12/13/2006 1:00AM

Sanders, Hartley, Crone qualify at Churchill


Kenny Sanders of Louisville won the $10,000 top prize in the Churchill Downs Trackside handicapping contest on March 18, qualifying for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA national finals. Each participant started with an imaginary $40 bankroll and placed 10 wagers, each for $2 to win and $2 to place, and five of those races were mandatory plays.

On July 12, Earl Hartley, a 72-year-old Louisville retiree, earned $5,000 by winning the finals of the meet-long contest at Churchill Downs but later signed a contract saying he would forgo the chance to play in the national finals in Las Vegas because of health issues. The Churchill meet-long finals were played under the same rules as the regular weekly contest, making $2 win and $2 place bets in races 3 through 8 on the Churchill program. Hartley was the winner over Kevin Wright of Charlestown, Ind., who earned $2,500 and also qualified for the national finals.

On Aug. 19, in another Churchill Trackside contest, Phil Crone, 21, ran up his $40 starting bankroll to $146.40 to finish well ahead of his closest pursuers. Each contestant placed 10 wagers, each for $2 to win and $2 to place, from a list of 25 possible races from selected tracks. Crone, of New Albany, Ind., not only earned the first prize of $10,000 but, as the winner of a Twin Spires contest, also become one of just seven handicappers eligible to win a $1 million bonus if he wins the national finals. Also earning spots in the national finals were Michael McIntyre of Bagdad, Ky., and Jim Meredith of Massillon, Ohio., who tied for second.