05/11/2005 12:00AM

Professor relies on last-race longshot

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NEW YORK - Paul Weizer of Leominster, Mass., is a government and law professor, but he gave a strong lesson in Handicapping 101 to Chicago horseplayers by topping a field of 215 entries to win the Hawthorne Race Course Buy-In Handicapping Tournament on April 30 and May 1.

Weizer, 39, earned $5,000 first prize and qualified for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at Bally's Las Vegas in January for the second time in three years. Weizer, who holds a Ph. D. in political science, will try to better his performance in the 2004 NHC, when he finished 215th among 261 players as a member of Team Suffolk Downs.

Weizer's final bankroll of $113.80, based on mythical $2 win and place wagers on 18 Hawthorne races in the two-day tournament, beat that of runner-up Tom Zipp of Park Ridge, Ill., by $3.20. Zipp earned $2,500 and also qualified for the seventh annual NHC. Chicago resident Tim Herboth finished another dollar behind in third with $109.60, earning the final NHC berth and earning $1,000 in prize money.

Weizer led after day one with a total of $73, boosted by longshot Top Kick ($20.40 win, $4.40 place) in the fourth race. He lost the lead late in day two and entered the last contest race in sixth place, surging to victory when he nailed Real Deal ($15.80, $8.20) in Hawthorne's eighth race.

"I had a big day on Saturday, but I didn't do a whole lot on Sunday," Weizer said. "I was lucky that the leaders played it safe in the last race by using the favorite. I took a shot, and I was fortunate that I had just enough to get the win."

The Hawthorne tournament, with its $100 entry fee, attracted the maximum 200 entries with players from 18 states. Players were allowed to purchase up to three entries. The field also included 16 free entries from winners of weekly on-site handicapping contests. Cash prizes were paid down to 14th place.

Publichandicapper.com

The six-month-long Public Handicapper.com online contest began last weekend with the Kentucky Oaks, but there's still time to sign up for the free tournament, which offers three DRF/NTRA qualifying berths.

Each weekend through the Breeders' Cup on Oct. 29, the contest administrators designate four races from around the country. Players must place mythical $2 win bets on at least 60 of the 100 or so total races, including all eight Breeders' Cup races. Two dollars is deducted from each player's mythical bankroll if he picks a loser. Standings are based on total profit over the course of the contest.

Win odds are capped at 30-1, so the 42 contest players who picked Giacomo in the Kentucky Derby were credited with $62.

In addition to an NHC qualifying berth, the winner will receive a trip for two to the 2006 Breeders' Cup. Merchandise and DRF prizes will be given to the top 20 players.

To register, go online to www.publichandicapper.com.