2019 NHC Champion
Scott Coles

Photo credit: Horsephotos.com

A longshot pick in the next to last mandatory race at the 10-person Final Table propelled Scott Coles to the front of a tight leaderboard en route to winning the 20th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™.  The 34-year-old Coles toppled an NHC field that had 668 entries, second largest in NHC history, and 522 individual players to become the tournament’s youngest ever champion and earn the Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year.

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2018 – Chris Littlemore

Entries: 702
Prizes: $2,974,700
Winning Score: $348.30

Chris Littlemore, a retired autoworker from Whitby, Ontario, Canada, was never seriously threatened throughout the Semifinals and the Final Table, cruising to an $800,000 first-place prize and an eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year at the 19th NTRA NHC Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race LensTM  The NHC had a record field size of 702 entries (568 individual players) and offered a record overall cash and prizes totaling $2,974,700.

I didn’t feel that confident, Littlemore said of entering Day 3 as the leader. I didn’t like the card that well. I didn’t like the races. I got lucky that a lot of chalk came in and kept me on top. I kept my distance. As the day wore on, I wasn’t having a good day, so I just kept picking away, picking away. I was fortunate enough that no big long shots came in to overtake me, and I picked the right horse int he last and it got me through.

2017 – Ray Arsenault

Entries: 654
Prizes: $2,385,000
Winning Score: $407.70

Ray Arsenault became the third Canadian to capture horse racing’s most prestigious handicapping contest when he defeated 654 entries at th 18th NHC held at Treasure Island Las Vegas. Arsenault, a 64-year old transportation broker used his methods of searching out long shots and value horses to take the tournament lead on day two. He never looked back during Sunday’s semifinal round and at the Final Table of 10 players, entering as the leader and continuing to win with long shots.

I played the same way I always play, he said, I rarely play a horse under 5-1 and I love playing bombs because the feeling of hitting a longshot is just great. Today I happened to hit a few.

I cut my teeth when I could barely walk, he said. My dad would go to Greenwood all the time and I’d tag along. I’d look for programs on the ground so I could sell them to the guys coming in for the last two races.

This is it. This is like the Super Bowl of horse racing.

2016 – Paul Matties, Jr

Entries: 629
Prizes: $2,778,760
Winning Score: $399.50

Paul Matties, Jr. of Ballston Spa, NY topped a field of 629 entries to win the $800,000 first-place prize and an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year. The 46-year old Matties amassed a winning score of $399.50 over the 3 day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets.

Horseplayers always think they’re smarter and better than everybody else so to beat all the smartest people in the world, what an honor.

2015 – John O’Neil

Entries: 606
Prizes: $2,363,000
Winning Score: $327.20

John O’Neil, 74, of Huntington Station, NY collected a winning score of $327.20 over the three-day tournament from 47 mythical $2 Win Place bets. O’Neil was the NHC two-day leader at the end of Saturday’s races but lost the lead toward the end of the Final 50 contest that led to the Final Table. In the seven mandatory races that made up the Final Table, however, O’Neil cashed in four of them.

My brother took me one day when I was 14 or 15 and I’ve been doing it every day since…It’s been a journey to get here, believe me. This probably makes me even after a lifetime.

2014 – Jose Arias

Entries: 500
Prizes: $1,590,000
Winning Score: $338.20

Jose Arias, a 36-year-old environmental safety engineer from Bell Gardens near Los Angeles, put up a record two-day total after taking the lead late on Day 1. On the third day of the competition held off all challengers, proceeding to the first ever NHC Final Table.

Horseplayers are a wonderful group of people. I see a lot of those same people at Santa Anita and going around tot different tournaments. It was wonderful getting that support, having people text me “get ready,” or “you can do it.” It was a very memorable experience feeling all the love and support from everybody there. When they started chanting my name after I won – that was the cherry on top. It was very emotional. I felt all this gratitude.

2013 – Jim Benes

Entries: 455
Prizes: $1,500,000
Winning Score: $268.40

Jim Benes, profesttional horseplayer, of Countryside, IL amassed a winning score of $268.40 from 28 mythical $2 Win and Place wagers and two mythical $4 Win and Place “Best Bet” wagers over the two-day tournament. Benes, who qualified for the NHC at Hawthorne Race Course, was in second place at the conclusion of Day 1, and stay at or near the top of the pack throughout Day 2.

My mother passed away a few years ago…Her name was Mary, and when they were coming down the stretch of that last race and I heard a horse named Hail Mary on the lead, I wasn’t sure whether it was my mom trying to tell me ‘I’m here for you’ or ‘You should have bet on me!’ The only other thing I have been able to think of since then is my 9-year-old daughter. She’s going to be really happy and really proud of me when I get home.

2012 – Michael Beychok

Entries: 480
Prizes: $1,507,003
Winning Score: $238.60

2011 – John Doyle
2010 – Brian Troop
2009 – John Conte
2008 – Richard Goodall
2007 – Stanley Bavlish
2006 – Ron Rippey
2005 – Jamie Michelson, Jr.
2004 – Kent Meyer
2003 – Steve Wolfson, Jr.
2002 – Herman Miller
2001 – Judy Wagner
2000 – Steven Walker