12/08/2006 1:00AM

Harris runs away with Oaklawn tourney


Les Harris of Keller, Texas, won Oaklawn Park's first qualifying tournament for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association's National Handicapping Championship after his selection of $95 winner Kon Krete Kid in a race at Saratoga. He beat out 162 other players to win the two-day competition that was held Aug. 12-13.

Harris was actually one of four players who picked nose-winner Kon Krete Kid, which turned the competition into a heated race. In the end, Harris won with a bankroll of $374.50, which more than tripled the $120 that was played by each contestant. The runner-up was Ken Arthur of Bismark, Ark., with a bankroll of $328.40, and the third-place finisher was James Giddins of Bedford, Texas, who compiled a bankroll of $300.90. All three earned a trip to the NHC in Las Vegas in January.

Harris also earned a first-place check of $12,000 for his victory at Oaklawn, which was not his first score in a tournament. He won one at Retama Park near San Antonio in 2004. One of his favorite angles is determining horses who might be cycling into good races.

"I'm always searching for horses who appear to be in improving form," said Harris.