Contest Recap: Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever on Jan. 3rd – 25 Seats Guaranteed

Mark Rudy prevails in Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever, one of 15 to earn berth in NHC

Mark Rudy, a public defender from Wichita, Kansas, came out on top in the Biggest Vegas Qualifier Ever (BVQE) online tournament presented by on January 3, earning a first prize of $10,000 and a spot in the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship X, which will be held January 23-24 at Red Rock Casino in Las Vegas.

In addition to various cash prizes, the second through 15th-place finishers in the BVQE also earned an entry into the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), while the 16th through 25th-place finishers qualified for the Horseplayer World Series tournament, which will be held at The Orleans casino in Las Vegas from February 19-21.

With a $250 entry fee and entries limited to two per person, the 550 available slots in the BVQE were sold out. Contestants were given a mythical bankroll of $48 and were required to make mythical $2 Win/Place bets on 12 mandatory races. Mutuel payoffs were capped at $52 for Win and $26 for Place, and the player with the highest accumulated bankroll was deemed the winner. Rudy ended the contest with a bankroll of $147.70, winning by a margin of $2.20.

"I was in third place with one race to go, just a dollar or so behind the leaders," Rudy said. "I really liked the favorite to win the race (which he did) and was trying to figure if the two players on top of me would chalk down to protect their positions or take a flyer on a horse to try and pull away. I played a horse that went off at 5-1 and he placed for me.

Rudy, who has been playing handicapping contests for the last five or six years, will be participating in his second NHC, having also qualified for the event last year. Rudy said that he has a particular goal in mind when participating in Championship qualifiers.

"I try to start out every contest with the idea that I just have to double my money when trying to qualify," he said. "I’m sure someone has crunched the numbers but I am certain that if you score two times your (initial bankroll) at the vast majority of contests you will be Vegas bound.

"Obviously, this contest was different. Longshots ruled the day. However, the early leader ultimately still came back to the field as usual. I had to survive an objection and got lucky on a head bob to climb the board as the day went on.

"I used the BRIS past performances provided by Brisnet for the contest. I think it offers the best overview of what I look for when handicapping at a contest or just playing the ponies. Like most players, my account balance goes hot and cold, and it never hurts to have Brisnet/TwinSpires pick up the tab when you’re stretching your betting capital.

"I love the game even though its often a lonely pursuit," Rudy added, summing up the feelings of many horseplayers, professional and otherwise. "The handicapping contests help provide an extra added edge to fuel the competitive juices we all feel. When I’m up against it professionally, it helps to sit back and dream of scores at the track. I once read, and I believe it, that nobody has every jumped off a bridge with tomorrow’s racing program in their pocket."

Steve Martin, a resident of Brownsburg, Indiana, earned $1,000 and a trip to the NHC for his 7th-place effort. Initially a handicapper at greyhounds tracks and Jai-Alai frontons, Martin said he’s been handicapping horses for the past nine years.

"I’m mostly a Pick wager specialist (Pick 4, 5 and 6) using specialized computer software that I developed for optimizing my plays employing the multi-ticket wager method," Martin noted. "(I believe) I’m the only gambler in the world to have hit both Pick 5’s and Pick 6’s at all three pari-mutuel venues (horse, greyhound, and Jai-Alai).

"The Brisnet Insider Picks & Power Plays in conjunction with the Ultimate PP’s with Comments were instrumental in winning a berth to the NHC at the Red Rock! Thanks Brisnet for offering such great products for FREE when wagering with, the best on-line wagering service!"

An interesting development in the BVQE occurred when Myles Richards of Pembroke Pines, Florida, finished 8th and 15th with his two entries, thus earning two spots in the National Handicapping Championship. As contestants were only allowed to win one entry into the Championship, the other slot was awarded instead to the 16th-place finisher of the BVQE, which happened to be Myles’ brother Mark, also of Pembroke Pines. Myles was dutifully awarded his brother’s entry into the Horseplayer World Series.

"My father first taught me to read the past performances when I was about 10 years old," said Mark Richards, who will be participating in his second NHC. "I began using BRIS products about seven years ago and the Ultimate Past Performances are my first choice in handicapping products. In fact, I fell naked if I am ever at the track without them. If I don’t have them it is like being handicapped as a handicapper."

Other notable tournament qualifiers from the BVQE are 9th-place finisher Randy Gallo of Jupiter, Florida, and John Buckley of Novato, California, who placed 24th. Gallo, a professional horseplayer, was one of two players who hit the largest Pick 6 pool in New York history at Aqueduct on January 17, 2004. Each winning ticket worth $1,120,287. Gallo also hit a Pick 6 worth $648,076.80 at Santa Anita on October 19, 2004.

Buckley, who won a spot in the Horseplayer World Series, was a back-to-back to winner of the prestigious Gold Coast contest in Las Vegas in 2006 and 2007.

15 Qualifiers to the $1 Million NHC

Mark Rudy

Vince Piscitelli

David Eppard

Thomas Long

Michael J. Brown

Joe Rotell

Steven R. Martin

Myles Richards


Lawrence Morgia

Louis Licata

Denis McCormick

Ira Schwartz

John Payne

Mark Richards

10 Qualifiers to the Coast Casino Horse Player World Series

Gregory Acord

Myles Richards


William Jackson


Paul Kirnos

Dick Harris

Robert Pelton

John A. Buckley

Chris Seruga

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Qualifiers over the past year.

Click here for the Contest Homepage and Official Standings from Jan. 3rd