Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Empty at Belmont

All my Belmont contest winners

I played Belmont's handicapping contest this past weekend. It was my ninth NYRA contest since 2010, my ninth off-the-board finish, and my first double bagel.

I was pretty sick late last week (like, bronchitis or walking ammonia or something), so I was thinking of not even going. Brett Tessler of NYRA told me if I cancelled by 8 pm Thursday I could get a refund -- I thought long and hard about doing so, but I figured I'd gut it out and probably feel better as my antibiotics kicked on over the weekend.

Anyway Saturday started badly when I seriously considered International Star in the Belmont opener but just didn't pull the trigger. He won easily at 9-1. It was all downhill from there, with most of my losses being of the not-even-close variety. Bruno DeJulio's workout reports didn't help, Brad Thomas' insights didn't help, and my own feeble attempt at handicapping between nose blows didn't help. I went 0-8 on track, then left my final two bets (including double) to catch the 4:41 train and watch the races from home. Different viewing venue, same result, as my two final bets (both Thomas calls) finished up the track and distanced, respectively.

Overall Saturday was a bit pricier than average over the three tracks (Bel-Mth-CD), I reckon. And with 270+ players, of course people had the prices, so top bankrolls were plenty healthy at the end of Saturday. On the other hand my $0 bankroll was more sickly than I was, and realistically my ceiling was a top 25 finish perhaps, and even that would entail a huge day on Sunday.

And that wasn't to be. Sunday was much better for me in terms of closeness on bets -- I didn't lose any tough photos, but I had several big prices hit the board. Most notable was my double-bet Forgotten Prayers, who finished 2nd in 3Mth at 31-1 -- this would have been capped at 15-1, but still would have been huge for me. What little hope I had early Sunday dissipated as 0-1 turned into 0-4 and then 0-7, at which point I was done.

I got stupid lucky on the way out the door when I won $266 (bet $40W on Jazzy Alexis at Woodbine, who was freaking 10-1 when they loaded into gate but somehow went off at only 6-1) on a total hunch play based on a glance at the screen, especially as I very rarely bet anything outside contests. It was funny and somehow fitting that after a weekend of failing to pick a winner via straightforward analysis and tapping expert sources, I hit a winner and make back more than half of the weekend's expenses based on the equivalent of a Psychic Friends Network call.

So that's that. Congrats to Eric Moomey (or Moomy -- it's spelled both ways in the NYRA wrap), the Coxes who absolutely killed it, Noro Healy and everyone else who cashed. Also, kudos to the NYRA who always puts on a good contest with great value.

As for me, by late Sunday I had defrayed my weekend's costs by $266 and my health was improving, so I was actually in a decent mood for having been blanked in the contest. Overall I'm running about even on the year, maybe net $200 on the plus side, and having some fun doing it, so I can't complain (but I still will).

I'll probably do Monmouth July 6.