08/16/2005 11:00PM

Contest won with dime superfecta score

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NEW YORK - Jason Morton started playing the races just three years ago, when his friend and business associate Dave Walczak would lend him handicapping books and quiz him on races. The two now own and race horses in a partnership called Slow Pay Stables.

On Sunday, Walczak's teachings paid off, as the friends finished one-two in Canterbury Park's Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Tournament, with Morton defeating his mentor and 94 other entries to win the $4,050 first prize.

Morton and Walczak, both actuaries from Minneapolis, Minn., will be going to Las Vegas together, as they both qualified for the $500,000 Daily Racing Form/National Thorough-bred Racing Association Handicapp-ing Championship on Jan. 27-28, 2006, at Bally's. It is the second trip to the national finals for Walczak, who finished second in the Canterbury Park tournament last year and went on to finish 115th in the national finals last January in Las Vegas.

The two-day Canterbury tournament used an "anything goes" format. Players were allowed to make any type of wager offered at Canterbury on any live or simulcast race using a $400 real-money bankroll. All winnings could be re-bet. After starting day two of the tournament in fourth place with $1,047, Morton hit a dime superfecta in Arlington's seventh race on Sunday. Knowing outside posts were strong that day, Morton keyed 12-1 shot Wild House in the first and second positions. Wild House won by five lengths and led a parade of longshots at odds of 33-1, 25-1 and 59-1. The ten-cent superfecta returned $3,083.17, putting Morton comfortably in the lead. He finished with a total bankroll of $4,001.72.

Walczak finished a distant second with a $3,026.65 bankroll and earned $2,430 in prize money. Past NHC qualifier Richard Witt, who made the trip to Shakopee, Minn., from East Windsor, N.J., narrowly missed a second trip to the finals, finishing third with a $2,900 bankroll and earning $1,620 in prize money.

Canterbury Park will host its October-Fest Handicapping Contest on Oct. 8, offering three additional NHC berths.

AQHA: School principal wins

Steve Unowsky, a primary school principal from Minneapolis, won the American Quarter Horse Association Handicapping Contest, held last Friday at Canterbury Park.

Unowsky compiled a live-money bankroll of $215.80 based on $2 win-and-place bets on 10 pre-selected quarter horse races from Sam Houston and Prairie Meadows in the one-day tournament.

Unowsky, who previously worked as a public handicapper for the Minneapolis Star Tribune and was Canterbury's Quarter Horse paddock analyst in 2000, earned his second trip to the NHC. He qualified at Canterbury Park in 2001 and is a two-time winner of the Dog Days of Summer tournament.

Unowsky vaulted to the lead when he was one of three players in the contest to nail 58-1 Mr Special Colors ($119.60, 32.20) in the eighth race at Prairie Meadows. In the next race, Unowsky hit None as Easy ($25.60, $8) to seal the win.

Woodbine: $56K on line

Canadians will have their chance to qualify for the NHC when Woodbine hosts its Handicapping Challenge on Aug. 27 and 28, offering an estimated $56,250 in prize money. The top three finishers will earn berths into the NHC.

The entry fee is $250, and first prize is estimated at more than $23,000 if the contest fills to capacity with 225 entries. There will be prizes for the top three players after day one and overall prizes paid down to 10th place. As of Wednesday, there were 60 spots still open. There is a limit of one entry per person.

Players will make 10 mythical $2 win bets each day on three mandatory races and seven of their choice from Woodbine, Saratoga and Fort Erie.

For more information and an entry form call (416) 675-3993 x2513 or visit woodbineentertainment.com.