01/17/2003 1:00AM

National Championship under way

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LAS VEGAS - The Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship broke from the gate strongly Friday at the Bally's Las Vegas race book.

Defending champ Herman Miller and 212 qualifiers competed for the first-place prize of $100,000 and the Handicapper of the Year title. New Yorkers dominated the early action. George A. Seiman of Woodside, N.Y., and Michael Hyde of Congers, N.Y., were running 1-2 after the first two of Friday's eight mandatory races. Contestants also choose seven races of their own for a total of 15 plays each day. The tournament was scheduled to run through Saturday.

By the running of the third mandatory race, Rick Lang of Chelmsford, Mass., had moved past Seiman to take the lead.