12/13/2006 12:00AM

D'Ambra, Nolan, Altshuler qualify for NHC


Frank D'Ambra, 52, of Cos Cob, Conn., earned one of two spots up for grabs in the national finals by finishing second in the August edition of the Monmouth Park Handicapping Challenge. He qualified in the $50 buy-in contest by cashing his last bet of the day on a race simulcast from Saratoga. D’Ambra was in the 2002 NHC after winning a qualifier at Belmont in 2001, and this is his first trip back since. John Zielinski of Etticott City, Md., won the August challenge at Monmouth but had already qualified for the national finals by finishing second in a contest at Emerald Downs.

Sean Nolan finished third in the August Handicapping Challenge, winning the other NHC berth offered in the August challenge. Sean, 42, was off to a quick start, holding a spot in the top three of the standings for much of the day, but a big win bet on the 10th race at Monmouth cemented his position. This is his 2nd trip to the national finals. In his prior appearance, he finished second to Judy Wagner in the 2001 contest, earning $30,000. His father, Robert Nolan, will also be in this year's national finals.

Seth Altshuler of Matawan, NJ, won Monmouth's meet-long Survival at the Shore contest, which was conducted on-line from May 27 until Sept. 4. Altshuler, 28, took the lead with a few weeks to go and wrapped it up on the last day, catching 6-1 winner Slew's Irish Em to clinch. A serious horseplayer for only five years, this is his first appearance in the national finals, which will be his first- attempt in a live tournament.