Wednesday, December 31, 2014

So I'm Free Jan. 23-25

It seems I'll go to work in NYC as usual on Fri Jan. 23, and putter around near home in South Orange, NJ on Sat. Jan. 24 and Sun Jan. 25, rather than being in Las Vegas for the 2015 National Handicapping Championship. I'll watch from afar as NJHorseplayer pulls off the improbable NHC victory.
My Vegas itinerary
My fate was sealed last Saturday, when North Slope didn't run a lick in the Gulfstream finale. I had plunked down my last $418 ($300W and $118P) on that 6-1 shot (a prime contender in a 13-horse field), and most likely I would be going to Vegas, if only it weren't for those pesky eight horses who finished in front of him.    
Here's how NTRA summarized my year: 
Terence Flanagan 1400 T1029
NHC Tour Free Online Challenge
3/22/2014 O 50
NHC Tour Free Online Challenge
4/13/2014 O 50
Monmouth Park
4/27/2014 T 150
Monmouth Park
5/31/2014 T 150
NHC Tour Free Online Challenge
5/31/2014 O 50
Belmont Handicapping Challenge
6/21/2014 T 150
Monmouth Park 
7/6/2014 T 150
Sovereign Stable
8/16/2014 O 50
Monmouth Park
8/23/2014 T 150
Monmouth Park
9/18/2014 T 150
Aqueduct
11/16/2014 T 150
Monmouth Park
12/27/2014 T 150
So alas, another year of not qualifying for the NHC. And another year with no significant contest scores -- my $6K 2nd place finish at a Monmouth contest in early 2011 is pretty far back in the rear-view mirror.  
That said, my 2014 contesting wasn't all bad. 
A few highlights:
1. Winning two entries into the Simulcast Series Challenge Invitational at Monmouth, by virtue of 15th-place and 7th-place finishes in SSCs 2 and 3 respectively. I won a few bucks and some glory -- not bad for a one-entry-per-contest guy like myself.
2. Some mild success in DerbyWars -- nothing to write home about but I qualified for a couple big games via low-ante feeders. 
3. The 12/27 contest at Monmouth. Granted it's a reach -- and a sure sign that I didn't make any noise this year -- to call losing $200 and finishing tied for last a highlight. But, I nailed two longshots (22-1 and 42-1), I was in 7th place with $638 late in the day, and I took some good swings to try to get over the hump. So while the product stunk, the process was sound, and if I keep doing this I'll get there one day.   
4. Holding the line and not spending one thin dime on any contest that is tied to an NHC seat for which the contest operator is charged $7500. This means as a matter of principle, I do not play NHC-feeding contests on DerbyWars, HorseTourneys, or NHCQualify. I'm sure those contest operators can live without the grand or so I used to spend annually on such contests, but this is my way of voting with my wallet. 
So all in all I had fun, I had a few cheap thrills, and my losses were measured and quite reasonable for pursuing a hobby.     
I expect 2015 will be a similar contest schedule to 2014 -- NJ and NY brick-and-mortar contests, plus some cash DerbyWars games to scratch the itch between live events. It all starts on Jan. 10 at Monmouth Park.   
Happy New Year to all!