Mike Mayo, Richardson, TX
Longtime chairman of the NHC Players’ Committee
Mike was an accomplished tournament player and longtime chairman of the NHC Players’ Committee. He played an integral role in the growth and development of the NHC and was instrumental in the establishment of the NHC Tour and the expansion of the event to three days and a Final Table format. Mayo passed away September 18, 2014, at the age of 60, at his home in Texas.
Ron Rippey, Wayne, NJ
2006 NHC Champion
11 time qualifier
A longtime public handicapper for the Newark Star-Ledger, Rippey won multiple tournaments and excelled at all formats throughout his contest playing career. Rippey passed away on August 26, 2014, at the age of 70, while being treated at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
Judy Wagner, New Orleans, LA
2001 NHC Winner and Horseplayer of the Year, 12-time NHC qualifier, First Horseplayers’ Representative on NTRA Board of Directors.
Since her win at NHC II in 2001, Judy Wagner has been one of America’s most recognizable handicapping contest players. She is among the NHC’s all-time leaders with 12 appearances at the finals in Las Vegas. She finished second to her husband, Bryan Wagner in the 2009 NHC Tour. In recent years she has foregone NHC and NHC Tour eligibility to advocate for bettors as the first horseplayers’ representative elected to the NTRA Board of Directors. Wagner is a former horse owner and a member of the Louisiana State Racing Commission since 2007. She has lobbied on behalf of horseplayers in Washington, D.C., and in numerous editorials and public appearances. She remains the only woman to win the NHC.
Steven Crist, Long Island, NY
Bettor, publisher, editor, columnist, author, racetrack executive. Impetus behind the formation of the NHC Voice of the Horseplayer
For nearly 35 years Steve Crist has been the most visible and outspoken horseplayer’ advocate in the United States. He has been the publisher and a columnist for Daily Racing Form since 1998 and throughout the NHC’s entire existence. Previously, he covered racing for The New York Times from 1981-1990; was founding editor-in-chief of The Racing Times in 1991-92; and a vice president of the New York Racing Association from 1994-97. Crist was a driving force behind the NHC’s inception which evolved largely from his insistence that the Eclipse Awards honor a horseplayer. He is the author of multiple books and tutorials on handicapping, as well as a memoir, Betting on Myself: Adventures of a Horseplayer and Publisher.
Paul Surman, Dix Hills, NY
2011 NHC Tour champion
multiple NHC top 10 finisher
Shurman has qualified to the NHC for 15 straight years, a record he shares with two others. In 2011 he won the second NHC Tour earning $75,000. He has had three top 10 finishes at the NHC, including a third-place effort at NHC 10 in 2009 worth $100,000. Shurman has been a longtime member of the NHC Players’ Committee and has volunteered countless hours consulting with tournament directors around the country on improving the structure and overall experience of NHC qualifiers. Said Daily Racing Form in a 2015 profile: “If Paul Shurman isn’t the single most respected player in the contest world, he’s definitely on the shortlist.
Steve Wolfson, Sr., Ormond Beach, FL
“Godfather of Handicapping Contests,”
11-time NHC qualifer
Often referred to as “the godfather of handicapping contests,” Steve Wolfson Sr. was organizing tournaments for Horseplayers in Las Vegas long before the advent of the NHC, most notably the Thoroughbred Challenge at the Mirage, established in 1991. He is an 11-time NHC qualifier. Wolfson breeds and owns racehorses and is the son of Louis Wolfson, owner of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Wolfson also is an accomplished sire of handicappers – his son, Steve Jr., was the 2003 NHC winner, the same year Steve Sr. had a career-best fourth place finish.