01/30/2010 1:00AM

Day 1 leader sets NHC record

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LAS VEGAS - Brian Troop set the record for most single-day points in Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship history at the Red Rock Resort Friday, but he wasn't happy.

"I haven't won anything yet," the 61-year-old accountant from Barrie, Ontario, said. "It's ironic that I did this in the first year where they didn't have a Day 1 prize.

"But I do like my position."

The winner of the two-day National Handicapping Championship that concludes Saturday earns $500,000, from a purse of $947,850, and the title of Handicapper of the Year. Players make 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers each day, with eight mandatory races and seven being player's choice. Prices are capped at $42 to win and $22 to place.

Troop, who qualified for the NHC at Turfway Park in northern Kentucky, racked up a score of $232.60 and has nearly an $80 lead over his nearest competitor, Gary Johnson of Cleveland, Ohio, who ended the day at $153.40. Only three others in the field of 300 are within $100 of Troop: Keith Davis ($136.40) of New Orleans, Russell Weber ($136.20) of Amityville, N.Y., and Ricky Hurd ($133.10) of Lexington, Ky.

Troop shattered the record held by Bill Shurman of Danville, Calif., who scored $178.60 on Day 1 of NHC VI in 2005. For comparison's sake, John Conte of Oceanside, N.Y., scored $228 over the two days in winning last year.

Of his 15 plays, Troop had six winners and one second-place finish. He hit on four of his eight mandatory plays: Laurel race 9, Glenwood Ace, $21.60 win, $9.40 to place; Golden Gate race 5, Brave Prospect, $25,40 to win, $11.80 to place; Santa Anita race 6, Folk Dancer, $24.80 to win, $11.60 to place; and Santa Anita race 7, Andina, $8 to win, $4.20 to place.

"I don't like having to play mandatory races," Troop said. "I don't have to play mandatory races when I go to the track to bet, but I did okay with them today."

He did find his biggest winner in an elective race when he had Carlyn Darlyn in Aqueduct's ninth race, which paid $39.60 to win and $10.60 to place. His other elective winner was Wasten Time in Fair Grounds' ninth race, which paid $26.40 to win and $10.40 to place.

What might be the most impressive thing about Troop's day is that he didn't have a single capped payoff. He came close as one of his elective plays, Malusita in Santa Anita's fourth, was running fastest of all down the stretch to finish second and paid $17.20 to place at 20-1.

"I just played the horses I had marked in my Form," said Troop who said he got up at 3 a.m. and will probably do the same thing Saturday. He also said he won't take the conservative approach, mostly out of respect for the strong field.

"I'll be firing again tomorrow," he said. "There's all kinds of guys here who can do the same thing I did. I can name 20 who can score 200 in a day.

"I'll be cheering for the 9-5 horses, but I won't be playing them, that's for sure. They can't catch me with 9-5's, but they can catch me with 20-1's."

As Troop said, this was the first year the NHC didn't have Day 1 prizes. This year the contest will instead give those out of the running something to play for on Day 2. The top score Saturday will win $5,000 with $2,500 for second and $1,000 for third.

Troop just hopes none of those scores are enough to catch him.