Missouri's Richard Grose leads the 14th Annual National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas by nearly $67 heading into Saturday's closing day, but my first thought after reading the Daily Racing Form's recap is that the pressure's off all other contestants.
Players make 14 mythical $2 win-place wagers and 1 mythical $4 "best bet" win-place wager from a selection of 8 mandatory races and 7 "players choice" races (i.e. any of the tracks used in the contest). I suspect that players will focus their 7 wild-card wagers on deeper-carded races at Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs, where a long-shot can be had, as opposed to a track like Golden Gate Fields (only 3 races with more than 7 horses) and Santa Anita, where rain is sure to result in scratches and solely dirt races.
From my limited history in competing in live handicapping contests, players usually win with a bankroll at least 10x the value of their starting bankroll. So, assuming a $64 bankroll on Saturday for each player, figure that NHC XIV remains wide open as players roll the dice on horses at least 10-1 or more. In online contests, the ratio tends to be less, since all races are mandatory and players can win betting chalk.
Nonetheless, my guess is that Mr. Grose's lead is anything but safe. We'll soon find out...
Best of luck to all NHC XIV contestants and safe travels afterward!