01/27/2007 1:00AM

Virginia man wins NHC

Stanley Bavlish

LAS VEGAS – Stanley Bavlish, 54, of Virginia Beach, Va., won the $400,000 first-place prize in the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at the Bally’s race book here Saturday.

Bavlish, who owns three Subway restaurants, scored $189.20 points – the lowest winning total in the eight-year history of the NHC – from making 15 mythical $2 win-and-place wagers each day of the two-day tournament with eight being mandatory races that everyone has to play and the other seven being optional. Prices were capped at $42 to win and $22 to place.

“The key to winning a tournament is having your horses come in,” Bavlish said. “I’m just lucky my horses came in today.”

His big winner was McCann’s Mojave who paid $69.80 to win and $30.60 to place in the Sunshine Millions Classic, Gulfstream’s 10th race, which was one of Saturday’s mandatory races. He later added Debie Ginsburg, which paid $25.40 to win and $10.60 to place in Santa Anita’s eighth race.

“That put me over the top,” Bavlish said.

Ken Massa, 48, of Yorba Linda, Calif., finished second with a score of $182.40. The $6.80 difference is the second-lowest in NHC history. Massa collects $150,000 for second.

Both came from well off the pace as they were 89th and 134th, respectively, in the 254-player field after Friday’s first day.

Susie Grensing, 35, of Lexington, Ky., second heading into Saturday, dropped as low as 16th and re-rallied to finish third with a score of $177.60 and collected $75,000.

Myles Richards, 48, of Pembroke Pines, Fla., finished fourth with $175.60 in contest points to collect $40,000. He had dreams, and a very realistic chance, of winning a lot more as he was one of seven players that were eligible for a $1 million bonus based on winning qualifying tournaments at Churchill Downs-owned tracks. Early on Saturday, he vaulted to the lead with Crusader Rabbit, who paid $130.40 to win and $40.60 to place, in Gulfstream’s second race. By the 11 a.m. update on Saturday, he had a $24 lead but wasn’t able to hold on as several longshots came in during the afternoon.

Russell Weber, 53, of Amityville, N.Y., finished fifth with a score of $172.60 to collect $25,000. The sixth- through 10th-place finishers received $8,000 apiece. They were Bill Handleman, 58, of Neptune, N.J., who led the standings for about two hours Saturday; Gina Turner, 44, of Galloway, Ohio; Sue Ashby, 40, of Des Moines, Iowa; Christopher Parkinson, 30, of Forest Hill, Md.; and Russ Carlson, 45, of Seattle, Wash.

Prizes were paid to the top 20. There was also prizes for the top four scores each day. Turner actually won more for her Saturday score of $153.20 and the daily prize of $10,000 than she did for finishing seventh overall. Bill Gossage, 49, of Ozark, Ark., had the second-highest Saturday score to collect $7,500 to go with $4,500 for finishing 13th overall.

Massa had Friday’s third-highest score of $147.20 and picked up an additional $4,000, while Bavlish scored $141.60 to pick up an extra $1,875.

Tchavdar Milanov, a native of Bulgaria and 18-year resident of Concord, Calif., was the Day l leader with a score of $103 and won the $10,000 top daily prize. Grensing scored $101.20 on Friday and won $7,500. Handleman scored $99.60 to collect $4,000, and Dennis Decauwer, 57, of Rancho Cucamonga, Calif., was fourth with a score of $99.40 to collect $1,875.

Bavlish also picked up another $5,000 – bringing his overall haul to $406,875 – for leading Team Delaware #2 to the team title. With the exception of defending champion Ron Rippey and those who earned their berths in online contests at nhcqualify.com, the other 216 contestants were split into 72 teams based on where they qualified and played for a winner-take-all $15,000 prize. Bavlish’s teammates were Helaine Barash, 59, of Staten Island, N.Y., and David Malatesta, 59, of Wilmington, Del. They had a combined score of $437.40 to win by nearly $35. Barash was a big part of that as she scored $144.60 to finish 21st overall and just missed the money, so it was fitting she picked up $5,000 anyway.