Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Small-Scale Fireworks

Monday's commentary about controlling what you can and sticking to handicapping contest races proved valuable Wednesday night with a solid sixth-place finish out of 300 players for NJ Horseplayer in the $500 Canterbury Park Free Roll tournament on

The tournament only cost me and the other entrants 300 "points" (more or less credits rewarded to players for funding their accounts), and admittedly the $25 "Step 3 token" is not the door to wealthy retirement, but kudos to again for running some fun, low- or no-cost tournaments...and to friends Donna and JC for having us for the great fireworks on the beach in Manasquan (and so preventing me from watching the races live and potentially changing any contest picks).

Photo courtesy of Saveena
(LH Dugger) at Flickriver
I had no idea of my contest outcome when sitting down to watch Races 6-11 from Canterbury Park on the DVR. Candidly, I was hoping to be close with a few, having handicapped only 45 minutes after wrapping up my real job, and having failed miserably about two years back in a Monmouth Park-Canterbury-Emerald contest that was just awful.

So, with my picks locked in by around 4 p.m., there was no turning back and looking for value elsewhere.  Good thing...
  • Race 6: Stratos draws little interest off the 4-to-1 morning line and finishes a game second at 7-to-1, losing to the even-money chalk in a game effort: 
    • Payoff to NJ Horseplayer: $6.40 to place
  • Race 7: Dakota Digger gets bet down to about 5-to-2 off a 5-to-1 morning line and controls the tempo, winning gate to wire with the red-hot Tanner Riggs in the saddle
    • Payoff to NJ Horseplayer: $7.40 to win, $4 to place = $17.40 total winnings
  • Race 8: Bravo Prado had ran versus "tougher" (this is Minnesota racing, after all) and made easy work of an 11-horse field to score at 5-to-2
    • Payoff to NJ Horseplayer: $6.60 to win, $3.80 to place = $27.80 total winnings
  • Race 9: Tubby Time stalks a hot early pace and runs past the field in the home stretch to win at 3-to-2, beaten down from a 7-to-2 morning line
    • Payoff to NJ Horseplayer: $5 to win, $3 to place = $35.80 total winnings
    • Pick 3 pays $57.90
  • Race 10: By this point (approaching midnight) I'm chuckling to myself, wondering if it's remotely possible to hit 4 in a row. Answer: a resounding "yes"!  Rare Sunset (9-to-2 morning line) cruises to victory in the $50k Minnesota HBPA Mile
    • Payoff to NJ Horseplayer: $7.60 to win, $4.20 to place = $47.60 total winnings
    • Pick 3 pays $34.70
    • Pick 4 pays $144.60
  • Race 11: Now I'm understanding what my man Red Rock or Bust meant when I scanned an email about 2 hours earlier from my Blackberry, with a subject line that read "sh*t."  Later on, I learned that Terry notes I am in second heading into the last race.  I was not (or how can anyone be) enamored with a single runner in this $7,500 claimer but landed on All Bets Are Off, who was third off a layoff, had won in 3 of 12 tries at Canterbury, and seemed to be the only one willing to flash early speed, which is exactly what happened.  All Bets, who went off at 10-to-1, led turning for home but succumbed to pressure from winner Valari, finishing third (missed second by a nose).  
    • Final bankroll: $47.60, tied for sixth-place
    • Big props to contest winner Donald Morgan, who picked 6 of 6 winners and the others ahead of me in the standings who also came very close to such perfection.
By no means can I begrudge All Bets Are Off, who ran a gutsy race but simply got beaten by better.  Had the horse won, I'd have taken down the contest, but cannot grovel about picking 4 winners, a second and a third in six consecutive races -- a rare feat for NJ Horseplayer.  

Regretfully, I did not have real-money bets on these picks, as I'd have produced a pretty lofty ROI, but so goes the life of the weekend (and holiday) contest handicapper and consummate family man.  

In any event, I really enjoyed two rounds of fireworks.  

A safe and satisfying Independence Day to you!

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