12/21/2006 12:00AM

Twelve qualify at Fairplex


A total of 12 persons, including Tom Quigley, the publisher of Horseplayer Magazine, qualified at Fairplex Park last summer for the Daily Racing Form /National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship next month in Las Vegas.

The Los Angeles County Fair meeting at Fairplex runs less than three weeks, but Fairplex has an aggressive tournament schedule that has proven wildly popular because of the sheer numbers of people who can qualify for the Championship during its meet. Fairplex sends more people to the Championship than any other track in California.

Quigley qualified on Sept. 22, when Fairplex held the third and final of its one-day, Friday mini-tournaments. Those tournaments were each limited to 30 players who put up a $325 entry fee. The top two finishers each Friday received berths in the Championship. Every one of those Friday tournaments sold out.

Players in the Friday tournaments had to make mythical across-the-board wagers on one horse per race in the last 11 races at Fairplex that day.

Quigley vaulted from third place to first in the final race of the tournament by correctly selecting Baby I'm Lonely, a 9-1 shot who won the first start of his career for trainer Craig Lewis.

"It's an extremely well-run tournament," Quigley said. "They post the results after every race. I knew where I stood, and what odds range I needed to be looking at."

Quigley said he likes the tournaments at Fairplex "because of their simplicity."

"It's not labor intensive," he said. "It's not like a tournament where you're looking at 20 different tracks. It's just the races at Fairplex. I like the fair. I like the laid-back atmosphere. When you're playing this tournament, you can go to the paddock and check out the horses."

This marks the third time Quigley has qualified for the Championship.

In addition to Quigley, who lives in Beverly Hills, Calif., the other Friday qualifiers were Kelsey Onaga of Diamond Bar, Calif.; Edward Magenheimer, Glen Cove, N.Y.; Steve Hartshorn, Newport Beach, Calif.; and brothers Kevin "Duke" Matties and Paul Matties, Laguna Beach, Calif.

Fairplex also had three weekend tournaments on Sept. 9-10, 16-17, and 23-24 that sent another six persons to the Championship.

In those weekend tournaments, players had to make mythical across-the-board wagers on one horse per race in the last eight races at Fairplex both Saturday and Sunday. The top two finishers each weekend qualified for the Championship.

Howard Hong, the television analyst at Turf Paradise, might be the best known of the six qualifiers from the weekend tournaments. Hong finished second the final weekend to Tom Noone of Redondo Beach, Calif., who topped a field of 145 players.

Others qualifying from the weekend tournaments were Ed Hill of Temple City, Calif.; Ray Ramirez, Norwalk, Calif.; Mark Bertolucci, Milbrae, Calif; and Sally Wang, Las Vegas.