Paul Shurman, a 15-time NHC qualifier and the 2011 NHC Tour champion, and Steve Wolfson Sr., an 11-time NHC qualifier known as the “godfather of handicapping contests,” have been selected for induction to the NHC Hall of Fame, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.
Shurman and Wolfson will be inducted at the NHC Champions Dinner on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the 18th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas, set for Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island.
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.”
“It is an honor for me to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame because I have the utmost respect and admiration for the people who preceded me,” Shurman said. “They are all people who loved the game and did what they could, including making personal sacrifices, to help the game flourish. Mike Mayo, Ron Rippey, Steve Crist and Judy Wagner all advocated vigorously for the horseplayer and we all benefited from their efforts.
“I also love the game and am proud that I am being recognized, not only for my tournament success, but for my contribution to the NHC and handicapping tournaments. I have been fortunate to have been on the Players Committee from its inception, where I can be a voice for the players. I also am proud to be able to work personally with tournament tracks to help them come up with tournament structures that benefit both the player and the venue.”
Wolfson was organizing tournaments for horseplayers in Las Vegas long before the advent of the NHC, most notably with 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.
“I am honored and flattered to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, especially considering the prestigious group of previous inductees,” Wolfson said. “Recalling the glory days/daze when Thoroughbred racing was the number one spectator sport in America, as recently as 1992, I often lament how far our sport has fallen. In the 60s and 70s, athletes, both equine and human, were household names, and racing was front-page news.
“The advent and success of the NHC have made great strides to reenergize handicapping, which, hopefully, will further enhance enthusiasm and interest by the general public.”
Shurman and Wolfson represent the third class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees, joining Steve Crist (2016), Mike Mayo (2015), Ron Rippey (2015), and Judy Wagner (2016). Hall of Fame inductees are chosen by the NTRA in consultation with the NHC Players’ Committee.
The main criteria for the NHC Hall of Fame are as follows:
- Competed in NHC-sanctioned tournaments;
- Played consistently well over a period of time;
- Gained the respect of peers;
- Or, for tournament players and non-tournament horseplayers, contributed to the overall growth and success of NHC tournament play, with indelible positive and lasting results.
The NHC Tour is a yearlong bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship. Tour members receive NHC Tour points for top finishes in NHC qualifying events held during the year. In addition to potential prize money and berths in the NHC, benefits for NHC Tour members include automatic enrollment in the Horseplayers’ Coalition. The Coalition seeks legislative and regulatory solutions to tax and business issues that impact pari-mutuel racetracks and their customers and provides grass roots support for the NTRA’s lobbying efforts on Capitol Hill. Tour members also are automatically eligible to participate in NTRA Advantage, offering preferred pricing on products and services from leading suppliers, including John Deere, Nationwide, UPS, and OfficeMax/Office Depot.
In its 18th 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 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. There are no bye-ins to the NHC. 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, Daily Racing Form, the NHC is presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas.