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
.

2018 NYRA Handicapping Tournament Schedule

Highlighted by the third annual Belmont Stakes Challenge, The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) has released the 2018 schedule for handicapping challenges at Aqueduct Racetrack, Belmont Park, and Saratoga Race Course.

Each handicapping contest offers horseplayers the opportunity to win live money wagered in addition to the prize pool. Each NYRA handicapping challenge will also offer the opportunity qualify for a seat to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge in November and the National Horseplayers Championship in February 2019.

In addition to registering online at NYRA.com, horseplayers can also directly qualify into each NYRA handicapping challenge through qualifiers hosted at DRF.com and Horsetourneys.com.

Aqueduct Racetrack Winter/Spring meet
* Saturday, March 10, Gotham Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

* Saturday, April 7, Wood Memorial Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2018 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

Belmont Park
* Friday, June 8, and Saturday, June 9 Belmont Stakes Challenge: $10,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, two seats to 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, 4 seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championships. 100 percent of the prize money will be returned to players after deducting the cost of seats. Wagering will take place on all live races from Belmont Park on Friday, June 8 and will conclude on Saturday, June 9 with the Belmont Stakes.

* Saturday, July 7, Stars & Stripes Challenge: $500 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, 2 seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $5,000.

Saratoga canopy walk throughSaratoga Race Course
* Friday, August 10, Saratoga Challenge: $1,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, three seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place of $15,000.

* Saturday, August 11, Fourstardave Challenge: $2,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge, five seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $25,000.

 

Aqueduct Racetrack Fall Meet
* Saturday, November 17, Aqueduct Challenge: $1,000 Entry Fee, one seat to the 2019 Belmont Stakes Challenge and six seats to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship. Guaranteed minimum 1st place prize of $10,000.

For more information including full rules and regulations for each 2018 NYRA handicapping challenge, please visit nyra.com/challenge.

2018 National Horseplayers Championship Begins Today in Vegas

Nearly $3 Million, ‘Horseplayer of the Year’ Eclipse Award on the Line at NHC 19

A record estimated field of 700 entries will compete for the largest purse in handicapping tournament history – projected at more than $2.96 million in cash and awards – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” – at this weekend’s 19th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas. The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000.

“This year’s total NHC prize money will be about double what it was only five years ago, in 2014,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We are very grateful to so many horseplayers and participating organizations throughout the industry for their help making the NHC a singular event that represents the ultimate prize for horseplayers.”

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 Semifinal round will fill out the Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semifinal round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

Players who do not make the Semifinal cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at https://www.ntra.com/nhc, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

Noel Michaels, author of Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments, will host live video coverage daily, Friday to Sunday, from 5-8 p.m. ET (2-5 p.m. PT) on the NTRA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/1NTRA). Programming will include interviews with NHC personalities, handicapping and previews of mandatory races, and live coverage of Sunday’s Final Table. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

nhc final table vegasAt the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 206; Online 964) from Treasure Island during the show’s regular hours, 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT), on Friday morning, and online at www.stevebyk.com daily, Friday to Sunday, Noon-5:30 p.m. ET (9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. PT). Next Monday’s regular 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT) show will feature an extended NHC recap.

Defending NHC champion Ray Arsenault – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s record field, which is comprised of 570 individual players (130 are dual qualifiers playing the maximum two entries).

As the 2017 NHC winner, Arsenault, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, near Toronto, received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 653 other entries.

Arsenault won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $407.70 from a total of 53 Win-and-Place wagers pared from a mind-melting menu of more than 150 races run at eight different tracks. Arsenault will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 11 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions: Paul Matties (2016), John O’Neil (2015), Jose Arias (2014), Michael Beychok (2012), John Doyle (2011), Brian Troop (2010), John Conte (2009), Richard Goodall (2008), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Steve Wolfson Jr. (2003), and Judy Wagner (2001).

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

The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus. San Francisco resident Nisan Gabbay, a 40-year-old software developer and owner of a tech startup, earned $350,000 for winning the BCBC at Del Mar in November with a final live bankroll of $176,000. First prize at the NHC is $800,000, meaning that successful completion of the BCBC-NHC double would be worth $4.326 million.

 

Buddies Brad & Howard at the 2015 NHC

As the winner of the 2017 NHC Tour, Mike Ferrozzo won $100,000 and an NHC berth. Should he go on to win this year’s NHC, he will receive a $2 million bonus in addition to the NHC grand prize of $800,000.

Hawthorne sponsors million-dollar bonuses for their Holiday Extravaganza champions. John Ukleja won the Dec. 29 contest and Paul Langley won on Dec. 30. Both are eligible for a $1 million bonus should they go on to win the NHC.

Ed Peters is eligible for a $500,000 bonus should he win the NHC as the top qualifier out of The BIG One at Laurel Park in September.

In its 19th year, the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), previously known as the National Handicapping Championship before a revamping of the brand in 2017, 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 40 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC 19 qualifier hosts were Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, BetPTC.com, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Century Bets, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Ellis Park, Equestricon, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn, HorsePlayers.com, HorseTourneys.com, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, Public Handicapper, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, Saratoga Race Course, Surfside Race Place, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Thoroughbred Owners of California, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group, and Wynn Las Vegas.

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 – are selected by NTRA Director of Media & Industry Relations Jim Mulvihill, Treasure Island Director of Race and Sports Tony Nevill, Monmouth Park Marketing Manager and Contest Director Brian Skirka, and Equibase National Racing Analyst Ellis Starr.

Mandatory races 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 NTRA.com.

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.

Treasure Island will play host to the NHC in its second-floor ballroom for the seventh straight year.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the Tito’s $10,000 Charity Challenge. A field of about 40 celebrities and racing personalities will compete to have $10,000 donated in their names to three different causes – the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, official charity of the NHC ($5,000); a nonprofit of the winner’s choosing ($2,500); and a nonprofit to be determined by Tito’s ($2,500).

About the NHC
In its 19th 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 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 NTRA.com/nhc.