1,816 people played in the free National Handicapping Championship (NHC) qualifying Contest. Only tour members (who paid $45 for a yearly membership) were allowed to play in the contest. NHC spots to the 2012 Championship were awarded to the top 4 who weren't already qualified.
Everyone played the same ten races from Oaklawn, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, and Sam Houston and made $2 win and place bets with a standard odds cap. The highest priced horse was from the 7th at the Fair Grounds that got you back $25.80 ($19 to win and $6.80 to place). Longshot players were out of luck in this contest. The top 4 scores were $97.60, $95.20, $92.40, and $92.00. A break even score was $40. If you had the five highest priced horses in the contest then your score was $90.40. That final score would only have been good for 6th place!! FYI...if you had a perfect score then your final score was $134.
I try not to put too much time into these type of contests because they are crap shoots. If you don't hit something in the first two races then you might as well start playing bombs. Why? Well, you need to pass so many people with limited opportunities.
I have a minor complaint in regards to the administration in this contest. The rules state that "Post times WILL NOT be adjusted due to track delays". The spirit of the rule is not to split hairs if a track is off their originally scheduled post time by one to five minutes. A major problem arose in the second to last contest race (Oaklawn's 10th race) which went off at 5:58 pm which was 20 minutes after the original post time in the program of 5:38 pm. The contest software cut off wagering at 5:37 pm (one minute before the originally scheduled post time). Contestants had to make their selections at LEAST 22 minutes before the off time. American racetracks move their original post times around all the time and the NTRA needs to be more player friendly when extreme post time switches such as this example come up.