01/28/2005 12:00AM

Horseplayer World Series has record $768K purse

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LAS VEGAS - The Horseplayer World Series, which was to be held Thursday through Saturday at the Orleans Hotel-Casino, drew 768 entries for a purse of $768,000, the largest in handicapping tournament history.

The event, in its first year, will pay out a record first prize of $384,000. The rest of the payouts are also records, as $76,800 will be awarded for second, $61,440 for third, $46,050 for fourth, $30,720 for fifth, $15,360 for sixth through 10th, $3,840 for 11th through 20th, and $1,920 for 21st through 30th.

Sunday's activities at the Orleans also will include a "Beat the Champions" handicapping contest that is open to the public. World Series players are entered free, but anyone can play for an entry fee of $20. Challengers can also enter at the Gold Coast, Barbary Coast, and Suncoast. The contest is on five races - the last race at Aqueduct, the last race at Gulfstream, and the first three races at Santa Anita - with $6,000 for first place, $3,000 for second, and $1,000 for third.