Sunday, February 26, 2012

One Nail-Biting Step Toward Qualifying for NHC

Sunday proved relatively productive for NJ Horseplayer, with a 12th-place finish (out of 209) in the NHC Preliminary Feed-In Tournament producing a $195 credit for entry to one of the site's National Handicapping Championship qualifiers.

Today's $20 entry fee to today's tournament ultimately proved worth it, considering a few impressive wins, credible long-shot handicapping, and that likely I was less than a head away from finishing at least in the top 3 with a 21-to-1 shot (Passing Game in the 8th from Santa Anita).

The 10-race tournament got off to a good start, with 9-to-1 winner Travel Advisory in the 7th from Fair Grounds putting my bankroll at $32.20 with about 30 other players.  I hit the board in the 3rd contest race ($3 of place money) and went cold for 4 more, but got rolling in the final three races from Santa Anita.

Uncanny resemblance to NJ
Horseplayer's pet, "Mr. Cat"
Spending Smart was a huge overlay at 14-to-1 off a 6-to-1 morning line and was in-the-money in two attempts from 7 furlongs, and the quick early pace in the $62,500 optional claimer set up perfectly for this 5-year-old gelding son of Smarty Jones, who paid $30 to win and $11 to place, elevating me to 15th-place with two races remaining in the contest.  Passing Game just missed in the next, beat out by another $30 winner, which pushed me down to a tenuous 20th-place with a race to go.

Unimpressed by anyone in particular in the finale, an $8k claimer at 6 furlongs, I landed on 5-to-2 Folk Dancer, who finished 3rd in his last two outings, including a $12.5k claimer and a race prior where he was steadied hard.  I knew I needed at least an in-the-money finish to advance, and recent form seemed to be a credible angle in a field where the hot-riding Eswan Flores appeared the only credible foe on 5-to-1 Sizzling Gold, who ended up finishing second by a neck.  Dancer's victory assured me a spot in the Top 21.

If nothing else, the finish gives me a 1-in-50 shot at qualifying for an NHC seat ( is rewarding up to 12 NHC spots in March), whether it be next Sunday's tournament or one at a later date.  For tonight, however, it lets me rest a little bit easier that I am gaining as a handicapper and at some point will reach Las Vegas.


  1. nicely done. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step and all that.

  2. Thanks, Terry. I'm not going to go crazy over this minor advance, but as you know I'm trying to practice more patience and take long-shots more when they make better sense. I'm probably more happy with myself in sticking with that 5-to-2 shot in the finale, since as you know 7-to-2 is usually my threshold; but maybe it's a lesson for SSC3, in that just making the Top 15 may be enough of a victory (i.e. just getting to the April Invitational, rather than playing SSC3 to win it all). We'll see on March 24, though.