Thursday, June 7, 2012

Difficulty Digesting Those Seconds

Sunday's handicapping contest at Monmouth Park yielded only one winner in 16 win bets for NJ Horseplayer, along with six excruciating second-place finishers and three show runners.

Going 10-of-16 in-the-money while sticking to the place-show strategy I have written about on several occasions might have yielded a more-favorable outcome in the Monmouth-Woodbine Challenge, since in the final race I liked 29-to-1 Here's Kiki, who guessed it...second (paid $23-plus to place), but feeling more cocky I went for the gusto to that point.  No guts, no glory got me nothing but red ink, and not even some "free" eats (Monmouth Park got cheap and did NOT give the usual $10 food voucher...penny-wise, considering contest players -- 186 -- ponied up 200 bucks to participate -- though to their credit MP is giving players who signed up for last month's cancelled contest a $50 credit for the July 7 make-up).

After four really bad $10 win selections to start the contest (I jumped in headlong, since I could not get to Monmouth until around 145p, or three races in at both contest tracks, and the contest mandate was at least five wagers at each MP and Woodbine to qualify for prize money and a potential seat to the National Handicapping Championship), I scored on 8.5-to-1 first-timer Windfast in Race 6 from MP.  The horse's workouts suggested the outside draw in a 10-horse field of $50k claimers at least had a puncher's chance, and jockey Juan Pizarro hustled Windfast out to an easy lead and wired the field, with the $10 win wager running my bankroll to $145.  

The next contest race, the Alywow Stakes from Woodbine (Race 6), proved the inflection point for me and colleague (and laggard blogger) Red Rock or Bust. We discussed at great length -- perhaps one of the greatest aspect of handicapping contests is sharing opinions and knowledge with fellow players -- how prohibitive favorite Tu Endie Wei was beatable at around 1-to-2 (and finished dead last).    

Let the race replay show that my selection, 10-to-1 Blue Heart, probably my "best idea" of the day, relinquished a late lead to 3-to-1 Dene Court and lost by a long neck, costing me a mere $10 win bet on paper but really a shot at increasing my bankroll to around $240-$250...enough ammo to at least consider my oft-written "place/show" strategy.  (Red Rock, meanwhile, if I recall, just stayed alive by hitting with Dene Court and eventually went on to a $200 bankroll and Top 15 finish.)  Not to say I'd have gone that route, but here were the rest of my outcomes en route to zeroing out on the final contest race:
  • MP7: 18-to-1 Simeona, a game 4th at that price (-$10W)
  • WO7: 9-to-1 Crane Beach, 2nd to the even-money favorite ($-10W)
  • MP8: 2-to-1 Wildcat Creek, 2nd, nabbed in the shadow of the wire (-$10W)
  • WO8: another "inflection point", as I recall telling Red Rock I was between the three outside horses...picked the wrong one, as River Rush scored at 21-to-1; my ultimate selection, Drago's Best, was last seen standing still and finished dead last ($-10W, $5PL)
  • MP9: 16-to-1 Love Who, 3rd by a length-and-a-half (-$10W)
  • WO9: 2-to-1 Northern Passion, 2nd by three-quarters (-$20W)
  • MP10: 31-to-1 Miss Tallahasse, 6th of 8 off a layoff since October '11; thought Kendrick Carmouche and an impressive work were positive for a horse off a good 2011 campaign (-$10W)
    • In hindsight, I rushed this pick a bit, but have no regrets in what was a wide-open affair
  • WO10: 4-to-1 Miami Deco, 2nd by two lengths (-$20W)
  • MP11: 4-to-1 Raro, 3rd by one-and-a-quarter (-$20W)
  • MP12: 29-to-1 Here's Kiki, 2nd by two-and-a-half (-$10W)
    • Kudos to trainer Holly Harris, whose Blue Heart earlier in the card proved to be my sole winner on the afternoon and may be one to watch with her adept handling of NJ-bred maidens
Perhaps less-publicized mainstay Monmouth Park jockeys Francisco Maysonett and Shannon Uske are even hitting at higher win rates, but putting my outcome in perspective, my DRF past performance Sunday would read something like "June 3, 2012: Horseplayer NJ (16 1 6 3 .06)."  

Clearly a low-percentage win-rate, but those nine other in-the-money finishes suggest this handicapping contest bug-boy is on the verge of more-lucrative outcomes. 

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