Handicapper Evan Freedman was a “day of” entrant into the first-ever National Horseplayers Championship qualifier at Hialeah Park on Sunday January 12. When the official sign lit up on the final race of the tournament at Gulfstream Park, Freedman's “all in” wager on 5-1 winner Tricky Magician secured his victory over 54 competitors, including two-time national champion Ray Arsenault, in the inaugural NHC event at this historic racing venue.
Freedman earned first-place money of $5,000 and secured a second seat in the National Horseplayers Championship Finals in Las Vegas.
“I also won a tournament in October,” Freedman noted. “I'll use that seat in the 2020 NHC Finals next month and hold my Hialeah Park spot for the 2021 tournament.”
Like most of the competitors, Freedman deemed Hialeah Park's initial foray into the NHC Tour a success. “It was a great event,” Freedman said. “Champions Simulcast Center & Sports Bar is a perfect spot, the tournament went off without a hitch, the food was great, and the mutuels department did a fine job of keeping the leader board current.
The winner, who also earned a spot in the NHC Finals in 2015, explained that he had planned to enter the event all along, but waited until the day of the tournament to purchase his seat.
As for his last-race score at Gulfstream Park, Freedman said the majority of his key wagers were later in the cards at the three tournament tracks: Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs, and Aqueduct.
“I went into the day thinking the winner would have to finish somewhere between $1,750 and $2,000 in a $200 live bankroll tournament,” Freedman added. “I waited all afternoon for Tricky Magician, I calculated how much I'd have to bet, and I made a sizeable wager on him. When he came through on the inside at the top of the stretch, I knew he'd win!”
Freedman ended the tournament with $1,761 from 12 wagers, easily besting runner-up Thomas Owen, who finished with $917.90 and earned second-place money of $2,500. Michael Dickhaut finished third with a $610.00 final bankroll to earn $1,500 in prize money and John Hickey secured fourth place with a $380.00 final bankroll to collect a $1,000 cash prize.
The Hialeah Park NHC qualifier was sponsored by Altitude International Equine, providers of high tech simulated altitude training facilities for equine athletes in all disciplines of competition across the United States.
Hall of Fame sportscaster Lesley Visser, who was in attendance with her husband and Altitude International Chairman and CEO Robert Kanuth, said, “We were thrilled to sponsor the tournament!” She added, “It was great to meet some of the best handicappers in the country and have the privilege of sending Evan Freedman to the National Horseplayers Championship final tournament in Las Vegas.”
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