A field of 275 horseplayers is scheduled to gather in Las Vegas later this week to take a shot at record prize money and recognition as racing’s “Handicapper of the Year” in the ninth Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship (“NHC IX”), but only seven of those handicappers have a shot at a $1 million bonus offered by Churchill Downs Incorporated’s Twin Spires Club (“TSC”).
The seven handicappers who became eligible for the $1 million bonus did so through victories in qualifying tournaments that were part of the Twin Spires Club’s “Million Dollar Bonus Tour,” which is now in its third year. The $1 million bonus will go to any player who completes a sweep of a “Million Dollar Bonus Tour” qualifier and NHC IX. The bonus would be in addition to the record first-place prize of $500,000 in the two-day championship, which carries record total prize money of $1 million. NHC IX is scheduled for Jan. 25-26 at Red Rock Resort and Casino.
In addition to the bonus, the “Million Dollar Bonus Tour” handicapper that finishes atop the field in NHC IX will also receive a spectacular trophy created by internationally acclaimed glass artist Ken vonRoenn Jr., president and lead designer of Louisville-based Architectural Glass Art.
The TSC’s “Million Dollar Bonus Tour” qualifiers for NHC IX include:
- Samuel Guillory of Breau Bridge, La., winner of the tour qualifier at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots;
- William Marsh of Oak Lawn, Ill., winner of a qualifier at Arlington Park;
- April Scanio of Brooklyn, NY, winner of a qualifier at Arlington Park;
- Steve Stupka of Ankeny, Idaho, winner of a qualifier at Churchill Downs;
- Timothy Aupied of Houma, La., winner of a Dec. 8 Twin Spires Club qualifier that matched TSC members from Churchill Downs, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Calder Race Course, Arlington Park and off-track betting outlets in Illinois and Louisiana;
- Jeff Cookson of Weston, Fla., winner of a tour qualifier at Calder Race Course;
- Tony “T.J.” Taylor of Independence, Ky., winner of the “Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever,” a Dec. 15 online competition presented by TwinSpires.com, the official advance deposit wagering service for Churchill Downs Incorporated and its family of racetracks.
To be eligible for the $1 million bonus, winners of “Million Dollar Bonus Tour” events were required to be registered members of the Twin Spires Club prior to those qualifying contests. Membership in the Twin Spires Club is free and information is available at www.twinspiresclub.com.
The format for the National Handicapping Championship requires players to earn the highest possible bankroll based on 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers on each day of the two-day tournament. Eight of those wagers must be placed on mandatory races selected by a panel, while the remaining seven races each day are optional plays to be made on races at one of seven designated NHC tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs.
The dazzling trophy that will accompany the $1 million bonus earned by the TSC “Million Dollar Bonus Tour” qualifier who also wins NHC IX stands 26 inches tall and measures 14 inches at its widest point. The creation by vonRoenn features a flame-worked glass sculpture of a Thoroughbred and rider that rests on a base of dichroic glass, which reflects a broad spectrum of colors.