12/08/2006 1:00AM

Bauder gate-to-wire at Hastings


Darrell Bauder took home top prize of $9,000 in the Hastings Racecourse qualifying tournament for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship.

Bauder, who lives in Bragg Creek, Alberta, jumped off to an early lead when he caught a $67 winner in the first race at Saratoga. Under the rules of the contest, which was held Aug. 13, he was capped at $42 for the win and $22 for place.

"It made it a lot easier getting off to such a great start," he said. "I was a little nervous near the end though. I was keeping any eye on the totals and saw that Susan Milburn was flying down the lane."

His final total of $139.90 was just over $10 more than Milburn, who finished second with $129.80. She's married to local owner-trainer, Peter Milburn. Mike Brady, from Tacoma, Washington, finished third with $116.00.

All three earned their way into the $800,000 National Handicapping Championship. Hastings will kick in an additional $100,000 if one of them wins.

Bauder, 44, is looking forward to the trip to Las Vegas where he'll join his brother Robert, who won the qualifying tournament at Stampede Park in Calgary, Alberta. Bauder also entered the Stampede Park Tournament where he finished "about 20th."

Bauder, who was on a business trip when he entered the Hastings contest, considers himself a "very lucky person."

"I also won a car when I got a hole in one in a corporate golf tournament a few years ago," he said. "This was my third handicapping contest."

A total of 150 people entered the contest. They were required to make $2 win and place bets on 15 races. There were eight designated races, of which five were from Hastings. Other tracks wagered on were Woodbine, Saratoga, Del Mar, Arlington and Emerald Downs.