EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - When the world's top horseplayers convene at Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment in East Rutherford, NJ on April 19 to compete in the World Harness Handicapping Championship, an estimated prize pool of more than $50,000 will be up for grabs.
But one prominent player won't be playing for himself; he'll be playing for the health and care of retired racehorses.
Rusty Nash, recently the runner-up in the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) harness handicapping tournament, was given a seat in the WHHC by the Meadowlands ($800 value) in exchange for agreeing to donate any winnings in the event to a standardbred rescue organization. The first place prize in the WHHC is $20,000.
"Rusty Nash has been a valued player in previous Meadowlands contests and we are happy that he received the $800 charity buy-in to the WHHC Final, said Rachel Ryan, WHHC Contest Director. "The Meadowlands and HANA have enjoyed a strong partnership and have worked together to promote racing and wagering at the Meadowlands as well as supporting horse retirement and rescue charities. This event is the premier betting contest for Harness players in North America and we hope this sparks further interest in the World Harness Handicapping Championship."
"The HANA Harness Handicapping Contest has raised - through its sponsors - over $7,000 for retired racehorses the past two years. The Meadowlands' stepping up to the plate to give one of its top handicappers the chance to earn even more for the horses is truly appreciated. We wish Rusty, as well as all the participants in the World Harness Handicapping Championship, good luck" said HANA Harness Director Allan Schott.
The WHHC is a one-day tournament, with a welcome reception the evening prior.
Players may earn a seat in the WHHC through a qualifying event at a partner wagering outlet or through direct $800 buy-in. The WHHC contest format requires players to bet 10 races: their choice of seven Meadowlands races, plus three designated mandatory races from partner tracks. Players keep all pari-mutuel winnings. Prize payouts are to the Top 10, with an estimated prize pool of $50,000.
Registration deadline is 10 p.m. on Thursday, April 17. For the contest entry form and complete rules visit www.PlayMeadowlands.com.
by Rachel Ryan, for the Meadowlands