New Orleans Woman Wins Handicapping Contest

From Daily Racing Form, NTRA

Judy Wagner of New Orleans captured the title of "DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year" as the nation's top horseplayer Saturday with a victory in the $212,000 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.

Wagner, who qualified for the lucrative tournament last May with a third-place finish in a qualifying tourney at the MGM Grand, was in eighth place following Friday's opening round and rallied late to top 200 fellow handicappers and win a $100,000 grand
prize. The title of Handicapper of the Year will be presented to Wagner on Jan. 30 at thoroughbred racing's annual Eclipse Awards ceremony in New Orleans.

The 50-year-old grandmother and former director of sports travel agency finished with mythical earnings of $237.70 on 30 total wagers placed over the two-day tournament. Her selection of the longshot Hoovergetthekeys ($33.00) in the Golden Gate Derby
from California with just two races remaining in the contest vaulted her from eighth to first place and past Sean Nolan($230.40) of Alexandria, Virginia.

Nolan, 35, a meterologist and emergency management planner for the New York City Office of Emergency Management, won $30,000 for finishing second. Rounding out the top five were first-day leader Gwyn Houston ($225.40) of Forest Hill, Md., Terry Severson ($219.60) of Minneapolis, Minn., and Mary Walker ($211.40) of Stockton, Cal. Houston collected $10,000 for third place with Severson winning $5,000 and Walker $3,000.

"I'm besides myself," said Wagner, who started playing the horses in 1994 after meeting her current husband Bryan on a blind date. "I follow jockey trends and trainers who are doing well but didn't use any special formula during the tournament."

Defending champion Steve Walker of Lincoln, Neb., who was shut out during Friday's opening round, rallied strongly on Saturday to place 24th in the standings with $156.00. Walker won $3,000 for posting the highest figure for the final round.

The Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship is the culmination of a season-long series of NTRA-sanctioned tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting parlors and horse racing and handicapping websites. The finalists advanced from one of nearly 90 qualifying events held from February through December at 51 sites in the United States and Canada.