LAS VEGAS, NV (January 31, 2019) – Bryan Wagner, a 14-time National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) qualifier, and David “Trey” Stiles, who has qualified for every NHC since 2003, have been selected for induction into the NHC Hall of Fame, the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) announced today.
Wagner and Stiles represent the fifth class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees and will be recognized during the NHC Champions Dinner on Sunday evening at the conclusion of the 20th NTRA NHC Presented by Racetrack Television Network, STATS Race Lens™ and Treasure Island Las Vegas, set for Friday to Sunday at Treasure Island. Since its launch in 2014, the NHC Hall of Fame has inducted two impact figures each season, making Wagner and Stiles the Hall’s ninth and tenth members.
The Wagner name is already part of NHC lore. The husband of 2001 NHC Champion and 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Judy Wagner, Bryan Wagner earned the distinction of 2009 NHC Tour Champion and earned more than $100,000 at the annual NHC finals in Las Vegas. In addition to their handicapping proficiency at other NHC-sanctioned contests, Bryan and Judy Wagner were among the Tour’s most popular figures. Bryan Wagner, who died in August of 2018, was particularly known for his gentlemanly ways and was described in a Rolling Stone feature as holding court “like a John Grisham character.”
“I am thrilled to hear Bryan is being voted into the Hall of Fame,” Judy Wagner said. “Bryan was almost a lifelong handicapper. It started when he learned to sneak into Fair Grounds in New Orleans as a young teenager. He had an unbelievable mathematical/analytical mind that was a perfect fit for handicapping.
“When the NHC Tour kidnapped him a few years ago he accepted the challenge and fought long and hard to achieve his goal of winning the Tour. Although he had many memorable handicapping experiences winning the Tour is near the top. This honor of Hall of Fame is another that I am sure would be at the top.”
Stiles, an attorney in Houston, TX, began visiting the racetrack in his teens at Delta Downs and has gone on to become one of the most recognizable faces on the NHC Tour.
A self-taught handicapper, Stiles played in his first handicapping contest in 2001 and began his record-setting streak at the NHC with a win at a contest at Retama Park in his native Texas in 2002. His knowledge serves both himself and other horseplayers well as he is also a NHC Mentor, teaching new Tour members the ins and outs and strategies involved with contest play.
“It’s a pretty amazing group so it’s quite an honor,” Stiles said of his Hall of Fame induction, adding that his first NHC experience lit the fire for his 16-year run. “I would say it would be my first time (at NHC that stands out), not because I did my best, but I enjoyed it so much that it made me want to get back there. It was such a cool experience. It hooked me and it made me want to learn and I’ve done that.”
Wagner and Stiles join Steve Crist (2016), Mike Mayo (2015), Chris Larmey (2018), Ron Rippey (2015), Paul Shurman (2017), Judy Wagner (2016), Steve Wolfson, Sr. (2017), Steve Wolfson, Jr. (2018) as Hall of Fame inductees. The honorees 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 an extended period of time;
· Gained the respect of peers;
· And, contributed to the overall growth and success of NHC tournament play, with indelible positive and lasting results.
About the NHC
In its 20th 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. For more information on the NHC, visit NTRA.com/nhc.
About the NTRA
The NTRA, based in Lexington, Ky., 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 Horseplayers Championship; NTRA Advantage, a corporate partner sales and sponsorship program; and Horse PAC®, a federal political action committee. NTRA press releases appear on NTRA.com, Twitter (@ntra) and Facebook (facebook.com/1NTRA).