Racing & Wagering

Arlington Handicapping Challenge Expands for 2010

| Churchill Downs Communications | 04/22/2010 #

Arlington  Park introduced its innovative, live-money handicapping contests, dubbed the Arlington Handicapping Challenge (AHC), in 2008 and expanded the popular series in 2009, sending five fans from the summer series to Las Vegas for the February, 2010, Coast Casino's Horseplayer World Series (HWS) handicapping tournament.

For 2010 Arlington has made a major expansion and revision of the AHC and will now send 10 fans, double the number of last year, to the 2011 HWS.  In reflecting that expansion, Arlington will offer an AHC handicapping contest every other Saturday beginning May 8 with the only exception to that schedule being July 17-18 when Arlington is offering its Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Qualifier.

Last year's AHC featured qualifying contests to determine fans who would play in a series final at the end of the Arlington live meet.  However, each individual contest this summer will be free-standing, meaning the top finisher each AHC Saturday will win a trip to Las Vegas for the 2011 HWS where the first prize is estimated to be a quarter-million dollars.

The AHC contests have been further refined to most closely replicate a day at the races.  Each contestant funds a $100 contest wagering account and tries to run up the biggest balance he or she can, just like every day at the races.  The highest account balance on a contest Saturday wins a trip to Las Vegas for the HWS.  The next four finishers each Saturday win cash prizes.

"Our design is to minimize restrictions and maximize flexibility," explained contest coordinator M. Scott McMannis.  "The main restrictions are (1) bet at least the $100 (2) over at least five Arlington races.  If the fan is winning and wants to bet more than the starting balance of $100, he or she can.  If someone wants to bet more than five races, he or she can.

"And, the player can bet into any open Arlington wagering pool," McMannis continued.  "We don't tell you what races to bet or how to bet them.  We've made the contests as open as possible so fans can handicap and bet according to their strengths and how they see each race sorting out.  Each contestant is in control of his or her own destiny.  It can't be any more like a typical day at the races than this."

The mechanics of the contest have also been simplified.  The contestant signs in at the Members Services Center on the second floor of the grandstand on the day of the contest.  There is no entry fee.  The contestant exchanges $100 for a contest wagering card (limit, two entries).  The card is a plastic voucher that is used for contest wagers and makes it easy to keep track all contest wagering.  The balance on the contest wagering card always remains the property of the contestant.

The contest wagering card can only be used at self-service terminals.  Since such terminals are available throughout Arlington, contest players can participate from anywhere in Arlington's main building plus adjacent areas such as the paddock, park, terrace, or the like.

Each of the first nine Saturday contests of the AHC series will determine a winner to go to the 2011 HWS.  Additionally, a tenth trip to the HWS will be awarded to the fan who builds the highest cumulative account balance over the course of the summer AHC series without winning one of the first nine Saturday contests.

Each Arlington Handicapping Contest will be preceded by a handicapping seminar conducted by McMannis.  The seminars, which are free just like the contests, will be held in the Starting Gate Theatre located just north of the Members Services Center.  The seminars will begin approximately one hour before first post, and McMannis will remain in the area to answer questions and more.

"It comes down to this," McMannis said, "if you are going to bet at least $100 on a Saturday afternoon, you should enter the free contest.  You have nothing to lose, but gain the potential to win a $2,200 trip the Las Vegas and the chance to win more money at the HWS."

Arlington is currently concluding its Spring OTB Tour where two more trips to the HWS are to be awarded.  Go to for details.

For complete AHC contest rules and schedule, visit  Any questions should be e-mailed to McMannis at