07/19/2005 11:00PM

Player qualifies for NHC twice in day


Pulling off an unprecedented handicapping feat, Paul Shurman of Dix Hills, N.Y., qualified for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship in two different tournaments on the same day last Sunday.

Shurman, a 50-year-old attorney, joins the ranks of the nation's elite tournament players, qualifying for his fourth consecutive trip to the championship, which will be held January 27-28, 2006, at Bally's Las Vegas.

Shurman surged late to finish second of 118 players in the two-day Autotote/Bradley Teletheater Handicapping Contest in Windsor Locks, Conn. During the same afternoon, playing on his laptop computer via a wireless Internet connection, Shurman topped 667 players in the Youbet.com NHC VII qualifying contest.

"It was pretty wild," Shurman said. "At 3 o'clock on Sunday I was saying, 'This stinks.' I was doing nothing. All of a sudden I had three hits. It was quite a day."

NTRA rules prohibit players from having more than one entry in the championship, so Shurman relinquished his spot on Team Youbet.

In the Bradley contest, Shurman finished second to Joe Boyle, owner of Boyle's Tavern in Monmouth Beach, N.J. It was the second consecutive year they finished one-two in the tournament, which this year used a live-money format for the first time.

Boyle turned his starting $200 bankroll into $3,082.20 after an "all-in" win wager of $467 on Island Sand ($13.20) in the Delaware Handicap. He earned the $10,700 grand prize and an additional $3,675 as the Day-2 winner, qualifying for his second trip to the national finals.

Shurman cashed key win bets on Umpateedle ($22) in Delaware's eighth race and He's Awesome ($10.60) in Ellis Park's ninth, briefly vaulting him to the lead. After dropping to third place with two races left, he wagered $500 to win on 3-5 favorite Platinee in Ellis Park's 11th, the last race of the contest. Platinee won at $3.20, and Shurman collected $800 to finish with a $2,120 bankroll. He pocketed $5,350 as the runner-up and an additional $1,050 for having the second-best score on day two.

In the Youbet.com contest, Shurman cashed three out of his required five plays, including Pisgah ($31.60) in the seventh. He turned $75 worth of real-money bets into $651.

Calder Handicapping Summit

The first family of handicapping tournaments has done it again.

Ross Gallo of Jupiter, Fla., topped a field of 98 players (142 entries) to win the Calder Race Course Handicapping Summit on July 17. His brother, J. Randy Gallo, finished third, also qualifying for NHC VII. His nephew, Randy Gallo Jr., finished 11th.

At least one member of the Gallo family has qualified for each of the first seven DRF/NTRA championships.

"It's my goal every year for at least one of us to qualify," Ross Gallo said.

Ross Gallo took home the $10,000 first prize and qualified for his fourth trip to the national finals. He also becomes eligible for the $1 million bonus to any player who wins a qualifying event at a Churchill Downs-owned track and goes on to win the championship.

Ross and Randy both nailed five winners in the contest, which required players to make $2 win, place, and show bets on one horse in each of 10 designated Calder races. Both brothers nailed Siberiano ($95) in the eighth race.

Ross beat out Robert Cuny of Coconut Creek, Fla., who finished second and earned $2,500 and qualified for a trip to the championship. Steve Wolfson Jr., the 2003 DRF/NTRA champion, finished fourth.

Eighteen spots up for grabs

A big weekend of tournament play is scheduled for July 30-31, with a total of 18 DRF/NTRA qualifying spots to be awarded from contests at Del Mar (5), Emerald Downs (9), Keeneland (3), and Youbet.com (1).

The Ultimate Qualifying Tournament at Emerald Downs on Sunday, July 31, is foremost on the schedule. It will offer nine qualifying berths and a $300,000 bonus to anyone on Team Emerald Downs who can go on to win the national championship. The tournament will have a maximum field of 400 players. Two-hundred will come by invitation and from Emerald Rewards Program members. There are more than 200 others who want to play, so the remaining entries will be filled by a random drawing. For more information call (253) 288-7713 or go to www.emeralddowns.com.