January stinks! The Northeast continues to get battered with cold and precipitation into the heart of winter, and unless you're interested in 5-horse races at Aqueduct, times can be tough finding interesting races to play, and this weekend's Public Handicapper races are a testament to that, but I took a flyer on Flat Out in the La. Handicap and Red Hot Buddha in the Leggio, both at Fair Grounds. Otherwise, I bypassed selections in the other two contest races (one, a 7-horse stakes at Santa Anita), for lack of interest.
On a more interesting note, if you're homebound for the weekend check out TVG's "Tampa Bay Betting Bonanza." I give TVG a ton of credit for coming up with interesting free contests, especially for those of us in places like New Jersey where we're prohibited from wagering through TVG but can still participate in these kinds of contests, which, granted, are akin to hitting the Power Ball lottery. From my experience, you get somewhere about 4,000 contestants for these events, and you have to hit prohibitive long shots to have any chance at the $1,500 top prize. Still, it's a way to stay fresh with your handicapping.
Long story short...this is a two-week contest through next Sunday, where contestants place 10 mythical $20 win/$20 place selections at races from Tampa Bay Downs. If nothing else, the race calls provide fodder for a drinking game or two (i.e. take a drink each time track announcer Richard Grunder yells out "Daniel Centeno" or "an easy ride under Ronnie Allen, Jr."). As I'll be offline this weekend, I'm going to keep my powder dry for next weekend's card and look for some bombers Jan. 29-30.
Finally, kudos to Michael Murphy of Oceanport for scoring $11k in winning last Saturday's SSC#1 at Monmouth Park. It was a very gutsy and profitable call to put the entire bankroll in the last contest race on a first-time starter. Interestingly, four of the top 15 finishers were from outside the Tri-State area.