New Format Announced for $1.5M National Handicapping Championship in Vegas

“Final 50” and “Final Table” Segments to Highlight the New Third Day of Competition

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today the format for the $1.5 million- guaranteed Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) held at Treasure Island Las Vegas January 24-26, 2014.

Next January’s 15th annual renewal of the NHC will feature a number of firsts. The competition has been expanded to three days and will feature a “Final 50” and “Final Table” on Day 3 of the tournament. Players reaching the “Final 50” will each be guaranteed prize money and compete for a seat at the “Final Table,” which will feature a five-race competition. The individual advancing to the Final Table and accumulating the highest individual cumulative bankroll from his or her 45 mythical win-and-place wagers placed over the three days will receive an estimated $750,000 grand prize and an Eclipse Award as the Handicapper of the Year.

“The new three-day format is designed to preserve the many aspects of NHC competition that our players have said they appreciate most—including two full days of robust tournament play featuring both mandatory and optional plays—while generating new points of intrigue and excitement on Day 3, including the ‘Final 50’ and ‘Final Table’,” said Keith Chamblin, Senior Vice President of the NTRA. “These changes to the NHC have been some 18 months in the making and are being undertaken after extensive research, input and feedback from thousands of NHC tournament players. In particular, I want to thank the NHC Players’ Committee and its chairman, Mike Mayo, for the important work the committee performed in helping us identify and develop this new format.”

The first two days of the tournament will have a familiar feel to past NHC contestants. Each of the first two days—Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25—will consist of 15 mythical $2 win and place wagers from among contest tracks. On Days 1 and 2, eight of the 15 plays will be on designated mandatory races, and seven will be on optional races of each player’s choosing. There will be no $4 best bet wagers at the upcoming NHC.

The top 50 individual scorers at the conclusion of Day 2 will move on to the “Final 50” on Day 3. A player may earn as many as two entries into next January’s NHC. However, there will be a maximum of one entry per individual in the “Final 50”.  If a player has two entries placing among the top 50 scores after Day 2, the higher-scoring entry will move on to the Final 50, and the player will receive a cash bonus for his other entry.

Fiftieth place will serve as the NHC’s “money line”—which means that all 50 Day 3 finalists will be assured of a cash prize. All Day1/Day2 scoring totals will carry over to Day 3 for these finalists.

All those not in the top 50 at the end of Day 2 will have their scores reset to zero and be entered into a free, 10-race,  $60,000-guaranteed consolation tournament on Day 3.

The “Final 50” and Consolation competitions on Day 3 will take place simultaneously from approximately 9:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. local Pacific time. Each of the competitions will consist of $2 win and place plays on 10 races.  Three of the 10 plays will be on mandatory races, and seven will be optional race plays. The Final 50 and Consolation tournaments will utilize the same contest tracks and same mandatory races.

At the approximate 1:00 p.m. PT cutoff time, the Consolation tournament will conclude. Also at that point, the top 10 scorers (including any contestants tied for 10th place) will move on to the final segment of the NHC—the Final Table.  Those Top 50 contestants not advancing to the Final Table will have their final finishing positions determined based on their scores as of the 1:00 p.m. Day 3 cutoff.

Final Table participants will again have their running score totals carry over into the Final Table.  The Final Table segment will begin at approximately 2:00 p.m. PT (following a scoring audit) and consist of five $2 win and place selections—all on mandatory races.  All Final Table selections must be made no later than approximately three minutes to post time, and all selections will be publicly announced in advance of the race. Contestants will not know their opponents’ selections at the time their own selections are entered. Updated standings will be announced following each Final Table mandatory race.

NHC Tour membership is mandatory in order to earn an entry into the NHC Finals—the lucrative culmination of the year’s qualifying schedule. Signups for the 2013 NHC Tour are now being accepted. There is a one-time 2013 membership fee of $50.

Click here for the complete format and rules for NHC 15

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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