Sunday's futile outcome in the Woodbine-Monmouth Park Handicapping Challenge at Monmouth proved, yet again, that I have a long way to go before becoming a credible contest challenger. At least I have a day job.
Reflecting upon Sunday's contest, and halfheartedly sticking to recent consideration of a handicapping contest strategy predicated on place wagers, not all was bad, hitting back-to-back $10 win wagers on 5-to-2 winners in Leonessa and Pound Foolish in the sixth and seventh from Monmouth. However, the bottom line was that my conviction for (and larger wagers on) three longer-priced horses sealed my fate in squandering my $100 contest bankroll, though not officially until the second-to-last contest race.
I stuck to my guns early in the context, hitting on a $10 place wager on Bluedacious in the opener from Woodbine to push the bankroll to $114.50. (The contest mandated at least five wagers of at least $10 each on the Woodbine and Monmouth cards, and Bluedacious was a clear "move-the-chains" type bet).
Five consecutive losses (two straight win wagers, two win-place plays and a pure place bet), including my first of three "best bets" on the day - Miss Keller in The Canadian Stakes - dropped me to $54.50 before the two straight Monmouth victories, where I could not justify making place wagers on 5-to-2 horses and ended up climbing back to a $105.50 bankroll. (Too bad Garrett Gomez miscalculated the 9-furlong Canadian distance by about a mile, as he waited too long to rally Miss Keller, who CLEARLY had enough but met BQE-type traffic and rallied too late to have threatened at nearly 11-to-1.)
From there, bupkis.
I loved Widgmore Hall in The Northern Dancer, but could not justify a wager at less than 3-to-2 and landed instead on 11-to-1 Hailstone, who finished fifth, about three lengths back. Then, I burned up most of my remaining bankroll on two long-shots late in the contest who nearly gave me a thrill - Golden Galleon (a two-length loss in The Politely Stakes at Monmouth at 7-to-1) and 34-to-1 Riding the River, who almost pulled off a shocker before relenting in the shadow of the wire in the Woodbine Mile. I have yet to see official contest standings, but my $20 win wager would have yielded about a $700-plus payout and perhaps a shot at the top of the standings (where the leader had less than $500 on what was a mostly chalky day).
If nothing else, the contest provided me with some thrills, and consolation in seeing my man Red Rock Or Bust briefly get into the Top 5 when hitting on a $50 wager on Turallure in the Woodbine Mile, but as both of us eventually met our ultimate contest demise, the NHC Tour Championship seems far less attainable this season.
The live-money contest slate is likely complete for me in 2011, though I will certainly compete in the Ellis Park make-up event this Sunday and some other online freebies, but I'm still looking for some answers as to how to go about playing the live contests, from both bankroll management and wagering perspectives.