After making the cut at Turfway Park’s qualifying contest on Sunday, Tom Martinson of Fort Ann, N.Y., James Benes of Carol Stream, Ill., and Steve Wolfson Jr. of Holly Hill, Fla., will head to Las Vegas Jan. 27 and 28 to play in the 13th annual National Handicapping Championship (NHC).
The National Handicapping Championship is presented by Daily Racing Form and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and this year is expected to offer prize money of $2 million, including $1 million to the winner.
The winner also earns the racing industry’s Eclipse Award as Handicapper of the Year. Wolfson will be trying for his second National Handicapping Championship title, having won the tournament in its fourth year.
The 130 players in the Turfway qualifier were required to make $2 win and $2 place bets using a $48 live bankroll. Races from Turfway, Gulfstream Park, Fair Grounds, Aqueduct, and Woodbine were in play, none mandatory.
Players who were members of the NHC Tour and had not already qualified to go to Las Vegas played for three seats in the national tournament, tour points, and cash prizes from Turfway. Those who had already qualified for the national tournament played for tour points and the qualifier’s cash prizes. Those who were not members of the NHC tour played only for cash prizes. Contestants could play multiple entries.
As the qualifier’s top handicapper with $279.50 in winnings, Martinson not only secured a seat at the national tournament but also took home the qualifier’s $3,500 first-place cash prize.
The remaining two national tournament seats on the line at Turfway went to Benes, who finished third with $214 and took home $1,000 in cash, and Wolfson, who finished fourth with $198.90 and took home $750 in cash.
The qualifier’s second-place cash award of $2,000 went to Marlon Hylton of Ontario, who was not a member of the NHC Tour and therefore ineligible for a seat in the national championship despite his performance at Turfway. Hylton parlayed his bankroll into $220.20.
Cash prizes were paid to 10th place in the Turfway qualifier. Finishing fifth, just 90 cents behind Wolfson, was Brian Feldman of Mason, Ohio, who took home $500. Sixth through 10th and taking home $150 each were James Henderson of North East, Pa., Arthur Winter Jr. of Cincinnati, a separate entry by Wolfson, Ronald Zahn of West Lake, Ohio, and Mary Frances Kappel of St. Louis, Mo.
The annual Turfway contest has qualified one national winner. Brian Troop of Barrie, Ontario, qualified at Turfway for the 2010 National Handicapping Tournament and won that year’s $500,000 top national prize.