11/23/2004 12:00AM

Handicapping prize raised

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The purse structure at the next Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship will be a new high for the event. The contest will offer prize money of $400,000 when it is held Jan. 21-22, 2005 at Bally's in Las Vegas, with $200,000 going to the winner. The most recent renewal had a total purse of $240,000.

The new purse structure will emphasize individual prizes, which will now go to the top 20 finishers instead of only the top 10. The runner-up will now win $70,000, with $25,000 going to third, $15,000 for fourth, $10,000 for fifth, $5,000 each for sixth through 10th place, and $2,000 each for 11th through 20th places.

Team purse money has been reduced to a winner-take-all prize of $15,000. Head-to-head bonuses have been eliminated in favor of higher daily prizes. Daily prizes will now be $5,000 for first, $3,000 for second, and $2,000 for third.

The field for the championship will number 211 players, all of whom must qualify at a local handicapping contest. The qualifying process will continue through Dec. 12, with 32 berths still available.