Sunday, March 16, 2014

Luck o' the Irish

Monmouth Park food is hardly magically delicious -- but I got friggin lucky in SSC3
I'm as likely as the next guy to moan about bad trips, tough beats, capricious stewards and the countless other vagaries that can befall a horseplayer.

But sometimes things just go your way. Exhibit A of plain ol' dumb luck was my experience at yesterday's Simulcast Series Challenge 3 at Monmouth Park.

I finished 7th of 298 contestants with a $681 bankroll. That plus $447 in prize money netted out to a +$900-and-change day, plus a second seat in next month's SSC Invitational.

I have only Bruno's workout reports to thank, really. My handicapping for this SSC series has been a three-legged stool of sorts: (listed in no particular order) Bruno's workout reports for the Gulfstream card; my own proprietary (patent pending) trainer-recency angle, which I find tends to work best at Tampa; and old-fashioned perusal of DRF past performances. But yesterday, the second two legs were essentially no-shows, leaving me with Bruno, who thankfully killed it with good skinny on Hot and Spicy, who won GP3 at 13-1 (I had $10W, $5P) , and Little Daddy, who won GP8 at 16-1 ($10W).

Fast forward to 5:45 pm, when there were two races left. I had a $274.50 bankroll after winning on H&S and LD but losing on 10 other bets, spanning six of the $10 variety, plus 2 $15s, 1 $20, and 1 $40 (Gamay Noir in Tam9).

I liked Centre Court in GP10 based largely on Bruno's info. I wasn't crazy about the 3-1 price but I figured it was just good enough. So I slapped down $174W, figuring if she lost I would have a Ben for a spec play in the finale.

Centre Court got an okayish trip before being fanned 7 wide into the stretch while making her move. She got the lead and barely, barely held on in a photo finish that was about as close as it could be without it being a dead heat. (Unfortunately the photo went the wrong way for not one but two contest brethren.)

In the last race I went $100W on 6-1 Gratitude, who opened up a too-long lead and burned out and finished 4th. The 6-1 Pletcher/Castellano winner was very playable but I probably liked it 3rd best, c'est la vie. I would have loved to bang up into the top 5 where the real money is, but I was more than happy staying in 8th.

So that was that, at the time I figured I had a reasonably (but not especially) lucky day with some good handicapping. After a lovely home-cooked meal of corned beef and cabbage with the NJHorseplayer clan, I headed north to Essex County.

It was only when I was home and reviewing stuff from the day that I realized just how lucky I was. The startling revelation was that Centre Court broke through the gate before the race. I TOTES missed that, as I guess I was chatting or somesuch. I'm a big believer in canceling bets when pre-race shenanigans happen, whether it be significant reluctance to load, or a jockey toss, or a gate break-through. Stuff like that just expends physical and mental energy needed for the race (someone who goes by o_crunk tweeted "Cheers to Centre Court for winning after breaking thru gate. Unscientific study of horses breaking thru gate last 24 mos - 22/402 $0.52 ROI"). And Centre Court's trainer even said post-race that his horses never run well after breaking through the gate.

So, I should have caught the gate break-through, and I should have ran up to cancel the bet. But because I missed it, the bet stood, and the bet won. I was essentially rewarded for not paying attention.

Now THAT is lucky.