Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sayonara NHC XIV Dreams!

It is not officially winter yet here in New Jersey, but the weather is certainly getting nippier and the NHC Tour schedule gets rather chilly through December for the NJ Horseplayer camp.

Roughly 10% of the 500 or so seats to the 2013 National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas in January 2013 remain up for grabs, but most are either out of my reach geographically, legally, or monetarily.

Sun's about to set
on 2013 NHC season
for NJ Horseplayer is offering upwards of 42 seats via $400 contests offering 10 NHC seats apiece on December 1, 15 and 29, and two $160 contests offering up to 6 NHC seats each on November 25 and December 8.  Budget constraints as a part-time player keep me out of the $400 realm, though I may play in one of the two $160 events.

Meanwhile, the NHC Tour calendar features on-track contests at Keeneland and Turfway Park, and in California in late December, which are not affordable in terms of time and travel.

From a legal perspective, NJ-based players are prohibited from events like the Online Handicapping Challenge, which took place this weekend and offers 100 seats to Las Vegas year-end tournaments (presumably a mix of NHC XIV and the Horseplayer World Series) -- a pretty nice proposition.  This, and a bit of dabbling with cash and points contests on, got me thinking...

Couldn't the NTRA, on behalf of dues-playing NHC Tour members, approach ADWs such as and, which offer seats to its headline national championship, about setting up a system whereby Tour members can participate in online contests such as the TwinSpires challenge?

I hope over the next month to explore the legalities a bit more in depth, but the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act seems to exempt outfits like DerbyWars who want to run handicapping contests and all sorts of fantasy sports (i.e., football, baseball) sites from UIGEA.  Logically, it would stand to reason that online ADWs could easily alter their technology to allow NHC Tour players like me, in states prohibiting the use of out-of-state wagering firms, to participate in contests like the TwinSpires challenge or events on Daily Racing Form's ADW, while prohibiting us from "wagering" through the ADW itself.

Perhaps I'm a simpleton, and there are valid reasons why such an effort would be futile for the NTRA; but as a dues-paying member, I did not join solely for 3-4 "free" handicapping contests that offer 10 seats to the National Handicapping Championship, but rather for advocacy for players as well.

There is no excuse for NTRA to sit idly by and ignore NJ players like me who are excluded from a host of qualifying opportunities.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Much as Commissioner Ford Frick attached an asterisk to Roger Maris' single-season home run record, history will reflect that NJ Horseplayer, bib No. 61,000 in the 2012 NYC Marathon, never quite met muster for a great lifetime achievement.

Organizers should have cancelled the marathon immediately after Superstorm Sandy hit (and, in my opinion sounded rather disingenuous on Friday about their needs to postpone), so I did not feel the kind of dejection that Roger Maris presumably felt when denied of the all-time single-season home run record in 1961.  Plus, hosts of generous individuals contributed to what was nearly a $4,000 fundraising campaign for the LAM Foundation, Alstrom Syndrome International and Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund!

A heartfelt "Thank You" to everyone for your support during my marathon training and fundraiser!

On the other hand, I feel rather dejected about Friday's Breeders Cup Marathon, where my top long-shot selection of the day, Grassy, ran so gamely and got a great ride from Garrett Gomez but finished second to a late-running Calidoscopio to scuttle my hopes for a sizable daily double and Pick 3.

Granted, I managed to turn my $50 bankroll for Friday into a $350 profit -- hitting back-to-back exacta wagers on the BC Marathon ($1 box paid $252.50) and BC Juvenile Fillies Turf ($2 box returned $85.50), but because of my frugality left Calidoscopio off my Pick 3 ticket.  Including the Argentinian horse would have given me a monumental $3,495 Pick 3 score, considering I went all in the first leg and got the best scenario with 15-to-1 Hightail an upset winner in the BC Juvenile Sprint 

By the same token, had Grassy been able to somehow hang on, I would have similarly profited, as I went ALL-Grassy in the Race 4 double (will-pays were enormous).  Lamenting my frugality is a bit of armchair quarterback, but on the other hand I take solace as a horseplayer in making a bullish call on a long-shot single who simply got chased down a by great horse and rider (Aaron Gryder) that day.

Saturday's $100 bankroll netted a mere $23.20 profit, as Little Mike cost me a shot at a decent Pick 3 payout in the final leg.  However, my best bet of the day, Mizdirection, topped an $80.20 exacta payout in the BC Turf Sprint over Unbridled's Note and I lucked out with Shanghai Bobby holding off He's Had Enough in the BC Juvenile to fill out my $43 daily double.  In all, good to come out ahead and put some toward Red Cross disaster relief efforts.

Brimming with confidence, I played in Sunday's NHC Qualifier at but came up empty.

I figure I've got maybe one more tournament in me, and any freebies that the NHC Tour may run before year-end, but have resigned myself to missing out on the National Handicapping Championship for a third-straight year.  Time's running out, and in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, I simply feel blessed that my family and our homes were unscathed and only subjected to power outages.   I hope you're well. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

All About the Marathon

I've been away from posting for about two weeks -- this week for lack of electricity (still) in the wake of Hurricane Sandy's devastation -- but am in full marathon mode this weekend.

Thursday, I picked up my NYC Marathon bib and race packet and am ready to tackle 26.2 miles through the Five Boroughs on Sunday.  It's not too late to make a contribution to the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund or my two other designated charities at

Do'rag ready!
Colleague Red Rock or Bust (be sure to enter his Breeders Cup contest) can attest to my contention that the BC Marathon is perhaps the most useless $500,000 Grade 2 event ever.  The 1.75 mile-race is generally filled with a bunch of also-ran horses ill-equipped to slide into any other event on the two-day card.  Hell, past champ Eldaafer followed his BC win with a race at, yes, Atlantic City Race Course.

Nonetheless, since I've been without power and have not had much of a chance to look at Friday's card, I am making the marathon the centerpiece of today's wagers.

Grassy looks very intriguing to me at 30-1.

Clearly, Grassy is a turf horse, but I think third off a layoff has as good a shot as any with one of California's top jocks -- clearly worth the risk to me, and as I continue to scratch my head over Attigun as the favorite at 9-2 and with no wins outside of optional claiming, I'm all in on bomber Grassy, who has two good races with Gomez under his belt.

For those playing along at home, here's how I'm burning $50 this afternoon:

  • Race 4, $2 WP 4 ($4)
  • Race 4, $1 Pick 3: ALL with 4 with 4,6,12 ($21)
  • Race 4, $2 Double: ALL with 4 ($14)
  • Race 5, $1 Pick 3: 4 with 4,6,12 with 2 ($3)
  • Race 5, $2 Double: 4 with 12 ($2)
  • Race 6, $4 WP 12 ($4) -- The Gold Cheongsam looks sneaky good to me at 20-to-1
  • Race 6, $2 Double: 12 with 2 ($2)
I'm not too optimistic about getting power back tomorrow (or cashing winning tickets with a 30-to-1 single), so I'll mention that I like Ron the Greek in the Breeders Cup Classic and will play with Flat Out in exotics, though I am not all that intrigued by that race in particular, and will likely play $50 of Pick 3's on Saturday.