Day 1 Notes from the Re-scheduled 2021 NHC in Las Vegas

Handicapper Colin Cummings leads the way into day two of the NHC after scoring $165.90 on Friday (day 1 of the NHC).  Track the live action during the day with the NTRA leaderboard link.

Top Trainer Broberg Makes Second NHC Appearance

Karl Broberg, among the winningest active trainers in North America and 13th all-time, is an NHC qualifier for the second year in a row.

“I feel about as confident as I did last year, which is not at all,” Broberg said. “You just have to catch fire on the right day.”

The prolific horseman had a six-year run as the continent’s top trainer from 2015 to 2020 and was second last year to Steve Asmussen. As of Friday afternoon Broberg had 273 wins in 2021. His career mark stands at 4,090.

According to Broberg, any perceived advantages that trainers might have – like inside intel on other horses – are irrelevant in handicapping contests.

“Trainers are the worst touts in the world,” he said. “You love your horse and you get tunnel vision. If anything, I think it’s a detriment, unfortunately.”

Broberg owns and trains Bustin Bay in Friday’s Race 6 at Saratoga, the NHC’s second mandatory race. By rule Broberg is not allowed to participate in that race and will instead play an alternate, the Race 8 finale at Del Mar.

Over the three days of the NHC, Broberg has horses entered at six different tracks, including Saratoga, where he has stalls for the first time this summer. The majority of Broberg’s training wins have come in Texas and Louisiana but his success has also allowed him to attract better stock from new owners.

Broberg has amassed a significant following on Twitter (@KarlBroberg) as a result of his unusually candid posts, which often include tips on his own horses and photos of winning tickets.

New Caesars/William Hill Rewards Program at Bally’s Las Vegas

NHC qualifiers who bet into the pari-mutuel pools will get more bang for their buck thanks to a new partnership between Caesars Entertainment, parent company of Bally’s Las Vegas, and William Hill, who operates the race and sports books at Caesar’s properties in Nevada. In addition to the traditional Caesar’s Rewards program, horseplayers can also participate in the William Hill Rewards Club, with 4% of one’s handle returned in the form of comps throughout the property.

NHC qualifiers who sign up for the William Hill Rewards Club will receive 5,000 credits for their first $50 wager. Those points can be used at the newly rebranded Caesars Race & Sportsbook or for dining and other perks around the Bally’s Las Vegas property.

“A lot of these NHC players are accustomed to rebates so I’m glad we can offer them something substantial while they are here playing with us,” said William Hill’s Director of Race Operations Steve Alford. “

“I’m sure I’ll reach out to these players and invite them back out here to see us again a few times during the year,” Alford said.

Gulf Coast Players Keep One Eye on Developing Hurricane

Louisiana always boasts a strong presence at the NHC and this year is no exception, with seven players from the Bayou State, led by past champions and perennial qualifiers Judy Wagner (2001) and Michael Beychok (2012). The Louisiana delegation is having a hard time concentrating, though, as Hurricane Ida bears down on the Gulf Coast with landfall expected Sunday afternoon, around the same time the DraftKings Final Table will get underway.

“It weighs on you,” said Beychok. “You always hope the news will get better but it’s getting worse. This looks like a really bad one. We’ve all been working the phones constantly, trying to figure out where and when we can get back. I’ve been worried about family, first of all, and then working with clients trying to make sure their connections are solid.”

Most of the Louisiana-bred NHC players sit together at their usual spot, Table 1, in the Bally’s Event Center. For Ryan Berni, a political consultant who served as Deputy Mayor of New Orleans under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, his first NHC appearance is not playing out at all like he’d imagined.

“My family’s headed to Florida right now,” Berni said. “I’m going to try to get back as soon as I can. I haven’t hit anything so far. I’ve been watching this storm all week; a lot more than I’ve been watching the races.”

Ida is expected to grow into a Category 4 hurricane. The projected path anticipates landfall somewhere along the Louisiana coast, with the eastern edge stretching into Mississippi.

Jon “Hurricane” Hurd is a New Orleans native and all too aware that his longtime nickname lands a little differently under the circumstances. Part of his strategy for dealing with the news from back home has been to submit his plays early in the day. That way he can monitor odds fluctuations and adjust as needed but has already made clear-headed decisions if he has to take calls from clients or kin. Hurd’s parents are contemplating whether to evacuate to their son’s home in Little Rock, Ark.

“It’s hard because everyone’s calling and they have so much going on,” Hurd said. “You can’t take hurricanes lightly. I’ll be praying for my family and friends but also doing everything I can to stay focused on winning the NHC.”

BCBC Winner Gramm Will Take a Swing at $3 Million Bonus

As the winner of last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, where he took home $492,750 between the prize pool and live-money earnings, Marshall Gramm is eligible for a $3 million bonus, the largest prize ever offered for a handicapping contest. The economics professor at Rhodes College in Memphis has pondered the potential windfall but tries to remain realistic about his chances of taking it.

“I made sure I did a little more work,” Gramm said. “You have to have a lot go right though. I didn’t want the bonus to create a lot of pressure for myself. This is still a great weekend to just enjoy Vegas and see friends.”

Gramm insists this NHC is not suited to his personal gambling style because he only follows a few favorite tracks – especially Oaklawn Park – and strongly prefers dirt racing. Nonetheless, as economist who obsesses over EV (“expected value”), Gramm has considered how his strategy might be impacted with the bonus in play. The added money incentivizes him to go all-out for the Final Table even if he risks giving up ground in the overall standings.

“I want to play to win the thing but at some point that usually becomes a lost cause” Gramm said. “But [Saturday] afternoon I’ll still be playing longshots because I might get lucky.”

New Sportech Contest Platform Debuts

Behind all of the personalities, hospitality, and drama of a top-class handicapping tournament is the infrastructure that actually keeps the contest running. Thursday’s “Last Chance/Next Chance” qualifier at Bally’s marked the debut of a completely new, state-of-the art tournament platform developed by Sportech, the international betting technology company.

The new platform is similar to that seen at contest sites like Monmouth Park, Hawthorne Race Course, and Lone Star Park. However, the software had to be updated to accommodate the mythical bankroll format of the NHC.

Among the innovations that players can’t miss are a real-time leaderboard that displays how many mandatory and optional races each entrant has completed. The full TVG Leaderboard suspended in the center of the Bally’s Las Vegas ballroom displays the top eight on the left side and a rotating look at the entirety of the field, in descending order, on the right.

“The NTRA has been working with Sportech, William Hill, and Caesars Entertainment for more than six months on a new contest platform,” said NTRA COO and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “We are very pleased with the initial results and appreciate the investment by our partners in delivering what we hope will be a much-improved contest experience for our customers.”
For the first time, all contest plays must be made on self-service terminals dedicated for contest use, eliminating the possibility of teller error.

“Our ultimate goal in the future is to allow participants to play from their table in the Events Center on their phone or tablet,” Chamblin said.

A less-apparent feature that can have big ramifications for certain players is an improved process for canceling tickets. If a selection scratches from an optional race, for instance, that ticket is completely canceled so there is no risk of suddenly ending up on a post-time favorite the player never liked in the first place.

“We will learn some things from this weekend and continue to make improvements going into the 2022 NHC,” Chamblin said.

Soure: NTRA

NHC Begins Friday in Las Vegas

NTRA NHC logoLAS VEGAS (Wednesday, August 25, 2021) – The calendar tells us the 2020 renewal of the National Horseplayers Championship was “only” 18 months ago, even if it feels like several lifetimes since roughly 600 gamblers gathered at Bally’s for the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping contest. Nearly 200 days after being postponed due to COVID-19, #NHC2021 is set for this weekend, Friday to Sunday, as a midsummer betting extravaganza at Bally’s Las Vegas.

The nature of pandemic life in 2020 forced the cancelation of many on-track contests, but led to unprecedented interest in online wagering on Thoroughbred racing and online handicapping contests. As a result, this weekend’s 22nd NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas will carry cash prizes of some $2.01 million, including a grand prize of $700,000, and overall prize money and travel awards of nearly $3 million. Some 449 individuals and 550 entries (101 of the players earned the maximum of two entries) will also compete for an Eclipse Award and the title of “Horseplayer of the Year.” (A total of 75 berths to the 2021 NHC, and approximately $350,000 in prize money, will be transferred to the 2022 NHC primarily due to issues related to COVID-19).

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 Semi-final round on Sunday morning will fill out the DraftKings Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semi-final round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

This year’s track menu for mandatory and optional races is comprised of Del Mar, Ellis Park, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, Saratoga Race Course, and Woodbine Racetrack. All but Gulfstream and Golden Gate are part of the NHC for the first time.

“The 2021 NHC has been a long time coming but will be worth the wait,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director, Keith Chamblin. “I want everyone involved—horseplayers, sponsors, and contest partners—to know how much we appreciate their patience and cooperation as we navigated having to reschedule the event. Having world-class summer racing from Del Mar and Saratoga, including the star-studded Runhappy Travers Day card, as well as the addition of new tracks Monmouth Park, Ellis Park and Woodbine, is going to make this an exciting and memorable NHC.”
Players who do not make the Semi-final cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate $50,000 Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.

At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from Bally’s and online at daily, from 9-12 a.m. ET/6-9 a .m. PT on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Monday, with NHC coverage at slated for 2-8 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-5 p.m. PT) Friday-Sunday. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.

Defending NHC champion Thomas Goldsmith heads this year’s field, which is comprised of an estimated 449 individuals (pending the outcome of Thursday’s Last Chance/Next Chance Contest). There are 100 rookies, representing some 22 percent of the field. There are 101 dual qualifiers going into Thursday’s Last Chance/Next Chance Contest at the Bally’s Events Center.

As the 2020 NHC winner, Goldsmith received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won 563 days ago when he prevailed in his first time playing in the NHC. Goldsmith amassed a winning bankroll of $404.10 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets. He will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will eight other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions are Scott Coles (2019), Ray Arsenault (2017), Jose Arias (2014), Michael Beychok (2012), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Steve Wolfson, Jr. (2003), Judy Wagner (2001) and Steven Walker (2000).
Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments. As the winner of the 2020 NHC Tour, legendary 20-time qualifier Sally Goodall won $100,000 and an NHC berth. She also is eligible for a $5 million bonus if she goes on to win at the 2021 NHC finals.

Marshall Gramm, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC), is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus if he takes down the NHC title.

In its 22nd 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. NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 31 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations, and other Thoroughbred racing organizations.

The #NHC2021 qualifier hosts were: Aqueduct, At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Belmont Park, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Capital OTB, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hialeah Park,,, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Lone Star Park, Monmouth Park, NTRA, NYRA Bets, Ruidoso Downs, S. Florida HBPA, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga, Sport of Kings, STATS Race Lens, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, TVG and

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 – 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

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 the seven designated tournament tracks.

On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the 7th Annual NTRA NHC Charity Challenge presented by Four Roses Bourbon. A field of approximately 60 will compete for the $5,000 charitable prize with $2,500 set to be donated in the winner’s name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund and the other $2,500 going to the winner’s charity of choice.

The National Horseplayers Championship is presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas and sponsored by 1/ST BET, Breeders’ Cup, Capitol OTB, Century Bets, Daily Racing Form, DraftKings, EquinEdge, FanDuel Group, Four Roses Bourbon, Hawthorne Racecourse, Hialeah Park,,, Keeneland, Monmouth Park, NYRA Bets, Roberts Communications, Santa Anita Park, STATS® Race Lens, The Stronach Group, TVG and Xpressbet.

Racetracks Announced for NHC Tournament in Las Vegas

NTRA NHC logoLEXINGTON, Ky. (Friday, June 25, 2021) — Seven North American racetracks, including premier summer-time race meetings Del Mar, Saratoga and Monmouth Park, make up a menu from which all mandatory and optional races will be selected when the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament – the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas – is contested Aug. 27-29, 2021. The official NHC 2021 racetracks are Del Mar, Ellis Park, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Monmouth Park, Saratoga Race Course and Woodbine Racetrack.

This year’s NHC, which includes more than 600 entries, was originally scheduled to be held February 9-11, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic and was rescheduled for late August. The total cash and prizes to be awarded at the 2021 NHC are estimated to be nearly $3.8 million, including an estimated $3 million in prize money.

“The menu of racetracks represents the best possible mix of quality racing and geographical diversity,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “Del Mar and Saratoga, which on Saturday, Aug. 27, will feature six Grade I events headed by the Runhappy Travers Stakes, highlight the racing, but it will be great to introduce Ellis Park, Monmouth Park and Woodbine to NHC contest play.”

The three-day NHC requires players to make mythical $2 win and place wagers on eight mandatory races and 10 optional races on each of the first two days. The top 10 percent of players achieving the highest bankroll at the conclusion of the first two days will advance to Sunday morning’s Semi-Final round which will consist of 10 optional plays. The top 10 players following the Semi-Final round will advance to Sunday’s Final Table where they will compete in seven mandatory races to determine the National Champion. The winner will receive $800,000 and an Eclipse Award as the Horseplayer of the 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 buy-ins to the NHC. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards. The NHC is presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s Las Vegas.

For more information on the NHC Tour and a complete contest schedule, visit


Del Mar

Ellis Park

Golden Gate Fields

Gulfstream Park

Monmouth Park

Saratoga Race Course

Woodbine Racetrack

* Subject to change

How Frank Mustari Won Keeneland’s Grade One Gamble Tournament

Frank Mustari of Chicago has a stellar reputation as a handicapping contest player who makes scores at opportune times. Mustari struck again at Keeneland on Saturday, April 10, when he won the Grade One Gamble by nailing a $235 trifecta in the final race for a bankroll total of $27,025. His total topped a record field of 248 players who competed at Keeneland and through [several ADW sites] and allowed Mustari to take home a record first prize of $50,000, a berth in the $10,000 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) at Del Mar and an entry in the 2022 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) in Las Vegas.

Thanks to his incredible hit, Mustari passed leader Ed Deicke of Lido Beach, New York, for the win. Deicke played a $1,000 win bet on King Fury in the Stonestreet Lexington (G3) for $19,200 and finished with $24,969. His second-place finish was good for $26,000 in prize money and berths in the BCBC and NHC.

Defending BCBC champion Marshall Gramm of Memphis finished third with $20,630, cashing for $16,000 in prize money and berths in the BCBC and NHC.

Joining the top three who earned BCBC entries and NHC entries were Bobby Marks ($20,490 bankroll; $12,000 prize money), Ryan Knottek ($16,300 bankroll; $7,000 prize money) and Peter Behr ($14,910 bankroll and $3,000 prize money).

Also receiving berths to the NHC were 7th- through 10th-place finishers: Dennis Hubbard, Paul Weizer, Mark Stanton and Rick Broth. Each also received $3,000 in prize money.

Prize money of $3,000 each went to 11th- through 15th-place finishers: Mark Haidar, Evan Trommer, Christy Moore, Frank Mustari (again), and Ray Arnesault.

“Thanks so much to the incredible players for your support of Keeneland racing,” Keeneland Director of Wagering Development Jim Goodman said.

Full results are available at

Source: Keeneland

NTRA Statement on the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC)

NTRA NHC logoSource: NTRA and the NHC Players Committee

August 4, 2020
The health, safety and well being of our guests and employees, as well as everyone else involved, is our utmost consideration as we ponder a return to Bally’s Las Vegas for the 2021 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC). We understand that some of you are anxious to know what impact COVID-19 may have on an event that has become a mainstay on the Thoroughbred racing calendar and an annual goal for many horseplayers each winter since 2000. Even though we are still nearly 200 days away from our event, and our hope is to host a record-setting event at Bally’s Las Vegas in 2021, be assured that we fully recognize that a pandemic that has impacted virtually every facet of our daily lives may very well impact the 2021 NHC.
We are working with our colleagues at Bally’s on a number of contingencies to address what obviously is an ever-changing and fluid situation. Everything is on the table. Our goal is to determine a path forward and communicate plans for the 2021 NHC by early November, if not sooner. In the meantime, the NHC Tour, with a heavier than usual dose of online opportunities predicated by current events, continues through January 23. An estimated 350 NHC berths remain up for grabs as we move toward what is shaping up to be the richest NHC in history. Stay tuned for further updates and, as always, thank you for your ongoing support of the NHC.
Stay safe,
Keith Chamblin
Chief Operating Officer