LAS VEGAS, Nevada (February 6, 2020) – An estimated field of nearly 700 entries will compete for a record prize pool of some $2.95 million – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” – at this weekend’s 21st NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s. The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Bally’s Las Vegas, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000. Including complimentary travel and hotel, cash and awards total some $3.8 million.
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 will fill out the Draft Kings 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.
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 https://www.ntra.com/nhc, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.
“The NHC is a true celebration of the horseplayer—the individuals who fuel every aspect of the sport and business of Thoroughbred racing,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director, Keith Chamblin. “We thank the many organizations who hosted NHC qualifiers throughout 2019 as well as our presenting sponsors and partners.”
At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from Bally’s and online at www.stevebyk.com daily, Thursday to Monday, with NHC coverage 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 Scott Coles – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as the 2019 “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s field, which is comprised of an estimated 556 individuals (pending the outcome of Thursday’s Last Chance Contest). There are 148 rookies, representing some 25 percent of the field. There are 119 dual qualifiers going into Thursday’s Last Chance Contest at the Bally’s Event Center.
As the 2019 NHC winner, Coles received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last February when he prevailed in his first time playing in the NHC. Coles amassed a winning score of $367 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets en route to becoming the tournament’s youngest ever winner at age 34. He will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 10 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions are: Chris Littlemore (2018), Ray Arsenault (2017), Paul Matties, Jr. (2016), Jim Benes (2013), Michael Beychok (2012), Brian Troop (2010), Richard Goodall (2008), and Stanley Bavlish (2007), Jamie Michaelson, Jr. (2005) and Stephen Wolfson, Jr. (2003).
Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments.
As the winner of the 2019 NHC Tour, David Snyder won $110,000 and an NHC berth. He also is eligible for a $5 million bonus if he goes on to win at the 2020 NHC finals.
Brad Anderson, 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 21st 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 45 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC2020 qualifier hosts were:
Aqueduct, Arlington Park, At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Belmont Park, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Capital OTB, Century Bets, Colonial Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds, Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn National, Horseplayers.com, HorseTourneys.com, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Little Red Feather Racing, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, New Zealand Racing, NYRA Bets, S. Florida HBPA, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, STATS Race Lens, Saratoga Race Course, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group and Xpressbet.com.
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 NTRA.com.
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 eight designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Laurel Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
On Saturday, the NTRA also will host an invitation-only online tournament, the 6th Annual Runhappy/NTRA NHC Charity Challenge presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka. 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.
Draft Kings is the exclusive sponsor of the NHC Final Table. Official Partners of the 2020 NHC include STATS Race Lens, TVG, Daily Racing Form, Insurance Office of America (IOA), and NYRA Bets.