Clearly, handicapping the card two nights in advance, participating blindly (i.e. while travelling out of state) and not knowing that the conditions of half of a 10-race contest card would change predetermined my doom in a 1,208th-place finish out of 1,816 contestants in Sunday's NHC Tour Online Challenge. Mother Nature moved 4 of the 5 turf races I spent the most time handicapping off the turf, but no biggie.
There were some positives, like my call in Saturday's blog on Ms. Short Pockets, who finished second at 9-to-1 against an impressive Much Rejoicing in a mile slop race at one turn taken off the two-turn Gulfstream turf, but I scratched into my only winner (Stormy Publisher) and ended the contest with a first, two seconds and two thirds, so clearly not enough to make any impact (mythical winnings are only granted on the $2W/P wagers). Otherwise, I came away with no horses to add to my watch list, considering Sam Houston is atrocious (miraculously, all entrants finished under their own power) and the other races (Oaklawn and Fair Grounds) were not very notable.
Next up for me is likely the NHC Qualify.com contest on Sunday, though I may stay in reserve for the SSC#3 at Monmouth Park on Saturday, March 19.
Regarding Saturday's Santa Anita Handicap, I watched the replay tonight about a dozen times and still cannot decipher who is to blame for the interference in the stretch, but it looked to me that, regardless, Twirling Candy was NOT good enough to win the Big Cap regardless. I can see Jay Hovdey's point on DRF.com about Chantal Sutherland going hard with the left-handed whip turning for home and perhaps the right-ward drift, but the replays I saw showed too much head-on and not enough of a side shot, which to me looked like Setsuko first brushed Twirling Candy, who then bumped the rear of Game on Dude. Is that Chantal's fault? Is Hovdey saying she have changed to a right-handed whip going 40 mph near the lead instead? In sum, I get the feeling that there would not be this much controversy had it been Joel Rosario, Rafael Bejarano or Patrick Valenzuela on Game on Dude. Instead, a "lower-percentage" though highly respectable jockey (one of the top at Woodbine) won a race and pissed off a lot of writers and bettors who were falling all over themselves over Twirling Candy and failed to find value elsewhere in the race.
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