05/28/2003 11:00PM

Handicapping finals back at Bally's

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LAS VEGAS - The fifth annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will be held for the second straight year at Bally's Las Vegas, it was announced Thursday. Dates for the event are Jan. 23-24, 2004.

The first three Championships were held at the MGM Grand.

The Championship is the culmination of a year-long series of qualifying events at NTRA member tracks, offtrack sites, casinos, and websites.

Last year's champion, Steve Wolfson Jr., a 35-year-old school teacher from Holly Hill, Fla., automatically qualifies. The NTRA expects at least 204 contestants to challenge Wolfson next year. In addition to a $100,000 first-place prize, the winner will be honored at the Eclipse Awards as the Handicapper of the Year.

This is the earliest the dates and location of the Championships have been set. In past years, the location and dates weren't determined until the fall.