Goodall Claims the NHC Tour Title in Photo Finish over Donnelly

NTRA NHC logoLEXINGTON, Ky. (February 5, 2021) – Sally Goodall’s name was already synonymous with success on the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Tour.

In the 22 years the NHC tournament has been in existence, Goodall has qualified to vie for Horseplayer of the Year honors a record 19 times. Whenever she enters a Las Vegas ballroom alongside her fellow handicappers, she is recognized as one of the most skilled members of the community.

After years of being heralded as one of the top players on the NHC Tour, Goodall has the ultimate bragging right to accompany her reputation. Bolstered by three online contest wins in the first half of 2020, the resident of Las Vegas was able to earn 22,330 points to claim her first career NHC Tour title in a razor-tight finish over runner-up Dylan Donnelly.

Only 54 points separated the top two finishers on the Tour with Donnelly notching 22,276 points following a season that saw him prevail in five online contests. Goodall’s strength early in 2020 – she was dual qualified for the 2021 NHC by March – and yearlong consistency allowed the NHC veteran to take home the $100,000 first-place prize, a 2022 NHC seat, and the chance to play for an additional $5 million in bonuses at the 2021 NHC to be held at Bally’s Las Vegas on August 27-29.

In securing the 2020 NHC Tour title, Goodall earned one of the few remaining NHC accolades her household was missing. Her husband, Richard, won the 2008 NHC title and was inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame last February. The couple proudly states they plan most of their year around the annual Las Vegas-based tournament, a diligence Sally Goodall demonstrated better than ever this past season.

“We focus on NHC contests every day,” Sally Goodall said. “Since I met my husband, he took me to the racetrack and we play the horses for fun. He has mentored me and taught me very well how to bet on horses for the contests. We have fun and we’ve gotten lucky too.”

Sally Goodall’s luck was accompanied by a good deal of skill in 2020. In addition to her three contest wins, she posted five other top-10 finishes, earning precious points in a year when every bit mattered.

The margin from first to fifth on the NHC Tour leaderboard was separated by only 1,246 points. Just behind Donnelly was third-place finisher Thomas Blosser, who finished with 21,335 points, while Brett Wiener (21,199) and David Wolff (21,084) were fourth and fifth, respectively. Total prize money for the Tour was $300,000 with $50,000 going to the runner-up, $25,000 to third, $20,000 to fourth, and $17,500 to fifth.

Overall NHC Tour standings are determined by totaling a player’s top seven scores from eligible qualifying contests.

In her 18 prior trips to the NHC tournament, Sally Goodall has cashed once for $24,000 when she finished 12th overall in 2017. She has now been dual qualified in seven of the last eight years and can once again take aim at getting her handicapping prowess to translate to a spot in the NHC Final Table.

“The contests are fun to do. It’s different the strategy than betting live,” Goodall said. “I do like breeding, and (I’ll look at) jockeys and trainer combinations. But I just enjoy meeting the people at the NHC. Everyone knows me, I know them, and it’s like a family reunion. It’s good to achieve the goals, and (my husband and I) both did.”

The top NHC Tour Rookie for 2020 was Kris Andaur, who earned 13,052 points. Andaur, a resident of League City, TX, will be honored with the Jim Nace Award at the NHC awards dinner.

The top five rookies receive a total of $15,000 with $5,000 going to first, $4,000 to second-place, $3,000 for third-place, $2,000 for fourth-place, and $1,000 for fifth-place.

To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to www.ntra.com/membership. For more information on the NHC Tour benefits and to view the official rules go to www.nhctour.com. A schedule of 2021 Tour events will be updated regularly at https://www.ntra.com/nhc/nhc-events/.

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 NTRA.com/nhc.

 

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 TVG.com, the official Breeders’ Cup wagering partner, Xpressbet.com 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 Horseplayers.com. 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?

ABOUT BREEDERS’ CUP

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)

Handicapping Tip of the Day #59 – The Off the Turf Bomber

Look for These Attributes for an Off-the-turf Winner

Handicapping tips from agameofskill.com

by Rich Nilsen

This is the story of how I gave my buddies a 27-1 winner that won for fun, and I think they wagered a total of $10 on her.

A few weeks back I picked up my Brisnet Past Performances for the 8th race at Gulfstream Park, an off-the-turf claimer for non-winners of two races lifetime.  First thing I did was look at the MTO (Main Track Only) runner who had drawn into the field and was now the favorite. The four year old filly had so-so early speed and just struck me as a one-paced runner, the type that makes a slow, steady late run that isn’t going to win many races…especially at Gulfstream Park.  She also showed declining speed figures for her 9% trainer.

Immediately, I was interested in who might be able to beat this vulnerable favorite.  The #2, 5, and 12 were all turf runners that had no show little-to-no ability on the main track.  Toss.

That left only the #4, 6, 11, and 13.  The #11 was a terribly slow horse for a bad trainer.  Easy toss.   The #4 had won a maiden $10,000 claimer at Tampa and this was a $25,000 2-life at Gulfstream.   She looked slow and outclassed for this level in South Florida.

That left only two possibilities if I was going to play this race.  The #6 Just A Bit Sassy had run twice on the dirt and had placed twice both times while earning decent figures.  However, she was beaten a total of 18 lengths and had failed to show much early speed.  She was being heavily bet as the second choice and I felt the risk/reward wasn’t there.

#13 Lilo’s Call, on the other hand, had gone wire to wire in her maiden win first time out at Laurel last March.  Off that start she ran a lackluster 6th on the turf (toss).  She was then well beaten in her next two starts in tough allowance races and one of those starts came in the slop.  I only needed to forgive her last start in order to make her a play.

Sometimes you just have to forgive a bad last race for no reason.  Today,  the daughter of Drosselmeyer was making her first start for her new trainer, a low profile but solid 21% trainer John Collins.  She had three solid works for the new barn, a very positive sign that she might revert to her prior good form.  Lilo’s Call was bred to love the distance and dirt, and she was already a proven, front-running winner in a one-turn mile race.  Went I looked at the toteboard on BetPTC.com I couldn’t believe my eyes.  She was 40-1.

I’m a privileged member of the LoneSpeed.com text thread, a select group of really good handicappers.  The small group of six includes superstar handicapper Dylan Donnelly (currently #1 on the NHC Tour) and wanna-be star Justin Dew.

It was 6 minutes to post and I texted my buddies about a longshot that I thought had a big shot.  Radio silence.

They broke from the gate and Lilo’s Call moved up into a perfect stalking position in third, just off the early pace setters.  At the 3/8th pole Miguel Vasquez asked and Lilo responded, cruising to the front.  From there she took command and then proceeded to just run the rest of her rivals off their feet.  She hit the wire 6 3/4 lengths in front.   The MTO favorite plodded along in second.  My phone exploded.

Chart of a longshot off the turf winner

copyright 2020 Equibase.com and Brisnet

The filly paid $57.20 win.  The congrats came in via the text thread, and double NHC qualifer Dew acknowledged that he had a few bucks on her.

Overlays like this aren’t easy to come by.  When you handicap an off the turf race, look for a horse that is proven on the dirt or has an excellent dirt pedigree.  Give the edge to runners with good early speed or strong tactical speed.  Couple that with an angle or two that makes sense, and you have the icing on the cake.   Best of luck!