Let’s Get It On!

by Ed Meyer

posted on January 16, 2009 in General Discussion, News | No Comments >>

Defending champion Richard Goodall heads a record field of 301 horseplayers, who will gather at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa on Jan. 23rd-24th, 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).

“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.

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 will be held at Red Rock on Jan. 21st, in order to fill the remaining five starting berths in the field of 302.

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.