Veteran Tournament Player Streiff Crushes Del Mar Contest Field

Mark Streiff of Mission Viejo, CA, crushed race 9 in the Del Mar Fall Challenge (Nov. 11, 2018) to finish well clear of the 60 other entries. Streiff, down to $1,300 going into the last race scored huge with a series of trifecta wagers keyed by two longshots in first and third paying over $52,000. Dan Kaplan from Las Vegas finished second with a $100 late double for an $18,000 payout. Players began the contest with a $3,000 live money bankroll in the two-day Challenge.

Overall prizes included nearly $50,000 in cash, three $10,000 entries in the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) and three entries in the 2019 $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). The Challenge buy-in was $4,500 with $3,000 going to the player bankroll and $1,500 to the prize pool. 100% of the prize pool was distributed back to the prizewinners with Del Mar adding a $1 million bonus opportunity which will be paid to Streiff if he goes on to win the BCBC.

In addition to Streiff’s $52,812 in bankroll winnings, he receives $30,000 in cash, a $10,000 BCBC entry plus the $1 million bonus opportunity.

PLACE   NAME    FINAL BANKROLL    PRIZES
1 Mark Streiff $52,812 ($30,000 cash and BCBC entry)
2 Dan Kaplan $19,000 ($12,500 cash and BCBC entry)
3 Mikael Christen $15,875 ($4,000 cash and BCBC entry)
4 Mark Deaton $12,720 ($2,000 cash, NHC entry & $1,000 travel)
5 Anthony Mattera $12,460 (NHC entry & $1,000 travel)
6 Davis Basler $9,163 (NHC entry & $1,000 travel)
7 Shawn Turner $8,106
8 Ed Spaunhurst $6,250
9 Linda Rodriguez $5,190
10 Chris Podratz $4,141

Source: Del Mar

There’s No Question Who the Best Real-Money Tournament Player Is

Tommy Massis relaxing back home at Woodbine

It’s This Guy

I was one of the guys who got crushed by The Hammer, the best real-money tournament player in the country.  Tommy Massis of Toronto is not only the King of Keeneland Contests but also the one to fear most in any real-money tournament.  On Sunday (10/14/18) in Lexington Kentucky, he placed a $1,000 win bet on 19-1 shot Bella Noire in Keeneland’s 4th race to claim another real-money victory at Keeneland.  Tommy’s winning total of $20,800 bested 2nd place finisher Blake Jessee by nearly $8,000.

Tommy loves Keeneland, with good reason.  He won the Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship (BCBC) at Keeneland in 2015, and this is his second win in a big Keeneland live money contest.  For his most recent victory, in addition to his final bankroll, he takes home $30,000, a fully paid $10,000 berth in the BCBC at Churchill Downs, and a fully paid entry plus expenses into the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas.

According to the Keeneland press release, Tommy played the tournament from the Green Room at Keeneland, and when Bella Noire stormed down the stretch he jumped up and declared, “You have a new leader!”

The $3,000 buy-in tournament drew 167 entries and awarded BCBC and NHC spots to the top five finishers, NHC spots to places 6 through 8, and prize money to 15th place.

Three years ago I got the pleasure of interviewing The Hammer, so check out the link below to view Tommy’s insight into his first real-money tournament score at Keeneland:

Interview with Tommy Massis

Months after this interview, The Hammer turned around and won the 2015 Breeders’ Cup Betting Championship (BCBC) by absolutely crushing the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Turf.  A couple weeks later he won the Del Mar real-money tournament, taking down another grand prize and leaving his competition in the dust.

It was truly the year of The Hammer, and this past weekend proved that he is still pounding his competition, and making some men (like myself) look like boys.  Great job Tommy!

 

Did You Miss This Gem?

How to Win a Handicapping Tournament

How to Win a Handicapping Tournament

By Rich Nilsen

For the last 10 years or more, the handicapping tournaments in the horse racing world have been all the rage.  The popularity has increased with each passing year, and the overall tournament landscape has changed significantly.  Whereas in the past nearly all contests featured a $2 win/place format using mythical money, the larger real-money tournaments have now taken over.  The good news is that there is still something for everyone.  There are small entry-level contests where the buy-in may be as a low as $9, and there are huge tournaments where you need $10,000 or more to get in the front door.

Handicapping tournaments are a lot of fun, but to win one you have to be more than just a good handicapper.  You have to be prepared and have a plan.  Today we’ll look at the steps I believe you need in order to succeed in horse racing contests.  Feel free to share your thoughts and experiences at the end on what you think it takes to win a handicapping tournament.

REALLY KNOW THE RULES

Yes, that seems pretty obvious.  But understanding the basic rules and really knowing the rules are two different things.  There are many contests out there that have ‘fine details’ and those fine details can be the difference between winning and losing.

I highly recommend reading through the rules of an upcoming contest multiple times.  In doing so, you may just catch something you missed the first time around.  For example, in 2016 I was fortunate to win into the Kentucky Derby Betting Championship, a brand new, real-money contest that featured a $20,000 buy-in.  You had to bet a certain amount of money on a minimum number of Churchill Downs races on both Friday and Saturday of Kentucky Derby weekend.  What could easily be missed in the rules is that you could wager LESS than the required amount on any given race.

This omission was actually significant.  Why?  The reason being that you could take a swing at a race that maybe you didn’t want to go all-in on per the minimum race requirements.  So, instead of wagering the required $400 minimum, for example, you could take a shot with $50-100 in bets.  If you lost, no big deal.  If you hit an exacta or trifecta that paid well, this could help you make a move on the leaderboard.  If you sat out the race entirely, because you failed to understand the rule, and then a horse you were strongly considering won, this could also wreck havoc on your mental game.

There are other contests where if you fail to make a bet or meet the minimum requirements, you’re disqualified.  I’ve seen this happen even to veteran tournament players.  By reading the rules and really understanding the ins and outs of the contest, you’re much less likely to make a critical mistake.

FOLLOW THE CONTEST TRACK(S)

In the week leading up to a contest that features specific tracks, you should definitely follow the action at those tracks in the days prior.   There are several benefits to doing that.  For one you may catch on to a prevailing track bias.  You may notice certain trainers or jockeys that are ice cold, or red-hot for that matter.

You may also notice a horse that was victorious who ran against a horse entered on the upcoming contest date. That happened to me many years ago when I was involved in a handicapping tournament in Kentucky.  The day before the contest, I had wagered on a horse that won impressively at Keeneland and had done so at nice odds.  The following day a runner that had been very competitive with that winning horse was entered to run.  The horse made sense to me, for a variety of reasons, and I knew he was coming out of a sneaky good race.  He crushed the field and scored at 50-1 odds!  I had him in the contest and, although I didn’t win the grand prize, I was among the top finishers at the conclusion of the contest.

BE AGGRESSIVE

It’s very hard to win a contest with a conservative approach.  Playing the favorites, for example, throughout the majority of the card isn’t going to get you into the winner’s circle very often.  You may feel good cashing several races, but it simply won’t ‘cut it.’

I’m not suggesting that you just take stabs at big longshots.  However, it is advisable to find some value plays that make sense and can propel you up the leaderboard if you’re right.  Just a couple of victorious 6-1 shots can oftentimes put you in the hunt to win a tournament.

If you’re playing a tournament with mandatory races, then everyone is required to play the same race(s).  If a big price comes in, unless it’s a very small field of players, someone is going to have the longshot, and you’re toast.

The chances of just picking the logical favorites and being successful in most tournaments is low, as this player found out a few years ago.

How not to play a contest

In this live, online tournament featuring 10 mandatory races, there were 105 players and the top 12 won prizes.  This player had an awesome day, selecting six winners in a row!  The problem was that only one of those winners paid more than 2-1 and that was the 4-1 winning selection at Hawthorne.  Unfortunately for this sharp handicapper, a big price came in late in the tournament and blew him and his great day out of the water.  He plummeted to 15th place, out of the prize spots.  SIX winners in a row in a 10-race contest against only 104 other entries, and he finished completely out of the money.  Incredible.

MAP OUT YOUR CONTEST PLAYS

When you enter a contest, whether it’s on-track or online, you should handicap and make your selections (or structure your wagers) as far in advance of the first race as possible.  Then, check the scratches when they get posted and make appropriate revisions.

If you enter a contest and just plan to ‘wing it’ at the event, or during the online contest, I wish you the best of luck. To me, one of the worst aspects of ‘winging’ a contest and playing it as it goes, is that you are not prepared for the later races.  And, more times than not, the later races will play the biggest part in determining the final results.

My friend Paul Shurman, who is currently leading the NHC Tour (again), explained his thoughts on this in an interview with Eric Wing: “I think you need to have handicapped all the races before you enter the room. You have to know what you like later on in the day to know whether what you’re looking at right now represents good contest value. I also handicap backwards. I’ll start at the end of the card and work my way to the beginning. This way, if I don’t finish, and I wind up having to handicap on the fly, at least I’ll be handicapping on the fly early, knowing what I like later.”

The other benefit of mapping our picks or wagers ahead of time is that you are more likely to stick to your guns.  How many times have you heard a player say, “every time I change a pick, it loses,” or “I should have stuck with my original pick.”  I can attest that when I change my original pick it is usually a mistake.  It’s rare that I have a good reason to go against my original handicapping.

Now, of course, if there is a sudden downpour and the track has become a muddy mess, that is one example where changing your picks is not only a good idea but probably advisable (assuming you didn’t handicap for a wet track).  There are other scenarios and most are common sense.

Where it is not advisable is when you hear the paddock commentator say something negative about your selection, and so now, you’re looking at going a different direction.  Stick to your guns.  If you put a lot of work into your original selections, don’t be easily swayed from them.

SUMMARY

Winning any handicapping tournament is not easy.  Chances are you need to follow the advice presented herein and then proceed to have a really good day on top of that.  In many big contests, you also may need to catch a few breaks, e.g. winning a photo, surviving an inquiry, etc.  Winning is not easy, but if you lay the proper foundation, you enhance your chances greatly.  Best of luck!

 

Rich Nilsen handicapperRich Nilsen is the founder of A Game of Skill.  He is a 15-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) and a winner of 8 major handicapping tournaments.  He is currently ranked 6th on the new NHC Lifetime Player Rankings system.

Rich will be on the panel discussing handicapping tournaments at the Equestricon Conference in Louisville, KY.

 

5 Big Handicapping Contests from Santa Anita During the Autumn Meet

Contests are held both at Santa Anita and on their wagering site.

In addition to world class racing, Santa Anita Park and XpressBet have teamed to offer players a total of five big handicapping contests over the course of Santa Anita’s upcoming 22-day Autumn Meet. The contest series will begin on the second day of the meet, Breeders’ Cup “Win and You’re In” day Saturday, Sept. 29.

SATURDAY, SEPT. 29: The Opening Weekend $500 Challenge

–$500 Buy-in ($300 Bankroll & $200 prizes)

–Play on-track or online with XpressBet

PRIZES (BASED ON 150 ENTRIES)

–One Entry to the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship

–Two Entries to the 2019 National Handicapping Championship

–Two Entries to Day One of the DOUBLEHEADER on Saturday, Oct. 6 at Santa Anita

–$10,000 Cash Prize Pool to Top Four Finishers

SATURDAY, OCT. 6: The Doubleheader–Day One

–$3,000 Buy-In ($2,000 Bankroll & $1,000 Prizes)

–Play on-track or online with XpressBet

PRIZES (BASED ON 90 ENTRIES)

–One Entry to the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship

–One Entry to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge

–Two Entries to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship

–Two Entries to Day Two of the Doubleheader on Oct. 7 at Santa Anita

–$55,000 Cash Prize Pool to Top Five Finishers

SUNDAY, OCT. 7: The Doubleheader–Day Two

–$3,000 Buy-In ($2,000 Bankroll & $1,000 Prizes

–Play on-track or online with XpressBet

PRIZES (BASED ON 90 ENTRIES)

–Two entries to the 2019 Pegasus WCBC

–One Entry to the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge

–Two Entries to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship

–$50,000 Cash Prize Pool to the Top Five Finishers

SATURDAY, OCT. 20: The $500 Autumn Challenge

–$500 Buy-In ($300 Bankroll & $200 Prizes)

–Play on-track or online with XpressBet

PRIZES (BASED ON 200 ENTRIES)

–One Entry to the 2019 Pegasus World Cup Betting Championship

–Two Entries to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship

–$20,000 Cash Prize Pool to Top Four Finishers

SUNDAY, NOV. 4: The Closing Day Challenge

–$3,000 Buy-In ($2,000 Bankroll & $1,000 Prizes)

–Play on-track or online with XpressBet

PRIZES (BASED ON 90 ENTRIES)

–Three Entries to the 2019 World Cup Betting Championship

–Two Entries to the 2019 National Horseplayers Championship

–$50,000 Cash Prize Pool to Top Five Finishers

For additional information on Santa Anita’s 2018 Autumn Meet Handicapping Contests, please visit www.santaanita.com/contests, or call, at (626) 574-6384.

Another NHC Event at Los Alamitos this Saturday

los alamitos logoThe Los Alamitos Racing Association will offer a cash prize and as many as three seats to the 2019 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas with a live money handicapping contest Saturday, Sept. 22.

Cost to enter is $400. Of that amount, $100 will be placed in the contest prize pool with the remaining funds going towards a live-money wagering card.

Contestants must enter prior to 2 p.m. – post time for the first race – Sept. 22. Players can begin entering the contest once track gates open at 9:30 a.m. that morning.

Tournament races will include the entire card at Los Alamitos with permitted wagers including win, place, show, exactas, trifectas and daily doubles beginning in races 1-7.

Each entry must bet at least $50 per race on six races during the contest to be eligible for prizes, but there is no wagering limit.

The player with the highest bankroll at the end of the day will be declared the winner and the player with the second highest bankroll will be the runner-up.

The winner will receive 50% of the prize pool, which will be capped at $10,000. The remaining payoffs: 20% (2nd place), 15% (3rd place), 7.5% (4th place) and 7.5% (most money wagered).

Three NHC berths will be up for grabs if the contest has more than 60 entrants. If less than 60, two NHC spots will be on the line.

For complete contest rules and any questions, contact larace@losalamitos.com or phone 714-820-2690.

Source: Los Alamitos

NHC Super Qualifiers by the Big Three in Horse Racing

nhc final table vegasThe New York Racing Association, Churchill Downs Inc., and The Stronach Group are set to host three brand-new “NHC Super Qualifiers” in coming months, offering dozens of berths to February’s $3 million (estimated) NTRA National Horseplayers Championship in Las Vegas. The live-money contests, in which players compete to turn $1,000 of their own cash into the largest nut, are set for Sept. 29 at Belmont Park, Dec. 22 at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, and Jan. 5 at Santa Anita Park (or online at Xpressbet.com).

Each on-track Super Qualifier will award one NHC berth per every 15 entries, meaning roughly the top 7 percent of entrants will move on to Treasure Island Las Vegas for the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest, Feb. 8-10, 2019.

Registration for each contest costs $1,500, with $1,000 going to the starting bankroll and $200 to a cash prize pool for the Super Qualifier (the remaining $300 goes to the NHC purse and travel). The format will consist of 10 mandatory $50 Win-Place wagers. Players will keep 100 percent of their winnings and the leaders will share in the cash prize pool, with the number of winners and amounts determined (on a sliding scale) by the number of entries. Players are limited to two entries for each on-track Super Qualifier.

“These new Super Qualifiers allow us to offer a much more favorable ratio of berths to entries for players,” said NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We’re also excited to offer live-money formats that allow players to keep their winnings and put money through the windows of the host tracks, while maintaining the traditional Win-Place format that rewards consistent excellence.”

Each winning prize package includes NHC entry, four nights at Treasure Island, and airfare reimbursement up to $400.

As added incentive, a $500,000 bonus will be up for grabs in Las Vegas for any of the three on-track Super Qualifier winners who go on to win #NHC19.

For more information on entering any of the four Super Qualifiers, contact Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA at mravencraft@ntra.com. Online and/or phone registration will be available via the host racetracks in coming weeks.

Low-cost “feeder” contests will be available for each Super Qualifier on HorsePlayers.com.

NHC Tour points, which determine year-end Tour prizes, as well as NHC entry for the top 10 percent of finishers, will be awarded in NHC Super Qualifiers. For the Santa Anita/Xpressbet.com contest only, players already double-qualified for #NHC19 can earn a first berth to #NHC20 in February 2020.

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

 

Big Weekend of NHC Handicapping Tournaments – Results from 8/18-19

McFarland Wins Another Real-money Contest

Kevin McFarland, from Solana Beach, CA, vaulted to first place on the strength of two daily double payouts on his way to earning $20,000 in prizes in the Pacific Classic Betting Challenge.

David Snyder from Mission Viejo, CA and Tyler Hoffman from San Gabriel, CA finished second and third to round out the top three. David and Tyler both win entries in the $2.5 million National Horseplayers Championship as well as cash prizes of $7,000 and $3,500 respectively.

McFarland scored with the early double in races one and two to build up the Challenge starting $300 bankroll and vaulted to the lead with a $100 double in races 7 and 8, a $4,700 payout. From there he held on to ride out the fantastic 11 race card which set a one-day handle record at Del Mar. Winnings include $10,000 cash and a $10,000 entry in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Ed Abel of Des Moines, IA and Walt Tendler of San Diego finished 4th and 5th earning entries into the Del Mar $4,500 Fall Challenge November 10 & 11.

FINAL STANDINGS

1 Kevin McFarland (3) $7,511.50
2 David Snyder (3) $5,577.00
3 Tyler Hoffman $5.249.00
4 Ed Abel (1) $5,103.00
5 Walt Tendler (2) $4,440.00
6 Scott Johnson (3) $4,243.70

Harryman Scores at Laurel NHC contest

Jeffrey Harryman of Baltimore finished with a bankroll balance of $2,214.50 to capture the fall session of the Maryland Jockey Club Champions Handicapping Tournament held on Maryland Pride Day, Saturday, Aug. 18 at Laurel Park.

Lam earned $2,790 in prize money and ended with a comfortable margin over runner-up Sean Nolan of Alexandria, Va., who closed the day with a bankroll balance of $1,786.40 and took home $1,860 in prize money.

The tournament was open to players for $300, which covered a $100 entry fee and $200 bankroll. In addition to prize money, the top four finishers qualified for automatic berths to the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) or The BIG ONE.

NTRA NHC logoFor the second straight year, the tournament was held in Laurel’s refurbished second-floor clubhouse sports bar. There were no mandatory races during the contest but players were required to make a $20 minimum wager on races from Laurel, Gulfstream Park, Saratoga Race Course, Monmouth Park and Woodbine.

Given his choice of four tournament berths, Harryman selected the BCBC to be held Nov. 2-3 at Churchill Downs, while Nolan selected a berth in the BIG ONE Sept. 22-23 at Laurel Park.

Third place went to John Kousouris of Towson, Md., who finished with a balance of $1,404 and earned $930 in prize money, while Gary Wright of Staten Island, N.Y. was fourth with a balance of $1,381 and earned $558. Both players also earned berths in the NHC, to be held in February 2019 in Las Vegas.

Rounding out the top 10 finishers were Kevin Sweeny with a tournament balance of $1,253, Anthony Laurino ($1,110), Steve Anderson ($1,105), Pete Manzo ($1,027.50), John Verdin ($703) and Bob Bandzwolek ($700.90). Each player took home $558 in prize money.

The spring session of the MJC Champions Handicapping Tournament held March 3 at Laurel was won by Brian Conley of Columbia, Md., who chose a berth in the BCBC. Other winners from the spring tournament were Coleen Curley (NHC), Carol Johnson (BIG ONE) and Shawn Turner (NHC).

Veteran Player Davis Takes Downs Indiana Grand Event

One horse made all the difference in the outcome of the third annual National Horseplayers Qualifier (NHC) at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Saturday, Aug. 18. Given Favorite, ridden by Angel Moreno and trained by Tony Granitz, surprised a maiden claiming field in the eighth race of the night to pay $72.60. Several people in mid-pack of the 125 entry contest selected Given Favorite and catapulted into the lead positions. Stephanie Davis of Brooklyn, N.Y. was the biggest winner off that longshot to take the top prize for the night. Steve Arrison of Point Pleasant Beach, N.J. finished second while Dan Weisenburger of Stow, Ohio came in third. Mike Gillum of Indianapolis finished fourth.

Stephanie Davis (center) defeated a field of 125 entries in the third annual NHC Qualifier Saturday, Aug. 18 at Indiana Grand. Steve Arrison (left) finished second while Dan Weisenburger (right) finished third. (Photo by Tammy Knox)

Davis had two entries in the contest. She completed the 12-race required format with total accumulated earnings of $132.00. Arrison completed the event with a tally of $129.60 over Weisenburger, who accumulated earnings of $128.00. Gillum had a total of $113.50.

The NHC Qualifier at Indiana Grand was played over 22 races from three racetracks, which included Saratoga, Del Mar and Indiana Grand. All players had to utilize five of the eight Thoroughbred races from Indiana Grand to meet the requirements. All players began with a mythical bankroll of $48 and placed $2 win and place wagers on one horse in 12 of the races during the five-hour contest.

The NHC Qualifier had a cap of 125 entries and reached capacity. Several of the players had two entries. There were 80 total individuals in the contest from all across the United States. Players came into Indiana Grand from coast to coast, including individuals from Washington State, Florida, New York, Maryland, Texas, Wisconsin and all points in between.

The top four players will advance to the NHC Final slated for Las Vegas February 8 – 10, 2019. The players will receive hotel, airfare and entry fees for their trip to the final, which included over 600 entries last year vying for prize money in excess of $2 million. The top four also received a gift certificate to Stats Race Lens courtesy of Equibase. The computer program, which was on display during the contest with demonstrations provided by Tom Kudla, offers in-depth handicapping assistance with race replays and additional statistics not found in general racing publications. The value of the gift certificate for the quarterly subscription is $299.

Source: Press Releases

Fall Keeneland 2018 Tournament Schedule

Keeneland painter photo by Richard J. Nilsen

copyright AgameofSkill.com

Continuing a long tradition of support for the National Horseplayers Championship and the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, Keeneland is proud to announce the dates of two big handicapping tournaments during the 2018 Fall Race Meet.

On Saturday, October 13, we will conduct a live bankroll tournament, the Keeneland $400 Fall Challenge, a $400 buy-in with a live bankroll of $250 and $150 prize fund fee. Players will be able to wager any amount on any race at Keeneland, with no minimum wagers or minimum number of races. This tournament may be played from anywhere on the track; all tickets and admissions must be handled separately by the player. Please see rules here.

Based on an estimated 250 entries, one BCBC and four NHC spots will be awarded.

On Sunday, October 14, the prestigious BCBC-NHC Challenge returns, with a $3,000 buy-in and as many as 6 spots in the BCBC and 10 in the NHC up for grabs. This tournament will be held in the Lexington/Kentucky Room with the best seats in the house. This year we have use of the entire room, so your guest may sit with you, and the dress code has been relaxed to business casual; no more ties required! Please see rules here.

Entries became available online on August 13, 2018, and players registering for the BCBC-NHC Challenge may also enter the Saturday tournament with one process.

We hope that the Saturday tournament will complement the BCBC-NHC Challenge, and that many players will take advantage of the scheduling to compete in both tournaments and have a great Keeneland weekend.

Source: Keeneland

Incredible $5M Bonus Offered via Monmouth and Woodbine

Monmouth Park by Rich Nilsen

copyright 2016 AGameofSkill.com

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.

             Got Rebates? Get the cash back rewards you deserve.  Earn real cash back – get more details here.

“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 www.horsetourneys.com or www.drf.com or can register by contacting Skirka at bskirka@monmouthpark.com.

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 www.monmouthpark.com.

2018 National Horseplayers Championship Begins Today in Vegas

Nearly $3 Million, ‘Horseplayer of the Year’ Eclipse Award on the Line at NHC 19

A record estimated field of 700 entries will compete for the largest purse in handicapping tournament history – projected at more than $2.96 million in cash and awards – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” – at this weekend’s 19th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas. The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000.

“This year’s total NHC prize money will be about double what it was only five years ago, in 2014,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We are very grateful to so many horseplayers and participating organizations throughout the industry for their help making the NHC a singular event that represents the ultimate prize for horseplayers.”

The NHC field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semifinal round will fill out the Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semifinal round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

Players who do not make the Semifinal cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at https://www.ntra.com/nhc, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

Noel Michaels, author of Handicapping Contest Handbook: A Horseplayer’s Guide to Handicapping Tournaments, will host live video coverage daily, Friday to Sunday, from 5-8 p.m. ET (2-5 p.m. PT) on the NTRA Facebook page (www.facebook.com/1NTRA). Programming will include interviews with NHC personalities, handicapping and previews of mandatory races, and live coverage of Sunday’s Final Table. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

nhc final table vegasAt the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 206; Online 964) from Treasure Island during the show’s regular hours, 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT), on Friday morning, and online at www.stevebyk.com daily, Friday to Sunday, Noon-5:30 p.m. ET (9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. PT). Next Monday’s regular 9 a.m.-Noon ET (6-9 a.m. PT) show will feature an extended NHC recap.

Defending NHC champion Ray Arsenault – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s record field, which is comprised of 570 individual players (130 are dual qualifiers playing the maximum two entries).

As the 2017 NHC winner, Arsenault, of Thornhill, Ontario, Canada, near Toronto, received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 653 other entries.

Arsenault won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $407.70 from a total of 53 Win-and-Place wagers pared from a mind-melting menu of more than 150 races run at eight different tracks. Arsenault will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 11 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions: Paul Matties (2016), John O’Neil (2015), Jose Arias (2014), Michael Beychok (2012), John Doyle (2011), Brian Troop (2010), John Conte (2009), Richard Goodall (2008), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Steve Wolfson Jr. (2003), and Judy Wagner (2001).

Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments:

The winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus. San Francisco resident Nisan Gabbay, a 40-year-old software developer and owner of a tech startup, earned $350,000 for winning the BCBC at Del Mar in November with a final live bankroll of $176,000. First prize at the NHC is $800,000, meaning that successful completion of the BCBC-NHC double would be worth $4.326 million.

 

Buddies Brad & Howard at the 2015 NHC

As the winner of the 2017 NHC Tour, Mike Ferrozzo won $100,000 and an NHC berth. Should he go on to win this year’s NHC, he will receive a $2 million bonus in addition to the NHC grand prize of $800,000.

Hawthorne sponsors million-dollar bonuses for their Holiday Extravaganza champions. John Ukleja won the Dec. 29 contest and Paul Langley won on Dec. 30. Both are eligible for a $1 million bonus should they go on to win the NHC.

Ed Peters is eligible for a $500,000 bonus should he win the NHC as the top qualifier out of The BIG One at Laurel Park in September.

In its 19th year, the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), previously known as the National Handicapping Championship before a revamping of the brand in 2017, is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments.

NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 40 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC 19 qualifier hosts were Aqueduct, Arlington Park, Belmont Park, BetPTC.com, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Century Bets, Churchill Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Ellis Park, Equestricon, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn, HorsePlayers.com, HorseTourneys.com, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Louisiana Downs, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, National Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, National Thoroughbred Racing Association, New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club, Public Handicapper, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, Saratoga Race Course, Surfside Race Place, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Thoroughbred Owners of California, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group, and Wynn Las Vegas.

The tournament format for the NHC is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win-and-Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – eight per day on Day 1 and Day 2 and seven at the Final Table – are selected by NTRA Director of Media & Industry Relations Jim Mulvihill, Treasure Island Director of Race and Sports Tony Nevill, Monmouth Park Marketing Manager and Contest Director Brian Skirka, and Equibase National Racing Analyst Ellis Starr.

Mandatory races will be announced at least 36 hours prior to each contest day (Wednesday evening for Friday, Thursday evening for Saturday, Friday evening for Sunday) on Twitter (@NTRA) and NTRA.com.

The remaining 10 races on Day 1 and Day 2 and all 10 plays in the Semifinal round will be optional wagers on races at one of eight designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

Treasure Island will play host to the NHC in its second-floor ballroom for the seventh straight year.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the Tito’s $10,000 Charity Challenge. A field of about 40 celebrities and racing personalities will compete to have $10,000 donated in their names to three different causes – the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance, official charity of the NHC ($5,000); a nonprofit of the winner’s choosing ($2,500); and a nonprofit to be determined by Tito’s ($2,500).

About the NHC
In its 19th year, 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.