A Trio of Great Handicappers Added to NHC Hall of Fame

Lexington, Ky., (February 29, 2024): The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today that Kevin ‘Duke’ Matties, Jim Meeks, and Brett Wiener have been voted by their peers for induction into the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship’s Hall of Fame. These three esteemed handicappers represent the tenth class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees and will be recognized during the NHC Champions Dinner on Sunday, March 17, 2024 at the conclusion of the 25th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) at the Horseshoe Las Vegas.

Kevin ‘Duke’ Matties, of Laguna Beach, California, has spent half his life as a professional horseplayer and nearly one-third of his life as an annual qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship. As of 2023, Duke had qualified to the NHC 17 times and cashed checks on eight occasions. Duke, who as a teenager was a New York State Champion bowler, is part of a prominent horse racing and handicapping family that can be found in the summer in ‘the backyard’ at Saratoga Race Course. Duke’s brother, Paul, won the 2016 NHC (the same year Duke finished fourth) and is a fellow member of the NHC Hall of Fame. His brother, Gregg, won nearly 2,000 races as a Thoroughbred trainer in the northeast over a span of some 30 years. The patriarch of the Matties family, Chick, is a multiple qualifier to the NHC. Duke now calls California home, where he resides with his wife, Kimberly, daughter, Lucky, and son, Carson, who at the age of 24 already is a multiple qualifier to the NHC.

When asked what it means to him to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame, Duke said, “The fact that it’s voted by the players is a tremendous honor. I’m elated to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame.”

Jim Meeks, of Elko, Nevada, was raised on a small ranch in northeast Nevada that had no electricity, no power, no television, and no phones. He grew up reading by the light of a coal oil lamp. He describes it as an idyllic childhood. He never left his native Elko, where he is a successful businessman and served for 30 years as a Steward at the six-day race meeting at the Elko County Fairgrounds where he was Grand Marshall of the annual parade in 2015. That seems much further than the 375-mile drive to Las Vegas, where for more than a decade Meeks has routinely out-performed many of the nation’s best horseplayers. As of 2023, Meeks had three top 50 finishes at the NHC, including a second-place finish worth $250,000 in 2019. His other major scores included a victory in the 2015 Horseplayers World Series in Las Vegas.

“It’s a great honor to be recognized by your peers for something we all love so much,” Meeks said.

Brett Wiener, of Clearwater, Florida, arrived on the handicapping contest scene in 2009 when he won the first NHC online qualifier he entered. Since then, he’s won or placed in major contests held at racetracks from coast-to-coast and in Canada: They include Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, Del Mar, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park, Monmouth Park, Santa Anita, Saratoga, Tampa Bay Downs, Turfway Park, and Woodbine, among others. Wiener, who also participates in the NHC Mentor program, is formidable in every conceivable contest format, including onsite and online tournaments. He and his wife, Sarah, also a highly accomplished contest player, have been annual mainstays at the National Horseplayers Championship for 15-plus years.

“The NHC, and through all of the contests throughout the years, has allowed me to meet so many great players, with like interests, that have become great lifelong friends,” Wiener said. “To be nominated, and then voted into the Hall of Fame, by those same people, is a great honor.”

Over the past 24 years, nearly 4,000 people have filled more than 10,000 NHC entries and have been awarded nearly $50,000,000 in prizes. This year the NHC will host more than 600 individuals and will award nearly $4 million in cash and prizes. This is the tenth NHC Hall of Fame class to be inducted after being voted on by their peers.

Matties, Meeks, and Wiener join 23 past Hall of Fame inductees: Jose Arias (2023) , Dennis Decauwer (2023), Jim Goodman (2023), Bill Shurman (2023), Stanley Bavlish (2022), Michael Beychok (2022), Ray Arsenault (2021), Roger Cettina (2020), Steve Crist (2016), J. Randy Gallo (2022), Richard Goodall (2020), Sally Goodall (2021), David Gutfreund (2022), Chris Larmey (2018), Paul Matties Jr. (2022), Mike Mayo (2015), Ron Rippey (2015), Paul Shurman (2017), Trey Stiles (2019), Bryan Wagner (2019), Judy Wagner (2016), Steve Wolfson Sr. (2017), and Steve Wolfson Jr. (2018).

To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to www.ntra.com/membership.

About the NHC

The NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities, and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. There are no bye-ins to the NHC. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards and is named Horseplayer of the Year. For more information on the NHC, visit NTRA.com/nhc.

ABOUT THE NTRA

The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky. and Washington, D.C.,, is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. For more information visit NTRA.com.

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