LEXINGTON, Ky. (Saturday, January 23, 2016) – Leandro Tomas of Lima, Peru, is on his way to compete in the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament – next weekend’s $2.75 million Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas – after winning the first NHC qualifier held in Latin America. The Nov. 28 contest at Lima’s Hipódromo de Monterrico was the result of an agreement between the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) and the Latin American Racing Channel (LARC) established in June.

LARC holds the exclusive rights to host NHC qualifiers throughout Latin America and will expand to other key markets in 2016. The partnership between NTRA and LARC was designed to promote growth in simulcasting between the Americas.

“Along with more than 500 horseplayers converging from throughout North America, we look forward to welcoming Mr. Tomas to Las Vegas and the NHC,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “And we thank LARC for its support and look forward to teaming with them to host more NHC qualifiers in Latin America in 2016.”

Tomas clinched the LARC Peru tournament with a large place bet in Del Mar’s Grade I Hollywood Derby on classy 3-year-old March, a 12-1 shot for trainer Chad Brown in a competitive field of 14. Although there were several reasons to like March based on the past performances, the clincher for Tomas was the presence of his favorite U.S.-based rider, Rafael Bejarano, a fellow Peruvian who was the leading apprentice in Lima before moving to Kentucky.

“It paid $14 to place and I opened the gap from the rest of the players,” Tomas said.

It was his first time playing in a handicapping contest, though the 44-year-old Tomas is a seasoned horseplayer with his share of big scores and tough beats.

“I had a Pick Three at El Hipódromo de la Plata (in Buenos Aires) back in 2007,” he said. “One of my friends owned a horse in the first race and it won and paid $60. Then the others two horses I had ended up winning. I earned [$15,000] that day.”

Tomas, originally from Buenos Aires, is a realtor who also enjoys backgammon. He’s attempting to become the second NHC winner based outside of the U.S., joining Brian Troop from Barrie, Ontario, who took down NHC 11 in 2010. Should Tomas finish high enough at NHC 17 to earn a significant check he’s already on the record as planning to reinvest it in entries to qualify for NHC 18.

About NHC

In its 17th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship 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 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. In addition to the founding title sponsor, the NHC is presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas.