04/18/2005 12:00AM

Another local wins Reno contest


For the second time in a row, a local resident won a major handicapping tournament in Reno. Richard Maus won the Harrah's Reno Horse Handicapping Tournament, which was held Wednesday through Friday.

Back in February, Reno resident Jim Dempster won the Winter Challenge at the Reno Hilton.

Maus beat a star-studded field of nationally prominent handicappers, including Joe Hinson; Ira Schwartz; Mike Labriola; defending champion Cathi Corvi; Corvi's husband, Joe Corvi; Richard Goodall; Goodall's wife, Sally Wang; and others in the 75-player field.

Contestants paid a $500 entry fee and make 10 mythical $200 across-the-board bets each day. Maus blew away the competition with a three-day score of 36,630 points, a Harrah's Reno record, to win the $20,000 first place prize.

The top prize is calculated at 40 percent of the total purse, so it would normally have been worth $15,000, but Harrah's guarantees a $20,000 first prize, which is the type of overlay that helps attract top players for the week.

Schwartz was second with 26,730 points to earn $7,500, and Bill Wilbur was third with 24,110 points to earn $3,750. Prizes were paid through 10th place.

Labriola earned $2,250 for being the first-day leader, and Schwartz had the high score on Thursday, but Maus - who had 9,090 points on Wednesday and 13,480 on Thursday - was atop the leaderboard with 22,570 points heading into the final day. But instead of going into a shell like most players with a lead, he posted the top score of 14,060 on Friday to coast to his victory and earn an extra $2,250 for total earnings of $22,250.

Moolah tourney aptly named

The Harrah's Reno tournament was originally being planned for this week until it was learned that Southern California would be dark during midweek. That won't be a problem for the Bally's Moolah tournament, which runs Friday and Saturday, when Hollywood Park and the other contest tracks will be open. The others are Keeneland, Aqueduct, Gulfstream, and Pimlico.

The entry fee is a steep $5,000, which keeps the field small - 14 entered in the first Moolah tourney in 2003 and 19 were in last year. The tournament mostly comprises big tournament players who are gunning for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship berth that goes to the winner.

Contestants make 15 mythical $2 win and place bets each day, with six of them being mandatory races selected by tournament organizers. Contest points are based on pari-mutuel payoffs, though they are capped at 25-1 to win and 12-1 to place, with each winning selection being worth 5 bonus points.

Last year, first place was worth $38,000 to winner Joe Hinson, though with daily prizes and other entries, he pocketed a total of $48,687.50, more than half of the total purse.

* For those who don't have $5,000 laying around, it only costs $5 to play the Coast Casinos handicapping contest on Wednesdays. All a contestant has to do is pick the winner of the first fives races at the Southern California track to win the progressive jackpot, which has grown to $51,860.

With no Southern California racing this Wednesday, however, the jackpot will be carried over to next Wednesday.

* The Excalibur is also not holding the Wednesday contest this week - the one it runs concurrently with Edgewater in Laughlin - but it will have the Friday contest it holds with the Circus Circus Reno. The contest is free and includes the full Hollywood card.

* The world's top jumping and dressage horses and riders will be at the Thomas and Mack Center here in Las Vegas this week for the FEI World Cup Finals. After some warm-up sessions Wednesday, the opening of the dressage competition takes place Thursday at 12:45 p.m., with the jumping that same day at 7 p.m. The finals for dressage are set for 7 p.m. Saturday with the jumping finals at noon Sunday. Complete schedule listings are at worldcuplasvegas.com. The plan is for this dual event to be held annually here in Las Vegas, a la the National Finals Rodeo in December.

Upsets in drag racing event

The favorites fell short in the NHRA Summitracing.com Nationals on Sunday at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Larry Dixon, the 6-1 fifth choice in top fuel dragster (with engines at an estimated 7,000 horses), won his division by defeating 5-2 second choice Doug Kalitta in the finals by going 326.40 mph, covering the quarter mile in 4.591 seconds. Kalitta had knocked off 2-1 favorite Tony Schumacher in the semifinals.

In the funny car division, 3-1 second choice Whit Bazemore upset 2-1 favorite John Force in the second round and in the finals went on to beat Tony Bartone, an outsider and a member of the 15-1 "field" bet, by going 315.12 mph to win by .007 of a second.

In pro stock, Dave Connolly, the 4-1 fourth choice, defeated two-time reigning season champ Greg Anderson, the 8-5 favorite, with a final run at 201.46 mph

* In the big leagues of stock car racing, Greg Biffle won the Samsung Radio Shack 500 Nextel Cup race Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway at odds of 10-1. The seventh choice in the betting, Biffle won his second race of the year, starting in the back of the 43-car field after crashing his regular car during a practice run Saturday.

Longshot wins LPGA

But none of the above longshots were as long as Wendy Ward, who won last week's LPGA Takefuji Classic at Las Vegas Country Club last Saturday at odds of 100-1, available across the street at the Las Vegas Hilton.

It was Ward's first victory on the LPGA tour since 2001. She was the first-round co-leader Thursday after shooting a 7-under-par 65, and then held a three-stroke lead after Friday's play. Lorena Ochoa, the 6-1 second choice, made a late run, but Ward held her off by two strokes to win the $165,000 first prize.