Tuesday, November 24, 2015

A Lone Star State of Mind

I am not afraid to think or act outside the box at times.

It's a necessity for part-time NHC Tour members, like me, who are competent handicappers but maybe constrained by budget and/or schedule; in short, those of us with full-time jobs, kids and other obligations that keep us from entering every single handicapping contest on the planet.

Consistent with my core premise for finding playable long-shots, and thanks to a horse named Kenjisstorm, I am rolling the dice on 2 final qualifying events in a last-ditch bid to qualify for Vegas, including a qualifier halfway across the U.S. on Saturday, December 5.   Certainly not high stakes, I'm gambling around $300 (total) on me posting two decent contest results.  

NJ Horseplayer hitting the road
for December 5 NHC qualifier
in Texas!
To me, it's a lower-risk (and more fun) proposition than, say, similar entry fee tournaments on NHCQualify.com where, for one, I hate the outdated contest interface and, two, I am likely to face full-time sharks who have already dual-qualified for Vegas and are playing for Tour points and cash. 

Last week, I vaulted up the standings of the current Del Mar 2015 Bing Crosby Season Online Challenge to end the week in 91st place (of 2,495 players) by virtue of Kenjistorm's dominant win in Friday's contest race at 23-to-1 odds.  

With four races to go in the Del Mar contest, I probably need a fortuitous score on a long-shot or (less likely) run the table in the closing week to crack the top 2 for an automatic NHC berth.  Otherwise, a Top 100 finish would net me around 2,000 points to push me toward 5,000 in the Tour standings -- good enough to keep my NHC dreams alive via a Top 150 finish.

I'm figuring it'll take around 8,000 NHC Tour points to crack the Top 150 of the standings, and so I'd need to find another 3,000 points to have a puncher's chance at reaching Las Vegas.

Strategically and budgetarily speaking, I needed to find spots that fit my mindset.

So, in addition to the final NHC qualifying tournament of 2015 on HorseTourneys.com this Sunday, November 29 (up to 5 spots up for grabs at a $155 entry fee), I have already entered and booked my passage for the "Last Chance" NHC qualifier at Lone Star Park outside of Dallas, TX.

The latter might appear to be a ludicrous choice considering that I live in New Jersey, but credit the management at Lone Star Park for the free entries for all Tour players (and rewards card members) to next Saturday's season-ending tournament...and to American Airlines for same-day nonstop flights from Newark to Dallas for around $130. 

As far as I can tell, Lone Star Park is still accepting entries for the December 5 tournament.

So, on Saturday, December 5, I'll be flying to Grand Prairie, TX to compete for 1 of 2 NHC berths against horseplayers in the Lone Star State and to check out a new track in my life's travels.  

The rationale is simple.  

I am unavailable in the final live qualifier in my area (Monmouth Park on January 2, 2016), and candidly, it costs me less to fly to Dallas in one day to compete compared with a like offering at the track 15 minutes from my house (Monmouth's Jan. 2 tournament costs $200).  

Wish me luck!