The 2021 NHC Tour Begins Today

NTRA NHC logoLexington, Ky. (January 25, 2021) – The 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Tour officially begins this Friday, January 29 with a $75 online qualifier to be held on, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.
Friday’s contest will be the first NHC qualifier to offer 2021 NHC Tour points awarded to Tour members who finish in the top 10 percent of officially-sanctioned NHC contests and among the first contests to offer berths to the $3,000,000-estimated 2022 NTRA National Horseplayers Championship to be held at Bally’s Las Vegas January 28-30, 2022. The officially declared Tour points leader will be eligible for a $5 million bonus should he or she win the 2022 NHC.
The 2021 NHC Tour, which offers an additional $365,000 in prize money, runs through January 9, 2022 and is expected to offer hundreds of online and onsite opportunities to compete for an NHC berth. The top 75 individual point leaders on the overall year-end Tour Leader Board, who have not already qualified through an official on-track or online contest, will automatically qualify into the 2022 NHC. Horseplayers cannot buy an entry into the NHC; they must earn a berth in qualifying contests held throughout the year.

How to Participate in the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship

Tour membership of $50 must be paid prior to participating in an online or on-track NHC qualifier to be eligible to win a berth in the NHC. To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to
For more information on the NHC Tour benefits and to view the official rules go to A schedule of 2021 Tour events will be updated regularly at
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. For more information on the NHC, visit

Lessons from the First Big Online Tournament of the Year

By Rich Nilsen

The first big online handicapping tournament of the year was held over the weekend of Jan. 9-10 at, and I was fortunate enough to win into this $1,500 buy-in event via an initial $28 feeder.  It was also the same weekend at the local Tampa Bay Downs handicapping contest, so plenty of work was required to prepare for both events.

The Flo-Cal Faceoff, the Players Championship (April 2-3) and the Spa & Surf Showdown (August 14-15) comprise the new 2021 Tourney Triple series at HorseTourneys which features additional bonuses and prizes if you do well over the three contests.  The Flo-Cal closed on the morning of January 9th with a staggering purse of $570,373 based on 429 entries and a top prize set at $205,019.  The contest was comprised of full-card mandatory races at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita on both Saturday and Sunday, so this was going to be a long weekend.

On day one I got off to a very good start in the Flo-Cal Faceoff by hitting five winners from the first nine races at Gulfstream Park.  The problem was that I missed the big longshot that came in early in the day ($37.00 to win, $17 to place) and that missed $54 in bankroll was going to be difficult to overcome.

Unfortunately, I did not fare nearly as well at Santa Anita, so most of my Saturday bankroll came from South Florida.  I ended the day with over $97, an admirable score that was within ‘shouting’ distance, but that only put me in the top 25% of the field.  The lucrative prize structure was paying down to the top 28 players at the conclusion of the weekend.

Day Two of Flo-Cal

I decided I was going to swing for the fences on Sunday.  ‘Grinding it out’ seemed like a difficult strategy to make up the $60-90 deficit.  Hindsight is 20/20 and that proved to be a mistake on a day where shorter price horses were consistently winning throughout the afternoon.  The first longshot of the day wouldn’t come in until nearly 4pm when Weisser scored in Gulfstream Park’s 8th race, paying $27.80, $11.80.  I did not have him, and the situation was looking bleak.

However, I am not one to give up, knowing that in the span of just one-two races, a tournament player can make up huge strides on the leaderboard.  In the very next race at Gulfstream Park (race 9), I eyed a runner that was trying the turf for the first time.  The Munnings filly had won two of her three starts when sprinting and she had good tactical, early speed.  She looked like the type of filly that could win going 5 furlongs on the grass.  She was a juicy 17-1 and I knew if I could get this horse home, I was back in the top 50 of the standings.  I would then have a chance for some nice prize money if I could finish the day strong.

Choose Joy, my bomber, tracked closely in third and was loaded turning for home.  She surged in the final strides at the leader, but the front runner who had been off since June fought back and held on by a diminishing nose.  I got a $15.00 place payoff but missed out on an additional $36 for the win.  Numerous players had the 14-1 winner, and, instead of sitting on the first page of the leaderboard,  I was now sitting in around 170th  and the light at the end of the tunnel was very dim.

It wasn’t too long before the final race of the long weekend was upon us.  Sitting in about 140th and being only $20 out of the top 100, I had to decide if I was going to shoot for the top 100 to earn some points in this Triple Tourney event, or if hitting a bomb could move me into the top 28 of the cash prize winners.

In the field of 11 there were only three cappers and a 17-1 shot on the board.   The math told me I was blocked.  There was simply no way that I was going to pass over 100 players no matter what horse won.  It made more sense to find a horse I really liked at good odds.  [In the end my calculations were correct and even if I had hit the final contest race winner, I would have only ended up about 40th… but I digress.]

Not that I was considering the favorites, but the shorter priced horses in the field did not strike fear into anyone.  #11 Miss Dracarys had only raced one time.  She was let off at odds of 23-1 in her debut, indicating that she wasn’t exactly ‘well meant’ by her connections.  Despite that, she won, but now she was being asked to transfer that form on the other side of the country – not an easy task for a young horse.

So, I was on the lookout for a runner that had a strong chance of winning and represented some value.  I needed at least 6-1 odds to secure a top 100 finish, but of course, the higher the odds the better.

Santa Anita race favorites

#10 Empire House was starting for the dangerous Jonathan Wong outfit, but this runner had never attempted the turf.  She was getting first time Lasix and had a pedigree to handle the surface switch.  She made sense at odds of 9-1, but #4 Magical Thought was even more appealing.  Starting for trainer Peter Miller, arguably the best turf sprint trainer in California, this horse was dropping out of a graded stakes race and was cutting back from one mile to a preferred sprint distance.  She was also 9-1 and just the odds I needed to pass a lot of players on the leaderboard.

The Pivotal Question

When I first handicapped the race, it didn’t take my long to pass right over the #1 horse.  Having seen Mountaineers shippers lose at an extraordinarily high rate over the years, I didn’t care for the cheap maiden graduate to move to Santa Anita and win.  Although she had won by a large margin (over a bad field) she had “lugged out” in the lane, another negative note.  Two races back this horse had lost at Belterra Park.  Win at Santa Anita…are you kidding me?  Next.

Now, my Dad, who taught me how to handicap, would not have been so rash.  He would have looked at this odd shipper and asked himself the question, “What is this horse doing in this race?”  And that is the question that would have led to the correct answer.  He was here to win.

Santa Anita race 9 winner

The Mountaineer shipper had moved into one of the top barns in Southern California, that of John Sadler.  He had given the filly a long string of workouts, fairly consistent and dating back to at least early October.  She showed two bullet works in early October and a sharp 47.3 drill, sixth best of 52 at the distance on October 17.

Sadler was putting up one of the top jockeys in Southern California, Umberto Rispoli.  Rispoli is one of the best on the grass and also one of the best out of the gate.  This horse had flashed very quick early speed in her two races, and that is one of the main assets you typically want in a 6 furlong turf horse.

Why in the world would a top California barn obtain a lowly maiden winner from West Virginia?  By the stallion Cinco Charlie and out of a modest winner, the filly didn’t have much of a pedigree.  However, they clearly saw something in this runner and felt that she could fit a certain profile out West.  The connections were right, and they were handsomely rewarded.

The Final Race Result

With dusk falling over the stunning San Gabriel Mountains, Five Pics Please cruised to the front right out of the gate and ran the field off their feet.  At odds of 29-1 she easily held on for the shocking score in the $63,000 race.  She stopped the timer in a swift 1:08.91.

By not closely analyzing Five Pics Please and failing to ask the obvious question that my father would have asked, I missed out on a big longshot winner.  The Flo-Cal Faceoff champ turned out to be Alan Levitt, a 12-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship.  Back in 2012 he compiled a $195.20 bankroll en route to a 7th place overall finish in Las Vegas.  With one race to go Levitt was sitting in 19th place in the Flo-Cal Faceoff, and he wisely pulled the trigger on the Mountaineer bomber.  He catapulted past the 18 players in front of him and took down the lucrative six-figure cash prize.

The Final Race Result winner Santa Anita

copyright 2021

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2020 NHC Tour and Qualifying Opportunities Coming to a Close

NTRA NHC logoLexington, Ky. (January 13, 2021) – Highly-coveted berths to the $3 million-estimated National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas remain up for grabs as the 2020-21 NHC Tour season winds down with online and on-track contests offered over the next two weekends and berths tied directly to season-long participation are determined by end-of-season Tour points totals.
Only six contests remain in the 2020-21 Tour season with events scheduled for Friday-Sunday on each of the next two weekends. In addition to the six remaining NHC contests, “feeder” contests offering complimentary berths into to the main qualifiers are available every day for as little as $18 per entry.
A total of $300,000 in Tour prize money will be awarded to the top 15 finishers in the NHC Tour, based on the official 2020 NHC Tour rules. The newly-crowned NHC Tour Champion will win $100,000 and be eligible to compete for a $5 million bonus at the 2021 NHC.
The top 75 individual overall points leaders, who have not already qualified for the 2021 NHC through an officially-sanctioned NHC on-track or online contest at the end of the Tour season on January 23, will automatically qualify into the 2021 NHC. In addition, $15,000 will be paid out to the overall, official Tour Points Leaders, as of January 23, who are first-time NHC Tour members (e.g., “Rookies”).
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 2021 NHC, presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas, will be contested August 27-29 at Bally’s. 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.
Details on the Tour-ending NHC qualifiers are below:
Friday, January 15
Prizes: 2 NHC berths and 2020 Tour Points + travel package guaranteed
Entry Fee: $75
Saturday, January 16
Prizes: 2 NHC berths and 2020 Tour Points + travel package guaranteed
Entry Fee: $165
Canterbury Park
Prizes: 1 NHC berth (no 2020 Tour Points) + travel package guaranteed
Entry Fee: $100
Sunday, January 17
Prizes: 1 NHC berth per 21 entries guaranteed (Tour points if 2 berths awarded) + travel package
Entry Fee: $500
Friday, January 22
Prizes: 2 NHC berths and 2020 Tour Points + travel package guaranteed
Entry Fee: $75
Details posted soon on
Saturday, January 23
Prizes: 2 NHC berths and 2020 Tour Points + travel package guaranteed
Entry Fee: $100
Details posted soon on
Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship
Prizes: Up to 5 NHC berths awarded (player’s choice 2021 or 2022) and 2020 Tour Points + travel package
Entry Fee: $6,000 ($5,000 bankroll + $1,000 entry fee)
One must be a current NHC Tour member to be eligible to win NHC entries. To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to For more information on the NHC and NHC Tour, visit or contact Michele Ravencraft at
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. For more information on the NHC, visit

Veteran Player Yohler Captures Del Mar Fall Challenge

Del mar chantal billboardTimothy Yohler of Fisher, IN scored huge in the last race of the Del Mar Fall Challenge [on Saturday, November 28, 2020]. Yohler vaulted into the lead with large exacta and trifecta wagers turning his final $1,500 in bankroll into $30,180.

In addition to Yohler’s bankroll winnings, he receives $35,000 in cash and a $10,000 [value] 2021 Breeders Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) entry.

Second place finisher Christy Moore ended with a bankroll of $24,840 and a cash prize of $19,000. Kevin Bogart finished third good for $7,500 in prizes. Both Christy and Kevin also receive $10,000 BCBC entries for next year’s Breeders Cup held at Del Mar.

The Challenge buy-in was $4,000 with $3,000 going to the player starting bankroll and $1,000 to the prize pool which offered $100,000 in total prizes.


How Marshall Gramm won the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge



Gramm Wins BCBC over Kinchen. Donnelly Third.

Economics Professor and Race Horse Owner from Memphis, TN, Marshall Gramm, crushed the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to capture racing’s most lucrative live-money tournament this past weekend.  TV personality Jonathan Kinchen was second, while arguably the best contest handicapper in 2020, Dylan Donnelly was third.  This trio each turned their $7,500 bankrolls into over $100,000 by the conclusion of the weekend.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Nov. 12, 2020) – Making the biggest wagering score of his life, Marshall Gramm, an economics professor at Rhodes College and a racehorse owner from Memphis, Tenn., nailed a cold exacta with Authentic and Improbable for $170,250 in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) to propel him to victory last Saturday in the 2020 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

The 12th annual Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Thoroughbred racing’s biggest live-money tournament, held Nov. 6-7, featured 430 top horseplayers wagering on the two-day card of the 37th Breeders’ Cup World Championships at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington.

Marshall Gramm BCBC winner

Photo courtesy of Carlos Guerrero

Gramm, 47, finished with a total score of 170,250 points. Combined with his first-place prize of $322,500, Gramm had total winnings of $492,750. That put him ahead of second-place finisher Jonathon Kinchen, NYRA/Fox Sports television handicapper and analyst. Kinchen compiled 161,025.20 points, and combined with his second-place prize of $215,000, he had total winnings of $376,025.20. Dylan Donnelly, from Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., finished third with 136,200 points and $118,250 in prize money, for total winnings of $254,450.

In this year’s BCBC, each player was required to fund a $2,500 buy-in and a $7,500 betting bankroll ($10,000 total). All buy-in monies were applied to the prize pool, making the total prize pool $1,075,000. Players made real wagers (win, place, show, exacta, trifecta and daily double) with their $7,500 bankroll on 22 races over the two days and kept all monies earned from their wagering.

A big sports fan who grew up in Washington, D.C, Gramm loved “numbers and statistics,” and learned the handicapping game by reading books from noted racing journalist and author Andrew Beyer.

Gramm has played in the BCBC five of the last six years, registering his best finish in 2018, taking fifth place. He has been teaching economics at Rhodes College since 2000 and currently chairs the department. Gramm has taught a course at Rhodes called Economics of Racetrack Wagering Markets, which he describes as a class on “decision making, price discovery and probability.” Along with Clay Sanders, he is also co-managing partner of Ten Strike Racing, a stable that has won 338 races, including stakes winners Dot Matrix, Long on Value and Warrior’s Charge.

The biggest moment in recent Memphis horse racing history happened at this year’s Breeders’ Cup – local coverage of Gramm’s victory and the TN connection

Gramm experienced a range of emotions when he learned that he had won the tournament. “When I hit (the exacta), I was thrilled, my biggest score ever. You know you’ve had a great day, but it was nerve-racking, and a relief, and I will always be able to say that I am a BCBC Champion.”

In this year’s BCBC, Gramm was in contention throughout. On Friday, he cashed a $600 daily-double wager on Vequist in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), followed by Aunt Pearl (IRE) capturing the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf (G1). Those bets earned him $17,350 and he closed out the first day of competition in seventh place.

On Saturday, Gramm went “all in” on Monomoy Girl winning the Longines Breeders’ Cup Distaff (G1), wagering his $18,165 bankroll and more than doubling his money. After hitting on a minimum show bet in the Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1), Gramm went into the Longines Breeders’ Cup Classic in 11th place with $36,930. In the climactic race of the World Championships, he made six individual exacta wagers using Authentic, Improbable and Tom’s d’Etat. Gramm wagered $7,500 on the Authentic-Improbable combination and won the tournament.

“Marshall is a dear friend and I am very happy for him. The BCBC is the Masters of handicapping contests. It’s not all about the money, it’s about the title. I wanted to win, but there are about three people in the world I am ok running second to, and Marshall is one of them.” ~ Runner-up Kinchen stated.

Due to COVID-19 restrictions at Keeneland, most of the BCBC tournament play was conducted online at, the official Breeders’ Cup wagering partner, and NYRA Bets. The BCBC was also conducted at designated satellite locations at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, N.J., Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla., Del Mar racetrack in Del Mar, Calif., and at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Online qualifying for the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge begins this Sunday, Nov. 15 on A guaranteed 2021 BCBC berth will be awarded to the winner of the contest, which has a $500 entry fee and a low 1 per 23 ratio. Players can up for Sunday’s contest here.

What are the dates for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas?


The Breeders’ Cup administers the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, Thoroughbred horse racing’s year-end Championships, as well as the Breeders’ Cup Challenge qualifying series, which provides automatic starting positions into the Championships races. The Breeders’ Cup is also a founding member of the Thoroughbred Safety Coalition, an organization composed of industry leaders committed to advancing safety measures in Thoroughbred racing and improving the well-being of equine and human athletes.

The 2020 Breeders’ Cup World Championships, consisting of 14 Championship races, was held on Nov. 6-7 at Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky, and featured a total of $31 million in purses and awards. The event was televised live by the NBC Sports Group.

Source: Breeders’ Cup (edited press release)

What the Dates for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC)?


NTRA Releases Update on the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship

Thank you for your patience over these last several months as we have attempted to deal with the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic. With the health and safety of our participants, guests and team members our highest priority, we have decided to delay the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) until the summer of 2021. The new date for the NHC will be August 27-29, 2021 at Bally’s.
The new August date is nearly 200 days later than the originally scheduled NHC slated for February 12-14. Although we all are aware that planning for many future events during the coronavirus pandemic has been difficult and unpredictable, we are hopeful that the delay will allow ample opportunity for us to host a successful live event that has become an annual celebration of the horseplayer. Rest assured that Bally’s and the NTRA will be doing everything within our power to ensure the safest environment possible next August. Precautions related to COVID-19 will be finalized and announced as we get closer to the new date and will be based on the most up-to-date local, state and federal guidance. Bally’s and many other Caesars Entertainment properties in Las Vegas already are back open and operating and we appreciate our partners at Bally’s working with us to secure this new date for the 2021 NHC.
Importantly, the change in date for the 2021 NHC will have no bearing on the current 2020-21 NHC Tour which remains set to conclude on its regularly scheduled date of January 23, 2021. Thus, the only individuals who will be impacted by this 2021 NHC date change will be those individuals who have qualified for the 2021 NHC. We anticipate that the 2022 NHC will revert to its traditional February date.
Further details on the new NHC date will be forthcoming in the near future. In the meantime, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. Thank you.
Keith Chamblin

NTRA Statement on the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC)

NTRA NHC logoSource: NTRA and the NHC Players Committee

August 4, 2020
The health, safety and well being of our guests and employees, as well as everyone else involved, is our utmost consideration as we ponder a return to Bally’s Las Vegas for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). We understand that some of you are anxious to know what impact COVID-19 may have on an event that has become a mainstay on the Thoroughbred racing calendar and an annual goal for many horseplayers each winter since 2000. Even though we are still nearly 200 days away from our event, and our hope is to host a record-setting event at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2021, be assured that we fully recognize that a pandemic that has impacted virtually every facet of our daily lives may very well impact the 2021 NHC.
We are working with our colleagues at Bally’s on a number of contingencies to address what obviously is an ever-changing and fluid situation. Everything is on the table. Our goal is to determine a path forward and communicate plans for the 2021 NHC by early November, if not sooner. In the meantime, the NHC Tour, with a heavier than usual dose of online opportunities predicated by current events, continues through January 23. An estimated 350 NHC berths remain up for grabs as we move toward what is shaping up to be the richest NHC in history. Stay tuned for further updates and, as always, thank you for your ongoing support of the NHC.
Stay safe,
Keith Chamblin
Chief Operating Officer

NHC Tour $10,000 Summer Challenge Begins Friday

NTRA NHC logoLEXINGTON, Ky. (May, 2020) – The second NHC Tour $10,000 Summer Challenge, a bonus challenge that rewards participants who accumulate the most NHC Tour points on over a three-month period, will kick off Friday, May 29. The NHC Summer Challenge will consist of 40 direct qualifiers into the 2021 $3,000,000-estimated National Horseplayers Championship as well as low-priced feeders starting at $15. The top finisher in the Challenge will win $4,000, with second through fifth-place dividing the remaining prize pool (2nd- $2,500; 3rd- $2,000; 4th – $1,000; and 5th – $500). The Summer Challenge leaderboard will be updated weekly on

There will be three dates on the Summer Challenge schedule offering five NHC qualifiers at a 20% lower ratio than the traditional pricing offered on NHC contests held on

Friday, May 29 – $75 contest awarding a minimum of two NHC seats at a one berth per 115 entries ratio;

Saturday, July 4 (two contests) – $165 contest awarding a minimum of two NHC berths at a one per 52 entries ratio, and a $500 contest awarding at least one NHC berth at a one per 17 entries ratio; and

Monday, September 7 (two contests)- $75 contest awarding a minimum of two NHC berths at a one berth per 115 entries ratio, and a $500 contest awarding at least one NHC berth at a one per 17 entries ratio.

In addition to the $10,000 Summer Challenge prize, this year’s NHC Tour prize pool will award $340,000 in cash prizes and $15,000 to first-time NHC Tour members. The winner of the 2020 NHC Tour will be eligible for a $5,000,000 bonus if he or she were to win the 2021 NHC.

Participants must join the NHC Tour ($50) to be eligible for NHC Tour prizes and to be eligible to participate in the NHC. Tour Membership includes eligibility to participate in four free NHC Tour member contests in 2020. These contests are set for June 6, August 29, and September 26. There is also a free contest for first-time Tour members scheduled to be held on September 19. For more information on NHC Tour membership go to or contact Michele Ravencraft at

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. For more information on the NHC, visit

About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., 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. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance;; the Eclipse Awards; the National Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (

Goldsmith Finds Gold at NHC

Hot Streak Propels California Handicapper to Victory in National Horseplayers ChampionshipLAS VEGAS, Nevada (February 9, 2020) – Like so many before him, Thomas Goldsmith arrived in Las Vegas this week looking for trouble.

Unlike most who find themselves in the midst of drama on the famous strip, the resident of Montgomery, CA was able to emerge from a heated battle with his life undoubtedly changed for the better.

The 21st edition of the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s featured a little bit of everything in its 10-person Final Table contest to decide who earns the $800,000 first-place prize and Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year. As the seventh and final mandatory race went official Sunday evening, it was the 57-year-old Goldsmith – playing in the NHC for just the second time – who managed to prevail with a total mythical bankroll of $404.10.

Goldsmith toppled a NHC field that had 694 entries and 564 individual players to record the second highest total ever behind only Ray Arsenault’s winning bankroll of $407.70 in 2017. Fittingly enough, Goldsmith had to turn back Arsenault himself, as well a Final Table that included NHC Hall of Famer Trey Stiles, upstart Ashley Taylor, and Day 2 leader John Vail to claim by far the biggest triumph of his horseplayer career.

“I’m just like in shock,” said Goldsmith, who couldn’t even bring himself to stand in middle stage during the Final Table proceedings. “This is it. I’m never going to top this, right? $800,000? How am I going to top that?

“I was just trying to find something that’s going to win, like anything else. I’m not a numbers guy. I look for horses that are in trouble…whatever. Bad break. Excuse trips. Bad trips. And in this place you’ve got to bet long shots. Most of these are horses I’m not going to easily play. It’s hard. You’ve got to find winners at all different race tracks.”

Video: Goldsmith talks about his NHC win:

A longtime handicapper, Goldsmith says he “dabbles” in different types of tournaments and he qualified for this year’s NHC by finishing second in a live money contest at Lone Star Park – on his birthday weekend no less – July 13. After a tepid start on Day 1 of the NHC when he finished with a bankroll of $69, Goldsmith’s plan of taking some swings on less obvious picks began paying off in massive fashion during Day 2 of the tournament.

Backstopped by a fistful of long shot plays coming through – including having 21-1 shot Admiralty Pier in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Downs Stakes – Goldsmith climbed up to sixth overall after Saturday with a total of $272.70. When he began the Final Table in fourth place, that strategy continued to pay off as he had three winners and a 24-1 shot, second-place finisher through his first five plays.

“It didn’t ever change. I wasn’t going to play any first-time starters,” Goldsmith said. “I was looking for horses with trouble. Looking for horses that go to the lead on the turf. And basically that’s it. I wasn’t going to play any long layoff horses.

“Some of it is just searching for and looking…because you’re not going to win this thing betting a chalk. I was feeling good (after cashing the first three at the Final Table) but I was still sweating.”

Holding onto a $19.80 lead over Vail heading into the seventh and final mandatory race – the eighth at Santa Anita Park – Goldsmith finally let himself begin to celebrate as none of his challengers picked either of the top two finishers.

“About halfway down the stretch I said ‘Yes’, and I put my head down,” said Goldsmith, who manages a trucking company. “I got lucky for two, three days. Two big days I got lucky. Those days come.”

Vail finished second with a bankroll of $384.30 to take the $250,000 runner-up prize, closing to within $2 of Goldsmith after the fourth mandatory race only to have the eventual champ draw clear once more when Goldsmith scored with 9-2 shot Misty Blue in the ninth at Oaklawn Park.

“It absolutely is the best second I’ve ever had,” said Vail of Lyndhurst, NJ. “The whole tournament, it was a great tournament. I enjoyed the last three days, and I’m very happy with where I finished. I actually didn’t have any big, big plays today. I had a couple of winners, a few seconds, nothing big to get me along to first place. But I’m very happy with second place.”

Video: Vail talks about his NHC experience:

Though Arsenault fell short of becoming the first two-time NHC winner, he did post the second highest finish for a past champion when he landed in third with $362.

“It would have been nice to have won it twice. Everybody says they’d have like to have seen a repeater,” Arsenault said. “Today, I wasn’t really prepared. I did well with the horses that I won with. I was happy as heck to get to the Final Table and to be second going in. I got no complaints. It was fantastic. To win it would have been special.”

Video: Former champion Arsenault finishes third:

Taylor, who was playing in her first NHC, completed her stellar run with a fourth-place total of $350.40. Hall of Famer Trey Stiles made his first Final Table in 18 NHC appearances and did himself proud with a fifth-place bankroll of $334.90.

“It was just awesome to get here,” Stiles said. “I’ve wanted to make a Final Table, I’ve never made a Final Table before. I’ve come close and so I was just so happy to make it that far. I certainly wanted to win but this has been awesome. I have no regrets with my plays, it’s just been awesome.

“I just did the same stuff the whole time. It got me here, but it just wasn’t quite enough today. But (Goldsmith) was on fire. There was no catching him today.”

Ralph Magnetti ($334), Eric Bialek ($333.30), Christopher Podratz ($312.40), Michael Odorisio ($312.20), and Mike Goodrich ($296.20) rounded out the top ten.

The 2020 NHC finals awarded cash to the 10 percent overall from a total purse of $2,997,500. Of that total, $50,000 went to the top 20 in today’s Consolation Tournament, which was won by former turf writer Dick Jerardi.

NHC entrants were required to place mythical $2 Win and Place wagers – eight on mandatory races that everyone played and 10 on any of the other races from eight designated racetracks across the country – during the first two days of the tournament. Day 1 bankrolls carried into Day 2 and the top 10 percent of the field after Day 2 continued to the Semifinal round Sunday.

Draft Kings was the exclusive sponsor of the NHC Final Table. Official Partners of the 2020 NHC include STATS Race LensTVG, Daily Racing Form, Insurance Office of America (IOA), Racetrack Television Network (RTN), Runhappy, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, and NYRA Bets.

Big Bucks at Stakes in the 2020 NHC in Vegas

Hear AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen on the NHC Monster Podcast

LAS VEGAS, Nevada (February 6, 2020) – An estimated field of nearly 700 entries will compete for a record prize pool of some $2.95 million – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” – at this weekend’s 21st NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s. The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Bally’s Las Vegas, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000. Including complimentary travel and hotel, cash and awards total some $3.8 million.

The NHC field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semi-final round will fill out the Draft Kings Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semi-final round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

nhc final table vegasPlayers who do not make the Semi-final cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate $50,000 Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

“The NHC is a true celebration of the horseplayer—the individuals who fuel every aspect of the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director, Keith Chamblin. “We thank the many organizations who hosted NHC qualifiers throughout 2019 as well as our presenting sponsors and partners.”

At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from Bally’s and online at daily, Thursday to Monday, with NHC coverage slated for 2-8 p.m. ET (11 a.m.-5 p.m. PT) Friday-Sunday. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

Defending NHC champion Scott Coles – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as the 2019 “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s field, which is comprised of an estimated 556 individuals (pending the outcome of Thursday’s Last Chance Contest). There are 148 rookies, representing some 25 percent of the field. There are 119 dual qualifiers going into Thursday’s Last Chance Contest at the Bally’s Event Center.

As the 2019 NHC winner, Coles received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last February when he prevailed in his first time playing in the NHC. Coles amassed a winning score of $367 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets en route to becoming the tournament’s youngest ever winner at age 34. He will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 10 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions are: Chris Littlemore (2018), Ray Arsenault (2017), Paul Matties, Jr. (2016), Jim Benes (2013), Michael Beychok (2012), Brian Troop (2010), Richard Goodall (2008), and Stanley Bavlish (2007), Jamie Michaelson, Jr. (2005) and Stephen Wolfson, Jr. (2003).

Top 100 Players in NHC Scoring History

Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments.

As the winner of the 2019 NHC Tour, David Snyder won $110,000 and an NHC berth. He also is eligible for a $5 million bonus if he goes on to win at the 2020 NHC finals.

Brad Anderson, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC), is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus if he takes down the NHC title.

In its 21st year, 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.

NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 45 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC2020 qualifier hosts were:

Aqueduct, Arlington Park, At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Belmont Park, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Capital OTB, Century Bets, Colonial Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds, Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn National,,, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Little Red Feather Racing, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, New Zealand Racing, NYRA Bets, S. Florida HBPA, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, STATS Race Lens, Saratoga Race Course, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group and

The tournament format for the NHC is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win-and-Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – eight per day on Day 1 and Day 2 and seven at the Final Table – will be announced at least 36 hours prior to each contest day (Wednesday evening for Friday, Thursday evening for Saturday, Friday evening for Sunday) on Twitter (@NTRA) and

The remaining 10 races on Day 1 and Day 2 and all 10 plays in the Semifinal round will be optional wagers on races at one of eight designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the 6th Annual Runhappy/NTRA NHC Charity Challenge presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. A field of approximately 60 will compete for the $5,000 charitable prize with $2,500 set to be donated in the winner’s name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the other $2,500 going to the winner’s charity of choice.

Draft Kings is the exclusive sponsor of the NHC Final Table. Official Partners of the 2020 NHC include STATS Race LensTVG, Daily Racing Form, Insurance Office of America (IOA), and NYRA Bets.