McNerney Wins NHC Charity Challenge, Brunker Finishes Second

Jimmy McNerney, track announcer at Ellis Park Racing & Gaming and Turfway Park, both located in Kentucky, won the 7th annual $5,000 National Horseplayers Championship (NHC) Charity Challenge presented by Four Roses Bourbon with a final mythical bankroll of $68.60. Mike Brunker, assistant city editor and horse racing columnist at the Las Vegas Review-Journal, finished second with $64.20.

McNerney spent about six hours preparing for the Charity Challenge, including while his wife drove him from Cincinnati to Ellis this morning.

“The horse in the last (Del Mar Race 9, Friar’s Road, $10.20) was the one I loved the most,” he said. “I just thought the pace scenario set up perfect for him and he definitely was the one.”

A field of 58 personalities competed in the Charity Challenge. As the winner, McNerney will have $2,500 donated in his name to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund (PDJF) and he chose the Dragonfly Foundation of Cincinnati, supporters of patients and families impacted by pediatric cancer, to receive $2,500.

McNerney chose the Dragonfly Foundation in honor of a family friend who has used their services

“When he explained what all they did for him, it really hit me and I thought, man, if I ever get a chance I’d like to donate to them. And I went through a couple of heart surgeries when I was a child. There’s a lot of struggle with families in town who don’t have a support group or places to go.”

McNerney “grew up at the barn,” as he tells it. His grandparents were both trainers. His dad was a jockey. His mom and her siblings also were steeped in the sport and two of them were riders, too.

“We were always at Ellis Park and Turfway so it’s kind of cool that I get to actually call the two tracks I grew up at,” McNerney said.

McNerney has worked in racing office roles at Beulah Park and River Downs before he became an announcer.

“I became friends with Luke Kruytbosch and would hang out with him in the booth here at Ellis,” he said..”After he passed I never thought I’d get a chance because he was the one helping me. But I used to do impersonations of announcers just hanging out at the bar at Hoosier Park. One day [longtime announcer] Steve Cross had car trouble and the publicity lady, Tammy Knox, came to me and said, ‘You’re up.’ I told her I’d only called races off TV and she said, ‘Well, you’re all we got.’”

McNerney served as a backup for several years before landing a gig at Fair Grounds for their Summer Quarter Horse Meet. He continues to work as an agent and currently has the book of DeShawn Parker, who this year has received two of the most prestigious career honors for riders, the George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award presented by Santa Anita Park and the Mike Venezia Award from the New York Racing Association.

The top five in the Charity Challenge was rounded out by longtime industry video production specialist G.D. Hieronymus ($59.60), Forbes SportsMoney business writer Matt Rybaltowski ($56), and New York Racing Association/FOX Sports racing analyst and co-founder of In the Money Media Jonathon Kinchen ($45.30).

In addition to the charitable prize, Breeders’ Cup is offering a $500 credit to the winner’s HorsePlayers.com account The second-place finisher will get a $250 credit with third earning a $100 credit.

Players selected one horse for a mythical $2 Win and Place bets on the same eight races used as mandatory events on Day #2 at the NHC.

The post McNerney Wins NHC Charity Challenge, Brunker Finishes Second appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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