Sunday, January 6, 2013

"New" Quest for Vegas begins February 2

After a wonderful Christmas season and an excellent week-long family vacation in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic (save for 2 days bedridden with the flu), I accept the reality of a long, cold winter in New Jersey.

That, and for a second-straight season, my failure to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship.

Espanol still fresh in my mind
That's alright, though, as I clean the slate and note two dates on the calendar that already have my juices flowing -- February 12, when pitchers and catchers report for MLB spring training (we're big baseball fans in the NJ Horseplayer camp), and more importantly, Saturday, February 2, the start of the Simulcast Series Challenge (SSC) at Monmouth Park!

I may not have made it to Vegas for this year's $1.5 million NHC, but February 2 is but four weeks away, and the first of three SSC qualifiers at Monmouth.  The drive for Vegas begins then!

FYI -- SSC#2 is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, and SSC#3 for Saturday, March 30.

There's a slight difference in the format, whereby the Top 20 (up from 15) from each SSC qualifier will advance to the SSC Finals (April 20) for 2 seats to NHC XV in January 2014.

The increase in the number of players eligible for the SSC Invitational is certainly appealing, but with no increase in number of NHC prizes, reduces the odds of winning a spot in Vegas from 1-in-22.5 to 1-in-30.

Granted, I have a simple goal of merely qualifying for the Invitational for the first time ever, but I can only speculate that Monmouth's motivation for increasing the field size for the finals was either financial (i.e., to cover any higher fees that Monmouth Park must pay the NTRA to cover the cost of 2 NHC seats), or simply to raise the level of competition on April 20.

Whatever the motivation, adding 15 players to the SSC Invitational field gives me a better chance of at least making it to the Invitational, which will be one of my goals in 2014.  I hope to see you there!

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