01/26/2008 1:00AM

New leader emerges midday at NHC


LAS VEGAS - Halfway through the eight mandatory races, Albert Wong of Calgary took the lead at the ninth annual Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship Saturday at the Red Rock Resort.

Wong, who turns 50 next Friday and has a picture of his niece on his desk as a good luck charm, has accumulated a bankroll of $182.90 in the two-day tournament.

A field of 277 contestants are competing for more than $1 million dollars in prize money ($1,017,700 to be exact) with the champion taking home $500,000 and the title of Handicapper of the Year.

Contestants make 15 mythical $2 win-and-place bets, eight of which are mandatory races with the other seven being player’s choice from the seven contest tracks: Aqueduct, Tampa Bay, Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Golden Gate, with Santa Anita and Oaklawn joining the mix after cancelling Friday. For contest purposes, payoffs are capped at $42 to win and $22 to place.

The Day 1 leader, David Neuburger of Forest Hill, N.Y., is still in second place after adding to his $150.50 first-day score and stood at $177.50 after the 1:06 p.m. Pacific time update following the running of Oaklawn’s fifth race, the fourth mandatory race of the day.

Harry Seaman of Goodland, Fla., has made a big move up and is tied for second with Neuburger. As of the 1:06 update, he had accumulated $101.60 on Saturday alone to be the leader for the $5,000 Day 2 prize.

Former leader Richard Goodall of Las Vegas was still hanging around in fourth place at $175.90.