Saturday, August 29, 2009


No luck for this NHC hopeful in today's Travers Day online contest, as my meager bankroll of $16.70 put me in a tie for 393rd place (out of about 600 players). My only winner was The Roundhouse in Sar6, and Titletown Tiger's 2nd-place finish in the 13th gave me a few more shekels. The top two finishers (karsik and McCarron 7000) had $108.50 and $105.30, so I was a country mile from where I needed to be.

On the bright side, my results today indicate that I most likely would have done shitty in a real contest, so I'm glad I stayed away from the $600 (!) event at Monmouth. Sometimes the best bets are the ones you don't make.

Travers picks are in

My final picks for today's NHC Tour Travers Day Online Challenge are as follows:

Race #1: Saratoga No. 2:
(Post No. 10) Cautionary Tale

Race #2: Lure S. - Saratoga No. 4:
(Post No. 2) Jack Spratt

Race #3: Saratoga No. 5:
(Post No. 2) Grand Stage (Off turf. Switched to #13 Good Question)

Race #4: Saratoga No. 6:
(Post No. 1) Picou/Richland Creek

Race #5: Victory Ride S. - Saratoga No. 7:
(Post No. 4) Sky Haven

Race #6: Saratoga No. 8:
(Post No. 5) Alex Le Great (Scratched. Switched to #8 Moonlark)

Race #7: Ballston Spa H. - Saratoga No. 9:
(Post No. 6) Captain`s Lover (SAF)

Race #8: NetJets King's Bishop S. - Saratoga No. 11:
(Post No. 7) Flat Bold

Race #9: Shadwell Travers S. - Saratoga No. 12:
(Post No. 2) Charitable Man

Race #10: Saratoga No. 13:
(Post No. 5) Ranger James (Off turf. Switched to #3 Titletown Tiger)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Travers Day ahead

Toll the bell -- I was officially eliminated from the 'Survival at the Shore' contest on Saturday August 15. So unfortunately I will not be going to the 2010 National Handicapping Championship on Monmouth Park's dime. I finished in 254th place, which was nominally in the top 6% of the 4,228 initial contestants, but realistically it's not that impressive, because I'd estimate 1,000-1,500 people were eliminated by forgetting to make picks rather than making losing picks. It was fun, I lasted way longer than I ever had before, and hopefully I'll make an even better run next year.

Next up for me is the NHC Tour's free (for Tour members) Travers Day online contest this Saturday. It sends the top 2 (out of about 800-1,200 players) to Vegas, so needless to say one needs to have an unconscious day to get in, but I gotta be due one of these eras. I need to figure out how I can watch the races live online (I don't get TVG and I imagine ESPN will only show a race or two before the Travers) without going to the track, because the contest will be a lot less fun if I can't see the races.

Beyond that, I'm thinking I will try either the Meadowlands contest on October 3 or the Aqueduct affair on November 14-15 as my last-hurrah qualifying attempt of the year.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Barely breathing

At this point it's almost comical that I'm doing so poorly in Monmouth Park's 'Survival at the Shore' contest, yet still I survive. I'm currently in 243rd place; my bankroll of $811.20 is almost $400 behind the leader. I had been up as high as 160th or so about 4-5 weeks ago, ~$275 behind the leader, but any slim hopes I had of pulling off some sort of miracle have long since dissipated. In a way I'm hoping I get eliminated soon just so I'm put out of my misery, but at the same time I continue to derive some enjoyment from the Wed-Sun action.

Some observations:
-I'm ranked 243, but there are only 233 remaining survivors. I think there are only 12 surviving players behind me.
-In the "Winners" category, I rank 364th and DEAD LAST among surviving players, with 28 wins, or less than 0.5 wins per day. My 28 win total is a full 5 wins fewer than the next survivor. So I guess I've generated a relatively high proportion of my bankroll through 2nd and 3rd place finishers.
-I had tried to pick some mix of prices and "sure" shots every day, but lately I've been going towards big prices. After all, I have nothing to lose.
-I'm glad this is all notional money. There have been 59 racing days so far, figure $18 a day ($2WPS on one horse in three races), that's $1,080 worth of bets. "Winning" an $811.20 bankroll off that implies a -25% ROI, significantly worse than the 18% take on win, place and show bets. And I'm one of the survivors!

Tough game.

Monday, August 3, 2009

OK, This Blog Has Pretty Much Sucked Lately

I'll admit it: as a new blog venture, RedRockorBust has been more or less a bust so far. It looked promising for a while a few months ago, as I made some good posts and some interesting comments came in, but things took a turn for the lame and it has become pretty dang dull.

But rather than just let it slide, I thought I'd assess the situation on a blog post. (At the very least, this should be more interesting than some of my recent posts.)

The main reason why RRoB has sucked is simple: the blog is about trying to qualify for the 2010 National Handicapping Championship, and I -- largely due to cash flow constraints -- have been doing precious little to try to qualify for the 2010 NHC. It's like a cooking blog when the blogger hasn't been in the kitchen recently, or a biking blog written by someone whose tires are flat: it's no surprise that it's uninteresting. So, my posts about my latest move up or down 20 spots in the standings of Monmouth park's 'Survival at the Shore' contest aren't exactly thrilling stuff.

I also believe I have failed, at least so far, to reach the core readership for RRoB. It's good that this blog is a niche site, at least in theory, because it should keep my content focused; but it's also bad that this blog is a niche site, because it doesn't really appeal to the vast majority of horseplayers who don't play in handicapping contests. So, my audience is limited, and while I have made a few connections with NHC qualifiers, I don't think I've been effective at getting the name out there. Plus, when the blog gets weak, I'm not very motivated to spread the word, which contributes to the weakness of the blog -- sort of a vicious cycle.

I'm gonna stick it out for now, as I do have at least one more trick up my sleeve this year (beyond the Survival contest) to try to make it to the NHC at Red Rock in January. And I do believe the concept of this blog works. But beyond this year, I will have to sit down and reassess whether it's the best medium for my blogging.