I tried my luck at the Belmont Park handicapping contest this past weekend. Fairly serious stuff -- two days, $400 ante, top 3 qualify for Vegas. $40K to the winner, pretty good prizes for the top 10, but then just $600-$700 for 11-20, and everyone from 21st place on down (out of 221 contestants) busts completely. So, this contest is not for the very casual player nor for the faint of heart.
Long story short, I schlepped out from Essex County NJ to Long Island in the heat both days. It was a fun time and a good experience overall but I managed only a midpack finish -- one 5-1 winner (from 10 bets) on Saturday, one 6-1 winner (also from 10 bets) on Sunday. I was in 115th place after Saturday and finished in 116th place (how's that for consistent)! It was a thoroughly midpack finish, my comment line would probably be something like "evenly" or "no threat".
My best shot on Sunday was Farmer Jones,a 13-1 second time starter at Monmouth who had taken early money in his debut then acted up in the gate and didn't do anything. I put my big bet ($40) on him, he had a nice trip and came running late to overtake the 2-5 Pletcher chalk...but the only problem was that a 10-1 speed horse in front of me had forgotten to stop, so my horse only got second.
Had I won that (it was 3 lengths, not close, but still a nice pick) I would have finished in about 15th. Say I got Farmer Jones plus another 5-1 winner, I'm in the top 10; Farmer Jones plus another 5-1 winner plus a 6-1 winner, and I'm in the top 5. Now I know all that mumbo jumbo plus $2.75 gets me a transfer from Hoboken to New York on New Jersey Transit, I'm not saying I should have taken down the contest. Rather, my point is that there's not all that much difference between going 2-for-20 in bets (which I did, and got me home with lint in my pockets) versus going 5-for-20 (which could have earned me a nice check and sent me to Vegas).
At any rate, I live to fight another day.