Benes crowned Handicapper of the Year at NHC 14
"My mother passed away a few years ago," Benes said. "Her name was Mary, and when they were coming down the stretch of that last race and I heard a horse named Hail Mary on the lead, I wasn't sure whether it was my mom trying to tell me 'I'm here for you' or 'You should have bet on me!'
"The only other thing I have been able to think of since then is my nine-year-old daughter. She's going to be really happy and really proud of me when I get home."
Total winnings this weekend for Benes, including a $4,000 Day 1 bonus he received for registering the second-best score on Friday, were $754,000.
Jeff Hartz of Runnells, Iowa, finished third at $244.00 to collect $100,000. Richard Grose of Wentzville, Missouri, was the Day 1 leader, and faded somewhat to finish fourth with $242.60. He will take home $75,000. Dan Comoro of Tigard, Oregon, rounded out the top five at $196.00. That score was good for $50,000.
The NHC 14 finals paid out to the top 40 finishers from a total purse of $1.5 million. Including $295,000 paid out to top finishers in the year-long, $295,000 NHC Tour, the aggregate payouts this weekend to contestants totaled $1.795 million, plus travel and hotel awards.
The highest finish among the eight previous NHC winners at this year's event was recorded by NHC VI champion, Jamie Michelson, who checked in 78th. No one has ever won the NHC more than once in the event's 14-year history.
By virtue of his victory, Benes also automatically earns an exemption into next year's NHC finals.
In its 14th year, the DRF/NTRA NHC is the most important tournament of the year for horseplayers. There are no "buy-in" entries at the NHC. It is the culmination of a year-long series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, off-track betting facilities and horse racing and handicapping websites, each of which sends its top qualifiers to the national finals.
More than 4,500 people signed up for the 2012 NHC Tour and participated in these local tournaments, hoping to win a coveted spot in the NHC Finals. Treasure Island will also host the "Wager to Win" tournament on Sunday, offering two berths to the January 2014 NHC.
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