Printer Friendly Qualifier Named National Handicapper of the Year at DRF/NTRA Championship; Jamie Michelson's Win Chronicled On ESPN This Weekend; First Digital Handicapper Wins $200,000.

WOODLAND HILLS, Calif. -- In what may be a sign of the times for horse racing, last month's National Handicapping Championship (NHC) was won for the first time by a digital handicapper who qualified for the tournament through the summer contest staged by online wagering leader

Detroit-area native Jamie Michelson out-picked 214 players competing at Bally's - Las Vegas to be named the National Handicapper of the Year and win $200,000 in prize money, a chance to rub shoulders with industry VIPs at the annual Eclipse Awards in Los Angeles and a prominent place in a feature documentary on the event to be aired by ESPN on February 20, 2005.

Michelson is the first online qualifier to win the handicapping contest, now in its sixth year under the sponsorship of the Daily Racing Form (DRF) and the National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA). The 39-year-old ad executive started using Youbet to play in NHC qualifying tournaments and won his way to Las Vegas with a fourth place finish in Youbet's first qualifying contest.

Michelson's win was based on two days of handicapping results for 30 mythical $2 win-and-place bets on races at seven U.S. tracks. The NHC requires play in eight mandatory and seven optional races each day. He amassed $240.40 over the two days and won by the widest margin in the history of the NHC. This is the first year that Youbet staged qualifying events for the tournament as part of a membership and marketing partnership with NTRA announced last Spring.

The big moment in the competition for the Youbet contender came on the second day of the event when a thoroughbred named Joe Pag thundered to victory in one of his optional plays -- the tenth race at Gulfstream -- and paid $35.60 to win and $16.60 to place. The selection put Michelson ahead for good with just a few hours remaining in the tournament.

Michelson, who partnered with his father James Sr. for the NHC, had at least one other memorable moment. As the ninth race at Turf Paradise unfolded, the Michelsons were suddenly surrounded by ESPN's documentary cameras hoping to capture race reaction. It was "only fitting," according to Jamie, that he had wagered on a horse named Papparatzi that eventually placed and paid $6 on a day ruled by favorites.

Michelson gave his father a lot of credit for the win. "I probably wouldn't have won if not for (my Dad)," he said. "He made me stick by my picks."

The partnership between father and son goes back a long way as the young Michelson got the handicapping bug by visiting the track as a kid with his Dad. These days his favorite online track is Saratoga, a venue he enjoys visiting in person when he travels to New York. He also puts Santa Anita in California and several of the south Florida tracks at the top of his list.

A Youbet subscriber since last summer, Michelson claims he immediately took to the interface of the site and the video tools. "I visit on most Saturdays to look at races while being very selective in my wagering," he said.

"Online racing at Youbet allows me to enjoy the best racing from around the country from the comfort of home. It definitely keeps my interest and enhances my enjoyment of the sport."

Michelson claims to excel at picking long shots, a skill that obviously served him well in the NHC. One recent non-Internet example: he bet Birdstone to beat Triple Crown contender Smarty Jones in last year's Belmont Stakes. A winning ticket on Birdstone paid $74.00.

The ESPN special on the NHC airs at 5:00 pm eastern time this Saturday. is the largest Internet provider of thoroughbred, quarter horse and harness horse racing content in the United States. Members have the ability to watch and, in most states, the ability to wager on a vast majority of all major domestic horse racing content via's exclusive closed-loop network. members enjoy features that include commingled track pools, live audio/video, up-to-the-minute track information, real-time wagering information, phone wagering and value-added handicapping products. is an official online wagering platform of Churchill Downs Incorporated and the Kentucky Derby. operates TotalAccess(TM), an Oregon-based hub for the acceptance and placement of wagers. More information on Youbet can be found at

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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Feb 16, 2005
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