A field of more than 500 horseplayers have come to Las Vegas from all corners of the country to fight for their share of nearly $3 million at the 2020 National Horseplayers’ Championship, the 21st running of this event.
The three-day tournament, Friday to Sunday at Bally’s Las Vegas, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000 as well as an Eclipse Award for Horseplayer of the Year.
For the first two days, players make $2 mythical win-place bets in 18 races — typically eight of these are chosen by the NTRA as mandatory races and players choose the other 10 from one of eight designated contest tracks.
The NHC field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semi-final round will fill out the Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semi-final round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven more mandatory races.
Friday’s mandatory races are: OP 3, OP 5, GP 9, GP 10, SA 5, SA 7, GG 8. Initially an Aqueduct race was included but with its cancellation players will simply play an additional optional race.
Saturday’s mandatory races are GP 4, GP 5, AQU 6, OP 5, TAM 9, TAM 10, SA 7, GG 8.
A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at https://www.ntra.com/nhc, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates.
I will be on At the Races with Steve Byk broadcasting live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from Bally’s and online at www.stevebyk.com each of the contest’s three days from 2-8 p.m. ET (11 a.m.-5 p.m. PT) Friday-Sunday. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA.
Defending NHC champion Scott Coles – who last month was honored with an Eclipse Award as the 2019 “Horseplayer of the Year”– heads this year’s field, which is comprised of an estimated 556 individuals. There are approximately 150 rookies, representing some 25 percent of the field. There are an estimated 125 dual qualifiers as well.
As the 2019 NHC winner, Coles received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last February when he prevailed in his first time playing in the NHC. Coles amassed a winning score of $367 over the three-day tournament from 53 mythical $2 Win and Place bets en route to becoming the tournament’s youngest ever winner at age 34. He will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will 10 other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions are: Chris Littlemore (2018), Ray Arsenault (2017), Paul Matties, Jr. (2016), Jim Benes (2013), Michael Beychok (2012), Brian Troop (2010), Richard Goodall (2008), and Stanley Bavlish (2007), Jamie Michaelson, Jr. (2005) and Stephen Wolfson, Jr. (2003).
Several players will compete for major bonuses tied to earlier accomplishments.
As the winner of the 2019 NHC Tour, David Snyder won $110,000 and an NHC berth. He also is eligible for a $5 million bonus if he goes on to win at the 2020 NHC finals.
Brad Anderson, the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge (BCBC), is eligible for a $3 million BCBC/NHC Bonus if he takes down the NHC title.
In its 21st year, the NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments.
NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 45 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC2020 qualifier hosts were:
Aqueduct, Arlington Park, At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Belmont Park, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Capital OTB, Century Bets, Colonial Downs, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Fair Grounds, Fonner Park, Gulfstream Park, Harrah’s Louisiana Downs, Harrah’s Philadelphia, Harrah’s Hoosier Park, Hawthorne Race Course, Hollywood Casino at Penn National, Horseplayers.com, HorseTourneys.com, Indiana Grand, Keeneland, Laurel Park, Little Red Feather Racing, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Meadowlands, Mohegan Sun, Monmouth Park, New Zealand Racing, NYRA Bets, S. Florida HBPA, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, STATS Race Lens, Saratoga Race Course, Tampa Bay Downs, The BIG One, Treasure Island, TVG, Woodbine Entertainment Group and Xpressbet.com.