From afar it appeared the $1 million National Handicapping Championship ended last Saturday in Las Vegas with a tense finish, capped off by champion John Doyle winning on the final contest race and a massive faux pas when (ouch!) runner-up Ron Geary was prematurely told that he had won the $500,000 top prize. (A $150,000 second-prize isn't a bad two day's work, but still...)
Meanwhile, NTRA President Alex Waldrop posted compelling thoughts, and my only response would be that the NTRA, in conjunction with the participating contest race tracks, more heavily promote the contest structure. I was drawn into the contest world by a longtime friend and handicapper that I respect, and at this point the contest is a primary reason I attend the track.
In my view, NHC organizers would best serve the Championship, the industry and horseplayers by aligning with a major television partner to at least air a) a preview show leading up to the event and b) a high-production television program to run either on ESPN, Fox Sports or TVG, the latter of which would serve as the best conduit, though in far fewer households than a mainstream network. Indeed, there are a lot of interviews from the NHC at the Daily Racing Form. If somehow the organizers could meld such interviews along with race video, follow-ups with the contest players on their handicapping logic for said races and so forth, more people will be drawn to the NHC. Plus, the infusion of a TVG could serve the NHC by hosting live preview and contest-day shows from the Red Rock. The event, much like the racing industry itself in my humble opinion, needs to remove itself from the shadows and reinvigorate interest in the Sport of Kings as an exciting entertainment venue.
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