Sunday, September 13, 2015

NHC Freebie Contest Goal: Hit 2 Cappers

Seriously folks, my post this morning is not out of crankiness because of Rutgers' last-second defeat to Washington State last night (the chicken and beef gyro/Greek tailgate kicked some tail, BTW)...

Nor that the NHC Tour put another of its five "free" members-only contests on the day of a live Monmouth Park contest -- the final one of its season, and where I will be spending this afternoon but had to quickly 'cap another 7 races outside the 23 races at Woodbine and Monmouth...

Nor that rain washed all races off the turf at Belmont...

Nor that I finished in the bottom 10% of the Del Mar Summer Handicapping Challenge and was nowhere close to defending my 2014 co-championship...

It's more out of the quality (or lack thereof) of races on today's 10-race program for No. 4 of 5 National Handicapping Championship (NHC) Tour "free" contests, open to all Tour members and offering four spots to the $2.5 million NHC in Las Vegas in January. 

The fields are mostly deep, but let's face it...pretty bad.

And, again, Belmont's off the turf.

Nonetheless, I find that it presents a great opportunity to take some shots on outsiders against morning-line favorites that, in my view, are nothing special.

My goal this afternoon (and assuming my top picks do not scratch) is to hit 2 of my bomber selections in the NHC Tour freebie and pick up some Tour points.  Otherwise, I do not put a ton of effort, admittedly, into a 1-day contest with 2,000 players; it's not worth a ton of my time.

Here is a look at the horses I entered as top selections for the NHC Tour freebie.  Tour members can still sign up here before first post of Race 6 from Woodbine around 3:30 p.m.

Woodbine 6: #7, Aldous Snow (8-1), is bound to sit closer to the front in a seemingly pace-less field and was not in as good a form going into last year's Grade 1 Northern Dancer; has a good shot.

Belmont 6: #11, You Lie (20-1), has early foot as evidenced two back at non-winners of 3 lifetime and broke her maiden over a sloppy Gulfstream track.  Off the turf and with a field scratched down to 5 runners, I hope to get 7-to-2.  

Churchill 7: #8, Trawee (20-1), seems to be improving, but I use the term loosely in a bad $5,000 starter allowance field, and I like that 3 back she was game against $25-$30k beaten claimers where she finished second at an elongated sprint distance.  No shoe-in, but facing a 9-to-5 favorite who has beaten up on fields at Thistledown and Something-Or-Other Valley.

Belmont 7: #7, Second City (30-1), is live, in my opinion, off a game effort last out vs. similar at Saratoga and has won before with Kendrick Carmouche aboard.  Worse long-shots than this one, especially for a gelding with a win over an off surface.

Belmont 8: #9, Saratoga Dreamer (10-1), WAS my top pick anywhere until scratched from the Allied Forces, so I will side with #5, Conquest Tsunami (12-1) in a race shortened to 5 furlongs, as I figure any horse tried in the Delta Jackpot (a tight bullring track) has enough speed to maybe surprise #8, Ready for Rye, whom others will view a shoe-in at 9-5 morning line.  Taking a stand against.

Churchill 9: #3, Emmajestic (6-1), was overmatched two back on the same oval against $75,000 optional claimers and drops down even more from Grade 2 company at Indiana Downs to an easier condition and very evenly-matched field.  

Woodbine 9: #2, Button Down (12-1), cuts back three-eighths of a mile and faces tougher here, but I'd take Joel Rosario over Luis Contreras any day and I sense this 4-year-old filly gets a nice stalking trip and can fire late, similar to her maiden-breaker in May. 

Churchill 10: #12, Renn Lake (30-1), faces awful $5,000 claimers here and returns to the site of his best speed figure (November 2014).  The last two efforts show, to me, that against this field Renn Lake will at least be game, as evidenced by in-the-money finishes in 50% of his 20 dirt starts.   

Belmont 9: I loved #7, Constantine (20-1), but with the field scratched down to 5 horses and off the turf, I take a shot at "front-running" #9, Majestic Guy (30-1) for VERY low-percentage connections but where the horse's lone win was on a sealed sloppy track. Play at your own risk. 

Woodbine 10: #2, Grand Arch (6-1), is my top pick in a Woodbine Mile that, in my view, is merely so-so.  I tossed half of the field (3 thru 5 and 7 thru 9) and simply figure Luis Saez will cleanly stalk rail horse Obviously and win a Grade 1. If my earlier picks are flops, I might switch to #6, Tower of Texas (15-1) at a price but am sort of spooked by his late collapse in his last out at Woodbine. 

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