $500 bankroll handicapping contest where the top three finishers will join the cast for the Horseplayers Invitational and have their $2,000 entry fee covered.
While the contest alone will provide a great deal of excitement, Hawthorne Race Course will again be teaming up with NBC Sports Chicago to televise the event as well. Cameras will be rolling throughout the room on March 30 as interviews, race recaps, wagering strategy, and newly crowned champion will all get their focus on air. The two week show will air on April 20 and 27, bringing these handicappers into the limelight. Hawthorne Racing Analyst Jim Miller will be joined once again by Equestricon's Ren Carothers to host this year's event.
The format has expanded for the contest as well. While the inaugural Horseplayers Invitational had players manage a $1,500 bankroll, the ante has been upped this year as players will have $2,000 to work with. Early in the day, players will be making five separate $200 wagers on mandatory races, focusing on a mix of different tracks and race types from across the country. Each player will also get to choose one optional race where they can look to make a move. No player will truly be counted out though as the contest will culminate in a minimum $800 wager to be placed on the Xpressbet.com Florida Derby to close out the event.
The prizes for the contest are aplenty as well as players will not only get to keep their earnings off the $2,000 bankroll plays, but will have additional cash and prizes on the line. Top prize in the Hawthorne Handicappers Invitational will be $10,000, a seat in the 2020 NHC, including $1 million bonus if contestant wins the NHC, along with a choice of entry into the 2019 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge or 2020 Pegasus Betting Challenge. Second prize is a 2020 seat in the NHC and either entry into the 2019 Breeders' Cup Betting Challenge or 2020 Pegasus Betting Challenge. Third-place will receive $1,500 along with a Keeneland October 2019 entry. Fourth-place gets $1,500 and Hawthorne two-day entry into the November 29 and 30 contest. Places five through fifteen will all receive prizes, making this a very lucrative contest opportunity for all.
For more details on the Hawthorne Horseplayers Invitational or any contests taking place at Hawthorne, visit the website at www.HawthorneRaceCourse.com.
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