King of the Turf betting tourney returns Sept. 7

FRANKLIN, Ky. (Thursday, March 7, 2024) — Kentucky Downs’ King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge is back in 2024 with a new one-day format that creates the biggest online, live-money betting contest the track has ever staged.

The date is Sept. 7, when Kentucky Downs will offer six graded stakes each worth at least $1 million. The $2,500 per-entry buy-in includes $1,500 for the player’s bankroll and $1,000 toward the prize pool. Based on 100 entries, the prize pool would be $100,000.

The first-place King of the Turf finisher will receive an entry to the 2025 National Horseplayers Championships (NHC) and an entry into the 2024 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC), worth $10,000. In addition, the winner gets the designation as National Turf Handicapper of the Year and receives the Global Tote King of the Turf Championship belt. The belt is designed after boxing’s championship belts and guaranteed to earn the recipient the respect and envy of fellow tournament players!

At least five NHC packages and two BCBC berths are guaranteed to be awarded to the King of the Turf’s top finishers. Additional prizes will be awarded based on the total number of entries. The tournament host takes no money out of the entry fees, with 100 percent going to the prize pool and players’ bankrolls.

The past three years, the King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge featured a multi-tournament format during the meet, with the overall winner having to compete in every competition.

The 2024 meet will also feature two Play-In tournaments on August 29 and September 1. These competitions will have a $300 and $400 entry fee, respectively. Each event will feature two 2025 NHC entries plus entries to the $2,500 King of the Turf finals. Additional prizes will be awarded based on the number of entries. Online qualifiers for the King of the Turf finals and the Play-In tournaments will be announced later.

“September 7 at Kentucky Downs is one of the premier racing and wagering programs — and it goes without saying the top turf card — in America with six graded stakes worth at least $1 million each,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs’ vice president for racing. “We wanted the competition that crowns the National Turf Handicapper of the Year to reflect the stature of the day.

“So we reconfigured the King of the Turf Handicapping Challenge into a single-day extravaganza that will offer more prize money and more prizes. We think the format will be attractive to big bettors and contest players while also providing play-in tournaments with much smaller entry fees. With inexpensive and sometimes free online qualifiers to both the play-in and championship, everyone has a chance to try to be King of the Turf and get the Global Tote belt.”

Phil Lam, the 2023 King of the Turf winner, will be presented his personalized Global Tote belt at the NHC at Horseshoe Las Vegas (formerly Bally’s) March 15-17.

“I’ve won quite a bit of contests, but this particular one, I’ve gotten a lot of fanfare,” 2023 King of the Turf winner Phil Lam said the day after last year’s victory. “It’s been a lot of fun. Everybody was texting me from all over, ‘Get that belt.’ ‘Get that belt.’ Nobody said, ‘Oh, get the BCBC.’ ‘Get the NHC.’ They kept texting, ‘Get the belt.’”

In the King of the Turf, players must bet a minimum of $300 per race for at least five races on the 12-race card, utilizing win, place, show, exacta and daily double wagering. The contest is conducted via online wagering through FanDuel/TVG, Xpressbet, NJBets and HPI Canada.

Online qualifiers for entries into the play-in tournaments and the 2024 King of the Turf Championship will be announced later.

Questions and inquiries: Email tournament director Brian Skirka at or Ken Kirchner, Kentucky Downs director of simulcasting and wagering, at


King of the Turf betting tourney returns Sept. 7 - Kentucky Downs