01/20/2003 1:00AM

Team Keeneland top handicappers again


LAS VEGAS - Keeneland, where the motto is "Racing as it was meant to be," may want to consider a new slogan: Home of the handicappers.

For the second year in a row, a team from Keeneland won the team competition at the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, which was held last Friday and Saturday in the Bally's Las Vegas race book.

The players were competing for the $100,000 first-place prize and the title of Handicapper of the Year, but they are also put into four-person teams, based on where they qualified.

Keeneland, which hosts two qualifying tournaments a year to send players to the DRF/NTRA event, won with its "A" Team last year. This year's "B" Team compiled a team score of $623.50 (based on the mutuel payouts of each player making 15 mythical $2 win-and-place bets on each of the two days) and took home the top prize of $20,000.

There was one very important thing that this year's team and last year's team had in common - 40-year-old Tim Holland, a resident of Midway, Ky., and broodmare manager for Hunterton Farm in Paris, Ky. Holland finished third in the overall standings to claim an additional $10,000 for himself. His teammates were Howard Owens of Lexington, Ky.; James Southhall, Columbus, Ohio; and Tony "T.J." Taylor, Burlington, Ky.

Autotote Bradley Teletheater finished in second place with a team score of $604.10. That team consisted of overall fourth-place finisher Steve Wolfson Sr. of Ormond Beach, Fla.; Richard Arruda, Fall River, Mass.; Joel Silverstein, Manorhaven, N.Y.; and Horseplayer Magazine publisher Tom Quigley, Beverly Hills, Calif.

Third place went to the team that qualified from an online contest on the Great State Challenge and was led by Angela Daniels of Las Vegas, who also finished second overall. Her teammates were Francine Bogdanoff of New York, N.Y.; Danny Martin of Garden Grove, Calif.; and Frank Price of San Marcos, Calif. Their combined score was $577.40 and their prize money was $4,000.

Daily prizes spread the wealth

While the big money went to the overall leaders, there were plenty of ways for the qualifiers to win some extra cash. The top three finishers each day received daily prizes, and there was a bonus contest each day for those who could do the best on head-to-head proposition matchups on the eight mandatory races.

Day 1 prizes went to Wolfson Sr. ($3,000); Ed Dixon of Willow Springs, N.C. ($2,000); and Daniels ($1,000). Day 2 prizes were won by tournament champ Wolfson Jr. ($3,000); David Gutfreund of Chicago, Ill. ($2,000); and Stanley Goldman of San Diego ($1,000).

On Friday, four players divvied up the $5,000 ($1,250 apiece) prize pool: Margaret Claus of Lexington, Ky.; David Stiles, Houston, Texas; Monte Engler, New York, and Norman Spear, Renton, Wash. On Saturday, six players had perfect scores and won $833 apiece: Wolfson Jr.; Gutfreund; Edward De'Ath of Henderson, Nev.; David Ellis, Danville, Ky.; Joe Jarvie, Renton, Wash; and Ronald Ferguson, Whitehall, Ohio.

Team TV wins media contest

The assembled media played along in their own contest with $10,000 going to the winning team members' charities. Team TV, captained by Daily Racing Form's Brad Free, easily won with a combined score of $670.60.

Caton Bredar and her on-air partner, Todd Schrupp, did interviews and hourly updates on the TVG network and the coverage added a big-time feel to the festivities with cameras rolling both days. But Bredar and Schrupp also found time to do some handicapping. In fact, Bredar's score of $156.20 was tops among the media players and would have placed 22nd in the main event. ESPN's Randy Moss and Kenny Rice rounded out Team TV.

Defending media champion Team Penthouse finished third behind Team National, but ahead of Team Radio.