Michigan Handicapper Wins NTRA Contest

(from NTRA release)
Jamie Michelson Jr., a 39-year-old advertising account director from West Bloomfield, Michigan, connected on a key upset and captured the $200,000 winner's check in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at Bally's Las Vegas on Saturday night.

Michelson, who qualified for the sixth annual event by winning the Youbet.com tourney last August, amassed $240.40 in mythical money over the two-day event. He bested 213 other handicappers in grabbing the top prize.

Michelson's total was $31.60 ahead of his closest rival, runner-up Michael Conway ( Glencoe, Ill.), who finished with $208.80. Conway took home an NHC-record $75,000 for finishing second. Conway led Team Twin Spires Club to a win in the NHC team championship. The $15,000 winning team share was split among Conway, Bill McAninich (Chicago, Ill.) and Jason Tudor (Fairdale, Ky.).

"To beat all these people is just mind-blowing," said Michelson, who was a close fifth after the first day. "Some days you pick horses and they all run backwards, but this was one of those days when they won. I didn't think I could get lucky two days in a row."

Players made 30 mythical $2 win-and-place bets at seven tracks. Michelson earned the largest margin of victory ever in the NHC.

His three wins in Saturday's mandatory races included Midnight Arrival ($10.60 win/ $6.40/place) in race 5 at Tampa Bay, Longlivethestar ($7.60/$4.60) in race 8 at Oaklawn, and Papparratzi ($6.00/place) in race 9 at Turf Paradise. His big tally came with one of his optional plays on Saturday when he selected front-running Joe Pag ($35.60/$16.60) in the final race at Gulfstream.

Third place and $30,000 in prize money went to Michael Elsass (Anna, Ohio), who represented Churchill's Louisville Trackside. Fourth-place went to Charlie Messina (Slidell, La.), who earned a $15,000 check. Damian Roncevich, who qualified at Del Mar and was the first NHC finalist from Hawaii, was fifth and earned $10,000.

Sixth place went to day one leader Bill Shurman (Danville, Calif.), who earned $178.60 during Friday's first-day action.