The 20th annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest, with $25,000 in total prize money, begins Saturday. While much has changed in racing and handicapping over the past two decades, the basic focus of this free-to-enter contest has remained sharp. The emphasis is on 3-year-olds prepping for the Kentucky Derby and players getting rewarded for handicapping prowess.
Each week the races from one featured track, plus any additional Derby prep races from other tracks, are offered as contest races. For example, this week is the 12-race card from Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Entrants select one horse in each race and submit a completed entry card before first post, which in this case is 12:30 p.m. Points are awarded based on the pari-mutuel payouts of those selections. The bigger the odds, the better the points. When there are Derby preps, like this Saturday’s Le Comte Stakes, the points are doubled for the race. And for the Kentucky Derby itself, the points are tripled.
Each week a total of $1,125 in prize money is paid to the five entrants with the best scores. The contest runs 16 weeks, and points accumulate over that period with additional prize money awarded to those that garner the biggest total scores. Keep in mind that the three lowest scores are dropped from the total score so if a player lays an egg or can’t make it to the contest and receives a zero, that result is somewhat neutralized.
It’s free, it’s fun, its pays, and you’re going to be at the track anyway. Have a look at the complete RULES and the schedule of contest tracks and prep races.
To win any individual week, you need to find some large-priced winners. You cannot just ‘chalk’ it out unless it is the rare day where the MOTOs rule.
“Every horse in every race will be selected by somebody,” Bruce Meyer, reigning Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year said. “Favorites winning don’t hurt that much. Longshot winners are page jumpers.”
And if the overall prize structure is your goal, the weekly approach could be somewhat more conservative but still requires winners that are not all favored. An average score of around 1,000 per week is often the norm for the overall winner. Of course, if you are in touch with the field and find a bomber to win the Derby you leap everyone and win it all.
So it all begins with Fair Grounds and its 12 races Saturday, and then next Saturday Tampa Bay Downs will be the contest track but there are no prep races that week the way the schedule unfolds, however the prize money for the contest stays the same.
Plan to make as many of these contests as you can as we gear up for Kentucky Derby and live racing at Canterbury Park.