The current season's standings find NJ Horseplayer in 240th and on the outside looking in at the Top 150, with one tournament in my price-point to go -- the $165 event on NHCQualify.com on December 22.
Unless something else in the sub-$200 range comes up, that will be my make-or-break run at NHC XV. It will take a Top 5 finish to either qualify outright or score enough tour points to make it to Vegas.
Lamenting about not entering the full-freight HorseTourneys.com qualifier on November 3 and missing out on 3rd-place Tour points is useless at this point, so I set my mind forward.
So, this afternoon kicks off what is a fun, no-cost tournament through January on Public Handicapper -- Winter of Our Discontent.
|Edison: Way smarter than me|
The name captures it all.
Drab December stakes cards.
Some early 3-year-old preps, but nothing enthralling in January.
The inner dirt at Aqueduct.
In a nutshell...discontent.
Public Handicapper offers the perfect cure. Four "top" races each week where players can hone their handicapping contest skills during the off-season with little commitment.
Top prize isn't the lofty NHC package for winning the regular-season contest, but $500 and some NHC swag is a nice offering.
With that in mind, and keep in mind that I was 7-for-108 during the NHC qualifying season for the Public Handicapper contest (but 2-for-8 on Breeders Cup Day), I'm kicking off my season with four selections.
Either enjoy the selections, or run for the hills.
- Tropical Turf Handicap (Grade 3): Calder, Race 6
- Exothermic (12-to-1) is testing graded company for the first time and is facing salty competitors like Bad Debt and Paris Vegas, but seems to relish the longer distances and can close well in a race where I'm expecting somewhat testy fractions. Reflecting (6-1) is my backup pick.
- My Charmer Handicap (Grade 3): Calder, Race 8
- Rose to Gold, another 12-to-1 shot, is trying turf for the first time but is a Grade 1 winner and is fresh off a tough trip in the Kentucky Oaks back in May. Speculative, but worth a shot.
- Claiming Crown Iron Horse ($110,000): Gulfstream, Race 8
- Stakes race for claiming horses...a cool concept, in my opinion. I'm rolling the dice on 20-to-1 Whatthecatdrugin, who breaks from an extremely difficult and wide post at Gulfstream but, to me, clearly has the best gate speed and gets Jose Lezcano. A bad break spells doom, but these are claimers, remember, and trainer Tevis McCauley has put this horse in far tougher spots than today's.
- Hollywood Starlet (Grade 1): Hollywood Park, Race 6
- This track cannot close soon enough. Fields have been spotty at best, from what I have seen on television, and races have not been that appealing. Regardless, Rosalind (3-to-1) ran a game second in the Alcibiades at Keeneland from way outside and gets Joel Rosario again after closing from the clouds in the Juvenile Fillies on Breeders Cup Friday.