Keep tourneys on consecutive weeks

Among the best new ideas in horse handicapping are two annual January tournaments held in Las Vegas: the Daily Racing Form National Handicapping Championship and the Horseplayer World Series.

Their prestige has grown to the equine level of competing for a World Series of Poker bracelet. There are untold handicappers that play in satellite tournaments across the country trying to qualify for the NHC and HWS. Then they’ll come to Las Vegas for two weeks in January to play in both.

Even if these horseplayers don’t win a dime in the two rich tournaments, you can’t measure the amount of good will and genuine fun the NHC and HWS has fostered. It’s a trickle-down effect reaching every person participating in a satellite tournament.

Also, I consider the tournament concept a successful primer for building interest with newcomers in taking up horse handicapping. Now comes the bad news.

For years, the NHC and HWS were held on back-to-back weekends. That was perfect for the players and for media coverage. Now because of a scheduling quirk, both tournaments next year will be held on the same weekend of Jan. 24 through 26.

The NHC has been held in recent years at Bally’s, one week before the Super Bowl. The HWS is hosted by Coast Casinos at The Orleans. Scheduling problems with ballroom space forced Coast to push the HWS back a week.

I suspect this is a one-time glitch. Having the NHC and HWS on consecutive January weekends in Las Vegas has been horseplayer heaven.

KUDOS — Congratulations to Ellis Park for offering a late pick-4 with only a 4 percent takeout.

“The thoroughbred industry needs to become more fan-friendly in every possible way if we are to succeed,” track owner and president Ron Geary said.

Geary is using a basic business tenet: When sales are slow, lower your price, don’t raise it.

Send the racing industry a message. Voice your approval of lower takeout by betting the Ellis pick-4 when you can.

Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday. He can be reached at rich_eng@hotmail.com.

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