02/26/2005 1:00AM

Turf-Vivor gets started at Gulfstream


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Gulfstream Park's high-profile Turf-Vivor handicapping contest kicked off on Friday afternoon with a full field of 125 entrants from across the country in attendance. The three-day contest, which continues through Sunday, carries a total purse of $132,000 and offers a $100,000 first prize to the last player left standing at the end of Sunday's Gulfstream race card.

Turf-Vivor's $100,000 grand prize is one of the highest prizes available annually to tournament players. With an entry fee of $1,000, Gulfstream takes in $125,000 and kicks in an additional $7,000 of its own money to cover the purse. The top three finishers will qualify for the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship VII next January in Las Vegas.

In a surprise announcement on Friday, track officials also said a new sponsorship deal with Casinos at Sea that will boost the tournament's value even further by giving away Caribbean cruises to the event's top 16 finishers.

Players will be trying to accumulate the highest possible bankroll on a total of 10 Gulfstream races (five per day) on Friday and Saturday. The 16 highest-scoring players will then advance to Sunday's final round where they will face each other head-to-head in tournament-bracket-style competition until the field is paired down to the elite eight, the final four, the top two, and then to the one ultimate "Turf-Vivor."

Contestants Arthur Lindower ($76.40 based on five $2 across the board bets), Myles Richards ($75.80), and James Nace ($70.40) held down the top three spots at the conclusion of Friday's action and earned $2,000, $1,500, and $1,000 in daily prize money, respectively.

Turf-Vivor is currently in its fourth year. All three past champions - Tom Quigley (2004), Kelly Phillips (2003), and James Mineo (2002) - are playing in this year's event.