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The Notebook January 10, 2013

NHC News



Mark Streiff, a 56-year-old financial consultant from Mission Viejo, Calif., rode the strength of three wins and two second-place finishes to capture the 2012 crown as Daily Racing Form NHC Tour Champion and the $75,000 first-place prize that goes with it. Should Streiff capture the title later this month at the January 25-26 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) presented by Treasure Island and Sovereign Stable on January 25-26, he will receive a $2 million bonus in addition to that event’s first prize of $750,000. 

In addition to the $75,000 Streiff earned for finishing atop the full-year leaderboard with 16,853 points, he won $7,250 for finishing third during the first half of the NHC Tour season and $10,000 for finishing second during the second half. And Streiff pocketed another $10,000 for being a multiple qualifying contest winner under a new NHC Tour incentive that paid repeat winners $5,000 for every win after their first (up to a maximum of three bonuses paid). His total winnings of $102,250 are the highest ever for an NHC Tour Champion. 

Streiff earned NHC Tour points in 15 different qualifying tournaments during 2012, including live events at Surfside Race Place, Emerald Downs and Turfway Park. For scoring purposes, though, only a player’s top six scores count in the full-year standings. (A player’s top four scores count for half-year scoring purposes.) Christopher Larmey (13,995 points) of Kennewick, Wash., finished in second place on the full-year leaderboard, good for $15,000. Third was Mark McGuire (13,939) of Newbury Park, Calif., who won $10,000.

Prize money for the 2012 NHC Tour season totaled $295,000—more than double the 2011 total of $125,000. The top 10 finishers in the both the first-half and second-half standings received graduated cash prizes totaling $50,000 ($100,000 total for the two halves). And the top 20 players on the full-year leaderboard received cash prizes totaling $150,000, topped by Streiff’s $75,000. In addition, a total of nine $5,000 bonuses were paid to NHC Tour members in 2012 for repeat victories. 

“It was a long road,” said Streiff, who will be making his sixth career NHC appearance later this month.  “Counting multiple entries I had in certain tournaments, I played hundreds of contests during the year. The key for me was to stick with what works. Since I’m a numbers guy for a living, you would think that numbers would be my approach, but it isn’t. I’m left-handed, which means I’m right-brained and very visually-oriented. So I accentuate the watching of race replays, and I also watch post parades carefully.”

Should Streiff go on to win the NHC later this month at Treasure Island Las Vegas, he will be in line for a $2.75 million payday ($750,000 million grand prize plus $2 million bonus as NHC Tour winner). 

“There will be some added pressure at Treasure Island,” said Streiff of the bonus for which he alone is eligible. “However, participating all year in the Tour—which I enjoy—helps keep me current with various connections and biases that may be in play at the NHC tracks in the Finals. Based on past history, I think if I can stay in the top 10% of the field after Day One, then I have a good chance to do very well.  If I’m not in the top 10% or top 50 players after the first day, then you can draw a line through the bonus!”

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