JOHN DOYLE WINS FINAL RACE TO CAPTURE $500,000 GRAND PRIZE IN 2011 DRF/NTRA NATIONAL HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP
John Doyle of Scottsdale, Ariz., won the $500,000 first-place prize and title of DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year at the 12th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Saturday night.
The 49-year-old Doyle, a longtime IBM account executive who resigned to become a fulltime horseplayer roughly one year ago, amassed a winning score of $234.80 from 30 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers over the two-day tournament held at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.
Doyle, an NHC rookie who qualified for the NHC at NHCQualify.com, never led until the contest was over, scoring with Santa Anita race 10 winner Dapper Gene ($13.20 to win, $5.40 to place) in the event’s final race to leapfrog eventual second place finisher Ron Geary, who had led for much of Day 2. The consistent Doyle tallied a solid $91.00 on Day 1 and added another $143.80 to his contest total today, putting himself atop the field of 301.
“This is just incredible, especially winning on the last race like that,” said Doyle. “I actually visualized this moment when I left work about a year ago. I’ve always loved betting the horses, but had never gotten involved in tournament play until this past year.”
Geary, a Louisville, Ky., resident who owns Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky., finished with a score of $226.40 to win the second-place prize of $150,000, after having qualified for the NHC at Fairplex Park. Thomas Anderson, a Burnsville, Minn., resident who qualified at Canterbury Park was third at $213.40 to collect $100,000 plus another $2,500 for having the top Day 1 score of $182.00. Jon Cianci of Seal Beach, Calif., (qualified at Surfside Race Place) was fourth at $211.60 to take home $55,000 as well as another $3,000 for having Saturday’s second-highest score ($170.20). Jim Templin of West Chester, Pa., (qualified at Horsemen’s Park) was fifth at $194.00. That score was good for $40,000 plus $2,500 for having Saturday’s second-highest score.
The NHC XII finals paid out to the top 30 finishers from a record total purse of $1,050,150. Including $75,000 awarded to Tom Noone, the winner of the year-long NHC Tour, the aggregate payouts this weekend to contestants totaled $1,125,150.
The highest finish by a previous NHC winner at this year’s event was recorded by 2006 winner Ron Rippey, who checked in 40th. Last year’s winner, Brian Troop, finished tied for 234th place. No one has ever won the NHC more than once in the event’s 12-year history.
By virtue of his victory, Doyle also automatically earns an exemption into next year’s NHC finals, where the purse is projected to rise to $2 million with $1 million to the winner.
In just its 12th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping Web sites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. West Point Thoroughbreds, Inc., is a supporting sponsor of the NHC.
The NTRA is a broad-based coalition of horse racing interests consisting of leading thoroughbred racetracks, owners, breeders, trainers, horseplayers and affiliated horse racing associations, charged with increasing the popularity of horse racing and improving economic conditions for industry participants. The NTRA has offices in Lexington, Ky., and Rye Brook, N.Y. NTRA press releases appear on the NTRA web site, NTRA.com.