01/26/2008 12:00AM

Goodall leads into NHC's final hour

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LAS VEGAS - Richard Goodall, 64, of Las Vegas has the lead late in the ninth annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Saturday at the Red Rock Resort.

A field of 277 contestants are competing for more than $1 million dollars in prize money ($1,017,700 to be exact) with the champion taking home $500,000 and the title of Handicapper of the Year.

Contestants make 15 mythical $2 win-and-place bets, eight of which are mandatory with the other seven being player’s choice from the seven contest tracks: Aqueduct, Tampa Bay, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn, Golden Gate, and Santa Anita.

Goodall, who held the lead earlier in the day and dropped back, jumped back on top late in the afternoon when he had Big Love Bill, a 23-1 longshot in Fair Grounds’ eighth race. The next scoring update had him with a score of $252.30 and a commanding lead over Don Beardsworth, 64, of Peoria, Ariz., who had $194.30. Roberta Cote, 62, of San Diego, was third at $194, just 10 cents ahead of former leader Albert Wong of Calgary at $193.90. Harry Seaman of Goodland, Fla., was fifth at $188.70.