‘Horseplayers’ debuts Tuesday on Esquire Network

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We’ve all seen the serious horseplayer at the racetrack, pouring over the Daily Racing Form as he leans his arms over the paddock fence studying the horses with a measured gaze. To him, horse racing is not just a pastime or a hobby, it is serious business and there is serious money to be made if he plays the ponies correctly. The Esquire Network’s new show Horseplayers documents the undertakings of these players and the world of professional handicapping.

Horseplayers follows a group of professional handicappers, each trying to make their way to the National Handicappers Championship (NHC) at the end of the year and the title of National Handicapping Champion with its $1 million payday. Through the course of the 10-part series, the players visit some of the country’s best-known race tracks as the players wager on the industry’s biggest races, including the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. For these players, this is not a game, but a career, that takes dedication and skill. It involves high-stakes wagering and is akin to the rollercoaster highs and lows of professional poker playing. The show is produced by Go Go Luckey, the production team that brought us Animal Planet’s Jockeys that aired a few years ago.

The show focuses not only on the handicapping and wagering, but the characters and their relationships. The cast includes Michael Beychok, who won the 2012 NHC; Christian Hellmers, who has finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge two years in a row; Matt Bernier, the youngest player (at 23) to qualify for the NHC; John Conte, who’s qualified for the NHC 7 of its 13 sessions and won once; Kevin Cox, who’s already twice-qualified for this year’s NHC; and Team Rotundo, a group of two sixty-something friends and Rotundo’s son, who spends his day job as an executive for Breeders’ Cup.

Horseplayers premieres Tuesday, Jan. 21, at 10 p.m. on the Esquire Network. In the Louisville-area, the Esquire Network can be found on Time Warner (Channel 136), AT&T U-Verse (Channels 380/381/1380), Direct TV (Channel 235), and Dish Network (115). Michael Beychok asked viewers on his blog to give the show a few episodes, and said “Like a good quality racehorse, we may not break out of the gate on top, but we will be around at the wire when they take the photo.”

Photo: Facebook: Esquire TV

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