12/01/2006 12:00AM

Trust in numbers keys Meadowlands winner

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Crediting the Tomlinson ratings that appear in Daily Racing Form past performances, Anthony Amabile of Jersey City, N.J., won the Meadowlands Racetrack's Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association Qualifier handicapping contest on Oct. 28 to earn a berth in the National Handicapping Championship on Jan. 26 and 27 at Bally's Las Vegas. Amabile also won a top prize of $10,880.

Contest runner-up Jack Kurz of Whippany, N.J., also earned a spot in the NHC.

Amabile finished with a bankroll of $1,810 in a tournament that required contestants to make 10 wagers on their choice of races from the Meadowlands, Santa Anita, Mountaineer, and Retama. Wagers were either win, place, or a win-place combination on one horse per race, with a minimum bet of $20 and a maximum bet of $100.

Amabile's big move was a $50 win-and-place wager on River's Prayer against the 1-5 Cambiocorsa in the California Cup Distaff. River's Prayer won at 18-1, netting Amabile $1,340 for the bet.

"I liked River's Prayer, but she hadn't run on the turf," Amabile said. "The favorite opened up at 1-5, but the Tomlinson ratings in the Daily Racing Form gave Cambiocorsa a 397 and a higher rating to River's Prayer, a 399, which is a very high rating. I thought the horse would take to the turf and the Tomlinson ratings convinced me to take a shot."

Amabile, who founded Meadowlands Associates Inc., an advertising and public relations firm that services political campaigns and government agencies, is a longtime racing fan and veteran of many other handicapping contests at the Meadowlands. The Qualifier was his first contest victory.

AQHA online contests

Darrell Randle of Vinton, La., won the American Quarter Horse Association's MBNA America Challenge Championships Online Pick Six Contest on Nov. 11 to earn a spot in the NHC.

Contestants attempted to pick all six winners of the MBNA America Challenge Championship races, which were held at Lone Star Park. Randle, a Quarter Horse owner and a patron of Delta Downs, picked four of the six winners, as did at least the next nine contest finishers. Final standings were determined by a tiebreaker, in which contestants guessed the final time of the MBNA America Challenge Championship. Randle's guess of 21.52 seconds came closest to race winner This Snow Is Cold's final time of 21.669. Randle will be making his first trip to the NHC.

Two other berths to the NHC were won in AQHA online handicapping contests held earlier in the year. In the AQHA All American Online Contest, which ran Sept. 3 and 4, Mark Richards of Pembroke Pines, Fla., took first place and won a spot in the NHC by best predicting the order of finish in the All American Derby and the All American Futurity run at Ruidoso Downs.

Delbert Saunders of San Antonio, Texas, earned the other berth in the NHC by winning the AQHA Dash to the Challenge Contest. This contest required contestants to accumulate points based on mythical $2 win, place, and show wagers on a series of stakes races run between May 21 and Aug. 11 at Delta Downs, Les Bois Park, Sam Houston Race Park, and Prairie Meadows. Saunders amassed 97.1 points, besting the runner-up by more than 13 points.

Zia Park

Dale Holman of Willow Park, Texas, won Zia Park's handicapping tournament on Nov. 19 to earn first prize of $3,420, plus one of three berths in the NHC.

The other two berths went to runner-up Ron Childress of Albuquerque, N.M., and third-place finisher Gloria Atok of Garland, Texas.

The tournament attracted a full field of 150 entries, although participants could buy up to two entries. The format called for $2 win and place wagers on Zia Park's 11 live races, with a 15-1 odds cap on win payoffs and a 7-1 cap on place mutuels.

Holman, an insurance adjuster who was making his first visit to Zia Park but has participated in other handicapping tournaments, finished with a bankroll of $88.80, $5 more than Childress. Childress finished $2.40 ahead of Atok, who qualified for the NHC three years ago.

Churchill Downs

By a mere 40 cents, Morris Krebs edged Tim Gardner to win the final round of the Churchill Downs Fall Meet Handicapping Contest. The track called it one of the closest finishes in the history of handicapping competition at Churchill Downs.

Although Krebs's first prize of $5,000 was double Gardner's runner-up award, both earned trips to the NHC. Krebs and Gardner are both Louisville-based handicappers.

Krebs finished with a mythical bankroll of $76.40. After Gardner, it was a sizable gap back to the third finisher, Craig Meuter, also of Louisville, who finished with a bankroll of $67.

Hollywood Park

Kevin Geraghty rallied from off the pace to win Hollywood Park's 2006 Turkey Shoot-Out Handicapping Contest, conducted on Nov. 25 and 26, and earn a berth in the NHC.

Runner-up Craig Kaufman and third-place finisher Robert Pecoraro also earned spots in the NHC.

The Turkey Shoot-Out was a real-money handicapping contest requiring each contestant to make a $2,000 cash buy-in. On the first day, contestants had to wager $200 per race on the Hollywood Park races either to win, place, or win and place. Win and place wagers could be split up at the discretion of the contestant, so long as the total wager equaled $200. Any contestants with money remaining after the first day advanced to round two on the second day. On day two, contestants had to wager their entire bankroll on the day's 10 races in 10-percent increments of their first day total bankroll. Contestants kept any dollar amount in their bankroll at the conclusion of the contest.

Geraghty, who was in seventh place after the first day, finished with a total of 5,270. Kaufman finished with 4,233, and Pecoraro finished with 3,927.

Ira Schwartz, who had a lead of almost 4,000 points going into the second day, faded to fourth place.