01/27/2017 10:16AM

NHC Hall of Fame adding two very deserving names


Two names will be added to the National Handicapping Championship Hall of Fame on Sunday night in Las Vegas, and they could hardly be more deserving: Paul Shurman and Steve Wolfson Sr.

Shurman is a 15-time NHC qualifier who has finished in the top 10 on three occasions. According to an article in American Turf Monthly, Shurman has netted $220,000 in NHC play – 14th on the all-time money list – and has accrued a score of $1,583.20 throughout his NHC play, second all time behind the current betting favorite for this year’s NHC, David Gutfreund.

“It is an honor for me to be inducted into the NHC Hall of Fame because I have the utmost respect and admiration for the people who preceded me,” Shurman said. “They are all people who loved the game and did what they could, including making personal sacrifices, to help the game flourish. [Previous inductees] Mike Mayo, Ron Rippey, Steve Crist, and Judy Wagner all advocated vigorously for the horseplayer, and we all benefited from their efforts.”

So it is with Shurman, who has been a passionate friend of the horseplayer through direct advice and the work he’s done on the NHC Players’ Committee, on which he has served since its inception.

“I also love the game and am proud that I am being recognized not only for my tournament success but for my contribution to the NHC and handicapping tournaments,” he said. “As a member of the Players’ Committee, I can be a voice for the players. I also am proud to be able to work personally with tournament tracks to help them come up with tournament structures that benefit both the player and the venue.”

Wolfson is known as “the godfather of handicapping contests.” He’s also the father of NHC winner Steve Wolfson Jr., whose big success came in 2003, the same year Steve Sr. had a career-best fourth-place finish. Wolfson Sr. stands 13th on the American Turf Monthly all-time NHC scoring list with $1,180.20.

Wolfson was organizing tournaments for horseplayers in Las Vegas long before the advent of the NHC, most notably with the Thoroughbred Challenge at the Mirage, established in 1991. He arranged to have broadcasting legend Harvey Pack come in as emcee, cementing the cultural importance of the event.

He breeds and owns racehorses and is the son of Louis Wolfson, owner of 1978 Triple Crown winner Affirmed. Not surprisingly, his pedigree knowledge is unparalleled in handicapping-contest circles.

“I am honored and flattered to be inducted into the Hall of Fame, especially considering the prestigious group of previous inductees,” Wolfson said. “Recalling the glory days when Thoroughbred racing was the No. 1 spectator sport in America, as recently as 1992.

“The advent and success of the NHC have [been] great strides to reenergize handicapping, which, hopefully, will further enhance enthusiasm and interest by the general public,” he said.

Shurman and Wolfson represent the third class of NHC Hall of Fame inductees, joining Crist (2016), Mayo (2015), Rippey (2015), and Wagner (2016). Hall of Fame inductees are chosen by the NTRA in consultation with the NHC Players’ Committee.

NHC Hall of Fame members are chosen for two main reasons: consistent success in NHC-sanctioned tournaments or contributions to the success of NHC tournament play. Shurman and Wolfson ring both bells.