“I can’t thank Mike and the NTRA enough for their generous contribution and, perhaps more importantly, their acknowledgement that these equine athletes are valuable even when their racing days are over.”
The Charity Challenge is being held in conjunction with this weekend’s 16th Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC). Other participants include DRF writers like Steve Crist and Mike Watchmaker as well as Emmy Award-winning FOX Sports producer and longtime horse racing fan Pete Macheska.
The field also will include Acacia Courtney, a 2014 Miss America finalist; Dave Johnson, longtime network television racecaller and radio host; Bryan Wagner, 2009 NHC Tour Champion; Judy Wagner, 2001 NHC Champion; DRF young guns Matt Bernier and Dan Illman; Ray Paulick, publisher of the Paulick Report website; Mike Penna, Jude Feld and Steve Byk of SiriusXM Radio; and stars of the reality television series “Horseplayers,” Peter Rotondo, Peter Rotondo Sr. Using a “Pick and Pray” format, all selections will be due Saturday morning and any scratches will result in the player being assigned the post-time favorite. Old Friends was selected as a beneficiary at the behest of the late Mike Mayo, former chairman of the NHC Player’s Committee and 10-time NHC qualifier.
“Mike Mayo personified all that is good in horseplayers.
In its 16th year, the NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers and is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino race books, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals. The player with the highest hypothetical bankroll after the final contest race will be declared the winner. Without the horses and the horseplayers, there is nothing,” said Michael Blowen, founder of Old Friends. and Lee Davis.
The full Celebrity Challenge field will be announced Friday. Each year, the NHC winner joins other human and equine champions as an honoree at the Eclipse Awards.
“The NHC Charity Challenge is another exciting new addition to the NHC designed to raise awareness and funds for Thoroughbred aftercare and broaden exposure for the Championship,” NTRA Senior Vice President Keith Chamblin explained.
In addition to a handful of mainstream celebrities, the contest will feature a host of sports media personalities and handicappers, from retired jockeys Jerry Bailey, Richard Migliore and Rosie Napravnik, to national sportscasters like Jeannine Edwards, Kenny Mayne, Chris Fallica and Randy Moss. Updates on scoring will be disseminated via Twitter (@NTRA) and available on www.NTRA.com.
Players will select one horse to win and place in each of eight mandatory races (the same lineup used for the NHC) from tracks across the country. In the event of a tie, there will be no playoff; the donations will be split among the winners.
Each track with races included in the NHC will be represented by one of their on-air analysts or handicappers.
The winner will have $5,000 donated in their name to Old Friends, the Thoroughbred retirement nonprofit with farms in Kentucky and upstate New York, and another $5,000 to a charity of their choosing. The contest will be administered by the handicapping tournament website www.HorseTourneys.com.
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Mayne and Fallica are also part of the field for NHC 16, which will carry a purse well over $2 million and a first-place prize of at least $800,000 (the full purse and prize breakdown will be announced Thursday following registration for the “Last Chance” tournament at Treasure Island).
NTRA NHC Charity Challenge to benefit Old Friends
Political strategist and commentator James Carville, actress and model Bo Derek, and former NBA coach and ESPN/ABC analyst Avery Johnson are among the high-profile Thoroughbred racing fans and supporters set to participate in Saturday’s $10,000 NTRA NHC Charity Challenge, a handicapping contest to benefit Old Friends Thoroughbred retirement farm and a charitable cause of the winner’s choosing.