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DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship takes place this weekend

January 22, 2009     E-mail this page to a friend!

Top horseplayers to vie for $500,000 first prize, $1 million purse and title of “Handicapper Of The Year” in 10th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship

Defending champion Richard Goodall, heads a record field of 301 horseplayers who will gather at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa on January 23-24 to vie for horse racing’s official title of “Handicapper of the Year” and a first-place prize of $500,000 in the $1 million Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC).

The NHC has enjoyed outstanding growth since its inception. By way of comparison, the first NHC in January 2000 carried a total prize pool of $200,000 and a winner’s share of $100,000.

“We are delighted to return to Red Rock in Las Vegas for what has become the most anticipated tournament in the world among horseplayers,” said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president of communications and industry relations for the NTRA. “This year’s field of 301 is our biggest ever, which means this year’s NHC will be the most competitive in the event’s history.”

As the 2008 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship winner, Richard Goodall received a special exemption into the tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 274 other horseplayers in the two-day competition. The 65-year-old Goodall, a retired attorney and health care company owner, won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $272.30 from a total of 30 $2 win-and-place wagers pared from a mind-numbing menu of more than 130 races run at seven different tracks. His margin of victory—$78.00—was twice as great as the previous highest winning margin. Goodall will look to become the first ever two-time winner of the NHC, but he will face four other past champions who qualified for the finals this year. Steven Walker, Judy Wagner, Steve Wolfson, Jr., and Ron Rippey—the winners of NHC I, NHC II, NHC IV and NHC VII, respectively—will all be in the field with the same goal of a historic win in Las Vegas.

Contestant Sam Brooks will be hoping to make NHC history of a different kind. As the winner of the first-ever NHC Tour in 2008, Brooks not only won a $100,000 bonus for his top scores in the year’s NHC qualifying events, he is eligible to receive a $2 million bonus should he emerge victorious in the January 23-24 competition. So a win by Brooks in Las Vegas would result in a payday of $2.5 million ($500,000 first-place NHC purse plus $2 million NHC Tour bonus).

In its 10th 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 racebooks, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping Web sites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. This year’s finalists advanced from one of 88 local tournaments held at more than 50 different sites across North America since last February.

So far, more than 100,000 people have participated in these local tournaments. In addition, a “last chance” tournament was held at Red Rock on January 21 in order to fill the remaining five starting berths in the field of 302. Red Rock will also host the inaugural “Red Rock Shootout” on Sunday, January 25. The Sunday event will serve as the first NHC qualifying event of the 2009 contest year.

The tournament format for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers on each day of the two-day tournament. Eight of those wagers will be on mandatory races as selected by a panel comprised of Daily Racing Form National Handicapper Mike Watchmaker, NTRA Senior Director of Media Relations Eric Wing and Red Rock Casino Director of Race and Sports Jason McCormick.

The remaining seven races each day are optional plays to be made on races at one of seven designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.

There is also an additional $20,000 in prize money to be awarded incrementally to the five best finishers on each day.

Regular Championship updates will be posted on the Internet throughout the two-day contest at both and