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Newark Star-Ledger's Ron Rippey captures $250,000 First Prize in Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship


January 31, 2006     E-mail this page to a friend!

NTRA, Jan. 28 - Ron Rippey, 61, a public handicapper for the Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger newspaper since 1978, defeated 224 rivals to win the $250,000 grand prize and the title of "Handicapper of the Year" in the $540,000 Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship at Bally's Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.

The Wayne, NJ resident, representing the Autotote-Sports Haven team at the seventh annual event, amassed $237.20 in mythical winnings in the two-day tournament and defeated runner-up Mark Lowe (Tampa Bay Downs), the first-day co-leader, who tallied $228.60. Lowe earned $100,000 for his second-place finish.

Mel Moser (Stampede Park) was third with $227.60, earning $50,000, while Louis Licata (Thistledown, $219.70) and Cheryl Britt (Turf Paradise, $219.30) were fourth and fifth, and won $25,000 and $15,000, respectively.

Rippey, who was 28th after the first day on Friday with $85.40, capped a brilliant closing day rally with four winners in 15 mythical $2 win and $2 place wagers. He started Saturday's final round very slowly, missing his first eight plays, but began to climb in the standings after hitting Total Command ($42) at Oaklawn and was in fifth place before vaulting into first in the day's last race, tabbing first-time starter Alluring Bel ($36 win, $12.60 place) at Santa Anita.

"It's an unbelieveable feeling," said Rippey, who also owns four nursery schools in NJ
with his wife, Arlene. "I'd rather win from behind, because I'm a strong finisher. I picked this horse (Alluring Bel) last night, and I wasn't going to play for second place. I figured he would be 6 or 7-1, but was pleasantly surprised. It was all or nothing.

"I had a fantastic first day, but a horrible start on the second day. I took my wife's advice to put everything behind me. She's my tranquilizer. She gets the money and I get the glory."

It was Rippey's second trip to the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, having finished 47th in 2004. He said part of his winnings will go towards the college education of his five grandchildren and some to his favorite local charities.

"My previous experience here was enormous," he added. "There is no substitute for experience at an event like this. And you have to have guts when you need it."