10/14/2002 11:00PM

Chicagoan finishes first and fourth

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NEW YORK - Seven Chicago-area players and one handicapper from Miami are among the latest qualifiers to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. The eight handicappers earned their way into the championship with top finishes in recent contests at Arlington Park and 12 participating Twin Spires Club locations in Florida, Illinois, Indiana, and Kentucky.

Arlington Park put four qualifying spots on the line in its $15,000 contest last Saturday. Pat Heneghan of Chicago earned first prize of $10,000 and qualified for the fourth National Handicapping Championship to be held at Bally's-Las Vegas Jan. 17-18.

Heneghan, who bought two entries in the one-day event, finished both first and fourth in the contest, which drew a field of 118 entries from 13 states.

The top four finishers earned prize money as well as qualifying spots in the national finals.

In addition to Heneghan, the remainder of Arlington's four-member national championship team are second-place finisher Dewey Petty of Louisville, Ky., third-place finisher Robert Ramos of Chicago, and fifth-place finisher Guy Mucci of Schiller Park, Ill. Mucci moved into the fourth qualifying position because Heneghan could not qualify twice for both his second- and fourth-place finishes.

Petty will be making his second trip in a row to the national finals after qualifying for last year's championship in a contest at Turfway Park.

Twin Spires Club

Twin Spires Club, the Churchill Downs player rewards program, has decided its first four of eight eventual qualifiers for the national finals.

Ralph Garcia of Chicago earned a perfect score in the Twin Spires Club's first round of four weekly contests. Four more weekly contests will be held in December.

Playing at the Trackside Chicago location, Garcia won in a field of 890 players who were spread among 12 Twin Spires Club sites. Garcia scored the maximum 20 points in the four-race contest that awarded five points for each winning selection, three points for each place, and one point for each show. Garcia earned $1,000 for winning the overall weekly contest and another $150 for being the top scorer at Chicago Trackside.

Garcia is already a two-time national championship finalist, having qualified twice in the past at Arlington Park. Garcia finished 108th in the 2000 national finals and 173rd in 2001.

The second Twin Spires Club qualifier was won by Anthony Bryan of Miami, who competed at Calder Race Course. Bryan earned 18 points out of a possible 20 to prevail in a field of 800 players. Bryan, from Kingston, Jamaica, earned first prize of $750 plus $500 in spending money in Las Vegas in January.

Twin Spires Club's third weekly contest was won by Judy Cox of Marseilles, Ill., who scored 20 points and then won a one-race tie-breaker. Cox, who was playing at Arlington Park, won in a field of 785 entrants to earn $1,000 and a trip to Las Vegas. She won another $750 from Arlington for being the top player at that site.

The fourth Twin Spires qualifier was won by Conrad Botnowski of Elk Grove Village, Ill., who topped a field of 810 players to win first prize of $750.