Three advance to NHC Final in Vegas from Qualifier
Gary Russell of the Columbus, Ohio area was the winner of the first annual National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Qualifier held at Indiana Grand Racing & Casino Saturday, Aug. 20. Elliott bested a field of nearly 100 entries to advance to the NHC Final set for Treasure Island in Las Vegas in January 2017. Elliott will be joined by the second and third place finisher in the contest as well for a free trip to the $2.5 million final.
“I’ve played in some small on-line contests before, but this is only the second big contest I have ever played in,” said Elliott, who is a financial analyst. “I went to the Wynn in Las Vegas a few weeks ago for a contest. I have to give credit to Mike Elsass. He is my handicapping mentor. He helps me with strategy and handicapping, so this win is for him.”
Elliott selected horses for a $2 Win and $2 Place wager from a mythical bankroll in 12 races, spanning over three tracks, Del Mar, Saratoga and Indiana Grand. Five of those races were mandatory from Indiana Grand, but it was Del Mar that helped boost Elliott into the lead.
“I had two entries so it’s hard to keep track of what did it all for me, but I had a 10-1 shot in Race 5 at Del Mar that put me over the top for good,” explained Elliott. “I had the one (Long Station) in the last race of the contest, too (Indiana Grand’s Race 8). But we were in a good spot heading into the last race, so we could take who we really liked and hope for the best.”
Elliott led the field with a total bankroll of $126.00. The second place finisher was Jim Bohnhoff of Versailles, Ky., who completed the contest with $112.60. Third place came down to the last contest race (Race 8 at Indiana Grand) and Robert Ferguson of Ohio moved into the third qualifying spot, defeating Ryan Scharnoski of Indiana by only 40 cents to advance. Ferguson had a final tally of $107.90 to Scharnoski’s $107.50. It was the first time to qualify for the 2017 NHC Final for the top three at the Indiana Grand qualifier.
“This is the seventh or eighth time I have qualified for the final, but the first this year,” said Bohnhoff. “Our goal tonight was to try to be live the last two races.”
Scharnoski had previously qualified for the final in Vegas, so he will also advance. Kerry Bassore of New Mexico rounded out the top five with a final total of $100.60.