Doyle Wins National Handicapping Championship

John Doyle edged Ellis Park owner Ron Geary for $500,000 first prize.

A Scottsdale, Ariz., handicapper won the $500,000 first prize Jan. 29 on the final day of the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship held at Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa in Las Vegas.

John Doyle, 49, an IBM account executive who resigned his job about a year ago to become a full-time horseplayer, amassed a winning score of $234.80 from 30 mythical $2 win and place wagers to win the title of DRF/NTRA National Handicapper of the Year.

Doyle, who qualified for the NHC at, took the title on the final race of the contest, with Santa Anita race 10 winner Dapper Gene ($13.20 to win, $5.40 to place). Finishing second was Ron Geary, who had led for much of Day 2.  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. 

All contestants in the 12th annual tournament represented the host tracks/OTBs/casinos/websites where they qualified

“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.