Wednesday, November 16, 2011


Rough weekend for yours truly at last weekend's Aqueduct handicapping contest, as I finished 168th of 225 and was never really involved.

My only winner of the whole damn weekend was Mon Rose in the 5th at Aqueduct on Saturday. She paid $11, putting my notional bankroll at $110, good for about 45th place at this early juncture (2:30 p.m. Saturday). I was feeling good at that time, but little did I know that would be my high-water mark for the weekend.

Quick an' dirty bet recap (note each bet is a notional $20W unless otherwise specified):


2Aqu, Rock On Home, 9-1: had a nice easy front-running trip and spurted away at the top of the stretch, but faded late to 4th

4 Crc, Vero's Hero, 6-1: I saw some odds movement here but this horse did nothing

5Aqu, Mon Rose, 9-2: got kind of lucky with this my only winner, as I only decided to bet it at the last minute

5CD, Glynisthemenace, 21-1 (would have been capped at 15-1): was feeling a bit bold after winning with Mon Rose. This race was wide-open with lots of prices, unfortunately mine didn't come in

6CD, A.P. Diva, 23-1 (would have been capped): had a nice stalking trip and dead aim on the leaders in the stretch, but wasn't good enough. Gave me a brief thrill but only managed 3rd.

7Aqu, Market Strike, 13-1: first-time Dutrow starter, did nothing

7CD, For All Who Conga, 9-2: didn't pick up his feet

8Aqu, Musical Rain, 5-1: rallied late but only managed a non-threatening 3rd. $10.80 winner Hit It Rich was my second choice, very playable

9Aqu, King Keene, 36-1 (would have been capped): did nothing. He had a hint of turf pedigree and was making first start on the lawn, but this was definitely a reach

10CD, Cover Boy, 25-1 (double bet, $4oW): kind of a nutty pick, especially as my only double bet of the day, but no-name trainer Carolyn Murphy had been live so I thought it was worth a flyer. Not sure if this horse was or wasn't live though as he had to take up sharply early in this sprint race and lost all chance

So after Saturday I had a fairly meager bankroll of $110. The leader had about $700. didn't post the full standings at the halfway point, but I'm sure I was midpackish, probably around 110-120th.

I was bummed that I couldn't eke out at least one winner after Mon Rose. I can't say I was real close on anything, either; what I was close with were two different horses who I almost bet but didn't. Both almost won, at about 8-1 each. So I dodged bullets there.

Going into Sunday I decided to try to get back into contention in a meaningful way from the get-go, or not at all. There wasn't anything I really liked anywhere, and I didn't want to subject myself to a slow drip of losing and then suddenly it's 4 p.m. and I have 3 bets left and I'm hopelessly out of it -- I'd rather go out in a blaze of glory and at least be home in time to catch some of the late-afternoon football games.

Here's what I did:

1Aqu, File Gumbo, 7-1: I originally liked a horse that scratched out of this race but thought FG was a decent fallback, but he did nothing

1CD, Folowthemoneytrail, 34-1 (double bet, $40W, odds would have been capped): I told you I was going hell-bent for leather early in the afternoon. "Lost footing start" was the comment and he finished 5th.

2CD, Baby Afleet, 12-1: nowheresville

3Aqu, Page by Page, 9-2: not-good-enough 3rd behind the chalks

4Aqu, St. Lucy, 8-1: wide 4th

4CD, Raquel, 6-1: looked strong at one point but flattened out and only managed 3rd.

At this point, down half my Sunday bets including the double, I was pretty much cooked. Even if I ran the table the rest of the way I would have been lucky to crack the top 20. So I made a few more bets , including my last 3 on my way out the door and that was that.

See you next year NYRA!

Friday, November 11, 2011

Last Stand

First off allow me to apologize for being a lame-ass blogger and not showing up for almost two months now. My excuses are: busy with work, cannibalization by twitter (I once read a tweet that said "86% of all blog posts start with 'sorry I haven't been blogging...'"), and the sun got in my eyes.

Long story short, I'm still unqualified for the 2012 NHC, so in a hail-mary attempt to rectify that I'll be participating in the Aqueduct handicapping contest this weekend (Sat-Sun). It will be my last live contest of 2011. I'm taking the 9:57 a.m. NJ Transit train from South Orange to NYC, then switching to MTA and A-training to the Big A. I should be there at about 11:30, plenty of time to sign and settle in for a 12:20 first post.

I can't say I'm totally amped yet but I am looking forward to it and I'm sure my pulse will quicken once I get there. It's a full-immersion weekend (2 days, 3 cards per day) to be sure, and NYRA does it right, with a decent food spread and a comfortable and fun atmosphere that includes draft beer by midafternoon.

I haven't been following the races worth a damn recently (maybe a 3 on an earnestness scale of 1 to 10 at Aqueduct; 2 at Churchill; and 1 at Calder) so I am kidding myself if I think I can effectively cover 60+ races over two days by straight-shot past-performance and replay analysis. Instead, I'll be relying on my usual short-cut angles such as trainer recency and odds-movement patterns. Trust the angles, baby.

A couple general observations on playing these NYRA contests: (1) having at least some measure of early speed is critical, given the stipulated # and amount of bets. There's no coming from the clouds with an all-in thing like you can do in the NJ contests. As Yogi Berra would say, it gets late early at these things. (2) Some of my more "angle-y" plays are at CD and Crc, so I'm guessing I end up playing on the conservative side at Aqueduct (maybe as low as 7-2 or 3-1) and try to nail prices at Churchill and Calder.

That's all folks.