Friday, March 30, 2012

Great Handicapping, AWFUL Betting

Typically, NJ Horseplayer waits a day -- a "cooling-off" period, if you will -- to share handicapping tournament outcomes, but bone-headed second-guessing cost me a $195 contest entry fee to a National Handicapping Championship "preliminary feeder" on and hopefully sharing some thoughts will help me to achieve a better night of sleep.

Before leaving to hang with my extremely cool son, Shane, over a pizza at Ninette's (the best in the Tinton Falls, NJ area), I handicapped the 10-race card (comprised of races from Santa Anita, Turfway Park, Mountaineer and Fair Grounds) and entered picks in advance, in the event we stayed out later than anticipated.  Now I regret not keeping the lad out for another 2-3 hours...

NJ Horseplayer's reaction to
awful second-guessing in Friday
night online contest play
Upon arriving home, I was in the top 25 of 80-plus contestants, scoring in four of five of the races on the card with relatively chalky outcomes.  From there I got too fancy and turned what ultimately would have been good enough for a first-place finish in two of the three events on Friday night and a second-place finish in the tourney where I signed up into a gut-wrenching outcome.

The sixth race on the card, Race 12 from Fair Grounds, featured a 10-to-1 morning-line third-time starter named Parrelo that made a lot of sense in an 11-horse $10k maiden claimer.  Drawn to the rail, this three-year-old was stretching out for the first time and ran decently in its prior two, and I liked that Miguel Mena stayed aboard for trainer Greg Foley -- a decent winning combo.  At the last second, however, I gave another glance to Zippidy Do Hah (my second-choice in earlier handicapping), who was hovering 9-to-2 off a 4-to-1 morning-line and was making a drop from $30k maiden company and ran a credible fifth in its prior race.

Needless to say, I switched my selection at the last second on the "class drop", only to watch Parrelo run past Zippidy in the last 150 yards or so to score at 11-to-1.  Instead of banking a combined $37.20 in notional win and place earnings, I collected $5.80 to place.

Over the course of the final four contest races, I switched off all of my initial selections, which ended up amounting to one winner and three second-place finishers, giving up on $24.20 more of notional winnings as none of my alternate selections finished first or second; chasing prices cost me there.

So, instead of sticking with all of my initial picks and finishing with an $89.60 bankroll in calling top-two finishers in all but one of the 10 contest card races, I ended up with $34 and finished in 31st place.

Only about three years or so into this handicapping contest circuit thing, NJ Horseplayer's learning the frustrations of days where good, above-average or excellent handicapping goes out the window when getting too fancy in selecting horses and second guessing initial selections.  Fortunately, Saturday's an off day on the contest scene as the NJ Horseplayer clan makes its way to the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

Seeing laser light shows and dinosaur skeletons with the wife and kids will prove extremely therapeutic, much as blogging my contest fates serves as a reminder that some bad contest days are part of my evolution as a handicapper, and that there are lessons even in a bad outcome.

It's that, or (as a contest handicapper) make the same mistakes and go the way of the dinosaur. Feeling a lot like T-Rex tonight, but looking forward to brighter contest outcomes this season.

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