The National Thoroughbred Racing Association announced Monday that Bally's Las Vegas will host the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship for the fourth consecutive year and that the total purse for the NHC will be increased by $100,000 to $500,000. The championship, now in its seventh year overall, is slated for Jan. 27-28, 2006. The DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, covered last year in a special on ESPN, features a series of handicapping tournaments for horseracing fans in local markets. The participants from each local market who qualify for the National Handicapping Championship form the team representing their racetrack or OTB in Las Vegas. More than 40 NTRA members (tracks, OTBs and related Web sites) will send approximately 70 teams of three to the 2006 National Championship. A continuously updated list of host tracks and OTBs for the tournaments appears on the NTRA Web site, ntra.com, and on the Daily Racing Form site, drf.com. The list of participating sites is also published weekly in the Form. Also participating will be the defending champion, James Michelson Jr., a 38-year-old advertising account director from West Bloomfield, Mich. Michelson won the top prize of $200,000 last year and special recognition as "Handicapper of the Year" at the Eclipse Awards ceremony held in Beverly Hills, Calif.. "Bally's is proud to host the National Handicapping Championship yet again," said John Avello, director of operations for race and sports at Bally's Las Vegas. "A berth in this event is highly coveted among virtually all serious players around the country, and we look forward to another memorable competition." "Horseplayers are the lifeblood of our industry, and we're delighted to recognize and reward some of our game's most skilled customers," said Steven Crist, chairman and publisher of Daily Racing Form. "With big money and the 'Handicapper of the Year' title at stake, the National Handicapping Championship always makes for an electric atmosphere at Bally's, and we look forward to returning there next January."
"We are proud to partner with Bally's and Daily Racing Form to present this unique event that generates excitement not just in January, but throughout the year at our member racetracks and organizations," said Ken Kirchner, senior vice president of product development for the NTRA. "We're also pleased to have boosted prize money by $300,000 over the last two years, which shows just how much this event has grown in a very short time."