11/16/2016 12:50PM

Knepper wins contest 'Test of the Champion'

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The 2016 Public Handicapper Challenge is complete. The PH Challenge, known as the Belmont Stakes of handicapping contests for its marathon length, sends two players to the National Handicapping Championship. This year’s winner, contest veteran Greg Knepper, also receives $1,500 and one year of unlimited Formulator past performances. Second-place finisher Bill Cook will be joining Knepper at the NHC.

The PH Challenge, hosted on www.publichandicapper.com, is a free, six-month contest that runs from Kentucky Oaks Day through the Breeders’ Cup. Players make up to four picks each week, $2 win bets only, and are required to bet 60 races to be eligible for the prizes.

Knepper, 54, from West Lawn, Pa., finished with $156.90. The typical winner plays around 100 races but Knepper picked his spots. He had 14 winners from 86 plays. He was very quiet in the contest’s first months before a strong finish. He picked 27-1 Laoban in the Jim Dandy at Saratoga, and followed that up with two cap horses, The cap on the PH site is 30-1. He backed All Right at Kentucky Downs in September, and Cover Song at Santa Anita the week before the Breeders' Cup to put himself in great position. He sealed the deal with winning plays on Obviously and Tourist on Breeders' Cup Saturday.

Knepper is a contest veteran who has qualified for the NHC many times and has been playing in PH events since 2006. Cook goes back even further on publichandicapper.com. He’s been playing since around 2001 and has played 2,900 races on the site. In PH history, there have only been 3,249 races total. Only recently was Cook inspired to join the NHC Tour, making him eligible for a seat at racing’s richest contest. This will be his first NHC experience.

Cook, 74, hails from Parma, Oh., and finished the Challenge with $153.90. His approach to victory was “slow and steady wins the race.” He went 32 for 112, meaning he had more than twice the number of winners as Knepper. His biggest price was 16-1 for Creator's victory in the Belmont Stakes back in June. He needed a big Breeders’ Cup and he got one, with four winners: Drefong, Obviously, Classic Empire, and Tourist.

Cook is a great example of how well the relationship can work between Public Handicapper and DRF Tournaments can work. “We’re the farm team for the DRF Tournaments site,” said PH founder Scott Carson. “We’ve turned a lot of players into contest junkies.”

Consider that thousands of PH members have signed up for DRFT accounts and that PH is responsible for converting more than 100 players into NHC Tour members this year alone.

The next PH contest is the Winter of Our Discontent Holiday Handicap, which begins on Dec. 2. For a full leaderboard of the Public Handicapper Challenge, go to www.publichandicapper.com.

PH Challenge by the numbers:

* 3,459 people played at least one race

* 1,111 of those were members of the NHC Tour

* 2,092 people played the minimum of 60 races

* 859 players showed a profit