Congrats to Shannon and two other players for earning berths to the 2012 NHC Tour Championship! I managed to finish 210th out of 3,306 competitors (top 8%), which isn't worth much in the grand scheme, but rarely do I get my hopes up about these free-for-alls, considering the depth of contestants, so I'm satisfied having nailed a few winners, including one I addressed on Saturday by way of video analysis, Chokecherymary. Here were my selections:
- Monmouth, Race 6 - Itsagoodtendollars, 4-to-1 (6th out of 8): Originally landed on Marquet Rebel (finished 7th), but Turbo Compressor proved every bit the 6-to-5 chalk in a 13-and-a-half length win
- Monmouth, Race 7 - Steady Gentleman, 44-to-1 (5th out of 7): It look's like we're not at the Elite Meet anymore...back to smallish fields and a low-teens exacta payout...
- Monmouth, Race 8 - Primary Witness, 8-to-1 (3rd out of 7): The first of three calls from Saturday's blog, Witness stalked well but flatted out in the final turn. Zero bankroll with 7 races to go.
- Belmont, Race 8 - Hear the Footsteps, 8-to-1 (3rd out of 10): See Witness - flattened out the final 300 yards, but a good effort after almost half a year off and worth considering next time around.
- Belmont, Race 9 - Beer Meister, 26-to-1 (7th out of 10): Who was more drunk - me for picking this horse or Alex Solis confusing Meister Brau for Zenyatta and setting this horse up for a 20-length rally? Never happened...
- Belmont, Race 10 - Isn'tlovejustgrand, 56-to-1 (4th out of 12): This could have been a potential game-changer for a lot of contest players, myself included (though not enough likely to win, since I was 0-for-5 heading into this race and needed some big prices), but this one finished a hard-closing length behind the 9-to-1 winner to provide some cheap thrills, zero bankroll notwithstanding...
- Hollywood, Race 5 - Every Ego, 25-to-1 (WIN: 1st out of 9): The caveat to these online contest is that notional payouts are capped at $42 and place at $22, so this one netted $58.60 and moved me to the top 300 in one fell swoop. Two very bullish indicators - Rafael Bejarano got the mount and this 3-year-old was meant for 2-turn grass as an offspring of El Prado and Grindstone. Plus, the rest of the field was very suspect, in my opinion, and all angles worked as Bejarano rode to perfection.
- Hollywood, Race 6 - Chokecherymary, 5-to-1 (WIN: 1st out of 9): Although I knew I pretty much had no chance of placing Top 3 in the contest, I stuck with my earlier handicapping rather than fishing for a bigger price and was rewarded $13.20 to win and $6.40 to place, moving me to 124th place with a $78.20 notional bankroll. As noted Saturday, replays of this horse's first two tries indicated this horse was live, and by all indications, Chantal Sutherland is off to a strong start at the Hollywood meet. Chantal rode this 3-year-old filly to a 2-and-a-half length victory and is one to watch down the road.
- Hollywood, Race 7 - Unbridled Kimanchi, 42-to-1 (last out of 11): I was between eventual winner Smug, 22-to-1 Tiz Gianni and 36-to-1 Competent, but thought this one might run to the lead and somehow hold on, but it never happened as Kimanchi sat a head behind the leader at the three-quarter pole in 1:11.2 before fading to dead last.
- Hollywood, Race 8 - Price, 5-to-1 (3rd out of 5): Nothing like a deep 5-horse Cal-bred field to close out a contest. Price finished about a half-length behind the winner Korban, ending the contest.
In the end, two winners and three thirds (5 out of 10 "in the money") plus a fourth at an enormous price is something to build upon heading into the upcoming Monmouth Park contest for a seat in the less-ballyhooed Horseplayer World Series next February. On the other hand, considering the thin fields on opening weekend relative to the 2010 Elite Meet and that only two horses at double-digit odds won their races (11 of the 23 winners this past weekend were odds-on favorites at Monmouth), it is going to take a much better performance and, hopefully, a reversal favoring value-seeking contest handicappers.