2017 Canterbury Handicapper of the Year:  Mike Ferrozzo

Mike Ferrozzo became the 16th horse player to be named Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year.

The annual award is determined through a system that assigns points for top performances in handicapping contests held at Canterbury throughout the year.  In 2017, Ferrozzo beat Pamela Kight by a single point and four-time Handicapper of the Year Bruce Meyer by three points.

He earned the title plus $2,000 and a trophy. Ferrozzo’s photo will be placed near the leaderboard in the Race Book along with the previous 15 winners.

Ferrozzo is caught in a meat grinder of sorts in the 2017 National Horseplayer Championship Tour. He is currently leading the NHC Tour and while one might assume, since it is 2018, that the winner would have been determined, that would be incorrect. There was an online contest last Saturday that could award sufficient points to defeat Ferrozzo but a malfunction caused its cancellation and subsequent rescheduling to this coming Saturday.

First place in the tour pays $100,000. Second is $50,000. Stay tuned for results and hopefully a well-deserved title for the longtime Eagan horse player.

The 2018 Handicapper of the Year contest is now underway.  Here are the current future odds to win the title:.

Bruce Meyer  3-1 — searching for ‘one for the thumb.’ The chalk.
Hassan Entry – 4-1  —  The Hassan family, especially 2013 winner Ray and daughter Katherine, are always a threat.
Mike Ferrozzo  5-1  —-   no doubt he can repeat if he focuses on the local title
Pamela Kight  10-1 – strong 2017 performance. The big win has been elusive.
Ron White  12-1  —   he won the R2K contest years ago. Persistence will pay off.
Rick Dahl  20-1 —   if he shows up on time he could accumulate the points needed to win.
Dave Handeland  30-1 – ‘young gun’ fell off the radar last year. Redemption?
Mark Freiberg  30-1  —  Expect him to be on the leaderboard early.
Past HOY Winners not already listed  10-1
Field  10-1

Shaun Rau earned the first point of the new season by winning the Jan. 4-6 HPWS Super Satellite. These supers will be held each Thursday through Saturday through Feb. 3. The HPWS Satellite, which will send the winner to Vegas, takes place Feb. 10.

The annual Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest starts this Saturday. More than $25,000 in cash prizes will be up for grabs. Each Saturday there are a total of five Handicapper of the Year points given to the top three players and points awarded for best overall scores throughout the series.

Here is the entire list of Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year winners:

2017 – Mike Ferrozzo
2016 – Bruce Meyer
2015 – Lannette Sheldon
2014 – Bruce Meyer
2013 – Ray Hassan
2012 – Bruce Meyer
2011 – Bruce Meyer
2010 – Ron Hafner
2009 – Bill Ender
2008 – Kalib Martin
2007 – Steve Leeper
2006 – Jerod Dinkin
2005 – Richard Johnson
2004 – Harold Krahn Jr.
2003 – Dan Lynch
2002 – Jeff Ovshak

Meyer wins Canterbury Handicapper of the Year a fourth time


Bruce Meyer captured Canterbury Park’s Handicapper of the Year title for the fourth time. He did so by out-performing other local handicappers throughout the 2016 calendar year in various contests for which points are awarded to top finishers. Meyer finished second in the 20th annual Dog Days of Summer Tournament which helped cement the HOY win but also sends him to Las Vegas later this month to compete in the $2.5 million National Handicapping Championship. He earned a $2,000 cash prize for winning the title.

Bruce Meyer      17

Ray Davis             13

Ron White           8

Michael Tomatz    8

Pat Larson           7

The 2017 Handicapper of the Year competition is underway with the year’s first contest beginning Thursday, the Horse Player World Series Super Satellite.  Canterbury’s annual Road to Kentucky Contest begins Jan. 21. That awards HOY points weekly to top players as well as overall awards.

Last year CanterburyLive.com staff posted a morning line for the HOY title and made Meyer the 5 to 1 favorite to win the 2016 title.

Here is a look at this year’s line:

Bruce Meyer   7/2 : Four titles, 2011, 2012, 2014, and 2016, earns him favoritism once again.

Michael Tomatz    6-1 : This NHC qualifying ‘capper began playing Canterbury contests late in the season and quickly amassed points.  If he plays for the duration of 2017 he can factor.

Ray Davis   8-1 :  2016 runner-up brings consistency to the game. Could be a break-out season.

Ron White  8-1:  A bad beat here and there prevented a better 2016. He has been top five the past four years.

Mike Ferrozzo  8-1 :  Prominent on the national scene, this local might spend more time playing events in town this year.

Young Guns    10-1:  There are a handful of guys like Malecha, Taarud and Handeland that splashed on to the scene and could jump up to challenge Meyer.

Lannette Sheldon   12-1 : She won the title in 2015 and must be given a chance in ’17.

Pat Larson  15-1:   He wins his share of contests throughout the year.  Just needs a major win to build points.

Ray Hassan, Ron Hafner, and Bill Ender   20-1:   All three have won the title in the past. If you add together their 2016 points they would have been third overall.

Bob Cyza     30-1 :    Plays a lot of contests. If he can string wins together and hit a big point contest he will be in the hunt.

Field    10-1 :  Blasts from the past like former champs like Leeper and Martin are in the field.


Derby Preps this weekend

Santa Anita runs the $100,000 G3 Sham Stakes on Saturday.  Top trainers have entries trying to step into the big time. The winner receives 10 Kentucky Derby points.

While this race offers no Kentucky Derby points, Gulfstream has the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Saturday and some of the contenders could end up on the Derby trail.  Even Thunder, winner of the Shakopee Juvenile in 2016, has been entered. He changed hands in a private sale after the Canterbury meet and immediately won the $100,000 King’s Swan at Aqueduct. The connections have suggested that a good effort Saturday would send him back to New York for the Withers, which is an official Derby prep.


Chasing the Dream: An NHC Odyssey

National Handicapping Championship


Three local handicappers are on a quest to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship held each year in Las Vegas.

Each has a chance to qualify this Saturday, June 4 in a Canterbury NHC qualifier. The contest is open to everyone.

Bruce Meyer: Three-time Canterbury Handicapper of the Year has played once in the NHC and wants back in now.

Mike Ferrozzo: Eight-time NHC qualifier has made it to the final table at the NHC.  Mike travels the country to play in tournaments, but has yet to qualify this year.

Dave Handeland:  Comparatively new to the contest scene, Dave has never made it to the NHC.



NHC to offer $800,000 to winner this weekend

NHC 17


A record field of at least 627 entrants will compete for the largest purse in handicapping tournament history – estimated at $2.75 million in cash and awards – and horse racing’s official title of “Horseplayer of the Year” at this weekend’s 17th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas. The three-day tournament, Thursday to Saturday at Treasure Island, will offer a first-place prize of $800,000.

The final purse and field size will be determined Wednesday morning depending on registration for the “Last Chance” qualifier at Treasure Island.

The overall estimated prize pool, including money already won by top finishers in the 2015 Daily Racing Form NHC Tour, represents a 5.4 percent increase over last year’s then-record purse of $2.61 million.

Image 2 (Eclipse Award, Cash and Silver Julep Cups)

“We are delighted to once again host many of the pre-eminent horseplayers in the world, including our first ever to have qualified in Latin America,” said NTRA Chief Operating Officer and NHC Tournament Director Keith Chamblin. “Horseplayers fuel every aspect of the Thoroughbred industry, including the NHC, and we thank each of them for contributing to another record year of growth for the world’s richest and most prestigious handicapping tournament.”

Jonathon Kinchen, the 2015 NHC Tour winner, will play for a $2 million bonus on top of the $800,000 grand prize should he become the first reigning Tour winner to annex the NHC.

The tournament field will be reduced to the top 10 percent of players after the first two days. The highest 10 cumulative scores after the Semifinal round will fill out the Final Table. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2 and the Semifinal round will roll over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

Last year, Mike Ferrozzo of Eagan, Minn. played his way to the final table. Ferrozzo has two entries in NHC 17.

Players who do not make the Semifinal cut will still compete on Day 3, in a separate Consolation tournament.

A full scoreboard will be updated regularly at NTRA.com, where fans and players can also find each day’s contest race menu and news updates. Additional news and exclusive content will be shared on Twitter via the official NTRA account, @NTRA, where a four-person #NHC Social Media Team will cover every aspect of the news, personalities and culture of the handicapping contest world.

A live stream and news updates will be available throughout the contest at DRF.com’s NHC page. At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on Sirius XM satellite radio from Treasure Island during the show’s regular hours, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. EST, Thursday and Friday mornings, while bonus coverage from At the Races will be available Saturday at NTRA.com.

Sports book at 2015 National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island. Las Vegas, NV 1.23.2015
Sports book at 2015 National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island. Las Vegas, NV 1.23.2015

Defending champion John O’Neil – who has been battling cancer and skipped the Jan. 16 Eclipse Awards ceremony where he was honored as “Horseplayer of the Year” to conserve energy for the NHC – heads the record field, which is comprised of 511 individual players (116 are dual qualifiers playing the maximum two entries) before the additional “Last Chance” qualifiers.

Canterbury Park held two tournaments in 2015 which qualified four players:  Dan Flanigan of Minn. and Frank Mustari of Illinois earned berths in the Ultimate NHC Qualifier while Janice Houston of Maryland and Brian Chenvert of Minn. each won their way in through the annual Dog days of Summer Tournament.

As the 2015 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship winner, O’Neil, of Huntington Station, N.Y., received an automatic berth into this year’s tournament to defend the title he won last January when he bested 605 other entries. Then 74, O’Neil won by amassing a mythical bankroll of $327.20 from a total of 47 Win-and-Place wagers pared from a mind-melting menu of more than 150 races run at seven different tracks. O’Neil will seek to become the first-ever two-time winner of the NHC, as will six other past winners that have qualified. The other qualifying champions: Jose Arias (2014), Jim Benes (2013), Michael Beychok (2012), Brian Troop (2010), Richard Goodall (2008) and Stanley Bavlish (2007).

Meanwhile, Kinchen, of Austin, Texas, will hope to make NHC history of a different kind. As the winner of the eighth annual Daily Racing Form NHC Tour in 2015, the 33-year-old handicapping phenom not only earned $75,000 for leading the overall standings in the year’s NHC qualifying events, he is eligible to receive a $2 million bonus should he emerge victorious in this weekend’s competition. Therefore, a win by Kinchen in Las Vegas would result in a payday of at least $2.8 million ($800,000 first-place NHC purse + $2 million NHC Tour bonus).

In its 17th year, the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Presented by Racetrack Television Network and Treasure Island Las Vegas is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers. There are no “buy-in” entries at the NHC.

NHC players qualified via contests hosted by 41 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) outlets, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. The NHC 17 qualifier hosts were Arlington Park, BetAmerica, BetPTC, Bettor Racing, Breeders’ Cup Ltd., California Association of Racing Fairs, Canterbury Park, Century Bets, Del Mar Surfside Race Place, Del Mar Thoroughbred Club, Derby Wars, DRF Bets, Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, Gulfstream Racing & Casino, Hawthorne Race Course, Hippodrome 3R (Quebec Jockey Club), HorsePlayersQualify.com, HorseTourneys.com, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Latin American Racing Channel (LARC), Laurel Park, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos Race Course, Monmouth Park, Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort, NHCQualify.com, National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA), New York Racing Association (NYRA), Prairie Meadows, Public Handicapper, Race Track Warriors, Racetrack Television Network (RTN), Santa Anita Park, Tampa Bay Downs, Thoroughbred Owners of California, Treasure Island, TVG, TwinSpires.com, Woodbine Entertainment Group and Wynn Las Vegas.

The tournament format for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is meant to be the best possible test of overall handicapping ability. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win-and-Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – eight per day on Day 1 and Day 2 and seven at the Final Table – will be selected by a panel comprised of NTRA Director of Media and Industry Relations Jim Mulvihill, Treasure Island Director of Race and Sports Tony Nevill, Daily Racing Form National Handicapper Mike Watchmaker, and Daily Racing Form Advertising Director and longtime NHC emcee Eric Wing.

The remaining 10 races on Day 1 and Day 2 and all 10 plays in the Semifinal round will be optional wagers on races at one of seven designated NHC tournament tracks: Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate Fields, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park, Santa Anita Park and Tampa Bay Downs (which is dark on Thursday, when the contest will include races from the other six cards).

Canterbury Park will host three tournaments in 2016 that will qualify players to next year’s NHC. The first contest will be June 4. The 20th Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Tournament will be held Sept. 10-11 and the Ultimate NHC Qualifier is set for Sept. 9.