Mark Streiff, a 56-year-old financial consultant from Mission Viejo, Calif., won the 2012 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Tour, earning $75,000 for finishing on top with 16,853 points.
The NHC Tour is a year-long bonus series offering additional prize money and qualifying berths to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.
Streiff also won $7,250 for finishing third during the first half of the NHC Tour season and $10,000 for finishing second during the second half. He pocketed another $10,000 for being a multiple qualifying contest winner under a new NHC Tour incentive that paid repeat winners $5,000 for every win after their first (up to a maximum of three bonuses paid) and his total winnings of $102,250 are the highest ever for an NHC Tour champion.
Streiff earned NHC Tour points in 15 different qualifying tournaments during 2012, including live events at Surfside Race Place at Del Mar, Emerald Downs, and Turfway Park. For scoring purposes, only a player's top six scores count in the full-year standings. (A player's top four scores count for half-year scoring purposes.) Christopher Larmey (13,995 points) of Kennewick, Wash., finished in second place on the full-year leader board, good for $15,000. Third was Mark McGuire (13,939) of Newbury Park, Calif., who won $10,000.
Prize money for the 2012 NHC Tour season totaled $295,000, more than twice the 2011 total of $125,000. The top 10 finishers in both the first-half and second-half standings received graduated cash prizes totaling $50,000 ($100,000 total for the two halves). And the top 20 players on the full-year leader board received cash prizes totaling $150,000. In addition, a total of nine $5,000 bonuses were paid to NHC Tour members in 2012 for repeat victories.
"It was a long road," said Streiff, who will be making his sixth NHC appearance later this month. "Counting multiple entries I had in certain tournaments, I played hundreds of contests during the year. The key for me was to stick with what works. Since I'm a numbers guy for a living, you would think that numbers would be my approach, but it isn't. I'm left-handed, which means I'm right-brained and very visually-oriented. So I accentuate the watching of race replays, and I also watch post parades carefully."
Should Streiff go on to win the NHC, he will be in line for a $2.75 million payday ($750,000 million grand prize plus $2 million bonus as NHC Tour winner).
More than 4,500 NHC Tour members participated in 2012 handicapping qualifiers. Treasure Island will host a "Last Chance" qualifier Jan. 24 that will offer the final five berths for the NHC, in which approximately 465 contestants will compete for a first prize of $750,000 and a total estimated prize pool of $1.675 million, including cash and prizes.