09/14/2005 12:00AM

Prairie Meadows winner returning to NHC


Terry Severson, who finished fourth in the 2001 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Championship, earned a return trip to the finals with a victory in the Prairie Meadows Handicapping Tournament last Saturday.

With only 37 players putting up the $400 live-money bankroll to compete for three qualifying spots, the Prairie Meadows tournament was supposed to be one of the easiest in the country to earn a berth into the national championship. In addition to the small field, the final bankroll totals were relatively low compared to other "anything goes" live-money contests.

Severson, from Minneapolis, Minn., made $313 worth of bets and hit four pick threes. He turned his starting bankroll into $1,322, easily topping the field and earning his second trip to the NHC, which will be held Jan. 27-28, 2006, at Bally's Las Vegas.

It was a long way back to Allen Noring of Denver, Colo., in second. Noring needed to add just $599 to his original bankroll to qualify for the NHC. He made $631 worth of bets and finished with $999. Darrell Stanley of Altoona, Iowa, rallied to finish with $825.45, a bit more than double his original bankroll, after making $1,474 worth of bets. It was still good enough to pick up the final NHC qualifying spot.

Severson, who has been a horseplayer for 15 years, said his handicapping strategy is to try to beat vulnerable favorites in claiming races. He said he had tried unsuccessfully to qualify every year since 2001, but added that competition to get into the finals has gotten tougher. Severson finished the NHC in 2001 with $219.60 as part of team Canterbury Park, just $18.10 behind winner Judy Wagner.

"I look through every race at every track," he said. "I found a total of 14 races that I wanted to play. I centered my plays on those races. I play mostly win bets, the pick three, and pick four. I rarely ever play [exactas and trifectas]. I like to stick to winners."

The only requirement in the Prairie Meadows tournament was that each player had to make at least one wager of any amount using their $400 starting bankroll. Players could choose from live races and any imported simulcast signal. They could bet into the win, place, show, double, exacta, trifecta, pick three, and pick four pools. There was no additional entry fee and no prize money awarded aside from the qualifying berths, but players got to keep all their live-money winnings.

Top two at Fairplex going to NHC

Nicholas Seniw jumped out to the lead on the first day and cruised to victory over 134 players last weekend in the first of Fairplex Park's three DRF/NTRA qualifying tournaments.

Seniw finished with a $2,134 bankroll, based on $20 win, place, and show wagers on Fairplex's last eight races each day. He qualified for the NHC along with runner-up Paul Sansone, who finished with $1,793.

Fairplex will host similar contests over the next two weekends, Sept. 17-18 and Sept. 24-25. Two more NHC berths are at stake in each contest. For more information and to register, call Steve Rittenour at (909) 865-4630.

New Connecticut tourney

Autotote's Sports Haven teletheater in New Haven, Conn., is hosting a new one-day, live-money handicapping tournament on Saturday, Sept. 24. The winner will qualify for the NHC.

Contestants can play in person, or they can play over the phone if they have an account with Autotote's On the Wire phone betting service.

The entry fee is $100, plus players must put up their own $200 bankroll. Players must bet at least $20 in the win, place, or show pools on a minimum of 10 races from Belmont, Calder, Monmouth, and Turfway.

First prize is estimated at $5,000, based on 100 entries. Prizes will be paid to 10th place. To register call (203) 946-3140 or go to www.ctotb.com.