Just a quick thought from this past Saturday, when my Gulfstream handicapping (outside of my DRF "Watch Horse" Furthest Land scoring for me at 5-to-2) was horrendous...how about that Tackleberry!
In a case of paralysis by over-analysis, I let Sunshine Millions Classic winner Tackleberry pass at a very attractive 5-to-1, concerned that the horse might bounce after his 100-plus Beyer in the SMC. Sure enough it didn't happen, and the guy sitting next to me at the Monmouth Park pub and I sat dumbfounded that a) the horse was 5-to-1 (off a 3-to-1 M/L) and b) neither of us had the common sense to play Tackleberry, who scored an easy victory! Along the way to a hopeful spot in the NHC, I'm learning - much as, fortunately, did no happen to me with my Furthest Land wager- that over-analysis is oftentimes costly. Schadenfreude to readers, perhaps, but anyone else been in that spot? Feel free to share your pain.
Meanwhile, noticing some interesting new venues for NHC qualifying tournaments along the likes of Foxwoods Resort Casino and harness track Northville Downs (wherever that is...relax, it's in Michigan), NJ Horseplayer checked with a contact at Monmouth Park about the emergence of new contest spots.
Curious about the apparent imbalance of NHC seats given to certain tracks (i.e. Surfside Race Palace giving out 5 NHC seats in 1 weekend for a $300 contest fee, versus just 2 seats for a $600 buy-in at Hawthorne in mid-April), I was informed that, in light of the expanded field of 500 NHC contestants (versus roughly 300 in years past), so long as the venue forks over the fee to host an NHC event, they can do so. In prior years, I've been told the site had to be an NTRA member to offer an NHC seat. So book those tickets to Northville, MI for the March 27 event! There's a seat up for grabs!
Interested, too, about the contest venue's cost to procure NHC seats, I learned that Monmouth Park, as an NTRA member, pays $10k for 3 spots (not including flights and hotel), and (for you NJ players like me) that MP will offer somewhere between 6-9 spots to this year's championship, though the details are not fully set in stone. I thought the joint-tournament with Woodbine (Toronto) players in 2010 was a lot of fun, and a tough challenge considering the combination of handicapping dirt races at Monmouth and synthetics at Woodbine (and grass at both), and would enjoy participating in that format again, though personally I was less crazy about the joint contest including Canterbury and Emerald Downs, where the fields were thin and less than stellar. Anyway, NTRA has updated its contest calendar through April, and included some dates in June.