09/25/2007 11:00PM

Defending champ to return to NHC

EmailA familiar name is headed back to the 2008 Daily Racing Form/NTRA Handicapping Championship after capturing a qualifying event earlier this year at Prairie Meadows. Steve Walker of Lincoln, Neb., who won the first DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in 2000, finished with the largest bankroll in the field of 66 handicappers.

Each contestant paid an entry fee of $200 along with a starting bankroll of $400. After hitting a race early in the contest, Walker made only two other plays, hitting them both, and elected to sit on his lead and let the others slug it out.

With his bankroll at $1,769.60, the strategy paid off and Walker is headed back to Las Vegas to try to earn the title again.

Craig Kaufman, a longtime horseplayer from Los Angles, finished second with a bankroll of $1,676.30. He and the third-place finisher, Charley Witt of Scottsdale, Ariz., also qualified for the finals.

Witt qualified for the tournament in 2003. Witt, who sat in second throughout most of the day, was relegated to third after Kaufman hit a big exacta on the last race of the tournament.