11/09/2005 12:00AM

Nighttime turns out the right time


Bob Bandzwolek, from Baltimore, qualified for his third trip to the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship with a victory over 144 players in the Big M Handicapping Challenge at The Meadowlands on Saturday night.

Bandzwolek, an information technology consultant, compiled a live-money bankroll of $846, based on races from The Meadowlands, Charles Town, Mountaineer, and Penn National. He took home the $14,500 first prize, as well as his parimutuel winnings.

The runner-up, Paul Yavorski of Whippany, N.J., also qualified for the handicapping championship, finishing with a $732 bankroll. He earned $5,800 in prize money.

Though he rarely plays night racing at the contest tracks, Bandzwolek cashed $20 win bets on four of the 10 races he bet. The contest, which cost $400 to enter, required players to bet exactly $20 in the win or place pools on 10 races, five of which had to be at The Meadowlands. Bandzwolek started off strongly, betting Royal Discovery ($14.20) in the first race at Charles Town and John's Marq ($13) in the opener at The Meadowlands to get into contention. His big hit came in the sixth race at Charles Town, where he nailed Mano Santa ($48.60) in a $14,000 maiden claimer.

"I had played the tracks from home, but only from a standpoint of entertainment," Bandzwolek said. "I didn't know the jockeys or trainers, so it didn't make a difference to me when I bet. I turned out to be better off."

It was the first contest win for Bandzwolek. He finished 99th in the inaugural National Handicapping Championship in 2000 after qualifying in a tournament at Delaware Park. He finished 126th in this year's finals after qualifying by finishing third in the Maryland Jockey Club Champions Tournament last November. The seventh National Handicapping Championship will be held January 27-28, 2006, at Bally's Las Vegas.

Milwaukee man takes Arlington prize

Kenneth Paszkiewicz of Milwaukee won the $6,000 top prize and earned a berth into the national handicapping championship by winning the $10,000 Arlington Park-Trackside Chicago Handicapping Contest on Sunday.

Paszkiewicz compiled a mythical bankroll of $276, based on $10 win or place bets on 12 races, six of them mandatory races from Hawthorne.

Kay Schriks of Western Springs, Ill., finished second, earning $2,000. Joe Scanio from Brooklyn, N.Y., who earlier this year earned a championship berth by winning an Arlington contest at its Trackside Waukegan OTB, finished third and earned $1,000.

The contest attracted 82 players to pay the $100 entry fee.

Michigan fan wins at Thistledown

Paul Arnold, from Farmington Hills, Mich., topped a field of 180 in the Thistledown Handicapping Tournament on Saturday, earning a spot in the championship finals.

Arnold, who works in the heating and cooling business, built a mythical bankroll of $106.60, based on $2 win-and-place wagers on 12 races. Contestants had to bet seven live Thistledown races, and they selected five optional races from Aqueduct, Calder, and Laurel.

Dick Advent, from Solon, Ohio, a regular at Thistledown for 56 years, finished second with a $98.80 bankroll. Louis Licata, an attorney from Chagrin Falls, Ohio, finished third with $91.30. Advent and Licata will both join Arnold in Las Vegas next January.