Jose Arias of Bell Gardens, CA held off a slew of fantastic handicappers to win the 15th National Handicapping Championship at
Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, NV. Starting the day with $326.00,
Arias only increased his bankroll by $12.20, but it was just enough to be
crowned top handicapper by $1.20 over Tony Brice of Colleyville, TX.
Entering the final race, Brice sat in 3rd behind Arias and Nick Alpino of Laguna Hills, CA. His winning selection of Fit to Rule ($15.60/$9.80) in 9th and final race at Santa Anita moved him to the runner-up spot. For his victory, Arias took home $750,000 and will be honored at the Eclipse Awards next January as the nation’s top handicapper. Brice received $200,000 and Alpino $100,000.
Modifications were made to the tournament format this year,
and they paid big dividends as the excitement was palpable throughout the
event. Changes included allowing players 2 entries, adding a third day to the
contest, implementing a cut down to the final 50 after day 2 and having a final
table of 10 compete over the last 5 races to determine a champion.
Those not making the final 50 competed in a separate
tournament. Nisan Gabbay of San Francisco, CA accumulated a bankroll of $145.60
and won the $20,000 consolation prize.
The NHC is only limited to handicappers that qualify in preliminary
tournaments either online or at tracks throughout North America. Arias
qualified at the Surfside Race Place tournament in Del Mar, CA on December 28th. In addition to his grand prize earnings, Arias won $6,000 and free entry into the $10,000 buy in Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge this November at Santa Anita by accumulating the highest total on Day 1.
Though the tournament probably needs some tinkering to its
purse structure, the concept of adding the cut down to 50, and final table of 10, made the event much more exciting on site and throughout social media.