Horseplayers from around the country will gather at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Friday and Saturday for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.
Now in its third year, the tournament is horse racing’s premier handicapping event, and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA (National Thoroughbred Racing Association) sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting parlors and Internet websites, each of which sends its top four qualifiers to Las Vegas.
This year’s field of 177 contestants will vie for the $100,000 first place prize and the title of Handicapper of the Year. A total of $212,000 will be awarded, with the top 10 finishers dividing $158,000.
In addition to the individual prize pool, 176 participants
will also be playing in a separate team competition, with the top finishing
foursome splitting a top prize of $20,000. There is also an additional $12,000
to be awarded to the three best finishers within each day, as well as $5,000 for
the winners of a daily exotic bonus play competition.
The event also will host a $10,000 charity media
tournament, which will mirror the main tournament. GamingToday led
last year’s Las Vegas media team to victory in the tournament. Executive
Editor Ray Poirier came up with several huge longshots that put the team over
the top. In fact, if Poirier had been part of the regular field, he would have
finished fifth overall! The prize money is donated to the charity of team’s
choice. This year’s media team will include GT handicapper,
While the championship is represented by the crÃ¨me de la
crÃ¨me of horseplayers, contestants come from all walks of life. Last year’s
champion, Judy Wagner, was a 50-year-old grandmother from New Orleans. She beat
203 other contestants (175 of them men!) in the two-day competition by accruing
$237.70 in mythical winnings from a total of 30 $2 win and place bets.
This year’s field, while including professional bettors
and horse fanatics, also features players from all walks of life, including an
animal trapper, dishwasher, environmentalist, longshoreman, music teacher,
novelist, nuclear submarine technician (retired), pawnbroker, psychologist,
veterinarian and a Internet webmaster.
The field also includes some of the best and most
successful professional players in the country. One of them is Randy Gallo of
Florida, who specializes in chasing jackpot prizes at racetracks. Last year,
while qualifying for the championship at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut,
Gallo hit a $684,000 Pick Six at Santa Anita, the biggest score in a 20-month
span in which he won 11 Pick Sixes of $200,000 or more.
In addition to taking home the $100,000 first place prize,
the winner of the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will
be crowned as the DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year at the prestigious Eclipse
Awards held shortly after the championship.
As the host site, the MGM Grand is the only venue to ever
host the championship. “We’re delighted to be returning to the MGM Grand,
the only home the event has ever known,” said Keith Chamblin, senior VP of
industry relations and marketing for the NTRA.