Incredible $5M Bonus Offered via Monmouth and Woodbine

Monmouth Park by Rich Nilsen

copyright 2016

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.

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“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 or or can register by contacting Skirka at

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

1st NHC Player Rating System Announced

Press Release


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 website and an individual’s rating also will appear on the NHC Tour player bio pages housed on

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:

To join the NHC Tour and receive a rating, go to

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, 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 To sign up for the NHC Tour, go to One must be a current NHC Tour member to play in free online qualifiers. Individuals also must be registered at

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 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, 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

Texas Gastroenterologist Wins 1st Half of NHC Tour



 LEXINGTON, Ky.  – Joe Johnson, of San Antonio, Texas, rode the lone speed of Laoban all the way to a $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry as the winner of the National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour’s “First Half,” which concluded Sunday, July 31st.

By pegging that 27-1 winner of the Jim Dandy (G2) at Saratoga Race Course, Johnson vaulted himself to an 11th-place finish in a Free-to-Play online qualifier presented by the NTRA on, good for 2,851 points on the day and a final tally of 13,578 points on the “First Half” leaderboard. The “First Half” top five – each of whom received either a Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge entry worth $10,000 or the equivalent in cash – was rounded out by Gary McMaster (12,969 points), Cheryl McIntyre (12,617), Rick Broth (12,555), and Kevin Engelhard (12,199).

“First Half” totals are comprised of points earned in a player’s top four finishes, at least one of which must have come in an on-site contest, through July 31. Results became official Wednesday at the conclusion of a three-day audit period.

NHC generic logoJohnson, 59, a gastroenterologist, amassed his score with a March 13 win on (in a field of 290 entries) worth 3,688 points; a March 20 win on BetAmerica (281 entries) worth 3,631 points; a third-place finish in the July 23 live contest at Woodbine (86 entries) worth 1,908 points; and the 11th-place finish on Saturday against a field of 1,810 other entries in the final major contest of the First Half.

His effort north of the border was Johnson’s first and only attempt of the year in an on-site tournament.

“I played at Woodbine just so I could get that in-person score,” he said. “I’ve been pushing for this for some months now and it feels good to have it happen.”

Johnson also backed Laoban on multiple entries in another contest Saturday, on DRF Tournaments, finishing first and second while earning his second BCBC entry of the year as a result. With the maximum of two BCBC entries in his own name already secured, Johnson will receive $10,000 cash for his NHC Tour “First Half” exploits.

“I hate to say I had some luck because we like to think it’s all skill but things broke just right for me,” Johnson said. “It really worked out well. I was only aiming for the top five but to win feels great.”

Now Johnson will turn his attention to the overall, year-long NHC Tour leaderboard, where he sits in second with 16,616 points, just behind Engelhard, the current leader with 16,783. The overall NHC Tour leaderboard incorporates a player’s top six scores. First prize for the NHC Tour is $75,000 and comes with a trophy and the chance to play for a $2 million bonus should the NHC Tour winner go on to win NHC 18 in January. There is also a new “$3,000,000 NHC Tour Double” bonus for anyone that can complete a sweep of the BCBC and the NHC.

“Of course I’ve got to go for all of that,” Johnson said. “That’s what we do this for.”

The top 150 NHC Tour finishers earn automatic berths to the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest, the NHC, set for Jan. 27-29, 2017, at Treasure Island Las Vegas, provided that each individual has not already won an NHC entry. The top 20 share in a $175,000 prize pool, from $75,000 (plus a trophy and an automatic berth to NHC 19) for the NHC Tour champion to $1,000 for 20th, and the top 40 get to play for a $25,000 bonus that goes to the qualifier with the highest finish at NHC 18.

Here’s more of what we know about the rest of the top five “First Half” finishers after Johnson and whether they’re accepting a BCBC entry or taking $10,000 cash:

McMaster, of Etobicoke, Ontario, won live contests at Woodbine and Arlington Park this summer. He already holds a BCBC spot and has elected to take $10,000 cash.

McIntyre, of Massillon, Ohio, is an eight-time NHC qualifier. She has already earned four BCBC entries in 2016 (although only two can be played in her name) and will, therefore, receive $10,000 cash.

Broth, of Dunwoody, Ga., is a sales manager for an acoustical tile manufacturer. The 58-year-old made his NHC debut in January at NHC 17. He has co-owned several quality horses with trainer Ronny Werner, including Lady of Shamrock, a multiple Grade 1 winner after they sold her as a 2-year-old. Broth already held a BCBC berth he earned by winning Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble in April and will take $10,000 cash.

Engelhard, of Franklin Park, N.J., is a seven-time NHC qualifier. The 63-year-old is the current NHC Tour leader. He has accepted a BCBC entry.

On the compact “First Half” leaderboard, eight players – including elite names like Joe Pettit, Bill Shurman, Garett Skiba, Eric Moomey and Sally Goodall – finished within 1,000 points of making the top five.

The complete final “First Half” standings with scores for all 2,633 NHC Tour members that earned points so far this year can be viewed online.

The NHC Tour’s “Second Half” starts this weekend with a clean slate separate from the overall standings. The top five on the NHC Tour leaderboard from Aug. 1 toJan. 1 will each be awarded a $10,000 cash prize. This weekend’s plethora of contest offerings include the two-day (Friday and Saturday) $200,000-guaranteed Wynn Las Vegas Handicapping Challenge (2 NHC spots); Saturday’s “All-Optional” contest on (3 spots minimum); Saturday’s “Second Chance” contest (a qualifier for the 2-spot championship Oct. 1) at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas; Sunday’s Free-to-Play online contest (4 spots) presented by the NTRA at; and another Sunday contest (2 spots guaranteed) at

For more information on the NHC and NHC Tour, visit 

About the NHC

In its 18th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship 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 Web sites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. In addition to the founding title sponsor, the NHC is presented by host casino Treasure Island Las Vegas.

About the BCBC

Now entering its eighth year, the $1 million-estimated BCBC has become one of the most sought after prizes on the tournament calendar. The BCBC, which offers 15 seats to the NHC in addition to cash prizes, is a highly lucrative and exclusive live bankroll handicapping contest with a $10,000 buy-in required to participate. Players enjoy first class access to the two best days of racing in the world with VIP seats that include buffet lunch each day and other amenities. Online and on-site qualifying tournaments, offering $10,000 berths into the BCBC as prizes, continue throughout the summer and fall leading to the November Breeders’ Cup. For more on the BCBC, visit

About the NTRA

THE NTRA is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA, Based in Lexington, Ky., owns and manages the NTRA Safety & Integrity Alliance;; the NTRA Top Thoroughbred and NTRA Top 3-Year-Old weekly media polls; the Eclipse Awards; the National Handicapping Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (

2017 NHC Dates Set. Changes for NHC Tour

The 2017 National Handicapping Championship (NHC) dates have been set for Friday, January 27 – Sunday, January 29 in Las Vegas.  There several noteworthy changes to this year’s NHC Tour.

For Tour Points scoring purposes there will be three NHC Tour Leader Boards:

1) NHC Tour First-Half Year Leader Board (January 31-July 31)

2) NHC Tour Second-Half Year Leader Board (August 1- January 1, 2017)

3)  NHC Tour Overall Leader Board (January 31, 2016 – January 1, 2017)

All individuals (not entries) participating in each qualifying tournament will receive 50 points for participating in an online Tournament and 150 points for participating in an on-track Tournament.  Participation points will be capped at 1,500 points for the 2016 Tour regardless of the way they are accumulated.  Players are responsible for ensuring the accuracy of their participation points.

NHC generic logo In the case of free NHC qualifiers, Tour points will be awarded based on the total number of Tour members competing in the tournament.   For example, if a free tournament has 1,000 overall entries, but only 500 NHC Tour entries, points will be awarded for the top 50 scores.

Tour Bonus:  The top 40 Tour point leaders, based on the 2016 Overall Tour Leader Board standings as of January 1, 2017, each are eligible to win a $25,000 bonus at the NHC that will awarded to the individual that finishes highest among those 40 individuals at the NHC (not the Consolation Tournament).  The bonus is in addition to any other prize money won at the NHC. Cyber Awards:  A $1 million bonus and additional prize money will be available to individuals accumulating NHC Tour points via  The NHC Tour member accumulating the highest number of NHC Tour points in 2016 via will receive $10,000 and be eligible to receive $1 million bonus if she or he also wins the NHC 18 in January 2017.  In addition, any first-time NHC Tour member will be eligible for a $10,000 bonus awarded to the “NHC Cyber Rookie of the Year”.  The NHC Cyber Rookie of the Year will be a first-time Tour member who accumulates the highest number of NHC Tour points via  Individuals must join the 2016 NHC Tour at to be eligible for the bonus and awards tied to play on

The 2016 NHC Tour Free-to-Play Online Tournament Dates have been set (subject to change)

Sunday, March 6 –

Saturday, May 14 –

Saturday, July 30 –

Sunday, August 7 –

Saturday, September 3 –

The 2016 NHC Tour rules have been posted on

Handicappers’ Tour Offers Increased Purse of 25% in 2015

nhc, nhc 2013, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, NTRA NHC 2015 eventThe 2015 NHC Tour officially kicks off Monday, Jan. 26, and continues through Dec. 31, 2015.   Overall prize money for the Tour has been increased 25 percent to $250,000 total.

The most significant change in the NHC Tour rules is a new bonus available to players who finish in the money on the 2015 Tour. The top 20 Tour finishers will be eligible for an additional $25,000 that will be awarded to the person among that group who finishes highest at the 2016 National Handicapping Championship (NHC). This individual also will earn a berth in the 2017 NHC.

“We hope this will motivate participation and play,” Chamblin said, “and we like the idea that more players will be eligible to qualify for an end-of-the-season competition. While it’s not incredibly lucrative, $25,000 isn’t chump change.”

The overall top Tour finisher will also receive an automatic entry into the 2017 NHC. “This is the first time in a number of years we’ve done this,” Chamblin said, “But it seems like a fair reward for such a difficult achievement.”

To participate in the NHC, one must purchase a $50 Tour membership. As was the case this year on the Tour, the top 150 Tour points leaders will be guaranteed entry into the 2016 NHC, where the overall, season-ending NHC Tour points leader will be eligible for a $2 million bonus should he or she capture the 2016 NHC.

A tentative schedule of 2015 NHC qualifying events will be released very soon. Tour Registration is already open.