Wednesday, May 4, 2011

A Look Ahead


I'm in the midst of a mini-break in handicapping contest playing and blogging: I haven't been involved in anything since my decent little 7th-place finish at the Meadowlands on April 16, and there's nothing really on the schedule until a small ($50) HPWS feeder at Monmouth Park on May 21. But there is a fair amount of stuff coming up that I thought I'd preview, so here's what I have penciled in:

(Starting on) May 6, Publichandicapper.com

I like this thing. In my opinion PH is the purest handicapping contest out there --it spans multiple tracks and races each week, it rewards selectivity and patience by requiring selections in only a modest percentage (maybe a bit north of 50%) of contest races, and it runs six months, which greatly reduces the luck factor. Any fool (even me) can catch lightning in a bottle on any given afternoon and do well in a one-day contest, but over six months, the wheat will be separated from the chaff. Plus it's free.

However, I can't get too excited as PH only qualifies one person for Vegas and there promises to be at least 1,000-2,000 players in the starting gate. I like to think (perhaps delusionally) that I'm a top 5-10% handicapper when I'm good, but I sure as hell ain't a top 0.05-0.1% handicapper.

May 21, $50HPWS Contest at Monmouth

Nothing too exciting here as it's a small contest and HPWS rather than NHC qualifier, but more likely than not I'll take a spin down and meet up with NJHorseplayer for the afternoon. I won't be at Monmouth on opening weekend (May 14-15) and I probably won't be there over Memorial Day weekend either, so in addition to the contest, May 21 will be my chance to see the new and unimproved Monmouth Park.

(Starting on) May 28, Monmouth Park's Survival at the Shore

This is a fun game, though as with Publichandicapper,players will number well into four figures so I won't be banking on this thing punching my ticket to Vegas. I think I survived to about the final 200-300 two different years (including 2 years ago), but other years (including last year) I forgot to make my selections twice early in the meet and thus made an early exit.

This is a great poor man's contest as far as free entertainment and action -- when I was un(der)employed two summers ago I spent many a weekday afternoon watching $5K claiming races on my laptop, rooting for my selection to at least hit the board so I could live to see another day.

June 5, Monmouth-Woodbine Handicapping Challenge
There's not much information on this except that it costs $100, qualifies 1 for NHC and there are no subsequent contests at Monmouth scheduled until August 27 (ouch). I'll wait to hear further details but offhand this sounds like something I would partake in.

I would be interested in doing a $100 NHCQualify.com online contest on June 4, 11, or 18, but round 2 is on June 25, which just so happens to coincide with...

June 25-26, Belmont Handicapping Challenge
This what I'm talkin' about. $400, two-day event, and most definitely deeper waters, as dudes fly in from Chicago and L.A. for this thing. I crossed state lines for the first time last year and played this event as well as Aqueduct in the fall, finishing midpack each time. This year I really want to make some noise in at least 1 NYRA contest, if for no other reason than to prove to myself that I can ship out of town and win.

I'm looking forward to this contest even more since they restored LIRR service to Belmont. Last year I had to take LIRR to Queens Village and then stand on a corner with fellow unwashed degenerates, waiting for some godforsaken bus to take us to the track. To add insult to injury, the bus looked like a luxury coach job in the picture on the NYRA website, but in reality it was an old school bus with no air conditioning (or shocks, apparently)!
But I digress.

August 10-11, Saratoga contest
Same deal as the Belmont contest I believe, only this is on a Wed-Thu rather than Sat-Sun. I have a wedding to attend on Friday, so I'm thinking perhaps I'd take Wed-Fri off and go up to Saratoga for two days of hardcore contesting. Normally I probably wouldn't do this, but I am feeling a bit bold from being decently in the black so far this year, so what the hell, it could be a lot of fun.

August 27, Monmouth contest
If they do things the same way as in previous years this will be a $300 contest that sends 3 to Vegas. If I'm still alive perhaps I will partake.