12/08/2006 12:00AM

Walczak leads Emerald nine

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Len Walczak of Orting, Wash., won the fifth annual Ultimate Qualifying Handicapping Tournament at Emerald Downs on July 30, earning $20,000 and the right to lead a contingent of nine handicappers to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

Contestants were required to make hypothetical $2 win and place wagers on 17 different races, including all 10 of Emerald's races on July 30. The other seven wagers could be placed on any of the day's races at Saratoga, Santa Rosa, Calder, Ellis Park, Arlington, Del Mar and Hastings Park. Walczak's wagers netted $177.80.

Emerald's contest annually qualifies nine players to the National Handicapping Championship, the most of any qualifying contest in the country. For that reason it attracts contestants from almost every state, and four out-of-state entrants were among the qualifiers. In order, the remaining qualifiers were John Zielinski of Etticott City, Maryland ($171.70), Gordon Larson of San Antonio, Texas ($164.20), Russ Carlson of Seattle, Wash. ($155.60), Jess Woodruff of Tacoma, Wash. ($149.80), Becky Brazier of Enumclaw, Wash. ($145.40), David Durkin of Peachtree City, Georgia ($141.10), Dennis Alexander of Newclastle, Wash. ( 139.40), and Michael Pirrung of Cardiff, California ($138.00).

The nine qualifiers will be divided into two teams, each representing Emerald Downs at the National Handicapping Championship.