Long-shot bid lifts Illinoisan to NHC crown
Richard “Scott” Coles conquered more than 670 other horseplayers to win the 20th National Handicapping Championship on Sunday at Treasure Island.
Coles, 34, who qualified for the tournament in an online competition, leapfrogged several competitors with 12-1 shot I Love Romance in the penultimate contest race at Golden Gate Fields, then hung on for the final race, a scratch depleted off-the-turf affair at Santa Anita.
Coles said he will use the firstprize money of $800,000 to pay off student loan debt from attending law school.
“It was a different experience,” he said of playing in the live three-day tournament, “but it’s working out OK.
“There are so many amazing handicappers here and I feel like I had a good strategy, because I knew I wasn’t going to be the best handicapper here,” the Illinois resident said. “There are legends here, people who have been doing it forever. I had to come up with a different game plan.”
Jim Meeks of Elko was the runner-up in this year’s contest, which is open to members of the NHC Tour who qualify in live and online tournaments throughout the year.
Coles becomes the third player to take home the top prize in the first year they qualified, joining Judy Wagner (2001) and Stanley Bavlish (2007).
Mike Brunker’s horse racing column appears Friday. He can be reached at [email protected] reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4656. Follow @mike_brunker on Twitter.