06/13/2006 12:00AM

NHC qualifier update

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James Templin of West Chester, Pa. was the last one standing for Turf-Vivor V at Gulfstream Park, and took home the grand prize of $100,000.

"How do I feel? Very relieved," said Templin. "This is the third year I've been doing these things (handicapping contests), but it's my first year here at Gulfstream. I made up my mind I was going to come down here over the holidays.

"Once I knew I was coming, I began charting all the races here since the day the meeting opened, paying particular attention to track bias and the way it affected each class of horses," Templin said. "Believe me, doing that made a world of difference."

Handicapping contest veteran Joe Esposito, 61, earned $10,000 with his second-place finish. Esposito, from Baltimore, Md., had won the final handicapping championship tournament hosted by Penn National Racecourse in 2000.

Lisa Kaufman, 23, a recent college graduate from Los Angeles, and the Turf-Vivor runner-up in 2005, finished third.

The top three finishers are all automatically qualified for the DRF/NTRA Handicapping Championship Tournament at Bally?s Las Vegas next January 26-27.

- New Jersey natives completed the exacta in the finals of the Simulcast Series Challenge on April 29 at Monmouth Park. Robert Nolan, of Brielle, and Mike Murphy, of Little Silver both earned automatic spots in the 2007 DRF/NTRA Handicapping Championship Tournament next January. Nolan turned his $200 betting card into $1,518 to win the top prize of $2,500.

The Simulcast Series Challenge Invitational consisted of a group of 35 handicappers, who had to finish in the top five in one of the SSC events held earlier in the year in order to qualify for the final. Nolan won the online leg of the Challenge on April 1, while Murphy finished second in the April 8 challenge at Monmouth Park.

With his victory over 359 other handicappers in Monmouth Park's $50 handicapping contest on May 27, James Abbott took home the top prize of $3,560, and earned a berth in the 2007 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Abbott, 63, finished the day with $823.30 in contest winnings. Jared Hutt placed second with $799.00 while Ken Jordan grabbed the show with $329.50.

Abbott, a New Jersey native, has been a lifelong racing fan. He drove a car carrier for the Ford Motor Company plant for 27 years. Abbott is not only a Monmouth Park regular, but he enjoys traveling to racetracks across America. Abbott has visited 40 different racetracks, and has now competed in six handicapping contests.

- With a final bankroll of $382, Charles Stephens of Champaign, Ill. took down the top prize of $11,000 in the Trackside OTB DRF/NTRA Handicapping Contest Qualifier on April 8. Stephens outlasted 199 other contestants including runner-up Mark Stanford of Wayne, New Jersey. Stanford amassed $327 in contest winnings, and earned $5,000. Gerry Stoiber of Mokena, Ill., won a tight photo finish for third place. His final total of $301.50 was only a half-dollar better than fourth-place finisher Alex Silvensky of Townsend, Wisconsin. Stoiber earned $3,000 while Silvensky took home $1,000.

The top three finishers gained automatic entry into the 2007 DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Arlington Park will host a second DRF/NTRA qualifier on Sunday, September 10. Registration for that tournament will begin on August 16.

- Heather Warfield, an auto parts store manager from Fallston, Md., won the Maryland Jockey Club Champions Tournament at Laurel Park on March 4. Warfield, 23, not only is a successful tournament competitor, but she also owns a retired racehorse and a Thoroughbred yearling filly. Russell Priola, a 44-year-old painter and avid horseplayer from Buffalo, NY, finished second while Joan Mudge from Baltimore finished in third place. These three will move on to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas next January.