One mortal's quixotic quest to qualify for the 2013 National Handicapping Championship
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Orleans or Bust?
Naah, I won't be changing the name of my blog to this one either, though I did participate in a handicapping contest at the Meadowlands yesterday that qualified the winner for the 2012 Horseplayer World Series at the Orleans Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. And damned if I didn't almost win it (I think).
After a nightmare NJ Transit trip from South Orange to Secaucus that involved a 1:20 delay and an evacuation to a "rescue" train, I arrived at the Big M at about half past two (thanks to William H. at NJHorseplayer dot com for signing me in). I won't bore you with a race-by-race recap but instead I'll pick up the action starting right before the Blue Grass at Keeneland, when I was down to $33 (from an initial $100), my only win having been a few bucks back on the chalky Aikenite in the Commonwealth.
I figured it was time to go all-in so I put $23W and $10P on Brilliant Speed. I can't claim I loved the horse on my own; instead, I got the idea from Dave P., a friend and former colleague who is a heavy race-replay watcher and whose handicapping opinions I respect. Dave P. liked Queen'splatekitten best in the Blue Grass, with Brilliant Speed and Sensational Slam as other horses of interest; to my credit (or, luckily), I tossed QPK because of the far outside post, and didn't like Sensational Slam, landing me on Brilliant Speed.
After a couple quick (and probably overly rambunctious) losing bets, I was down to $476 and in 4th or 5th or somesuch, and Oaklawn was the only contest track still going. I didn't touch the Arkansas Derby, leaving the OP finale as the day's last race, a three-turn dirt marathon for cheapie horses.
I took a very long look at 11-1 Muhaaseb but ultimately opined that the Asmussen chalk General Partner was a standout and plunked down $250W. 6-5 (7-5 when I bet) is a crummy absolute price in a full field, but I just thought General Partner was the race's most likely winner by a substantial margin. Anyway, the horse had a very decent trip, rallied around the 3rd turn and drew clear in the stretch, only to be collared late by a longshot I didn't like at all. I finished with $226 bankroll, good for 7th place and $399 prize money.
A General Partner victory would have won me $300, giving me a final bankroll of $776. Of course I can't be sure who everyone else bet on that last race so this exercise is conjecture, but based on the lack of movement I saw in the bankrolls of the top 5 players right before the last race (when my bankroll had dropped by the outlay of my pending bet), I suspect most or all of my rivals either didn't bet the last race or bet a smaller amount, so $776 could well have taken down the whole thing.
So while my $425 net profit on the day was nothing to write home about, it will fund a future event or two, and yesterday was a good contest experience. I would guess that 6-5 Asmussen horses with 2 1/2-length leads in the stretch win probably 80-90% of the time -- I was just on the wrong end of the percentages.
This blog is about my quest to qualify for the (insert year here) National Handicapping Championship at Treasure Island in Las Vegas. (The NHC was formerly held at Red Rock, hence the blog name.) I have yet to qualify for the NHC, but I have racked up four top-10 placings in NJ contests and have had some success in online events.