12/13/2006 12:00AM

Another wild ride for Orecchio

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Chicago-based horse owner John Orecchio and trainer Michael Dini took a $25,000 claimer named Wild Tale and won a minor stakes with him at Mountaineer Park last August, finished second in the Grade 3 Phoenix BC at Keeneland last October, and finished third in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap last year on Breeders’ Cup Day at Belmont Park.

Now they have another wild tale to tell.

Orecchio, 40, was an investor in the Ultimate Fighting Championship mixed martial arts organization and came to Vegas for the Aug. 26 fight card at Mandalay Bay. He brought along Dini, and they decided to put two entries into the Summer Stakes horse handicapping tournament at Bally’s at $1,000 apiece.

Players made 15 mythical $2 across-the-board wagers each day, with six races being mandatory and nine being a player's choice. Scores were based on each horse’s mutuels, with prices capped at 25-1 to win, 12-1 to place, and 6-1 to show.

Orecchio-Dini won the tournament with a final score of 262.50, and their other entry finished third with 219.20 points, earning them $38,250 for first and another $5,049 for third.

Since the winning entry is in Orecchio’s name, he earned one of the two available berths in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

Cheryl Kaufman, 54 of Hacienda Heights, Calif., was second with a score of 239.40 to earn $12,699, plus another $5,100 for having Saturday’s top score, as 194.60 of her total points came on the final day, earning the tournament’s other automatic bid to the NHC.