The 20th NTRA National Horseplayers Championship started its three-day run Friday afternoon and Saturday a field that includes the core trio of editors and writers from The Saratoga Special will compete in the Tito’s $5,000 NTRA/NHC Charity Challenge.

Joe and Sean Clancy, The Special’s co-founders, co-publishers and co-editors; and Tom Law, The Special’s managing editor, are in the field of approximately 40 notable journalists, analysts and racing personalities. The Charity Challenge winner will have $5,000 donated in their name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.

The first four winners of the Charity Challenge are in the field – Ed DeRosa of Brisnet, Ellis Star of Equibase, Matt Bernier of Daily Racing Form and Bob Neumeier of NBC Sports.

Other members of the field include Jim Mulvihill and Pete Fornatale, former staffers at The Saratoga Special; Horse Racing Radio Network’s Mike Penna and Jude Feld, former NHL star Eddie Olcyk, NBC Sports’ Laffit Pincay III, America’s Best Racing’s Dan Tordjman, Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association’s Tom LaMarra and Old Friends’ Michael Blowen.

The Special’s trio and the other players will make selections from the eight races determined by the contest organizers. The races, with post times (ET) are:

  • Tampa Bay Downs. Race 5. 2:15 p.m.
  • Laurel Park. Race 6. 3 p.m.
  • Santa Anita Park. Race 3. 3:30 p.m.
  • Gulfstream Park. Race 8. 3:38 p.m.
  • Gulfstream Park. Race 9. 4:09 p.m.
  • Tampa Bay Downs. Race 9. 4:22 p.m.
  • Gulfstream Park. Race 11. 5:12 p.m.
  • Santa Anita Park. Race 9. 6:42 p.m.

The format of the Charity Challenge is “Pick & Pray,” meaning all selections are made prior to the first race of the contest and locked in for the duration. Participants accumulate a mythical bankroll based on a $2 Win/Place bet on a single horse in each race, with payout caps of 20-1 to win and 10-1 to place. DeRosa won with a final score of $63.40 from the $2 win and place bets. Sean Clancy finished third last year with a total of $47.40. 

Updates on scoring will be disseminated via Twitter (@NTRA) and available on NTRA.com.