04/12/2005 11:00PM

Brooklyn man wins Arlington contest


For the third straight year, a member of the Scanio family of Brooklyn, N.Y., has qualified for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in January at Bally's Las Vegas.

Joe Scanio traveled to Chicago and topped a field of 100 players to win the Arlington Park Handicapping contest at its Trackside Waukegan OTB on April 9, pocketing the $6,000 first prize and earning the contest's only berth in the NHC.

Scanio nailed $10 contest win bets on longshots Procreate ($34.20) in the ninth race at Gulfstream and Deputy Thief ($27.20) in Aqueduct's 10th. He later sealed the victory with a $10 win bet on Andelegend ($10.80) in the ninth at Hawthorne, finishing with a contest bankroll of $341.40.

It was the second time in three years Scanio has qualified for the NHC. In 2003 he earned an NHC berth with a runner-up finish in The Meadowlands' Big M Handicapping Challenge and went on to finish 191st in the championship. Last year, his wife, April, won the Big M Handicapping Challenge before finishing tied for 38th out of 214 players in the NHC.

Scanio has been playing frequently on the national handicapping tournament circuit over the past three years with his wife and his cousin Stephanie Davis. He also qualified for the 2005 Horseplayer World Series at the Orleans with a third-place finish in the Delaware Park Handicapping contest last October.

"I'm glad to qualify early in the year and get it out of the way," Scanio said. "Now I can focus on helping my wife, April, and cousin Stephanie qualify also. We've accumulated a great deal of frequent-flyer miles playing in these tournaments."

The Arlington Park contest cost $150 to enter or $100 for members of the Twin Spires Club, Churchill Downs Inc.'s player-rewards program. Players started with a $120 mythical bankroll and were required to make win or place wagers on six mandatory races from Hawthorne's card and six additional races of their choice from Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Hawthorne or Keeneland.

Tampa winner went all-in

Jerry Amos of Fairfield, Ohio, topped 21 finalists and qualified for his first NHC with a victory in the Tampa Bay Downs handicapping contest, which concluded April 2.

Amos, 69, turned his mythical $1,000 bankroll into $5,643 after hitting two big win bets on Tampa Bay's live card, finishing well clear of runner-up Mark Lowe. Lowe, from Bayonet Point, Fla., also qualified for the NHC with a final bankroll of $4,351.40. Tournament veterans and past NHC qualifiers Sid Weiner and Randy Gallo finished third and fourth and earned cash prizes of $500 and $250.

Amos plunked down his entire bankroll in the seventh race with a win bet on Matzoh Toga, who returned $6.60. Amos bet $330 to win on True to Form in the ninth, who returned $16.20 to put him well in front. He sat on his lead going into the final three races of the contest and held off Lowe, who made a late charge from 11th place by hitting wagers the last five races.

The finalists in the Tampa Bay Handicapping Contest had to qualify in one of two preliminary rounds held at Tampa on Feb. 12 and March 5. After paying a $25 entry fee, contestants had a $1,000 mythical bankroll to make win, place, and show bets on live Tampa Bay races. The top 10 finishers in each of the two preliminary rounds, plus last year's winner, earned berths into the finals.

Tampa Bay Downs will host another tournament on Dec. 11, offering one more NHC qualifying berth.

Bally's Moolah tournament nears

The high-end Bally's Moolah spring tournament on April 22-23 at Bally's Las Vegas is the next chance to qualify for the NHC.

For players willing to risk the $5,000 entry fee, the two-day tournament will offer one NHC qualifying berth. The players-to-qualifying ratio is usually one of the best of the year. Last year the tournament attracted 19 players and offered at $95,000 prize pool.

Contestants must make mythical $2 win and place bets on 15 races each day, including six mandatory races. Prices are capped at 25-1 to win and 12-1 to place. The contest is based on points with each dollar worth 1 point and a 5-point bonus for each first-place finisher selected. Contest tracks will include Aqueduct, Gulfstream, Hollywood, Keeneland, and Pimlico. There will be daily and overall cash prizes paid down to fourth place.

For more information or to register contact Chris Eggers at 702-967-4540.