As noted yesterday, I was able to hit one of the two big long-shots on the 10-race contest card at NHCQualify.com, but unfortunately could not score in the other nine races. Perhaps it is my penchant for seeking value far too often in races, but a look back today over lunch of the final odds of the winning horses in Sunday's contest would suggest that my thought process is entirely rational, and that it is entirely possible to score at contest handicapping with one or two big prices.
The four races at Gulfstream proved chalky, ranging from 1.9-to-1 to 4.1-to-1. The average of odds on the three winners at Oaklawn was 9-to-1, albeit inflated by 18-to-1 Mi Tatiana in Race 8, while Tampa's was a chart-topping 10-to-1 average, with winners at 6.9, 8.4 and 14.7 to the dollar. For the full 10-race contest card, the average winner was just below 7-to-1, or about a $16 mythical win payout on a $2 win wager, and anywhere from $4-$8 in notional place money. (For new readers, NHCQ contestants get win AND place money on a notional $2 W/P bet).
If nothing else, I would argue that in a contest format it is almost wasteful to wager (whether in a real-money contest - like this Saturday's upcoming SSC#3 at Monmouth Park...see you there) on anything below 3-to-1, as evidenced in yesterday's contest. Three horses won at ~2-to-1, netting $30.40. The place horses, meanwhile, yielded a combined $28.40 to anyone who hit THOSE three runners-up (10-to-1 in Oaklawn's 6th, 5.7-to-1 in Gulfstream's 8th and 16.6-to-1 in Gulstream's 11th).
The "note to self" here is that, especially in the online contests, short-price favorites are almost always a throwaway, unless maybe the contest player is locked into a top spot, such as yesterday's 9th-place finisher Russell Priola of South Wales, NY (the only one in the top 10 to select the favorite), and looking for a "surer" bet (or, in a live-money contest, to conservatively pad the bankroll). Otherwise, I have a hard time agreeing with the logic that it is possible to win a contest - whether with mythical or live money - playing favorites.
I hope to see some of you online for tonight's "Night School" seminar on "Trip Handicapping"; Andy Serling is evidently tonight's featured guest.