01/28/2012 5:46PM

National Handicapping Championship: Tampa Bay Downs longshot puts new player on the lead

NHC contestants are using every tool at their disposal to sniff out winners.

LAS VEGAS – Early in the second and final day of the 13th annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, there was little movement on the leaderboard as low-priced horses were coming in from coast to coast.

And, then, bam! Alan Levitt, who was in second after yesterday's action moved into first place over Day 1 leader Nolan White shortly after 11 a.m. Pacific.

The NHC finals, also presented by Sovereign Stable and the host Treasure Island Hotel & Casino, wraps up this afternoon with the champion claiming the $1 million first-place prize and an Eclipse Award as 2011 Handicapper of the Year.

[NHC 13: Live updates, leader board, and video reports from Las Vegas]

But the big bam came when the standings were updated and Paul Shurman, the man who is also eligible for a $2 million bonus as the winner of the 2011 NHC Tour had moved into ninth place when he hit in the seventh race at Tampa Bay Downs with Let It Rock, who paid $20.40 to win and $5.40 to place.. That was a big price at that time of the day.

Shurman almost made a lot more noise in Tampa Bay's ninth race when Union Bowman finished second at $16.40 to place. A win there would have put Shurman in the lead - assuming no one ahead of him also had that horse.

Instead, Levitt, a 53-year-old retired physician from Baltimore who is playing in his fourth NHC, held onto the top spot through the next update with a score of $177.20, just ahead of White, a 36-year-old attorney from Canton, Texas, at $175.90. Dave Flanzbaum, 45, of Rolling Meadows, Ill., also made a big move to get into third place with $173.80. Levitt earned his NHC berth at Ellis Park/Horsetourneys.com, while White got in on his first try at Xpressbet.com and Flanzbaum made it on NHCqualify.com. Shurman made the field at Surfside Race Place.

Contestants make 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers each day of the two-day event with eight mandatory races each day and seven optional plays from seven contest tracks. Saturday's second mandatory race was supposed to be Fair Grounds Race 2, but it was taken off the turf and was reduced to four runners after scratches, so it was dropped as a mandatory race and players were allowed to have eight optional plays on the day.

A link to the current leaderboard can be found on Daily Racing Form's dedicated NHC page   with Twitter updates posted by Dave Tuley @DRFInsidePost and video reports by Kenny Peck.