Today: Free National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Qualifier Offers up 5 Spots

A Free-to-Play online National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) qualifier is set for Saturday on HorsePlayers.com, the new official qualifying site for the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament.|

The contest offers five berths to February’s NHC and is open exclusively to NHC Tour members. This past January’s NHC 18 offered a record prize pool worth more than $2.9 million, including an $800,000 first-place prize won by Ray Arsenault, whose finish also earned him an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year.

To register for Saturday’s free contest, go to HorsePlayers.com/contest/207512. To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to www.ntra.com/membership. One must be a current NHC Tour member to play in free online qualifiers. Individuals also must be registered at HorsePlayers.com.

NTRA NHC logoThe top five finishers in Saturday’s contest (one more than in each of last year’s free online qualifiers) will each earn an automatic berth to the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas, to be held February 9-11, 2018, at Treasure Island. Each winning prize package includes NHC entry, four nights at Treasure Island and airfare reimbursement up to $400.

The free qualifier also offers NHC Tour points, with the top 10 percent of finishers earning shares of a points pool estimated at 250,000 points (with 3,750 to the winner), based on an estimated 1,500 players. The final number of points available will be determined on a sliding scale according to the number of participating NHC Tour players.

 The contest will be comprised of mythical Win and Place wagers on a series of mandatory races across the country with selections submitted in advance of the first designated contest race per the “Pick and Pray” format. Designated races will be posted 48 hours in advance on the HorsePlayers.com contest description page and selections may be submitted starting 24 hours in advance of the first race.

This marks the second of five free online qualifiers to be presented by the NTRA this year on HorsePlayers.com, with the later contests set for June 10, July 30, and Sept. 2. The 2017 NHC Tour is the richest in history with $400,000 in prize money, including $100,000 to the overall leader at the conclusion of the Tour season.

For more information on the NHC and NHC Tour, visit www.ntra.com/nhc.

Blaise Brucato Completes Rare Back-to-Back Tournament Wins

 Ohio Handicapper Captures Grade One Gamble and Spring Challenge at Keeneland

 April 22-23, 2017

 In the storied history of Keeneland Race Course, many patrons have had memorable (and profitable) weekends.  We would venture to guess, however, that not many have equaled the weekend that Blaise Brucato just experienced at this venerable racetrack.

RoughlyKeeneland Green Logo 24 hours after winning the inaugural Keeneland Spring Challenge, a $400 buy-in tournament held on Saturday (4/22/17), Blaise topped that performance with a dramatic win in Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble, a $3,000 buy-in tournament that has become one of the most prized titles on the NHC Tour.

On Saturday, the Cleveland native bested a field of 258 players by hitting a $500 exacta on the last race, winning a $10,000 BCBC spot and $3,500 in cash.  Mike Maloney of Lexington captured 2nd and 4th places in the tourney, earning an NHC spot and $3,500 in prize money.  NHC qualifiers Paul Hoffman of Chicago (3rd place) and Mark Haidar of Northville, (5th place) joined lucky 6th place finisher Ali Aksoy of Toronto, who benefitted from the NHC rule that prohibits any player from scoring 2 NHC spots in one tournament. [AGOS Founder Rich Nilsen finished a distant 21st].

After winning the Saturday tournament, Blaise revealed that April 22 was his Dad’s birthday.  Bill Brucato introduced his son to horse racing at a young age, and even though Bill passed away in 1988, it is clear that his spirit and love for racing lives on through Blaise.

TheNTRA NHC logo incredible story continued on Sunday, as Brucato closed again in the final race, cashing a $250 exacta to vault past former NHC Tour champion Jonathon Kinchen by a mere $200 to claim back-to-back victories, with another BCBC spot, an NHC berth, and $13,000 in cash.   In the Grade One Gamble, a record 170 entries competed for 7 BCBC spots, 10 NHC spots, and over $40,000 in cash prizes.  The 2nd place finish by Austin, TX native Kinchen earned him a BCBC and NHC spot plus $6,500 in cash. Third through 7th finishers Bob Traynor of Oceanside, CA, Joe Kramer of Fargo, ND, Marshall Gramm of Memphis, TN, Randy Gallo of Palm Beach Garden, FL and Kenneth King of New York, NY all earned BCBC and NHC entries, in addition to cash prizes.

Brian Johnson of Biloxi, MS, Ali Aksoy of Toronto, ON and Mike Maloney of Lexington, KY finished 8th through 10th and earned a berth to the 2018 NHC, in addition to cash prizes.  For Aksoy and Mahoney, it was the 2nd NHC berth in as many days.

To recap the weekend, totaling his bankroll winnings, cash prizes, and BCBC/NHC berths, Blaise Brucato cashed for over $50,000.  Not a bad way to spend a weekend at Keeneland, and not a bad way to celebrate your father’s birthday.  Somewhere Bill Brucato has a wide smile on his face.

Final Standings for Grade One Gamble (with Bankroll)

  1. Blaise Brucato $8,434.00
  2. Jonathon Kinchen $8,234.50
  3. Bob Traynor $7,000.00
  4. Joe Kramer $6,546.80
  5. Marshall Gramm $6,493.50
  6. Randy Gallo $6,412.00
  7. Kenneth King $5,968.00
  8. Brian Johnson $5,780.00
  9. Ali Aksoy $5,590.00
  10. Mike Maloney $5,151.00