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HRN Original Blog:
Handicapper's Corner

Top Handicappers Hit Las Vegas For 2013 NHC

2012 NHC Champ Michael Beychok
This Friday, the TI (formerly Treasure Island) in Las Vegas, NV will be the center of the horse racing universe as 459 of North America’s top handicappers vie to lay their claim to handicapper of the year and the $750,000 that comes with the title in the National Handicapping Championship (NHC). In addition, this year’s champion will be honored with an Eclipse Award during next year’s gala in January 2014.
 
Last year, Michael Beychok won in dramatic fashion as Glorious Dancer won an $8,000 maiden claimer at Golden Gate Fields by a nose. That nose secured victory for Beychok in the closest finish (Beychok won by $1.00) of the 13-year tournament and was worth $850,000. Beychok received $1,000,000 for last year’s win and runner-up, Dave Flanzbaum took home $150,000.
 
In an act of gratitude, Beychok claimed the horse that made him a millionaire and she promptly rewarded him with another trip to the winner’s circle. Shortly after, Glorious Dancer developed a slight injury, and he immediately retired her to a farm near his home in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, where she could live out the rest of her days in the same luxury she helped provide Beychok. During his acceptance speech at last week’s Eclipse Awards, Beychok vowed to donate 10% of any winnings from this weekend’s tournament to charities associated with Thoroughbred retirement and aftercare. He challenged his fellow competitors to do the same. 
 
This year, Flanzbaum and 457 others have traveled to Sin City to knock Beychok off the top of the horse handicapping hill. Of the highly competitive field, 4 entrants are members of the HorseRacingNation.com (HRN) family.
 
2011 NHC Champion John Doyle is a partner and spokesperson for Derbywars.com, the live money on-line tournament site developed by HRN in 2011. Doyle earned his tournament berth on the popular tournament site NHCqualify.com. This is Doyle’s 3rd trip to the NHC and is attempting to become the first person to capture the title more than once. One of his keys to victory, “I play to a number, but you must be flexible as the tournament unfolds,” Doyle said. 
 
Mike Midland, brother of HRN co-founder and managing partner Mark Midland, also qualified on NHCqualify.com.  Mike is a regular contributor on HRN, chronicling multiple 5-figure scores he's had over the last 12 months. Though Midland only plays in roughly 6 tournaments each year, this is his second trip to the NHC, having previously qualified in 2006.
 
Dave “The Maven” Gutfreund is a legendary handicapping tournament veteran and advisor/contributor to HRN. Gutfreund qualified at Bettor Racing in Sioux Falls, SD. In fact, Dave has qualified for the NHC with such regularity that he is not sure if it is his 9th or 10th appearance with his 9th place performance in 2011 being his best. When Gutfreund is not spending time in the racebooks of Las Vegas, he can be found behind big stacks of chips in the poker room. In fact, the Chicago native already has 3 significant poker tournament cashes in 2013. Gutfreund’s strategy is similar to many competitors by “aim(ing) for a target number.”
 
Mike Shutty, co-founder, managing partner and video handicapper of HRN, is a first-time starter in the NHC having qualified in the live money Surfside tournament at Del Mar. Though everyone’s goal is to win, the fun-loving Shutty has set the bar quite low and wants to “not be the guy kicked out with first ever invoking of the unsportsman-like conduct rule.” In all seriousness, Mike starts mapping out a plan by studying “historical thresholds to determine what I need to achieve and listen and learn from smart tourney players like John and Dave. Also, just like in wagering, looking for significant value.”
 
Stay up to date on how everyone is doing throughout the weekend right here at HorseRacingNation.com. Though we have our favorites at HRN, we wish all of the 2013 NHC participants the best of luck and safe travels!
 
Please be sure to follow me on Twitter-@Cappercorner and/or friend me on facebook.com to continue the horse racing conversation!
 
 
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Older Comments about Top Handicappers Hit Las Vegas For 2013 NHC...

Good luck, Dave, on the biggest day of your professional life.
Any one aspect of the long term history of a handicappers can be skewed, but Gutfreund was on TV as a hanciapper here at Woodbine and really stank up the place vassilating between over challk and misses. ALWAYS on turf and really obvious......Was it really this guy??
16th nothing ... Dave finished the day in 3rd place!
Dave Gutfreund & Mike Midland are making the HRN family proud. Midway through day 1 they are currently 16th and 26th respectively.
reminds me of the guys at the poker tables that think their heads up all-in's are always 50:50
What odds can I get on a Doyle-Gutfreund-Midland-Shutty superfecta???
If true skill were the reasons one triumphed in these contests, we would see many of the same people win repeatedly...That does not happen so above a certain skill level it boils down to LUCK.
Good Luck Mike and Mike. Bring home the title to Horse racing Nation!
I know a pro who is at many of these and often says "Contests are fun but they are nothing like playing the game for real. In the real world you discover and choose the tracks you are best at and are not required to put round pegs in square holes being forced to play the same races as the next guy. Takes all creativity away from you game."
It's always my New Year's resolution to make it to the NHC & play more tourneys, but it hasn't worked out like that yet. There's always next year.
Hey Matt, I don't get to play in too many qualifiers due to work, but I've gotten pretty close a few times & painfully close twice. In 2012, I played in maybe 5 tourneys & was competitive, but nothing spectacular.
Good luck to all 4 HRN team members going. How long until we see you going to give this a shot, Jason? How do you qualify?
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Meet Jasen Mangrum

My interest in the Sport of Kings goes back over 25 years with my father taking me with his friends to the old Ak-Sar-Ben Race Course in Omaha, NE.  From those early experiences I was able to read the Daily Racing Form before the age of 10.  Once The Woodlands opened in Kansas City in 1988, I became totally hooked on the sport studying racing charts after homework and tennis practice.  In recent years, with the explosion of handicapping tournaments, my love for handicapping the races has risen to a new level.  Primarily focused on New York, Chicago and Louisiana racing, I have now been forced to study races far and wide in attempt to find “cap horses” in the tournaments I play.  I have also dabbled in horse ownership within syndicates and on my own.

 

My fondest memories in racing include Silver Charm’s 1997 Kentucky Derby victory.  Both my father and I selected him, which made for a memorable day.  The best race I’ve seen was Tiznow’s first Breeders Cup Classic win in 2000 when he outdueled Giant’s Causeway down the length of the Churchill Downs stretch.   My biggest windfall as a gambler was a pool-scooping pick-4 win, paying over $6,600 at The Woodlands in 2005.

 

The point of this blog is to get everyone out there a few winners, but also to go in depth at how I come to the conclusions that I do.  From week to week, I’ll explain angles I think are important to locate winners.  I encourage others to post picks they like too, but please explain how you come to your conclusions.  That way everyone can learn a little more about this great game, and add another weapon to their handicapping arsenal.-Best of luck, Jasen Mangrum