Sunday, July 17, 2011

A length short of advancing in BC contest?

As noted on Saturday, I was extremely high on a 20-to-1 shot, Casino Host, in Saturday's Grade 2 Virginia Derby, the 9th of 10 races in the contest at

With only 200 yards or so to the finish of the mile-and-a-quarter Grade 2 turf race, I honestly thought I had an excellent shot, with Casino Host benefiting from a nice ground-saving trip before poking his head in front down the stretch, only to be surpassed by Air Support and Banned to burst my hopes for a Top 30 finish and a spot in next week's 90-player championship for two NHC Tour Championship seats.

Instead, I finished 221st with only $9.80 in mythical winnings, with two second-place finishers and a few others that ran gamely, which amounts to nothing, really.

Outside of putting my contest eggs in the Casino Host basket, here's a brief recap of Saturday's plays:

  • Arlington 6: Cantonic (6-to-1, down from 8-to-1 M/L) - decent fourth, ran to the lead as expected but gunned down by the 4-to-5 favorite toward the wire
  • Arlington 7: Charter Class (11-to-1, up from 10-to-1 M/L) - finished about an hour after everyone else; never got to the lead as needed and started running in reverse after about four furlongs
  • Arlington 8: Capitol Appeal (10-to-1, up from 8-to-1 M/L) - trouble from the word go; never close
  • Colonial 4: Ancil (7-to-2, down from 8-to-1 M/L) - finished second, paid $4.20 to place; perfect trip and appeared to have it late, but lost by a head to Major Magic
  • Colonial 5: Jazil's Song (3-to-1, down from 10-to-1 M/L) - really slow start, but finished 4th, but probably a contest-changer for anyone who had the winner, 30-to-1 Softly Lit, who I never considered in handicapping the 10-race card on Friday night
  • Colonial 6: Rules of Honor (7-to-1, down from 20-to-1 M/L) - good mid-pack trip and covered up well along the rail, made up ground at the top of the stretch and flattened to finish 5th
  • Colonial 7: Summer Savory (9-to-2, down from 8-to-1 M/L) - great rail trip and was easily good enough to win, if not having to delay twice along the rail down the stretch, with Mystical Star in the way; finished second by a half-length and paid $5.60 to place
  • Colonial 8: Casino Host (20-to-1, on par with morning line) - simply beaten late by two better horses and finished third, but convinced the win could have put me within the top 30 and yield roughly $60 of notional win/place money; sample showed only two of the top 60 finishers picking this one, suggesting few others likely made this call; moot point, though
  • Hollywood 7: Ambassy (13-to-1, up from 12-to-1 M/L) - never a factor
  • Hollywood 9: Fund Raiser (16.9-to-1, up from 8-to-1 M/L) - late switch from original pick Tanda (7-to-2, up from 4-to-1 M/L), looking for a big price out of desperation in the final contest race but never really factored finished 6th; Tanda finished a game third
There are really no tremendous takeaways or regrets from Saturday's contest picks (outside of not winning or advancing to next week). Next up is next Sunday's NHC Tour Summer Online Challenge, which will be more about practicing my handicapping, since there will be roughly 3,500 contestants competing for 3 NHC Tour Championship seats. Odds are slim, but I'll be involved.

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