Updated on 09/17/2011 11:01AM

Phillips carries on family tradition

Email
Bill Denver/Equi-Photo
Kelly Phillips of Memphis, Tenn. holds up the Turfvivor Trophy after taking top prize of $100,000 in the 3 day handicapping event at Gulfstream Park.

Kelly Phillips of Memphis, Tenn., topped a field of 107 contestants to win Gulfstream Park's second annual $132,000 Turf-Vivor handicapping contest last weekend.

Phillips won the grand prize of $100,000 and also qualified for next year's Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Champion-ship in Las Vegas.

Phillips, 30, is the daughter of Joe and Valerie Hinson, who are regarded as two of the most accomplished players ever to compete on the handicapping tournament circuit. Among them, the family has won dozens of major handicapping titles, and hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money over the past 15 years.

"It's been a lot of fun. I've been second or third in a few tournaments in Las Vegas but this is the first time I've ever won one," said Phillips, who defeated both of her parents in Turf-Vivor.

The three-day Turf-Vivor contest featured an innovative format. Entrants wagered $2 across the board on one horse in five selected Gulfstream Park races on Friday and Saturday. The 16 highest-scoring players then advanced to head-to-head tournament bracket-style competition on Sunday until one final "Turf-Vivor" remained standing.

Phillips, one of only five women entered in the three-day tournament, entered Sunday's final round seeded in 12th position. She then defeated three opponents to advance to the final match-up, where she beat runner-up Louis Filoso of Ocean County, N.J., to secure the victory. Filoso had to settle for the second prize of $10,000, but also qualified for NHC.

"Sunday was lucky for me because I was handicapping horses that showed early or late speed, and that strategy worked out great," said Phillips.

Turf-Vivor's top four players all earned qualifying berths into next year's NHC. Third and fourth places in Turf-Vivor went to Dominic Gillotti of Hollywood, Fla., and Jeff Sotman of Irvine, Calif., who split $5,000 in prize money. As the official tournament director of the NHC, Sotman was unable to accept his qualifying invitation to the national finals. Therefore, Turf-Vivor's fourth NHC qualifying spot went to fifth-place finisher Brant Allen of Hallandale, Fla.