LAS VEGAS, Nevada (February 7, 2020) – While the 21st NTRA National Horseplayers Championship Presented by Racetrack Television Network, Caesars Entertainment and Bally’s will crown the best handicapper in the sport, industry accolades will be on the line as a cross section of notable journalists, analysts, and personalities compete in the 6th Annual Runhappy/NTRA NHC Charity Challenge presented by Tito’s Handmade Vodka on Saturday, February 8.
A field of approximately 60 are slated to 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.
Defending Charity Challenge winner Dawn Lupul, former on-air host on Woodbine Entertainment’s simulcast broadcast coverage, is expected to attempt a title defense with fellow past winners Ed DeRosa of Brisnet, Ellis Starr of Equibase, 2016 victor Matt Bernier, and inaugural 2015 hero Bob Neumeier of NBC Sports all slated to return.
This year’s expected field is full of returning players trying to add their name to the illustrious list above. Frank Angst, Features Editor for BloodHorse Publications, is back to test his skillset once more as is popular Woodbine handicapper and #CanadianTreatFairy Sheri Riddoch and HorsePlayerNow.com general manager and political consciousness-raiser Brian Spencer.
Among those who are set to break their Charity Challenge maiden are Eclipse Award-winner Joe Nevills of the Paulick Report, longtime handicapper, track announcer, and analyst Mike Battaglia, noted sportscaster Lesley Visser, Woodbine host and simulcast guru Jeff Bratt, Keeneland’s G.D. Hieronymus, TDN’s Brian DiDonato, Hawthorne’s Jim Miller, Starlight Racing’s Vinny Tatum, and owner Jim McIngvale, whose stallion Runhappy serves as the title sponsor of a multitude of top events in Thoroughbred racing.
Among the notable sports figures expected to compete in the Charity Challenge include ESPN College GameDay personality Chris Fallica, Eclipse Award-winning former jockey Ramon Dominguez, multiple Sports Emmy Award winner Pete Macheska, color commentator and former NHL veteran Eddie Olczyk, and former University of Louisville basketball player and current North Oldham coach David Levitch.
Other high-profile players include Tito’s Handcrafted Vodka founder Tito Beveridge, Twitter sensations Spa Infield Goose, Juba the Gray, and War Dancer, and 2001 NHC champion Judy Wagner.
A host of Thoroughbred racing broadcasters are slated to be in the field: Caton Bredar, Matt Carothers, Megan Devine, Gabby Gaudet, Britney Eurton, Ken Rudulph,Simon Bray, and Dave Weaver of TVG; Acacia Courtney and Ron Nicoletti of Gulfstream Park; Santa Anita Park track announcer Frank Mirahmadi, Ahmed Fareed, Kenny Rice, Nick Luck, and Laffit Pincay III of NBC Sports, and on-air host Aaron Vercruysse. TVG’s Christina Blacker will also be participating representing STATS Race Lens.
Racing’s print media is once again well represented. In addition to Angst and Nevills, Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman, Marty McGee, and Dan Illman are scheduled to play along with multiple Eclipse Award-winning turf writer-turned-publicist Jennie Rees, veteran reporter Bob Ehalt, Paulick Report founder and editor-in-chief Ray Paulick and editor Scott Jagow; ST Publishing co-founders Joe Clancy and Sean Clancy and editor Tom Law, the team behind ThisIsHorseRacing.com, The Saratoga Special, and Steeplechase Times; Tom LaMarra of Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association; ABR mainstay and freelance writer Dan Tordjman, Matt Rybaltowski of Forbes SportsMoney, Michael Canale and Taylor Neil of Bleacher Report, and Mike Brunker of the Las Vegas Review Journal.
Radio broadcasters also have an accomplished group led by Mike Penna and Jude Feld of Horse Racing Radio Network (HRRN), Steve Byk of At the Races with Steve Byk, John Engelhardt of Winning Ponies, and Brian Blessing of Sportsbook Radio & Vegas Hockey Hotline.
Jamie Haydon of Grayson-Jockey Club Research Foundation, Churchill Downs Inc.’s Senior Director of Betting Information Jim Mulvihill, Peter Rotondo of Breeders’ Cup, actress Bo Derek, Bill Sattler of NHC host Bally’s Las Vagas, and Old Friends founder Michael Blowen are also among the luminaries.
Similar to the NHC format, players will select one horse to Win and Place in eight races using a “Pick and Pray” format. All selections are due Saturday morning and any scratches will result in the player being assigned the post-time favorite. The player with the highest hypothetical bankroll after the final contest race will be declared the winner. In the event of a tie, there will be no playoff; the donations will be split among the winners.
In addition the charitable prize, Breeders’ Cup is offering a $500 credit to the winner’s HorsePlayers.com account. The second place finisher will get a $250 credit with third earning a $100 credit.
Updates on scoring will be disseminated via Twitter (@NTRA) and available on NTRA.com.
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.