Handicappers Turn Their Attention to Big Money Tournament at the National Horseplayers Championship
The “Super Bowl” of horse racing is happening in Las Vegas this weekend for the 19th annual NTRA National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) at Treasure Island (TI) on the famed Las Vegas strip. There’s nearly $3 million in prize money plus some added bonuses if you meet different qualifications, and the first place winner receives $800,000.
The NHC is the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament of the year for horseplayers. There will be about 700 entries in the tournament filled by approximately 570 people, and some of those tournament players earned two entries through 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 in Las Vegas. There are no “buy-in” entries at the NHC, but getting into the field through qualifying events is a major accomplishment.
The bulk of entrants came from online sites HorsePlayers.com and horsetourneys.com.
Tournament play has been the fastest growing segment in the horse racing industry. In 2016, the NHC purse was $2.77 million with a first place prize of $800,000 going to Paul Matties. In 2017, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) boasted a record field of 654 entries who competed for the largest purse in horse handicapping tournament history – $2,900,600 in cash and awards. First place was again $800,000 and Canadian Roy Arsenault, a 64-year-old transportation broker, was the winner and awarded horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year.”
This year’s NHC’s format works like this. Friday and Saturday each person is given a mythical $2 win and $2 place bet. They bet eight mandatory races and 10 optional races from a pool of eight tracks. After Saturday, they cut to the top 70 and ties and move on to Sunday morning’s semifinal round of 10 optional races. Then they take the top 10 and ties and move to the final round in the afternoon of seven mandatory races.
A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at NTRA.com, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.
News updates also will be available throughout the contest on At the Races with Steve Byk, who will broadcast live on Sirius XM satellite radio from Treasure Island during the show’s regular hours, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. EST, beginning Friday morning.
If you missed out on qualifying for the NHC, the next tournament on player’s radars is the Kentucky Derby Betting Championship (KDBC) presented by TwinSpires, which encapsulates Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby days. With a real money handicapping contest that awards prizes, including the chance for seats at the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC) in the fall, the opportunity to wager big on an already pool friendly card is enticing. Find more information on the TwinSpires Tournaments website.