10/13/2005 12:00AM

Dawn of War a pivotal hit for trio


Dawn of War, the upset winner of the Lane's End Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, helped propel three horseplayers at Canterbury Park into the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Champion-ship last Saturday.

Bob Hawkinson of St. Louis Park, Minn., topped 81 entries and won the $1,000 first prize in Canterbury's October-Fest Handicapping Contest. He also got to keep his live-money bankroll of $692 based on 10 $10 win-and-place wagers. He earned most of his bankroll - $494 - when Dawn of War returned $74.60 to win and $24.20 to place for his front-running victory. Since this was a live-money tournament, there was no odds cap. Hawkinson, a local handicapping tournament regular and veteran poker player, will be making his first NHC appearance.

George Smith of Chicago also nailed Dawn of War and finished close behind in second with a $685 bankroll, earning $800 in prize money. Smith qualified for the NHC for the second straight year. He finished 110th last January as a member of Team Hawthorne.

Bill Chenvert of Maple Grove, Minn., finished third with $666 and completed the second of two teams Canterbury is sending to the DRF/NTRA finals, which will be held Jan. 27-28 at Bally's Las Vegas.

The October-Fest contest cost $100 to enter. Players used their $200 bankroll to make bets on races of their choosing from any simulcast signal offered at Canterbury.

Californian wins at Delaware

Ty Alexander of Solana Beach, Calif., defeated a field of 377 players from as far away as Fairbanks, Alaska, to win the Oct. 1 handicapping contest at Delaware Park.

The live-money contest required players to make at least 10 wagers at a minimum of $20 each. There was no maximum bet amount. Alexander's $200 win bet on Outlandish One ($26.80) in the 12th race at Turfway rocketed him to the lead, and he finished with a bankroll of $2,741. He earned the $18,500 grand prize and his first trip to the NHC.

Alexander edged Ron Plienis of Edgemere, Md., who made a $50 across-the-board wager on Risakaverse ($73.50, $22.20, $9.70) in the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont. Plienis finished with a $2,605 bankroll and earned $6,200, plus a berth in the NHC.

Anthony Annecharico of Brick, N.J., finished third with $2,216, earning $4,000. John DeMartino of Matawan, N.J., finished fourth with $1,905 and earned $2,000. Annecharico and DeMartino both earned berths into the Horseplayer World Series at the Orleans Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on Jan. 19-21.

Delaware Park will host one more contest with two NHC berths at stake on Dec. 10.

Breeders' Cup contest

For the first time, Canterbury Park will host the Ultimate Handicappers Invitational, to be run for the third time on Breeders' Cup Day, Oct. 29.

The brainchild of prominent tournament player Ross Gallo, the contest's format requires player to bet at least six of the eight Breeders' Cup races. The entry fee is $2,000, of which $1,000 is used for tournament wagers. Players must bet at least half of their bankroll on each race bet. For example, the total of wagers on the first race a player bets must add up to $500. If that player cashes $2,500 on that race and has a bankroll of $3,000, he must bet at least $1,500 on the next race he wagers on. All bet types available for wagering are allowed except multiple-race wagers.

The tournament was held at Dover Downs in Delaware for its first two years and attracted some of the top players from around the country. More than a dozen current and former NHC qualifiers are expected to play this year.

Based on 50 players, first prize will be $30,000. Cory Shorr topped a field of 35 players last year. He compiled a bankroll of $5,699 after making bets totaling $12,853. Paul Messell won the inaugural tournament.

For information about playing in the tournament, contact Ross Gallo at (561) 310-1691 or Lazaross@aol.com.

Sam Houston spots still open

As of Thursday, Sam Houston still had about 25 spots left in its NHC qualifying tournament scheduled for this weekend. The winner will be eligible for a $1 million bonus if he goes on to win the national championship.

The tournament is limited to 200 entries, and the top three finishers earn a berth into the NHC. The entry fee is $200, and first-place prize money is estimated at $6,000.

Entries will be accepted until noon on Saturday. Call Troy Lawrence at (281) 807-8801 to register.