Fall Keeneland 2018 Tournament Schedule

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Continuing a long tradition of support for the National Horseplayers Championship and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Keeneland is proud to announce the dates of two big handicapping tournaments during the 2018 Fall Race Meet.

On Saturday, October 13, we will conduct a live bankroll tournament, the Keeneland $400 Fall Challenge, a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee. Players will be able to wager any amount on any race at Keeneland, with no minimum wagers or minimum number of races. This tournament may be played from anywhere on the track; all tickets and admissions must be handled separately by the player. Please see rules here.

Based on an estimated 250 entries, one BCBC and four NHC spots will be awarded.

On Sunday, October 14, the prestigious BCBC-NHC Challenge returns, with a $3,000 buy-in and as many as 6 spots in the BCBC and 10 in the NHC up for grabs. This tournament will be held in the Lexington/Kentucky Room with the best seats in the house. This year we have use of the entire room, so your guest may sit with you, and the dress code has been relaxed to business casual; no more ties required! Please see rules here.

Entries became available online on August 13, 2018, and players registering for the BCBC-NHC Challenge may also enter the Saturday tournament with one process.

We hope that the Saturday tournament will complement the BCBC-NHC Challenge, and that many players will take advantage of the scheduling to compete in both tournaments and have a great Keeneland weekend.

Source: Keeneland

Star Handicapper, Horse Owner Bryan Wagner Passes Away

Bryan and Judy Wagner at 2018 Eclipse Awards, Gulfstream Park, FL 1.25.2018

Horse Racing Has Lost a Great Man

LEXINGTON, Ky. (Wednesday, August 1, 2018) – Bryan Wagner,

a 12-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) and the 2009 NHC Tour winner, passed away Sunday in Atlanta. He was 75. His wife, Judy Wagner, was at his side at the time of his death.

The Wagners have been a constant and popular presence at the NHC and NHC qualifiers around the country since the event’s inception in 1999. Bryan introduced Judy to the art of handicapping on a date at Fair Grounds Race Course in 1994. They were married the following year and the pursuit of winning horses was a shared passion ever since. Judy, a member of the NTRA Board of Directors, won the 2001 NHC and is a 13-time NHC qualifier. (Bryan would have been a 14-time NHC qualifier if not for two years, 2015 and 2016, when he was ineligible to compete due to Judy’s position on the NTRA board.)

Bryan Wagner earned $101,110 at the annual NHC finals in Las Vegas and thousands more at other NHC sanctioned events and contests. In 2009, Bryan and Judy finished one-two on the NHC Tour.

Bryan Wagner owned and operated a successful insurance company in New Orleans but was perhaps best known as a politician and political operative. He was a member of the New Orleans City Council from 1980-86 and the Council’s first elected Republican in more than 100 years. He was a Louisiana delegate to seven Republican National Conventions and led the delegation in 2008, the same year he masterminded one of the greatest political upsets in the state’s history, helping lawyer Joseph Cao to become the first Vietnamese-American elected to U.S. Congress. With scandals plaguing the incumbent, Wagner saw an opportunity and convinced Cao to switch parties and run as a Republican in a district that traditionally voted overwhelmingly for Democrats.

Wagner, a graduate of Tulane University, was a genuine “only-in-New Orleans” personality, once described in a Rolling Stone feature on the NHC as a gentleman “who holds court like a John Grisham character.” He liked to boast that due to arcane line-of-succession laws, he had technically served as Mayor of New Orleans for a day on three separate occasions. He was a minority shareholder in the New Orleans Saints in the 1980s.

James Bryan Wagner was born March 2, 1943, in New Orleans, to Wiltz Wagner, manager of Municipal Auditorium and president of a bakery supply firm, and Helen Wagner, an English professor at the University of New Orleans. In addition to Judy he is survived by three children – Leslie, Bryan Eustis, and Amanda – six grandchildren, and a brother, Dr. Wiltz Wagner Jr. Visitation (2 p.m. CT) and services (3 p.m. CT) are scheduled for Monday at Christ Church Cathedral Episcopal on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans.

Source: NTRA

All-in Approach Wins 2018 Del Mar Cash Tournament

Dennis Montoro, 32, from New York, went all-in in the last race with a $7,000 win bet on #2, 5-1 Raven Creek, to finish with $42,000. Montoro qualified to the Del Mar Challenge from a $400 feeder contest on HorseTourneys.com essentially turning a $400 investment into more than $135,000 in prizes.

Gary West from Rancho Santa Fe, CA and Florin Sima from Burbank, CA both cashed in the last race to finish second and third to round out the top three.

Montoro, an analytics player with years of experience in online contests was playing his very first “live money” contest. Prizes won include $75,000 cash, $10,000 entry in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and entry in the $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). Montoro is also eligible for a $1 million bonus if he wins the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge at Churchill Downs.

Players started with a $6,000 bankroll in the two day Challenge. The top eight finishers receive BCBC entries and the top ten receive entries in the $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship or the Del Mar $4,500 Fall Challenge November 10 & 11.

PLACE NAME FINAL BANKROLL
1 Dennis Montoro $42,000
2 Gary West $29,070
3 Florin Sima $28,290
4 Kyle Fitzgerald $26,563
5 Jonathon Kinchen $25,689
6 Frank Mustari $23,332
7 Jim Videtic $20,800
8 Jim Meeks $20,240
9 Blake Jessee $19,240
10 Gary Broad $19,182

#LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest to Award Race Meet Packages

Kentucky Downs 2015Two grand-prize packages to 2018 race meet up for grabs

While the 2018 live meet isn’t until September, America’s most unique racecourse has launched a social-media contest where fans can earn a trip to Kentucky Downs by posting on Facebook and/or Twitter about the track.

The #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest is free. Simply post on Facebook, Twitter or both why you want to attend Kentucky Downs’ live race meet for the first time or why you want to go back. To be eligible for the grand prize, posts must include the hashtag #LiveAtKyDowns and an entry blank must be filled out and returned for every submission, with the forms available on kentuckydowns.com, facebook.com/KyDownsGaming and twitter.com/KyDownsRacing. Direct link to form:

The #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest will award two grand prizes: one for an entrant residing within 200 miles of the track on the Tennessee border and one going to an entrant residing more than 200 miles away. The contest begins immediately and ends July 31, with the winners to be announced Sunday, Aug. 5 at Ellis Park’s Kentucky Downs Preview Day, which features four $100,000 turf stakes funded by money transferred from Kentucky Downs’ purse account.

Kentucky Downs staff will select the two grand prize recipients on a purely subjective basis, including originality and passion exhibited in the winning posts. Judges may consider a series of posts collectively in determining a winner. The #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest is not a sweepstakes and is not determined by random drawing.

The two grand prize winners will be Kentucky Downs’ guests for live racing Sept. 6, 8 and 9, including hotel accommodations for up to five nights. The regional winner will receive a betting voucher for $1,000 and up to four tickets in either the Turf Club Tent or Finish Line Pavilion for any or all of the three race days they are able to attend. The national winner will be reimbursed for airfare up to $600 for one person or up to $1,000 for two, a $500 betting voucher and two tickets in the Turf Club Tent or Finish Line Pavilion for any or all of the three race days they are able to attend.

Winners will have a race named after them and present a trophy to the winning connections.

Got Rebates?  Get instant cash rewards through this wagering website.

“We receive so many endearing comments from people around the country saying why they love visiting Kentucky Downs or why it’s on their bucket list that we decided to give our fans a chance to win a trip here,” said Ted Nicholson, Kentucky Downs senior vice president and general manager. “We wanted to have two grand prize winners because Kentucky Downs has so many loyal guests in the region, but we also want to recognize the people betting on our horse races from across the nation who have led to our record-setting meets. We think we can have a lot of fun with our #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest and encourage people to enter early and often.”

There is no limit to the number of entries a person can make, though the social-media posts must be different in at least one aspect, such as phrasing, photo or video. The same post can be used on both Facebook and Twitter.

All posts must be visible to the general public and have the ability to be “retweeted” or “shared.” By entering the contest, participants agree to let Kentucky Downs use all or parts of any posts, including photos, videos and memes, for publicity or news purposes.

Kentucky Downs reserves the right to tailor the trip to accommodate winner’s travel schedules. Contest participants must be at least 18 years old. Complete rules available below and at KentuckyDowns.com.

#LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest

Two grand prizes:

National (outside 200 miles):
Airfare for one up to $600; airfare for two up to $1,000 to attend Kentucky Downs’ live race meet Sept. 6-9, 2018 (live racing that Thursday, Saturday and Sunday). Winner will be reimbursed upon arrival at Kentucky Downs.
Hotel room for up to five nights, Sept. 5-9, 2018, at Hampton Inn-Franklin KY or Comfort Suites, Portland TN. Value $500.
$500 betting voucher
Two tickets each race day in either the Turf Club Tent or Finish Line Pavilion
Race named after the winner

Regional (within 200 miles):
Hotel room for up to five nights, Sept. 5-9, 2018, at Hampton Inn-Franklin KY or Comfort Suites, Portland TN. Value $500.
$1,000 betting voucher
Four tickets each race day in either the Turf Club Tent or Finish Line Pavilion
Race named after the winner

Rules:

Must be 18 years old to enter.  Free to enter.

Contest starts immediately and runs through July 31, with winners to be announced Aug. 5 during Kentucky Downs Preview Day at Ellis Park.

Contest participants post on Twitter and/or Facebook about why you want to go to Kentucky Downs for the first time or why (if you’ve been) you want to go back.

Must use hashtag #LiveAtKyDowns on either Twitter or Facebook.

All Twitter and Facebook posts must be able to be shared publicly, with Kentucky Downs having the ability to retweet or share, in order to count as an entry.

Participants must fill out an official entry form on facebook.com/KYDownsGaming/, twitter.com/KyDownsRacing or kentuckydowns.com, specifying whether post appears on Twitter or Facebook or both, date of posting, your name, address, phone number, email and birthdate, along with direct link to the post and the text of the post. Entrants have the option of including professional or personal information (such as how long you’ve been a racing fan, or how you became a fan).

Entrants must be able to establish proprietary right to photos and/or video. By submitting an entry, the entrant gives Kentucky Downs the right to use all or parts of the social-media posts, including any photos or video, for news and promotional use both in 2018 and beyond.

No limit on number of entries by a single participant.

The same post can be on Twitter and Facebook.

Kentucky Downs reserves the right to add sponsors to the contest or clarification of the rules at any time.

This is not a sweepstakes or drawing. Grand prize winners will be selected by a panel of Kentucky Downs employees, with judging completely subjective. Factors can include — but are not limited to — originality, passion, visual appeal and information about the entrant. Kentucky Downs’ decision on the winners is final.

Entries using profane or distasteful language or characterization will not be considered.

Kentucky Downs reserves the right to tailor the package to an individual winner.

If winner cannot attend during the 2018 live meet, efforts will be made to offer prize package to another participant.

Entry form to go with each post

The $750,000 Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup, won last year by Oscar Nominated, is one of the many stakes #LiveAtKyDowns Post Time Contest winners will see. Grace Clark/Reed Palmer Photography

About Kentucky Downs
Located near the Kentucky-Tennessee border off Interstate 65, the year-round entertainment center offers live racing on its unique 1 5/16-mile European-style turf course in September. Simulcasting is available seven days a week, as well as pari-mutuel wagering on Historical Horse Racing, charitable gaming, dining and other events. Racing has been conducted at the facility since 1990, when it was called Dueling Grounds.
2018 live race meet: Sept. 1, 6, 8, 9, 13

Saratoga Challenge Win by “A Game of Skill”

Los Alamitos to Feature July 4th NHC Qualifier

NTRA NHC logoThe Los Alamitos Racing Association will offer a cash prize and as many as three seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas with a live money handicapping contest Wednesday, July 4.

Cost to enter is $400. Of that amount, $100 will be placed in the contest prize pool with the remaining funds going towards a live-money wagering card.

Contestants must enter prior to 1 p.m. – post time for the first race – July 4. Players can begin entering the contest once track gates open at 9:30 a.m. that morning.

Tournament races will include the entire card at Los Alamitos with permitted wagers including win, place, show, exactas and daily doubles beginning in the first five races of the card. Each entry must bet at least $50 on six races, but there is no wagering limit.

The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the day will be declared the winner and the player with the second highest bankroll will be the runner-up.

The winner will receive 50% of the prize pool, which will be capped at $10,000. The remaining payoffs: 20% (2nd place), 15% (3rd place), 10% (4th place) and 5% (5th place).

Three NHC berths will be up for grabs if the contest has more than 60 entrants. If less than 60, two NHC spots will be available.

Another NHC qualifier at Los Alamitos is scheduled for Saturday, July 14.

For complete contest rules and any questions, contact larace@losalamitos.com or phone 714-820-2690.

The Summer Thoroughbred Festival at Los Alamitos will begin Thursday, June 28 and continue through Sunday, July 15.

source: Press Release

Incredible $5M Bonus Offered via Monmouth and Woodbine

Monmouth Park by Rich Nilsen

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

Monmouth Park Racetrack and Woodbine Entertainment have partnered on an unprecedented $5-million bonus that will be the highlight of the Jersey Shore track’s handicapping contest schedule in 2018.

The bonus will be awarded to a player who finishes in the Top 10 of the $400 Monmouth/Woodbine handicapping contest on June 30, then wins the $250 Monmouth/Woodbine handicapping contest on October 13, then goes on to win the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship at the Treasure Island in Las Vegas.

“We pride ourselves on running the best handicapping contests in the country,” said Brian Skirka, Monmouth Park’s Marketing Manager and Contest Director. “That includes innovating new contest formats such as our Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge and bonuses such as this. A bonus of this magnitude is unprecedented and I thank the management of Woodbine Entertainment not only for their years of partnership with our contests but also for their partnership and support on this exciting bonus.”

The bonus’ first leg will be a $400 handicapping contest on Saturday, June 30 featuring races from Monmouth Park and Woodbine. Monmouth Park’s card that day will be anchored by the Grade 1, $300,000 United Nations, while the historic $1,000,000 Queen’s Plate highlights Woodbine’s biggest day.

Should a player finish in the Top 10 on June 30 and proceed to win Monmouth’s October 13 contest featuring races from Woodbine’s Pattison Canadian International Day, that player will head to the 2019 NHC alive for a $5 million bonus.

             Got Rebates? Get the cash back rewards you deserve.  Earn real cash back – get more details here.

“We are pleased to announce our continued partnership with Monmouth Park. The first of the dual series taking place on June 30 will give horse players the action of Woodbine’s 159th running of the Queen’s Plate,” said Alex Fanti, Woodbine Entertainment’s U.S. Marketing Manager. “Monmouth Park provides a great tournament atmosphere for fans to take part in, plus a multitude of other track offerings. With their commitment to innovation and their dedicated staff, we are confident they will create a memorable experience for those who attend.”

An innovative event in its own right, Monmouth Park’s $2,000 Pick Your Prize Handicapping Challenge will be back for its third year on Saturday, June 2. Registration is now open for one of the most lucrative contests in the country – with last year’s prizes consisting of 17 NHC seats, five Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge seats and over $65,000 in cash. Players can earn a spot by qualifying at www.horsetourneys.com or www.drf.com or can register by contacting Skirka at bskirka@monmouthpark.com.

In total, Monmouth Park will host 13 handicapping contests in 2018 – including the already-underway Simulcast Series Challenge. The Oceanport track will award approximately 43 seats to the 2019 NHC over the next eight months. In addition, eight players will win full entry into the 2018 BCBC.

For the complete 2018 Monmouth Park handicapping contest schedule, log-on to www.monmouthpark.com.

Trifecta Score in Gotham Stakes Propells Handicapper to Victory

NTRA NHC logoWhen Old Time Revival set the pace and valiantly held on to nab the runner up spot in the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes, it not only propelled the 3-year-old into the Triple Crown picture, it vaulted Karen Casey into first place in the Gotham Handicapping Challenge, held at Aqueduct.

Casey, a registered nurse from Manhattan, successfully hit a $10 Trifecta in the race, netting $5,695 which vaulted her into first place from 125 participants.

The Gotham Challenge, a $500 entry fee live-money handicapping challenge with $250 directly deposited to the prize pool and the remaining $250 comprising each player’s live bankroll, featured races on Saturday from Aqueduct Racetrack, Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

“I was stunned,” Casey said when the field crossed the wire in the Triple Crown prep race. “I couldn’t believe it. [It was] very exciting.” 

Casey said she has been following handicappers on Twitter and listening to podcasts, especially Pete Fornatale, and learned that successful players had been winning similar events by playing trifectas. She said that in previous events she focused on exactas, but decided trifectas were the way to go in the Gotham Challenge.

Her second strategy was to focus on speed horses at Aqueduct, she said. That led her to Old Time Revival, who had shown early speed in all of his races and once again disputed the pace in the Gotham, where he held the lead until late in the stretch.

“Speed was running so well all day at Aqueduct, so I just threw the 7 in there,” Casey said. “That wasn’t my main tri, but I took a shot in the last race since speed was playing well. I keyed a $10 tri, 9 with 6,7.”

Casey said she first fell in love with horse racing as a youngster. A native of New Jersey, she fondly recalls her father taking her to Monmouth Park. She took a break from following racing while raising her children but reconnected with it in 2007 after a trip to Saratoga.

Picking up the first-place prize of $5,000, Casey also earned $5,985 on the day from her live-money wagers. With her victory, she also won a seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge. In second-place was Peter Yan, with $2,049 from the prize pool and $3,845 in live money and one seat to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas. Michael Cavana finished in third-place, netting $1,567 from the prize pool and $2,567.75 in live money wagers earning the remaining seat to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship.

The next Handicapping Challenge the New York Racing Association will host is the Wood Memorial Challenge on Saturday, April 7. The winner of that contest is guaranteed a minimum first place prize of $5,000, with a seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge and two seats to the National Horseplayers Championship in February 2019 up for grabs.

Registration is available for the Wood Memorial Challenge at NYRA.com/Challenge. Entrants may also earn a berth through qualifiers hosted at DRF.com and Horsetourneys.com.

Interview with Garett Skiba, Elite Contest Player and OptixEQ User

Meet Garett Skiba, an elite handicapper and contest player with the most six-figure cashes in handicapping contests over the last two-plus years. He most recently took home third place in the 2018 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) tournament in Las Vegas, netting $125,000. We asked him to discuss OptixEQ and how he incorporates its products into his own handicapping process. 

 

Optix (O): When did you first start following horseracing? And what is your proudest achievement as a horseplayer?

Garett Skiba (GS): I started playing the races with my dad, going to simulcasting outlets at Balmoral Park and to live racing at Sportsman’s Park and Hawthorne. As a horseplayer, my proudest achievement is having won more than $650,000 in contests.

 

O: What kind of player are you and how often do you play? For example, do you follow just one circuit? Do you just play tournaments, etc.?

GS: I will focus primarily on Kentucky Downs, Belmont, Saratoga, Keeneland, and Gulfstream. I will typically play intensively one to two days a week, and then, for three or four days a week, I will look for spot plays.

 

O: What kind of handicapper are you, and which types of bets favor your style?

GS: Historically, I have been a handicapper who has looked for hot pace scenarios that would favor horses with perceived “weak form” who would benefit from a pace collapse. Optix has been a valuable tool in broadening my approach to the overall pace picture.

 

O: How long have you been using OptixEQ and what brought you to try our handicapping platform?

GS: I have been on Optix for about two years. My interest was brought on by a willingness to try new products and always tweaking my style/approach in order to better understand the game. 

 

O: Describe how OptixEQ has enhanced (or added to) your game?

GS: As mentioned previously, the product has improved my understanding of the pace picture. Additionally, OptixNOTES have been a fantastic way to explain away poor races by horses who are being overlooked on the board.

 

O: Over the past two years, OptixEQ users have been finishing very well in tournaments. What advice do you have for users who are new to the platform?

GS: I would highly recommend learning about all aspects of Optix and also take the time to review historical races. I wouldn’t recommend playing either OptixPLOT or OptixNOTES alone, but rather use them as tools to support/contract your entire picture/opinion of the race. It is not meant to be a prediction engine!

 

O: What would you like to see integrated into the platform to further enhance the product?

GS: Personally, I would like more control as it relates to the pace lines driving the OptixPLOT, or at the very least, visibility as to which line is driving what we are seeing.

1st NHC Player Rating System Announced

Press Release

NTRA LAUNCHES FIRST-OF-ITS-KIND NHC PLAYER RATING SYSTEM

Ratings Similar to Those Used in Golf, Tennis, Bowling

NTRA NHC logoThe National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today unveiled a National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) rating system similar to a handicap or rating used in golf, bowling, and tennis. With the maximum rating of 10, three longtime NHC Tour standouts are tied as the top-rated contest players in the world – Roger Cettina and brothers Bill Shurman and Paul Shurman.

All active NHC Tour members automatically receive a rating, with Rookie Tour members assigned an initial score of 2.0. The NHC Player Ratings will be updated weekly based on current onsite and online play in NHC qualifiers. A searchable leaderboard will be posted on the NTRA.com website and an individual’s rating also will appear on the NHC Tour player bio pages housed on NTRA.com.

The NHC Player Rating is based on a number of variables, including contest play and Tour points attained during the current year, as well as the previous three years, with the impact of the previous years of play decreasing on a variable scale. Tour members can improve their rating through the accumulation of Tour points and other factors such as winning an NHC qualifier, double-qualifying for the NHC and overall performance at the NHC. Player ratings also can drop based on subpar play.

“We believe the rating will generate more interest in the NHC while providing Tour members with another way to measure their skill level against other contest players,” said Keith Chamblin, chief operating officer of the NTRA and NHC Tournament Director. “While there are many factors that go into the computation of one’s NHC rating, the process to get rated is simple. All one has to do is join the 2018 NHC Tour and start playing in officially sanctioned qualifiers to the NHC.”

The current top 10 rated NHC players are:
Name
Rating
PAUL SHURMAN
10
WILLIAM SHURMAN
10
ROGER CETTINA
10
MIKE FERROZZO
9.99
BRETT WIENER
9.99
H. MITCHELL SCHUMAN
9.99
SEAN NOLAN
9.99
ERIC MOOMEY
9.98
TREY STILES
9.98

To join the NHC Tour and receive a rating, go to www.ntra.com/membership
.