ESPN’S MAYNE, FALLICA ENJOYING NHC EXPERIENCE – Two of ESPN’s most popular on-air personalities – SportsCenter host Kenny Mayne and College GameDay researcher Chris Fallica (also known as “The Bear”) – are playing in the National Handicapping Championship this weekend. Fallica finished Day 1 still in the hunt for the top prize, sitting in a tie for 56th with $69.50. Meanwhile, Mayne was tied for 435th with $16.20.
“I wasn’t on my ‘A’ game,” Mayne said. “I didn’t study at all for Day 1. I was working in Seattle, flew here, got in at midnight, slept about four hours, and just tried my best. That didn’t work out so we’re going to try a different plan where we actually look at the Racing Form the day before.”
This is Mayne’s first time qualifying for the NHC, though he was in attendance at the inaugural NHC in 2000 to write a story for ESPN The Magazine.
“I’m going to need a big comeback,” Mayne said. “I don’t know how far down the scoreboard goes but if it goes all the way to the bottom I’m near it.”
Mayne has been sharing a table in the Treasure Island Ballroom with his friend Fallica, a longtime racing fan and handicapper who has become a prominent on-air figure at GameDay.
“As of right now I’m in it,” Fallica said. “I should be doing a little bit better but I just want to be in the Top 50 after Saturday and make it to Sunday.”
This is Fallica’s third straight year qualifying for the NHC.
“The first year it was a little bit of sensory overload trying to figure everything out,” Fallica said. “Last year I had a great day on Saturday and was in the Top 50 for a while before getting passed late. But it really left me feeling like I belong here and that I could do well.”
SUNDAY FINAL TABLE MANDATORY RACES – Early this morning tournament officials released the list of seven mandatory races for Sunday’s Final Table. Those races, in chronological order (with Pacific Time estimated post) are: Tampa Bay, Race 10 (1:50 p.m.); Gulfstream, Race 10 (2:06 p.m.); Gulfstream, Race 11 (2:38 p.m.); Oaklawn, Race 9 (3:10 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 7 (3:30 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 8 (4 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 9 (4:30 p.m.)
SUNDAY’S FINAL 50/CONSOLATION TRACKS – Sunday’s Final 50 will be required to play 10 races of their choosing early in the day. The optional races eligible for Final 50 play are: Aqueduct, Races 1-6; Fair Grounds, 1-3; Gulfstream, 1-7; Oaklawn Park, 1-3; and Tampa Bay, 1-7.
The same races also make up the menu for the $65,000 Consolation Tournament open to all NHC finalists that did not make the Final 50.
AT THE RACES ON NTRA.COM – At the Races with Steve Byk, Thoroughbred racing’s longest-running and best known daily radio news magazine, is broadcasting on site from the National Handicapping Championship this weekend. Saturday and Sunday, from 5-8 p.m. EST, NTRA.com is proud to host two exclusive episodes of At the Races. To listen click here: http://shar.es/1bE6yv.
For more information on At the Races, visit thoroughbredracingradionetwork.com.
FINAL TABLE COVERAGE – Sunday’s Final Table will be covered live on HRTV, The Network for Horse Sports. Host Aaron Vercruysse is on site at Treasure Island Las Vegas for reports between coverage of live racing. HRTV will also produce a half-hour recap documentary for airing at a later date. Meanwhile, DRF Live’s online coverage at DRF.com also will include Final Table action.
THREE NO-SHOWS – Hard as it might be to believe with more than $2.3 million in cash on the line, three of the 521 individuals expected for NHC 16 had not checked in as of the end of Day 1. Advance notice would have allowed other top finishers from their qualifying contests to make the field but no such warning was given. One of the three reported after NHC 16 was underway that he had come down ill. Another said that when the time came he did not feel like leaving his beachfront condo in Puerto Vallarta. The third no-show has not responded to messages.
PAST WINNERS UPDATE – Ten of 15 past NHC winners are playing this year. Those entrants (with NHC win year, bankroll and placing after Saturday’s second mandatory race), in descending order of best standing: Richard Goodall (2008 – two entries – $89.40, 28th; $26.20, tie 414th); Brian Troop (2010, $73.60, 69th); Jim Benes(2013, $69.60, 84th; $43, 228th); John Conte (2009, $69.20, tie 85th); Stanley Bavlish (2007, $38.80, tie 278th);Michael Beychok (2012, $33.40, tie 338th); John Doyle (2011, $30.70, 369th); Jamie Michelson Jr. (2005, $29.50, 383th); Jose Arias (2014, $29.40, 384th) and Steve Wolfson Jr. (2003, $16.60, tie 487th). The 2001 NHC heroine Judy Wagner is ineligible due to her position as an NTRA board member.
FOLLOW ON TWITTER – Follow the NTRA on Twitter (@NTRA) for the latest news, scoring updates and behind the scenes photos from the NHC. The official hashtag of this year’s contest is #NHC16.
About the NHC
In its 16th 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 websites, 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, Sovereign Stable and Treasure Island Las Vegas.
About the NTRA
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of more than 100 horse racing interests and thousands of individual stakeholders consisting of horseplayers, racetrack operators, owners, breeders, trainers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity, welfare and integrity of Thoroughbred racing through consensus-based leadership, legislative advocacy, safety and integrity initiatives, fan engagement and corporate partner development. The NTRA owns and manages the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance, NTRA.com, the Eclipse Awards, the National Handicapping Championship, NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program, and HORSE PAC, a federal political action committee. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and New York City. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).