A few times a week I'll visit the NTRA's schedule of handicapping tournaments on the NHC Tour website, hoping to catch something new that offers me a shot at the 2012 Championship as the qualifying season moves into the homestretch.
October's schedule is pretty robust and definitely heavy on online events. Ellis Park affiliate HorseTourneys.com highlights the card with seven events, offering 24 seats to the Vegas tourney in January 2012, while an apparent upstart called DerbyWars.com will offer four $25 tournaments, each with a shot at one coveted NHC seat. HorsePlayersQualify.com, which recently hosted its big $50,000 Players Challenge, is also back in the mix. Save for a 10-seat super-qualifier at Thistledown in Ohio, the slate is heavily weighted toward online tournaments, which favors players like me who cannot travel the states to enter live tourneys.
Outside of the lack of an infinite bankroll, the only drawback, perhaps, to the online tournament format is the distraction of home. For instance, this past weekend I was entered in Ellis Park's freebie make-up from August's cancelled contest, but could barely pay attention owing to various family commitments and chores. I finished in the top 25%, having handicapped the 10-race card for barely an hour on Saturday morning, but really watched from afar, and until a few minutes ago did not go back and look at race replays. (My highlight on a day where many long-shots finished first was with 15-to-1 two-year-old maiden Awalkinthemoonlite in the 7th from Arlington; otherwise, I finished with $68.60 in winnings on a mythical $40 bankroll - not bad, but just as good as finishing one spot short of winning an NHC seat).
Anyway, it is simply interesting to find so much more online action this season compared to last - my first semi-serious effort at qualifying for the NHC Championship. I hope some of these organizers will consider a robust slate in the dreary winter months of January, February and March, when the slate of events seems so much quieter but the weather (at least here in the Northeast) is conducive to kicking back and playing the ponies from what I have heard TVG often dub as "the 3,000-mile couch."
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