The top 15 finishers in today's first of three winter simulcast contests at Monmouth Park qualify for the SSC Invitation on April 9 and two seats in NHC XIII in January 2012. These are the kinds of contests that get the juices flowing. The contest format is at least 10 W/P/S wagers of at least $10, on the full card from Aqueduct, Tampa Bay Downs and Gulfstream Park. Gulfstream's card, in my opinion, is best from top to bottom. Aqueduct's is good also, but not as good as GP.
The GP feature is the Grade 3 Sugar Swirl, which is also one of the four races on this weekend's Public Handicapper card, which is why I'm sharing my first of two selections (my contest history suggests a pattern of changing selections once the "real" contests - SSC #1, in this case - go live, as I prefer to play the tote). My early glance at past performances drew me to the No. 2, Landing My Way. I'm more than likely to put my money where my mouth went a few days back on the Calder angle. Landing My Way is 15-1 M/L, but the race three back (Oct. 24), and the seemingly easy efforts in two subsequent OC 50k/25k wins, suggest this horse will benefit from the inside draw and can track the leaders and finish well. Needing a few longer shots to have any shot at winning a live-money contest, I lean toward this one over Jessica Is Back and Ms. Vanenzza for a 2-3-7 finish.
The Tampa Card is wide open, or really filled with less-than-stellar horses; but, for my other Public Handicapper selection (the $75k Pasco) I went with Depeche Chat at 6-1 from the nine hole with Rosie Homeister, simply off the maiden special weight score at 7 furlongs in late November at Churchill and that I liked this horse's tracking ability. The 81 Beyer might not translate to Tampa, and it's this colt's first time versus winners (like others in the 10-horse field), but I liked the last race pattern for Depeche Chat, who dropped from 4th to 7th and lost ground in the middle of the race, but REALLY got going heading into the home stretch and won at 10-1. My sense is that Bert B Don will be bet down from 7-2 M/L with Daniel Centeno aboard and with a race under its belt at Tampa (plus the 2 horse, Read the Contract at 5-1 M/L, posted a field-best 98 Beyer in a 6f win at Aqueduct on Nov. 26), so I'm looking for a slight price on Depeche Chat over Bert B Don and Manicero in a race where I willingly threw out half the field. If Depeche goes off less than 4-1, I might change my selection live.
Otherwise, stay tuned tonight or tomorrow as I take stock in my outcome in today's Monmouth SSC.