10/12/2003 11:00PM

Handicappers play for extra $5,000

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SAN MATEO, Calif. - Bay Meadows will offer a special bonus for those competing in Saturday's final round of the qualifier for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA Handicapping Championship.

Not only are $5,000 in prize money and a trip to the 2004 national championship in Las Vegas for the top four finishers on the line, but also Bay Meadows will sweeten the pot with an additional $5,000 to any contestant who beats the selections of the "Petaluma Five."

The "Petaluma Five" - John Dado, Jim Archbold, Scott Tucker, Jim Arntz, and Craig Miller - are the group that played a $128 pick six ticket and hit a state record $1.5 million payoff at Del Mar Aug. 1.

Bay Meadows president and general manager, Jack Liebau, came up with the idea to invite the men to spice up the final round.

If no one beats the "Petaluma Five," the five of them will receive the $5,000, which Dado says they will donate to local charities.

The five will appear at a Daily Racing Form handicapping seminar Saturday at 11 a.m. in the Sports Bar to discuss their pick-six heroics and offer an analysis of Saturday's card.

A seminar will also be held Sunday at 11 a.m. at the Sports Bar, with DRF chairman and publisher Steven Crist making an appearance to discuss his new book, "Betting On Myself," and analyze the Breeders' Cup races.

Stewards' rulings

Trainer William E. Morey was fined $400 for a minor medical violation with Sher Crafty, winner of the ninth race at the Bay Meadows Fair on Aug. 16. The horse's finish was not changed.

Stewards' decisions on objections and inquiries are now being announced as either unanimous (3-0) or majority (2-1) decisions. Although the final vote on decisions was always a matter of public record in reports to the California Horse Racing Board, the words "unanimous" and "majority" were not used in track announcements before.

One incident Saturday could have left the stewards in a tight spot when 12-1 shot Crystal n'Silver dwelt at the start of the sixth race yet finished fourth to complete a $539.30 superfecta.

After viewing tapes, the stewards let the result stand because there was no mechanical problem at the gate that caused the poor start.

If there had been a problem, the stewards would have had only two choices: declare the runner a nonstarter because all chance to win was compromised and deny payoffs to those who had her in fourth in the winning superfecta, or declare the runner a starter even though fans betting her to win had no chance. Tough choice.