01/25/2014 10:14PM

National Handicapping Championship: No change at the top after two days

Jose Arias of Los Angeles posted the top bankroll on each of the first two days of the National Handicapping Championship.

And then there were 50. Day 2 of the National Handicapping Championship at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas is in the books. Just as he did on Day 1, Jose Arias, a 36-year-old environmental safety engineer from Bell Gardens in Los Angeles, put up an impressive performance, amassing $127.20 for a two-day total of $326.

His biggest win on the day came in Santa Anita’s ninth race, the California Cup Turf Classic, as Brian Koriner’s horse Weewinnin came through and paid $44.80 and $22, though for NHC purposes payoffs are capped at 20-1 ($42) to win and 10-1 ($22) to place.

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 “I was impressed when he won his last stakes race,” Arias said of the 4-year-old Weewinnin, who last won in the King Glorious Stakes at Hollywood Park more than a year ago. “I thought that was a good race for that level and I didn’t see anything else in the race that was that imposing.”

While the bulk of his bankroll has come from betting the California tracks he knows best, Arias is confident he will be well-prepared for the morning’s Final 50 contest with races limited to five tracks east of the Rockies.

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 “Ideally, yes, I’d like West Coast races, but I’ve played East Coast tracks, too, and I’m aware of what they have,” Arias said. “I’ve been playing horses for more than 20 years so I just have to study the races and find the best plays.”

On Sunday morning at the Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas, the 50 remaining entrants will compete to advance to the Final table of 10 and the chance to win $750,000 and an Eclipse Award.

After a 10- race sequence, the field will be winnowed again to a Final table of 10 who will battle it out for the honor of being crowned NHC Champion.

Other notable entrants in the Final 50 include former NHC champs Judy Wagner (2001) and James Michelson, Jr. (2005). Michelson is one of two contestants to have earned two finishes in the top 50 along with Richard Muller. However, by rule, players can hold only one spot in the contest for the third day, so they will receive cash bonuses for their achievement. And as a result, the two men tied for 51st place, Rich Nilsen and Jamaal Barnett will get a chance to compete.

Nick Alpino, currently in second place with $279.20, put up the best score on Day 2 ($206) to earn the $6,000 day money and an all-expenses paid trip to the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge.

Two of the profiled Daily Racing Form players-to-watch also earned berths in the Final 50, Trey Stiles (eighth place with $225) and Paul Shurman (29th place with $183). The 450 remaining NHC entrants will have their bankrolls reset and compete in a consolation tournament on Sunday.

Sunday races selected

The list of Sunday’s mandatory races and optional contest tracks for the Final 50 Tournament (and the concurrent Consolation Tournament) and the Final Table have been announced.

Final 50 participants will play 10 races – three mandatory and seven optional. The mandatory races are Tampa Bay Downs, race 4 (10:57 a.m. Pacific); Gulfstream Park, race 5 (11:36 a.m.); and Oaklawn Park, race 2 (11:57 a.m.). Optional races can be selected from Aqueduct, races 1-7; Fair Grounds, races 1-4; Gulfstream, races 1-6; Oaklawn, races 1-3; and Tampa Bay, races 1-7. The last scheduled post time for the Final 50 is race 4 at Fair Grounds, set for 12:26 p.m. Pacific.

The top 10 scorers from the Final 50 will move on to the Final Table, where all players will make $2 win and place bets on five mandatory races: Gulfstream, race 10 (2:03 p.m.); Gulfstream, race 11 (2:33 p.m.), Fair Grounds, race 9 (2:55 p.m.); Santa Anita, race 8 (4 p.m.); and Santa Anita, race 9 (4:30 p.m.). The final NHC race, the ninth at Santa Anita, is a $12,500 claiming event ($16,000 purse) for older non-winners of two races at six furlongs with a field of 11.

National Handicapping Championship Final 50
1) Jose Arias, S326.00
2) Nick Alpino, $279.20
3) Christopher Skotz, $267.80
4) Michael Piccola, $248.40
5) Tony Brice, $239.00
6) Lynn McGuire, $234.20
7) Mike McIntyre, $232.80
8) Trey Stiles, $225.00
9) Dennis Dougherty, $209.00
10) Glenn Yee, $207.40
11) Craig Hom, $207.00
12) George Chute, $204.20
13) Joel Wincowski, $02.80
14) Francis Boustany, $202.60
15) Dan Shugar, $202.20
16) Daniel Kovalesky, $200.60
17) Don Allen, $199.80
18) Sam Alipio, $197.80
19) Robert Bertolucci, $197.60
20) Chris Littlemore, $196.60
21) Paul Parker, $196.20
22) Jose Raphael, $193.80
23) RIchard Mueller, $193.00
24) James Michelson Jr., $189.60
25) Robert Lowe, $188.50
26) Joe Whitacre, $186.00
27) John Wilhelmm, $85.00
28) Timothy Row, $183.20
29) Paul Shurman, $183.00
29) Jose Suarez, $183.00
31) David Snyder, $182.80
31) Allan Sadler, $182.80
33) Amy Brantley, $181.80
34) William Zvara, $181.60
35) Benjamin Beychok, $179.80
35) Jim Sims, $179.80
37) Jim O'Nail, $179.00
38) Robert Schwartz, $178.60
39) Burt Shapiro, $178.40
40) James Michelson Jr., $178.20
40) Ryan Flanders, $178.20
42) Paul Hoffman, $177.20
43) Jeffrey Wright, $175.90
44) Wendy Long, $75.60
44) Jason Hill, $175.60
46) James Amedure, $175.40
47) Judy Wagner, $174.40
48) Terry Wraight, $174.20
49) Gary Johnson, $173.90
50) RIchard Mueller, $173.60
51) Rich Nilsen, $173.20*
51) Jamaal Barnett, $173.20*
* Nilsen and Barnett qualify for the Final 50 because two players (James Michelson Jr. and RIchard Mueller) finished in the top 50 with two entries each but will only be permitted to play one entry in the Final 50.