Mike Gillum Wins NTRA NHC

March 17, 2024

An exuberant Mike Gillum accepts his check. (NHC Photo)

Mike Gillum from Indianapolis, Indiana takes home $800,000 cash and Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year

NTRA/NHC Release

LAS VEGAS, Nev.—Mike Gillum found the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow when he topped the field of 765 entries and took home the $800,000 grand prize at the 25th National Horseplayers Championship. Gillum, who operates a produce company and is a regular at the Horseshoe Indianapolis, will be honored at the 2025 Eclipse Awards as the Horseplayer of the Year. 

After finishing day one in 5th place, Gillum found himself in the 81st spot with two races to go on day two. He jumped over a few people to qualify into the Semi-final round in 64thplace, barely inside the 10 percent cut line set at 77 entries. When asked about his strategy going into today, Gillum said, “My picks did not change since 6am this morning, I played exactly what I would have played regardless of which place I was in. I got lucky; it was just my day today.”

Racing has always been something Gillum enjoyed, and he says reading the Daily racing form every day helps him keep sharp. “It’s a passion of mine and has been for 20, 30 years. This is just the best.” In only his second trip to the NHC, Gillum is the 25th individual to take home the grand prize in the 25-year history of the world’s most prestigious handicapping contest. When asked what this means to him, Gillum said, “I am just thinking about my family at home watching, I’m just so excited and happy. Truly I’m at a loss for words.” 

The NHC field began Friday morning with 765 entries and was reduced to the top 10 percent of players after Saturday. Bankrolls amassed during Day 1, Day 2, and the Semi-finals round rolled over to the Final Table, with the 10 finalists settling the NHC score in seven “mandatory” assigned races.

“Horseplayers are such a pivotal part of the sport of Thoroughbred racing, and the NTRA is extremely proud to host this event to celebrate all their contributions every year to crown our annual champion,” said NTRA President and CEO Tom Rooney. “It’s incredible to see how the NHC has evolved in the 25 years since it began and really special to have so many dedicated horseplayers who work all year to qualify for this event. To have the 25th NHC, coupled with St. Patrick’s Day and the NCAA tournament weekend, has made for a weekend like no other. Congratulations to all who made it here this weekend, and especially to Mike Gillum for taking home the grand prize.” 

The official top 10 finishers at the 2024 NHC and prize money won are: 

1.    Mike Gillum, $800,000

2.    Seth Morris, $250,000

3.    Matthew Blanchet, $200,000

4.    Lawrence Kahlden, $150,000

5.    Daniel Kaplan, $125,000 

6.    Rob Henie, $85,000

7.    Nicholas Shirilla, $80,000

8.    TJ Sonde, $75,000

9.    GT Nixon, $70,000

10. Scott Cavalieri, $65,000

Total cash prizes awarded over the three days was $3,013,550. The top 77 finishers were guaranteed cash prizes with the 77th finisher receiving $10,150. The full prize structure can be found online

New to the 25th NHC program was the Silver Sunday Contest, available to all individuals competing in the tournament with no entry fee. Every individual received a maximum of one entry and had to place mythical Win/Place bets throughout Sunday on ten optional and seven mandatory races (the seven mandatory races that coincided with the NHC Final Table). 622 individuals were entered, and the top 25 highest bankrolls, including ties, received a share of $100,000 in prize money. The top five highest finishers won an entry into the 2025 NHC and the top 10 percent will receive on-track 2024 NHC Tour points. 

The top five finishers in the Inaugural Silver Sunday Contest and prize money won are: 

1.    David Harrison, $25,000

2.    Stephan Gravina, $17,150 

3.    Daniel Perry, $7,000

4.    Paul Buttafuoco, $6,000

5.    William Meisel, $5,000 

The NHC weekend concluded with the annual Champions’ Dinner, featuring the presentation of prizes and the induction of the 10th NHC Hall of Fame class: Kevin ‘Duke’ Matties, Jim Meeks, and Brett Wiener.

This year’s NHC featured more than 600 top horseplayers (including approximately 150 individuals with two entries) with cash and travel awards totaling nearly $4.5 million. The tournament format for the NHC is meant to be the best possible test of picking winners. Players attempt to earn the highest possible bankroll based on mythical $2 Win/Place wagers. Assigned “mandatory” races – six per day on Day 1, eight per day on Day 2, and seven at the Final Table – were announced at least 24 hours prior to each contest day

In addition to its three presenting sponsors ― Caesars Entertainment, Horseshoe Las Vegas and RTN ― the NHC is supported by official partners Daily Racing Form, EquinEdge, Crown’s Way Racing, and Race Lens.

To sign up for the 2024 NHC Tour and win your way to next year’s NHC visit to www.ntra.com/membership.

Good Work here, particularly this, which is being missed by many with good intentions. Folks wanting racing to end aren't getting messages that matter to them. Thanks.

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