LEXINGTON, Ky. (Saturday, January 31, 2015) – Less than one week since John O’Neil earned $800,000 as the winner of the 16th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) at Treasure Island Las Vegas, the Daily Racing Form NHC Tour is set to kick off its 2015 season today with a record $250,000 in prize money and 150 guaranteed berths to NHC 17. The top three finishers at last weekend’s NHC, including O’Neil, and five of the top 10 who comprised the Final Table, earned their way in by landing in the top 150 in the 2014 NHC Tour.

Signups for the 2015 DRF NHC Tour are now being accepted at ntra.com/en/nhc/2015-become-a-member. The complete rules are posted at ntra.com/en/nhc/2015-nhc-tour-official-rules.

The year’s first NHC Tour event and NHC qualifier is today’s contest at NHCQualify.com, the official qualifying site for the NHC. As many as six spots in the NHC will be awarded, depending on participation, with four guaranteed. Entry is $165 with a maximum of two entries per person.

DRF NHC Tour participation requires an annual NTRA individual membership fee of $50. Membership is mandatory in order to compete for a berth in the 2016 NHC and must be in place prior to participation in any given qualifier tournament in order for top finishers of sanctioned NHC qualifying events to be eligible to compete in the January 2016 NHC – the lucrative culmination of the year’s qualifying schedule.

As was the case in 2014, the top 150 Tour points leaders at the end of the year 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 and become the first person to earn a seat to the 2017 NHC.

The record NHC Tour prize pool of $250,000, up 25 percent over 2014, includes a total of $50,000 in mid-year payouts to the top five individuals (who will receive $10,000 each) in the standings as of July 31. End-of-year payouts will total $175,000, with points based on a member’s top six scores (including at least one score from a brick and mortar tournament location). The overall Tour winner will receive $75,000 and a seat to the 2017 NHC, and the top two finishers will each receive a trophy.

The top 20 finishers at the end of the year will each receive prize money and be eligible to compete for a $25,000 bonus to be paid to the individual who achieves the highest overall finish at the 2016 NHC. This individual also will earn a berth in the 2017 NHC. The bonus money is in addition to any other prize money won at the NHC.

In addition to making one eligible to earn a coveted seat to the NHC, other NHC Tour benefits include:

  • Exclusive discount from Daily Racing Form on past performance subscription packages – 15% discount for first-time Tour Members and 10% discount for those renewing;
  • Individual membership in the NTRA, which include benefits and discounts from NTRA Advantage partners and membership in the Horseplayers Coalition that supports NTRA legislative initiatives in Washington, D.C.; and
  • Weekly e-newsletter featuring player profiles, timely tournament information and other event information.

Entering its 17th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship 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 race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, 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. The 15 NHC Champions since the event’s inception, in chronological order, are Steven Walker, Judy Wagner, Herman Miller, Steve Wolfson Jr., Kent Meyer, Jamie Michelson, Ron Rippey, Stanley Bavlish, Richard Goodall, John Conte, Brian Troop, John Doyle, Michael Beychok, Jim Benes, Jose Arias and John O’Neil.

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 owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and HORSE PAC, a federal political action committee. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).