01/08/2015 10:07AM

2014 Eclipse Awards: Handicapper of the Year Jose Arias

Shigeki Kikkawa

As a part of the Eclipse Awards festivities and to salute horseplayers throughout North America, Jose Arias, of Bell Gardens, Calif., will be recognized as the winner of the $750,000 first-place prize, an Eclipse Award, and the title of 2014 DRF/NTRA Handicapper of the Year for capturing the 15th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship last January at Treasure Island Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The DRF/NTRA NHC is the pinnacle of all tournaments for horseplayers and the culmination of a yearlong series of NTRA-sanctioned local tournaments conducted by racetracks, casino racebooks, offtrack betting facilities, and horse-racing and handicapping websites.

The NHC has enjoyed tremendous popularity over the past decade. The first NHC in 2000 had a total purse of $212,000. The total purse of next week’s NHC 16 will be a record $2.55 million, with $800,000 to the winner.

Arias is a 37-year-old environmental-safety engineer and graduate of the University of Southern California who started accompanying his father to the races at the age of 15. He regularly attends races in Southern California.

“It was one of the greatest experiences I’ve gone through in my life,” Arias said of winning the NHC. “It’s such a process, trying to qualify and getting to the NHC. And then I’m there, and I’m at the final table, and I’m right on the cusp of becoming the champion. It was an experience I’ll never forget.”

The 16th DRF/NTRA NHC, presented by Racetrack Television Network, Sovereign Stable, and Treasure Island, will be held Friday to Sunday, Jan. 23-25, at Treasure Island.