Learn about the competitors hoping to take home $750,000 grand prize and Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year
NTRA Press Release
LAS VEGAS, Nev.— The 24th National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) presented by Caesars Entertainment, Horseshoe Las Vegas, and Racetrack Television Network (RTN) kicks off on Friday, March 10 at the Horseshoe Las Vegas. The field of an estimated 750 entries, ranging in age, experience, and number of NHC appearances, will yield one ultimate winner, who will go home with an estimated $750,000 and an Eclipse Award as Horseplayer of the Year.
The competition is on a global scale this year, with horseplayers representing 46 states, Canada, and Qatar. Only time will tell if age factors into the success of the field, with the average age of this year’s competition being 56 years young, with 23-year-olds Carson Matties and Andrew Weiss checking in as the youngest players. Of the 618 total competitors, 29 females are a part of the field. All of these statistics are pending the results of Thursday’s Last Chance/First Chance Contest being held at the Horseshoe Las Vegas which is the final chance to qualify for the event.
Of the 23 years of past champions, at least 11 will be returning to attempt to become the first repeat winner of the NHC – Judy Wagner (2001), Steve Wolfson, Jr. (2003), Stanley Bavlish (2007), Michael Beychok (2012), Jim Benes (2013), Paul Matties, Jr (2016), Ray Arsenault (2017), Chris Littlemore (2018), Scott Coles (2019), Justin Mustari (2021) and David Harrison (2022).
While many NHC veterans will be returning, there will also be many fresh faces at the Horseshoe this year. Among those will be 2022 Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge winner Drew Coatney, who will be making his first NHC appearance along with 139 other rookies. There are 78 members of the field who have attended at least 10 NHC’s in the past, with only four notable individuals having attended at least 20 NHCs, including three who will be competing in their 21st NHC.
Six participants will be playing for a $1-million bonus opportunity courtesy of Hawthorne Race Course – Chris Larmey, Darren Yarwood, Jordan Jayne, Matthew Miller, Justin Mustari, and Kyle King. Matthew Myers, winner of the Beat Byk Challenge on At the Races with Steve Byk, also will be playing for a $1 million bonus. NHC Tour winner Jay Johns will be playing for a $5 million bonus if he were to take home the grand prize.
Also playing this year are two members of the newest class of the NTRA National Horseplayers Championship’s Hall of Fame, Dennis Decauwer and Bill Shurman. Jose Arias and Jim Goodman are also being inducted in this year’s class. All four were voted by their peers for induction and will be celebrated at Sunday night’s awards ceremony.
All of the current 618 participants qualified via contests hosted by 34 racetracks, casino race books, handicapping contest websites, Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) platforms, simulcast distribution networks, horse owner associations, media outlets, and other Thoroughbred racing organizations. Outlets that held qualifiers to the #NHC2023 included At the Races with Steve Byk, Bally’s Las Vegas, Breeders’ Cup, Canterbury Park, Colonial Downs, Del Mar, FanDuel TV, Florida Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association, Gulfstream Park, Hawthorne,
Hialeah, Horseplayers.com, Horsetourneys.com, Horseshoe Indianapolis, Keeneland, Kentucky Downs, Laurel Park, Little Red Feather Racing Stable, Lone Star Park, Los Alamitos, Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, NTRA, Race Lens, Sam Houston Race Park, Santa Anita Park, Saratoga Bets, Sport of Kings, Tampa Bay Downs, Treasure Island, The Big One, and Xpressbet.
Interested spectators will have the ability to watch and listen to the action unfolding at the NHC in multiple places. Rachel McLaughlin, Racing Analyst at Horseshoe Indianapolis, will be hosting the NHC broadcast which can be watched on NTRA’s YouTube channel and will be available on all NTRA social media platforms. Additionally, At the Races with Steve Byk will broadcast live on SiriusXM satellite radio (Sirius 219; XM 201) from the Horseshoe Las Vegas and online at www.stevebyk.com daily, from 9-noon ET/6-9 a.m. PT on Friday and Monday, with bonus NHC coverage at www.SteveByk.com/listen-live-SiriusXM slated for 2-8 p.m. ET/11 a.m.-5 p.m. PT) next Friday-Sunday. America’s Best Racing and Hawthorne will also be streaming live from the event.
To sign up for the 2023 NHC Tour and earn your chance to qualify for the 25th NHC next year at Horseshoe Las Vegas, go to www.ntra.com/membership.