01/27/2016 8:50PM

Fornatale: Crist, Wagner elected to NHC Hall of Fame


The 2016 National Handicapping Championship Hall of Fame class was announced today by the National Thoroughbred Racing Association. Daily Racing Form publisher and columnist Steven Crist and 2001 NHC champ Judy Wagner will be inducted at the awards ceremony Saturday night.

Crist was influential in the formation of the NHC. It was his idea that the winner should not only receive a hefty cash prize but also an Eclipse Award.

“To me, that’s the greatest thing about the NHC,” Crist has said. “Whoever wins it gets a trophy at the Eclipse Awards, and the industry will be saying something it needs to say more often: ‘You, the fan, are as important to this business as the owner, the breeder, the trainer, and the jockey.’ ”

Crist, of Long Island, N.Y., has been the publisher and a columnist for DRF since 1998.  Previously, he covered racing for The New York Times from 1981-90 and was a vice president of the New York Racing Association from 1994-97.

Crist is impressed with how the NHC has involved. “We had no idea it would turn into the rich and compelling tournament it has become,” he said. “It is an honor to be recognized for having had a hand in its creation.”

Wagner is the first horseplayers’ representative on the NTRA board of directors. In 2009, she finished second to her husband, Bryan, on the NHC Tour. She has appeared at the NHC 12 times despite not being eligible the last two years because of her role on the NTRA board.

Wagner is a former horse owner and has been a member of the Louisiana Racing Commission since 2007. She has lobbied on behalf of horseplayers in Washington and remains the only woman to win the NHC.

“I am overwhelmed by this honor, to say the least, and the gratitude I feel is difficult to describe,” Wagner said. “In January of 2001, when I won NHC II, the NTRA allowed a door to be opened for me that has led to many more doors being opened in the sport I love.”

Crist and Wagner join last year’s inaugural NHC Hall of Fame inductees, Mike Mayo and Ron Rippey.

:: NHC 2016: Video updates and news coverage from Las Vegas

:: Play at Home: Play online to earn a spot in the 2017 NHC at NHCQualify.com