TOP HORSEPLAYERS TO VIE FOR $750,000 FIRST PRIZE, $1.5 MILLION PURSE AND TITLE OF “HANDICAPPER OF THE YEAR” IN 14th ANNUAL DAILY RACING FORM/NTRA NATIONAL HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP
Defending champion Michael Beychok heads a field of 465 horseplayers who will gather at Treasure Island Las Vegas on January 25-26 to vie for horse racing’s official title of “Handicapper of the Year” and a first-place prize of $750,000 in the $1.5 millionDaily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Presented by Treasure Island and Sovereign Stable.
Including money already won by top finishers in the 2012 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour, the overall value of the NHC totals $1,795,000.
The NHC has enjoyed outstanding growth since its inception. By way of comparison, the first NHC in January 2000 carried a total prize pool of $192,000 and a winner’s share of $100,000.
“The NHC is the most anticipated tournament in the world among horseplayers,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of the NTRA. “With a million and a half dollars and a Handicapper of the Year Eclipse Award at stake, the atmosphere at Treasure Island will be absolutely electric on January 25th and 26th.”
As the 2012 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship winner, Michael Beychok of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received a special exemption into the tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 479 other horseplayers in the two-day competition. The 49-year-old political consultant won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $238.60 from a total of 30 $2 win-and-place wagers pared from a mind-numbing menu of more than 150 races run at eight different tracks. Beychok, who never had the lead last year until the final race of the contest was complete, will look to become the first ever two-time winner of the NHC. But he will face seven other past champions who qualified for the finals this year. Judy Wagner, Steve Wolfson Jr., Jamie Michelson Jr., Ron Rippey, Richard Goodall, Brian Troop and John Doyle—the winners of NHC II, NHC IV, NHC VI, NHC VII, NHC IX, NHC XI and NHC XII, respectively—will all be in the field with the same goal of a historic win in Las Vegas.
Contestant Mark Streiff of Mission Viejo, Calif., will be hoping to make NHC history of a different kind. As the winner of the fifth annual Daily Racing Form NHC Tour in 2012, Shurman not only won $102,250 for his top scores in the year’s NHC qualifying events, he is eligible to receive a $2 million bonus should he emerge victorious in the January 25-26 competition. So a win by Shurman in Las Vegas would result in a payday of $2.75 million ($750,000 first-place NHC purse + $2 million NHC Tour bonus).
In its 14th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Presented by Treasure Island and Sovereign Stable is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers. There are no “buy-in” entries at the NHC. It is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, 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.
More than 4,500 people signed up for the 2012 NHC Tour and participated in these local tournaments, hoping to win a coveted spot in the NHC Finals. For those who did not succeed, a “last chance” tournament will be held at Treasure Island on January 24 in order to fill the remaining five starting berths in the field of 465. Treasure Island will also host the “Wager to Win” tournament on Sunday, January 27. The Sunday contest is a qualifying event offering two berths to the January 2014 NHC.
The tournament format for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers on each day of the two-day tournament. Eight of those wagers will be on mandatory races as selected by a panel comprised of Daily Racing Form National Handicapper Mike Watchmaker, NTRA Senior Director of Media Relations Eric Wing and Treasure Island Director of Race and Sports Tony Nevill.
The remaining seven races each day are optional plays to be made on races at one of seven designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
New for 2013 is the introduction of the “Best Bet” wager whereby a player will be able to designate one of his eight mandatory race plays each day as a best bet. That best bet will count as a $4 win and $4 place wager, instead of $2 win and $2 place.
Regular Championship updates will be posted on the Internet throughout the two-day contest atwww.drf.com.