Record $2 Million Purse for the 2015 National Handicapping Championship (NHC)

NEW YORK CITY (Thursday, June 19, 2014) – The National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) today announced that the estimated purse for the 16th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC), presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas, has been increased 25 percent to a record $2 million. The 2014 NHC purse was $1,590,000.

An additional $200,000 in previously announced prize money will be distributed as part of the 2014 NHC Tour, bringing the estimated NHC and NHC Tour purses to $2.2 million.

The purse increases are fueled by robust participation in NHC qualifying contests by NHC Tour members (Tour membership is a requirement to be eligible to qualify for the NHC).    
“Virtually all of our qualifying tournaments – onsite and online – continue to perform very well,” said Keith Chamblin, Senior Vice President of the NTRA. “We have more than 1,350 new Tour members thus far in 2014. The NHC will only grow as more people are introduced to tournament contests and experience the thrill of competing for a spot in Las Vegas and a chance at the winner’s share of $2 million in prize money. These are life-changing sums being offered to the top finishers.”
The 16th NHC will be held January 23-25, 2015 at Treasure Island Las Vegas. The 2014 NHC Tour schedule and the official rules for the 2015 NHC have been posted online at For the second year in a row, the Championship will feature a three-day format with a Final 50 and Final Table of 10.
Three tournaments scheduled for Saturday, June 21, offer NHC berths, including two online contests currently open for registration. DRF Bets ( hosts the first of two Super Summer Challenge preliminary rounds leading to a July 5 final with four NHC spots up for grabs and presents a “Live Format” NHC Qualifier with three guaranteed NHC entries available. The Belmont Park Handicapping Challenge at Belmont Park is sold out.
About the NHC
In its 16th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers. There are no “buy-in” entries at the NHC. It is the culmination of a yearlong series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. Every year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. The 15 NHC Champions since the event’s inception, in chronological order, are Steven Walker, Judy Wagner, Herman Miller, Steve Wolfson Jr., Kent Meyer, Jamie Michelson, Ron Rippey, Stanley Bavlish, Richard Goodall, John Conte, Brian Troop, John Doyle, Michael Beychok, Jim Benes and Jose Arias.

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

What do you think of these changes?  Comment here on

Discover a Great Aspect of the Handicapping Scene

By Ross Gallo

I’ve been going to the track since I have memory.  Fell in love with this grand game of horse racing at first site, even loved the smell of the Daily Racing Form.  (I know, crazy right?)  So, I’ve been making a living playing the horses for the better part of thirty years, but it wasn’t until around 1997 that I discovered a wonderful and often overlooked alternative way to play and enjoy the races.  It is the reason I’m writing this article and it is for those of you that are either not familiar with, or have not ventured into, the world of handicapping tournaments.

Horse Racing Handicapping Tournament

Popular Bankroll-based Tournament founded by Ross Gallo

In a game that has declining attendance and handle nearly across the board.  Has tracks closing their doors.  Questions surrounding drug use by super-trainers, odds changes during the running of races, questionable stewards decisions, and a myriad of other problems; there is one cross section that is growing and thriving, handicapping tournaments.  The NTRA/DRF National Handicapping Championship (NHC), our U.S. Open so to speak, which was introduced in 2000 with a purse of $200,000, offering $100,000 to the winner; will be having it’s 13th rendition in January of 2012 at Treasure Island In Las Vegas. 

You can only participate by qualifying, which is unlike any other tournament we have and what makes the NHC so special; well that and the fact that this year the purse has grown to $2,000,000 with $1,000,000 going to the winner!  That kind of growth in a mere 13 years, and for some reason we’re not singing it’s praises to the rafters?! 

I’m not much of a preacher, but this is a worthy cause.  You love the game of horse racing like me?  Good.  Then do the game and yourself a favor and start playing handicapping tournaments.  They are eventually going to pull the game back into the mainstream of Americana.  You don’t know me, but I know what I’m talking about so take a leap of faith, you won’t be sorry.  There are so many different formats out there, I’m positive you can find one you like.  Don’t want to leave your couch?  Well there are probably, on average, 10 opportunities a week, maybe more to play online.  There are low-end, high-end and in-between entry fees.  There are even some free tournaments that offer trips to the NHC.  There are tournaments away from the NHC and its Tour as well.  So many opportunities to have fun, win money, and many times for a very small investment.  Go to or or nhcqualify or bcqualify or twinspires or drf or derbywars or horsetourneys or publichandicapper (note I stopped with the .coms they’re all .coms got sick of .com-ing) or even your local tracks website.  There are sooooo many places to get started, and you don’t have to do anything but turn on your computer.  What are you waiting for?  Go.  Play.

“…over the last decade-plus I have met some of the best people on this planet.  Men and women I consider lifelong friends.”

Okay, so I’ve hooked you a little, admit it.  Now I’m playing my trump card.  Online tournaments are great, but you know what’s even better?  Going to a venue for a tournament.  Awesome!  When I first started, there weren’t any online tournaments, you had to travel.  It was the best thing that ever happened to me, in my professional life at least.  You see there is an amazing phenomenon attached to handicapping tournaments; they attract the highest class of human beings I’ve ever met in any walk of life.  In what I call “real” life, I’d say the percentage of how can I put this? (I’m not a fisherman but it rhymes with bass poles).  The percentage of “bass poles” is really high, maybe 75%.  Hey, takes one to know one right?  But anyway, at handicapping tournaments it’s like 2% counting me. 

Allow me to illustrate further.  If you put 800 tournament players into a ballroom or two at the Orleans in Vegas for a three day event, you MIGHT be able to ferret out 16 “bass poles” if you try hard.  Put 800 conventioning doctors, lawyers, funeral home directors, bricklayers, writers, plumbers etc in the same couple of rooms and guaranteed you’ll have three quarters “bass poles.”  Three.  Quarters.  Bass.  Poles.  Just saying!

Seriously though, over the last decade-plus I have met some of the best people on this planet.  Men and women I consider lifelong friends.  Some I talk to nearly every day, others I just catch up with when we get together and others somewhere in between. 

You see handicapping tournaments draw thinking people.  Ours is a cerebral game.  Any shmoe can sit down with two cards in front of him or her and play poker.  Horse racing requires more use of the brain, and what the hell is wrong with that?  Let me tell you something else about these people.  We go to tournaments and try to beat each other’s brains out, but when we get to the point where we know we can’t win, we GENUINELY root for our friends to win.  No lie.  Find that in a poker room or your local boardroom.  I haven’t been to a tournament in ten years where a bunch of us haven’t gone out for dinner after the last races were run.  I would like to mention names, but they wouldn’t mean anything to many of you, and if I left anyone out, I’d feel like a crumb. 

The bottom line is this: handicapping tournaments are fun, convenient to play from home, can offer value, trips to Vegas and also the opportunity to meet some of the finest people you’ll meet in your life.  Eventually someone will figure out how to bring them to television in an entertaining way (YEAH I know how already, just ask me!!!) and that is when we will rejoin the “real” world, and return to the glory days of the early to mid-part of the 20th century.  If you care about horse racing, be a part of the solution while improving your quality of entertainment at the same time, and maybe enriching your life while you’re at it.  Once you go to a handicapping tournament, you’ll no never go back.

Exciting, new Tournaments at

If you are into handicapping tournaments or always wanted to try your hand in one, check out the new site, the branchild of longtime racing executive Mark Midland. DerbyWars offers free games, NHC qualifiers as low as $25, and cash games with guaranteed pots. Sunday’s (Oct. 9) game is a lucrative $15,000 pot. $115 entry fee.