NTRA THOROUGHBRED NOTEBOOK
|News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled
by NTRA Communications, (212) 907-9280.
THE NATION'S BEST HORSEPLAYERS SET TO SQUARE OFF IN VEGAS
A first-place prize of $100,000 and the title of "Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association Handicapper of the Year" will be on the line when 204 of the most successful - and luckiest - horseplayers in North America gather in Las Vegas to play in the $212,000 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship on January 12-13 at the MGM Grand.
The "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year" will be crowned at Thoroughbred racing's 30th annual Eclipse Awards ceremony on January 30, 2001 at the Saenger Theatre in New Orleans.
In just its second year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship already is the most ambitious handicapping tournament ever attempted, the culmination of a season-long series of NTRA-sanctioned tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting parlors and horse racing and handicapping Websites. The finalists advanced from one of nearly 90 qualifying events held from February through December at 51 sites in the United States and Canada.
The 204 finalists represent not only the creme de la creme of Thoroughbred racing horseplayers - from the top national tournament professionals to the best veteran local handicappers - but a large collection of lucky novices who bucked long odds to win their local qualifying tournaments. Heading the field is Steven Walker of Lincoln, Neb. A supervisor with the State Department of Environmental Quality, Walker bested 159 others to win the inaugural event last January 7-8 at the MGM Grand.
"Daily Racing Form is delighted to be involved with this exciting tournament," said Steven Crist, editor and publisher of Daily Racing Form. "This event has very quickly become the U.S. Open of handicapping tournaments, where every finalist, from the most veteran professional players to weekend handicappers to dedicated racing fans, earned his or her trip to Las Vegas and a chance to be crowned the sport's official 'Handicapper of the Year.'"
"We knew we had a tremendous concept when we first began discussions with Daily Racing Form about launching a national handicapping championship, but the response we've witnessed from horseplayers the first two years has been overwhelming," stated Keith Chamblin, vice president of industry relations and marketing for the NTRA. "The qualifying events have been well-received across North America, and we added nearly a dozen new sanctioned tournaments this year, which generated an additional 44 competitors for the Championship. We're very excited about the growth of this tournament and our return to the MGM Grand, which is an outstanding host."
The field also includes three other top 10 finishers from last year: Steve Terelak (third) of Culver City, Calif.; Brian MacClowry (fourth) of Phoenix; and Louis Noto (seventh) of Bridgewater, N.J. Perhaps this year's luckiest finalist is J. Randy Gallo of Jupiter, Fla., who qualified for the National Handicapping Championship at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut on the same day that he won a whopping $648,076.80 for hitting the pick six at Santa Anita Park. Gallo, a veteran tournament player who owns the Bettor Racing OTB parlor in Sioux Falls, S.D., also played in the inaugural event, finishing 48th.
Of the $212,000 in total prize money, the top 10 finishers in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will divide $158,000 (see purse breakdown below). In addition to the individual prize pool, the 204 contestants will also be playing in a separate team competition, with the top finishing foursome splitting a top prize of $20,000. The 51 tournament teams will be representing 40 racetracks, five off-track betting facilities, three casinos, two Websites and one organization. There is also an additional $12,000 in prize money to be awarded incrementally to the three best finishers within each day, as well as $5,000 for the winners of a daily exotic bonus play competition.
Each entrant must place a mythical $2 Win and $2 Place wager on 15 races each day. Eight mandatory races will be selected by Daily Racing Form, and all players must wager on these races. The remaining seven races will be selected by each individual entrant from the eligible tournament races.
For the first time, the event also will host a $10,000 charity media tournament, which will mirror the main tournament. Four media teams, each captained by a Daily Racing Form handicapper, will battle in a winner-take-all competition, with the victorious team splitting the purse, which will be divided equally between NTRA Charities and the designated charity of each member of the winning team.
DRF NATIONAL HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP PURSE BREAKDOWN:
Day 1 (Friday, Jan. 12)
Day 2 (Saturday, Jan. 13)
CALDER TO HIT ANOTHER GRAND SLAM
Four graded stakes races worth a total of $500,000 will highlight Saturday's Grand Slam II program at Miami's Calder Race Course, featuring star-studded fields with many of the nation's leading trainers and jockeys in action.
Among the top riders accepting mounts on the Saturday program are Pat Day, Jerry Bailey, Jorge Chavez, Edgar Prado, Jose Santos, Robbie Davis, Mike Smith and John Velazquez. The rich Calder races could well determine the outcome of the 2000 jockeys' purse money title. The current leader is Pat Day with $17,450,208, less than $100,000 more than Jerry Bailey's total of $17,355,995.
Saturday's four stakes races are the Grade II, $150,000 La Prevoyante Handicap; the Grade II, $150,000 W.L. McKnight Handicap; the Grade III, $100,000 Fred W. Hooper Handicap and the Grade III $100,000 Chaposa Springs Handicap.
Calder will conclude its present meet with the Grade III, $100,000 Tropical Park Derby on New Year's Day, and the $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks on Tuesday, Jan. 2.
RACING ON THE AIR (all times Eastern)
RACING TO HISTORY
WEEKEND STAKES RACES (unrestricted stakes worth $75,000 and up)
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 29
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 30
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31
MONDAY, JANUARY 1
TUESDAY, JANUARY 2
THURSDAY, JANUARY 4
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