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!
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