|Tourist: "Where's Paul Revere's|
Tour Guide: "Right there...and about
5 miles east is where NJ Horseplayer
qualified for NHC XV"
The East Boston track, however, is the next stop on the NJ Horseplayer itinerary this weekend and providing a fresh spin on "freedom."
For this year's qualifier to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), Suffolk has waived the $60 entry fee charged for last year's tournament.
Yes, that's not a misprint. There is no cost to enter an on-track tournament offering 3 seats to NHC XV, according to Suffolk Downs' press release.
Players can kick in $25 for the buffet lunch, Daily Racing Form and track program (not a bad deal, based on last year's experience), but that is not required.
In other words, anyone can show up and play.
I had planned on entering the tournament regardless ($60 entry or not), as there are few on-track NHC tournaments in my geographic, scheduling and budgetary wheelhouse. The prospect of a five-hour drive to East Boston from Central NJ is not too daunting, and in yet another spin on freedom, the rest of my family will be away until Saturday night, freeing me for such a business trip.
And no matter how well I perform at Suffolk, the original Ted's (Meriden, CT), makers of "World Famous Steamed Cheeseburgers Since 1959," is the perfect pit stop halfway home.
|Steamed cheeseburger: Ted's...|
need I say more?
There appear to be no significant changes to this year's Suffolk NHC qualifier outside of the waived $60 entry fee. NHC Tour and non-Tour players can participate, with the top 3 NHC Tour players earning spots in Las Vegas next January.
Players will make mythical $2 win-place wagers on 15 pre-selected races from four tracks. There appear to be no odds caps on win-place payouts. Tour points will be given to NHC Tour players finishing in the Top 10% of the standings.
The latter issue is one I addressed following the 2012 Suffolk Downs NHC qualifier, but I'm not going to quibble much about it again, as I understand what I'm getting into. Similar to last season (when I finished in 7th among NHC Tour players but came away without Tour points), I have no qualms with the entire universe entering the tournament, but for NHC Tour points purposes would argue that it would not be difficult to have separate standings for all players (i.e. for cash prizes) and only NHC Tour players.
If the Tour is not going to mandate everyone to pay the $50 to join, those who decide to compete on Saturday merely for Top 10 prize money should be excluded from any Tour points calculation.
That's for another day, I suppose.
And, Tour players, do not forget that the NHC Tour's free" online handicapping tournament is also this Saturday. I'm not expecting much (in either case, for that matter), but it's hard to cast aside even the most remote of opportunities at a spot to NHC XV.