Ramblings of a weekend handicapper's bid to qualify annually for the $3 million National Horseplayer Championship in Las Vegas. Flamed out in 2015, 2016 and 2019 NHCs...and looking to qualify in Feb. 2020, still with an eye toward playable long-shots.
Monday, December 22, 2014
Amid the chaos that is Christmas season, let us not forget the "reason for the season," so a blessed Christmas to those who observe, and may the Light of the Lord fill everyone's house!
Now, for far more frivolous matters, I burned my final vacation day from work today for exciting endeavors, like sitting in the AAA service center (as we speak) to have my wife's car serviced after much procrastination and addressing other priorities.
Nothing says vacation day or "Merry Christmas" like a large bill for maintenance and new tires.
Every day since Thanksgiving Eve, really, has been a whirlwind of nonstop activity -- some good, some bad...mostly mundane compared to competing in handicapping contests.
In catching up on email, however, one message really caught my eye.
Those of us on the NHC Tour (remember to register soon for 2015) are accustomed to the entertaining and information weekly Tour newsletter, but the last correspondence I received had additional meaning.
I saw, but did not really read until this morning, a message sent by Michele Ravencraft, including several attachments pertaining to the actual 2015 National Handicapping Championship.
As I worked through each attachment, participating in the NHC at Treasure Island in Las Vegas (January 23-25) suddenly became far more a reality than it had even seemed back in September when I qualified via the Del Mar Online Handicapping Challenge.
In reality, there's only 1 month until the Championship, so now I'm even more anxious to get out there, compete, enjoy...and win.
I recognize that the odds are somewhat stacked against me, considering the depth and quality of the NHC field, including several dual-qualifiers (e.g. people playing 2 tickets), full-time and professional handicappers, past NHC champions, qualifiers who have competed on TV, and several others who have taken thoroughbred handicapping far more seriously than me for far longer.
Regardless, I anticipate going in guns ablaze and sticking to my long-shot focused strategy.
When my mind has not been cluttered with thoughts of family duties, work, coaching and, well, general clutter, I have contemplated how to prepare for the NHC.
I'm a first-time qualifier, after all.
Seeing in the recent Tour email the list of 7 potential tracks and NHC rules reiterating that I will have to play at least 40 races and upwards of nearly 50 over 3 days, I know that I must remain grounded.
The volume of true "handicapping" -- video analysis, poring over past performances -- could prove overwhelming in my busy daily schedule, but a month from the event, I will not get wrapped up in trying to be perfect in Vegas.
For the time being, I am simply using the time leading up to Christmas and the New Year to relish filling my phone's calendar with every little item on the NHC's recent email.
Flight from New York and NHC registration 31 nights from now.
Daily breakfast and lunch at the Caribbean Foyer of Treasure Island each day of the NHC.
The NHC Awards dinner on Sunday night.
If nothing else, I anticipate a wonderful experience and opportunity, and delving headlong into my preparation for the National Handicapping Championship at the start of 2015.