The Monday "Night School" sessions on Horse Player Now have generally proven valuable to me, but last night's "trip handicapping" chat raised more questions than answers, in my opinion. Long story short, I got the sense that trip handicapping requires a ton of time watching race replays and taking notes, not sweet music to the time-constrained, weekend horseplayers like myself with tons of other obligations. NYRA's Andy Serling gave some interesting insights during the chat, but I came away with an understanding that handicappers will never benefit from the truest sense of a horse's trip solely from the notes in the past performances.
The panel seemed to encourage horseplayers to put our faith in the track handicapper's commentary or reading their program notes to gain insights on particular horses' past trips. But with so much information to absorb, how many of us really can spend the time listening for such nuances? I'm not sure anything from last night's class will change how I go about my handicapping, but we'll see. In the meantime, I plan on continuing to keep notes on horses that I've observed have gotten a bad trip; for this, I use DRF's Horse Watches, which have proven valuable in keeping tabs on when interesting "bad trip" horses are next entered and perhaps ready to score.
Meanwhile, DRF reports that we might learn by Friday the 2011 schedule for Monmouth Park, which is good news in light of the unsettled state of affairs in Oceanport, NJ (and Trenton, what with the wrangling over the number of race days under law). The stakes schedule is a shade under $5 million in purses. The only certainty (unreported in this particular story) is that there will be a 6-day meet, as usual, at Atlantic City Race Course in late-April/early-May. Otherwise, we await an announcement on the dates for Monmouth. Personally, I am hoping for something along the lines of a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule from Memorial Day until July 4 weekend, and then maybe a Friday-thru-Tuesday schedule until Labor Day, which will capitalize on the six "dark" days at Saratoga, when many horseplayers look to fill the void. The powers that be could, perhaps, restrict those Tuesday cards (six, in all) to showcase New Jersey-bred horses. Then, a Friday-Saturday-Sunday schedule post Labor Day and through Columbus Day might have some merit, especially considering the potential of an NFL lockout and sports fans seeking another venue.