I would like to play in the Saratoga Handicapping Challenge on Wed-Thu Aug 10-11. I have the days off work, I can afford it, and I think it would be a lot of fun while providing a decent chance to win some prize money (1/15) and maybe even an elusive NHC seat (1/50).
However, the $1,000 ante stopped me in my tracks. I had arranged for the days off on the expectation that the ante would be $400, as the two other NYRA contests are. I am still ahead a shade north of $4K this year thanks to a March windfall, so I can use some more tax-loss offsets, but there are still a bunch more contests to be played this year and $1K (more like $1,300 when you factor in transpo and one night's lodging) in one shot is just a bit out of my comfort zone.
BUT I have come up with a compromise idea. I'm tentatively planning to budget $150 for a track excursion one day next weekend (Jul 22-23). If I can somehow net $600 profit from said excursion, I will sign up for the Spa contest -- I was going to play that for a $400 ante, and $1,000-$600 = $400.
Realistically it's a longshot, as I'd say netting $600 profit with a starting bankroll of $150 is not much better than a 1-in-10 chance approximately. But it will make for an interesting day at least.
Bad day at the office yesterday, as the NHC Super Qualifier event at Monmouth Park turned out to be a Super Dud for this NHC aspirant.
The tone was set earlyish in the day when two of my longshots, 14-1 Fast Grievance in the Belmont 3rd and 18-1 Brushed by a Star in the 6th at Monmouth, ran well but each only finished 2nd to the chalk. I did have a small place bet on Fast Grievance, but I needed a win by one or both to put me in the game early, instead I got back on heels.
My $150 initial bankroll sagged by about half before I rebounded a bit with $15W on 5-2 Dominus in the Dwyer at Belmont. This got me back up to $129, but it turned out to be fools' gold, as my next bet was $100W on 7-1 Icabad Crane in the Suburban, who is still running I think. The I put my last $29W on 10-1 Sleepless Knight in the UN at Monmouth, kind of a reach really but I needed a price. He faded (also to last, appropriately) and that was all she wrote. A jet-lagged NJ Horseplayer dot com was a fellow buster on this day, and we made our way to the exit.
Ultimately there's not a lot to say as far as a retrospective, it just wasn't my day. Late-day prices mean everything in handicapping contests, and a player could always lament and parse shoulda/woulda/couldas if he/she liked some of those late-day prices. But the unfortunate fact is that I didn't like Hungry Island ($15.60, 8Bel) Flat Out ($29.20, 10Bel), Kensei ($32.40, 10Mth), or Teaks North ($16, 11 Mth). So without having a single one of them on my to-bet list (the only one I even moderately considered was Kensei), I had no chance. A quintessential instance of going to war with a popgun.
So what's next? I'm a bit contested out after back-to-back weekends of losing contests, so for now, some regrouping is in order. I'm 98% not doing to Saratoga contest in August and the Monmouth August event was cancelled, so there are no live things until September. Until then I'll fiddle around online with stuff here and there, while lying in wait.
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.