06/02/2003 12:00AM

New Yorker wins Dakota tourney


H. Mitchell Schuman of New York City topped an elite field of 89 entries to win the Bettor Racing OTB Midwest Classic handicapping tournament in Sioux Falls, S.D., on Saturday.

The $22,250 Midwest Classic is akin to an annual all-star game for tournament players, who travel to the locale for a good opportunity to qualify for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship. This year's field of 89 entries was made up of 50 players from 22 different states. Thirty-one of the players were past major tournament winners, and 18 were past national championship finalists, including former Handicappers of the Year Steven Walker (2000) and Judy Wagner (2001).

Schuman, 44, was playing in only his second tournament. He compiled a contest-winning bankroll of $112.60 based on $2 win and place bets on 12 races from five tracks. Schuman took the first prize of $8,900 and qualified for next January's national championships at Bally's Las Vegas.

The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers - Tim Stupka of Sioux Falls ($108.60), Dom Ippolito of Seal Beach, Calif. ($108.60), and Kent Meyer of Sioux City, Iowa ($107.10) - also qualified for the Bally's event.

* Bill Weber, 72, of Cincinnati won Saturday's $10,000 River Downs/DRF Handicapping Contest. Weber earned $5,300 and qualified for the national handicapping championships, along with the runner-up, Bill O'Niell of Oakwood, Ohio, who earned $1,000.