Saturday, December 10, 2011

Still Hangin' Around

Wow, four months since my last post... it's not like I hit the Mega Millions and have been sipping cold drinks in a warm destination.  Work, life, the holidays, the failure of Rutgers football against Connecticut have all been keeping my busy.  The future of Monmouth Park for 2012 is in doubt, Aqueduct is doing well with the new casino (Hello NJ, see the writing on the wall yet - we are now surrounded by Aqueduct, Yonkers, Parx and PA, Delaware, etc.).  I can't help but thinking after the breakdown in negotiations this past week that my last trip to Monmouth (simulcast series qualifing event) may have very well been my last.

This weekend offered the hail mary of NHC freebie qualifying... three free events (TVG and Brisnet on Saturday & the NHC Freebie on Sunday).  Trying to take these chances somewhat seriously has been a huge mental drain (along with entering my selections at Public Handicapper) - 7 different tracks for Saturday (Haw, Aqu, Hol, GP, FG, Tam, TP) makes me feel like Gaylord Perry's confused jersey when he was elected to the Hall of Fame; plus ten races for Sunday from four additional tracks (FG, Aqu, GP, and Hol).  While realizing the odds of being forced to play mandatory races (of which I would have only played two of the 20 Saturday races with real money) against about 3,000 of my closest friends - I am wondering why I just put myself through the time and effort.

As the opportunities for qualifying for the NHC finals are winding down due to the inability of NJ Residents to play in twinspires or DRF Bets event - it is time to start reflecting on what went right and where I need to do more work for next year.  This year saw a lot of positives.  I finally was able (with the help of my good friend Jake) to get my old 'system' and homemade figures/pace system automated; I discovered a couple more profitable angle plays to add to the arsenal with a few more very close to being added to the list; established a profitable and winning Pick 4 strategy when targeting guaranteed pools (state of NJ has already sent me my paperwork so they can take their share of my winnings as well); and have gotten to know and interacted with several other good online handicappers/bloggers with similar interests and goals (Terry from Redrockorbust; Bill from NJ Horseplayer; and the Knight Sky... just to name a few). 

I look forward to 2012 and trying to qualify for what sounds like more of a circus for the finals in 2013.  I am optomistic that as long as there are people that are passionate about racing that I will be watching a late Friday afternoon card with a cooler of ice cold beer this summer at Monmouth Park (which is a mere 5.4 miles from my office) listening to Sinatra sing "Summer Wind" at the end of the day, that I will be able to bring the kids to a place I have loved going to and learned a lot about racing (and life) from my late Uncle Dutch, that Rapid Redux will make history again this upcoming week by winning his 19th race of the year, and that I will be sitting in a sportbook in Vegas in January of 2013 winning the top prize and having one hell of time doing it with my good luck charm and biggest supporter (my wife) by my side.

Now it's time to finish up my Sunday NHC Freebie picks...  who knows, maybe I'll be sitting in Vegas in January of 2012 instead.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Horse Tourneys... another wasted day and $$$

Like almost a thousand others today, I figured I would take a shot at the NHC qualifier hosted by Horse Tourneys (an affiliate of Ellis Park).  What a waste of time, money, and effort.  Hopefully they will get their fecal matter coagulated as they move forward...

Coming off of a very relaxing week of vacation, I figured I would download the PP's for Del Mar, Saratoga, and Monmouth (as well as the data files) - I spent the time working the ten contest races meticulously...  I got my early picks in, adjusted early for some scratches....  then I wanted to change contenders based on odds... and guess what?  The site goes down!  Finally after the second leg, they post a note on their site that the contest has been cancelled.

Kudos to Ellis Park / Horse Tourney for offering up to 50 spots (out of 500) to the NHC Finals in Vegas, but if the site is not going to work, who is really going to play?

Thanks for nothing... I guess as usual, I was able to get some more practice in for a REAL tourney...

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Made a good run, but I run too slow....

Unlike Johnny Cash, they didn't overtake me down in Juarez, Mexico.... it was more like overtaken in Del Mar, California.

Freebie NHC qualifer today, top three punch their ticket to dance... I managed a 42nd place finish.

Race 1 - Woodbine Race 4 - I took 5 Embur's Song 8-5 who won and gave me ($2WP) - 7.60... for a fleeting moment, I can say I was tied for first place with a ton of other people.  I wanted to beat the ML favorite 3 Biofuel, just didn't like any other entries... figured I might as well go with what I think will win early.

Race 2 - Saratoga Race 5 - sprinting maiden claimers... I felt it was a wide open race, I was going to pass on the favorite here, who was weak to say the least.  I took a shot with the 1 Lindell AC at 5-1 thinking the class move and maturity of his first start at three years old, coupled with some early foot would do the trick... insted the 9 War Colony won as a first time maiden claimer with decent connections... but i did net $5.10 here.

Race 3 - Monmouth Race 6 - claiming turf sprint - I liked the 2 Outstanding Hope and 5 Family Holiday here, so I took a shot at the solid connections of Volk-Lopez on the 5, who I thought would own the pace... managed another second and added $5.80 to the total.

Race 4 - Woodbine Race 7 - statebred allowance route on the polytrack - I was down to 2 Nicola's Nickers and 7 R Unpainted Dancer - thinking the race looked devoid of early speed other than the 7, I took a shot...  came up empty as the 2 rallied to win...  ouch.

Race 5 - Monmouth Race 8 - One mile on the turf for 30k claimers - Really liked the 8 Freshman Dorm for a tone of reasons - knew the price was going to be short, but felt this one was unbeatable here... was right!  Added $9.00 to the tally (5.60/3.40) - at this point, I am sitting in a tie for 139th place and thinking that I need to make a move or go play Wii with the kids...

Race 6 - Saratoga Race 9 - Sanford G2 - 6 Overdriven - super chalk, was not going to play against, added that whopping $4.70 to the tally (2.60/2.10)

Race 7 - Woodbine Race 10 - I had no good feeling on this race and went with 9 Ideals and Dreams thinking that he had decent connections, could best most of this field and that the pace here looked weak - was wrong as a 11 Lucky Ned scored for a price... ouch.  At this point was sitting at 213th... was ready to shut it down and move on...

Race 8 - Del Mar Race 5 - sprinting maiden claimers - I had one horse I liked... 11 Best Logic - who won at a nice price (22.80/9.60) - tacked opn a hefty 32.40 onto the tally (granted the NTRA site said the win was 22.00 - case for disputing 0.80....)  moved me up to 33rd!

Race 9 - Del Mar Race 6 - ungraded stakes on the turf - I really wasn't feeling this race - the pace looked fast and weak and the field felt wide open... I went with the horse I felt could win... 1 Norvsky and he did just that adding 8.40 to the tally - now at 72.20 (NTRA) - really should have been 73.00; but in 20th place.

Race 10 - Del Mar Race 8 - San Clemente G2 - 1mi on the turf - The leader was sitting at 91.60, with third place at 84.00.... I was originally warm to 9 Mizdirection, but knew I needed a horse over 10-1 to win.... I narrowed the field down to 1 Up In Time, 2 Celestial Kitten, 3 Fifth Commandment, and 8 Rosehill Dew.    I dismissed the 8, she just hadn't shown the improvement after a couple starts in the US.  I tossed the 2, I don't like to play east coasters shipping west...  I felt the same way about the 1 that I did the 8 0 she had a soft pace last out and couldn't get it done late and four back had a quicker pace and was flat... that left me with the 18-1 #3... two turns was in her pedigree and she ran well in her US debut despite a troubled trip on what appeared to be the first time she saw a firm course.   She finised out and the 1 took the race... I added nothing to my final tally (although the 1 was worth 35.00). Even if I had played the 1, I would have managed 5th place... just short of the promised land.

42nd out of 1386 or so...  not too shabby for a free-for-all like this.  I did cash in 7 of the 10 races despite having to swing for the fences a bit in the last leg.  This was the first time I had been able to use an automated version of my pace analysis, old point system, and all of my figures in parallel to my conventional handicapping.  It was a huge asset to have this information available this easily - and the plays it created outside of the contest races proved to be immensly profitable - winning 4 of my 6 other wagers for win prices of 5.80, 22.80, 13.80, 18.10, with two plays out.  A huge thanks goes to my friend in Kentucky, Jake - you kick started the process by sending me the way the import the data... a huge help and timesaver.

Lessons learned - while I used to really prefer this type of format (mandatory races with a fixed value); I think adding some level of confidence to my selections through validation of pace, speed, and other factors, really points me more towards a contest similar to my first shot at the Monmouth Simulcast Series - structure wagers on your pick of races... 

Time to crunch more data, scrutinize more angles/figures, and come back sharper and more determined next time out... (hopefully it will also be more than one track that I follow regularly)!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

It's a perfect day..... stay inside and handicap!

My wife is off to Boston for a work conference and I have three kids that actually turned down the offer of setting up the kiddie pool and playing with water guns (Charlie - "It's too hot outside...  I stay here.").  Can't say I can argue against that!

Tomorrow features another freebie NHC tour event online... as usual, I am going to take a shot against 3000+ in the hopes of making it to Vegas.  This time, I am armed with my newly crafted spreadsheet which is a compilation of all of my homegrown figures, pace, and my old point system (just about break even after over 3000 races - 30.76% winners for a 2% loss).  Major thanks go out to my friend Jake who helped expedite the process by walking me through how to set up the file and import the data so I don't have to manually enter it any longer!  The thing I am most interested in is how having my pace analysis summarized will help me try to predict the probably pace scenario; besides taking into account the running style and Quirin points, how my analysis of running style, form, and second call fractional designations will all play in conjunction with my various speed, pace, and class figures...

So the contest be three races from Woodbine, three from Del Mar, two from Saratoga, and two from Monmouth (assuming they run despite cancelling for two straight days due to the heat)..  at least I follow one of those circuits.  Time to run my new sheet and do my conventional handicapping in between reading stories and playing 'little green and tan army men' on the dining room table...  I'll bribe the kids later with pizza and a movie so I can start digging into Del Mar...

If nothing else, staying in the AC is a great way to spend this day!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Atlantic City Race Course!

A brief aside from my quest to make it to Vegas - time to talk about Atlantic City... Atlantic City Race Course that is!

The required dates to maintain the simulcast signal are being run starting this Thursday - 6 races a day for 6 days.  While a total throwback to the time when they must have switched from writing odds on the chalkboard to using monitors, there is always a ton of value here.  It is worth a trip, even if just to see where the Rat Pack used to hang out.  Each year a little less of this once fine venue is open with the last time the escalators worked to the second floor being during my visit in 2002. 

Full fields on the turf... an early double and a late superfecta, otherwise it is just WPS, exacta, and trifecta.  First post is 3:30 with some local high school selling a hot dog or soda...  it is almost like a cult following of sorts to see the crowd that gathers year after year.  Not sure I will be able to make it down this year, but my heart will be there!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Better Bettor

A few years ago I found myself discussing wagering strategy with a friend of mine whose handicapping prowess I respect very much.  I had been reading a book on money management by Barry Meadow at the time and when I brought his name up in our conversation, my friend's response was quite simply "Barry is an okay handicapper, but one helluva bettor." 

What makes someone a better bettor than someone else?  Forget racing for a moment and think of casino games...  someone can play blackjack versus the house using optimal strategy and make money riding streaks, but put the same guy at a poker table and match his optimal strategy versus a table of guys who are bluffing and he'll be read and walk away at maybe a breakeven point.  When do you just throw optimal strategy out the window and go for value?  Back to racing...  you have done your homework, you know the probability of a certain event taking place, you know how the pace is likely to set up... but your returns are modest compared to others?

My wife is a better bettor than I am.  I play very calculated plays and make my modest returns while she finds a way to kill the mutuels.  Is it that I am not a big risk taker?  I would fancy myself a risk taker, heck I used to enjoy running into burning buildings and working as a construction professional I have to bid public projects and try to figure what amount the bid should be to be competitive without leaving any money on the table.  I handicap my competition at work - knowing what they pay their field staff, how they will staff a job, what jobs they have going on locally that they can either share services on or subs that they can lock up to package a deal with...  but why can't I pull the trigger and hit the big one?  Why can't I move off of my 'projected winner' and take the competitor that looks to offer the best value based on my calculated 'fair odds'? 

Have I honed my wagering methodology beyond the point I should have?  With the data I started collecting on every single wager I had placed over 2001 and 2002 I had started to refine my approach based on where I say profit and loss...  I eventually cut out a fair amount of trifecta, superfecta, and Pick 4 (and up) wagers and say my volume go down with my net return increasing the next year... but if your bread and butter is some semblance of WPS, it is a grind to make a buck versus hitting an elusive mutuel.  I guess it is just time to go back and start muddling through the data again, taking a step back and see what I am missing.

Food for thought on a busy Sunday night...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Break

Spring is here, I can smell it!  Alright, so that's not the smell of spring, just one last ditch effort by winter to mess with us - really snow after I was ready to get my golf clubs out?  The road to the Kentucky Derby is starting to heat up with tons of important prep races to either further establish a spot or make a last ditch effort to show that they belong... so what am I doing other than getting ready for baseball season to start?

Since I didn't make the cut for the Monmouth SSC finals (congrats again to Terry at Red Rock or Bust for finishing second in the SSC#3 and making the Finals next month) and with no other events on my radar until May (start of the Public Handicapper Summer contest, TVG NHC freebie, and probably one NHC Qualify event in June), I find myself thinking about what I can do to hone my contest skills over the next month and a half.

Tonight, while contemplating a lot of things and having a Rocky Patel Renaissance (medium body cigar, wasn't sold on the first third, but the cigar finished much better than it started), I found myself thinking about contest play and value.  I am a stubborn son-of-a-gun and still find myself falling back to my tried and true angles and methods.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I spend a lot of time analyzing favorites (strong favorites, false favorites, and my 'Favorite Likelihood Factor' that I figure for all non-maiden races).  I have made a lot of money going with strong favorites as keys in doubles and Pick 3's, while also capitalizing by playing against weak favorites.  My arsenal of angles may find one or two playable races per card (if I am lucky), but if I am given 30 or so races to play, I may find a few playable races and need to start taking some 'shots' to take late (Jagermeister if you are buying).  So what am I not looking at that I should be looking at?  Connections.  The same jockeys and trainers win a lot... for good reason - winners keep on winning in their niche.

Fact - last year was my worst year at my home track (Monmouth).  In the past I have owned that track, knew all the connections, jockey moves, trainer plays.  It appears the arrival of another tier of horsemen threw me for a loop.  Why?  The niches of the horsemen were not the same as what I knew in the past.

Fact - As much as I may hope and wish, the NHC will probably not include Turf Paradise, Penn National, Philadelphia Park (aka Parx), and Hawthorne as any of the contest races...  I need to spend some time with the classier crowd at Santa Anita/Del Mar, NYRA, and the Kentucky circuit where horses are less automatic and better 'placed' - change my mindset for these venues and maintain what I do on a day-in-day-out basis at my bread-and-butter tracks.

Fact - I need to find another 'edge'.  It is too time consuming to track key races or bias on a circuit I don't regularly follow...  finding connections is a little less intense, more observation and gut feel based on 'karma moves'... time to go back and read some of the tabbed chapters of the many books that make up my handicapping library.

Fact - As much as I am still not sure I enjoyed that Rocky Patel, I do have a couple of solid Cohibas in my humidor to assist in further contemplation during my 'downtime' before Derby Day kicks off a few new qualifying opportunities.

Well, I do have a couple of weeks to try to figure things out (again).  I must deviate from my comfort zone...  time to hit the past performances and start crunching some data...

Monday, March 7, 2011

You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows...

Thanks to Bob Dylan for stating the obvious... which is how I felt after Sunday's tour event and doing my post mortem this morning.

Nailed 1,158th place on Sunday and I do have a few thoughts on how the NTRA set this contest up.  First off, please don't mention on your site that the contest tracks will consist of four tracks only to not have two of the mentioned tracks (Aqueduct and Santa Anita) be part of the contest (which I bought, downloaded, and printed - only not to use).  Secondly, amazing advances in weather forecasting technology have been established within the last century...  the weather looked lousy for the weekend in Louisiana and Florida... couldn't alternate, better weather tracks, have been selected... OR why did they have to select five races between the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream that were likely to come off of the turf and result in fields smaller than what we could have had from a fast track at Santa Anita or Aqueduct?  Thanks for all the scratches and changes...  chaos did not yield any huge payouts!  Last time I checked, there were several other NTRA tracks running on Sunday which could have also yielded open fields with minimal changes...  but what do I know?

This weekend was busy and honestly knowing that 1,816 people would be trying for four spots over two tracks I don't follow (Oaklawn and Gulfstream consisting of 60% of the race) and the weather being questionable at the Fair Grounds and Gulfstream, I figured I would need to have some considerable luck on my side.  I checked the early changes on Sunday and saw that the Fair Grounds was off the turf and Gulfstream was 'good'...  later to be taken off the turf which totally killed me.  Oaklawn for me was a waste... a circuit I have never followed at all.  Sam Houston was the bright spot I thought it would be and cashed in both races selected... but all in all, the contest yielded three winners of 5-1 and over...  hard to find a lot of value and make up lost ground.  Late scratches from the Gulfstream surface switch took out another play where I was stuck with the post time (losing) favorite.

My 'consolation prize' was a solid Monday at Turf Paradise doing what I do best... killing the cheap claimers at minor tracks.  On a positive note, I have started working on a couple of promising new angles and am closer to getting enough data on one I have been tracking for while to add to the arsenal.  I will take a few weeks off from the NHC events, enjoy a nice (and much needed) night away in Atlantic City with my wife, develop a few theories, keep trying to add to my bankroll on Public Handicapper (currently in 211th place out of 2,921, and gear up for the tentative events over the summer at Monmouth Park. 

I do have a few plays I like tomorrow between Turf Paradise and Penn National...  winning always makes me feel better. 

Saturday, March 5, 2011

'Twas The Night Before the Qualifier

'Twas the night before the NTRA NHC Qualifier and all through the house,
Not a thing was stirring, not even my mouse.
The PP's were printed, handicapped, and set in order with care,
In the hopes that a trip to Vegas soon would be there.
The winners were nestled, all snug in the races,
ready to be found by some handicapping aces.

I know it is not quite the holiday season... if anything it felt like spring today and baseball season is almost upon us, but my daughter insisted on singing Jingle Bells before... and it kind of got stuck in my head.

Will one of those aces that snags one of the four spots that are up for grab be me?  I hope so.  This weeks contest features races from Gulfstream (one of my worst tracks), Oaklawn (I haven't handicapped a race from this track in at least ten years), Fair Grounds (two turf races that appear very likely to be on the main track, if they are run at all - Saturday's card was cancelled part of the way through), and Sam Houston (finally a track that I have historically done well at).  I nice sampling of races as well - several maiden races, a couple of lower and mid level claimers, a few optional claimers, and one minor stakes race.  Sam Houston has always been a track I have enjoyed playing and done well with... decent field sizes, competitive races, and a good mix of turf and dirt races.  I used to cover the Fair Grounds online for a couple of meets - I don't think the track bias has changed too much, and some of the same horsemen are still hanging around that circuit.  Oaklawn... other than I have heard the Hot Springs are very enjoyable, I know I have no turf races to deal with.  Gulfstream - maybe I should just adopt the 'play anything that Jersey Joe Bravo is riding' strategy... that has worked for me when he has ridden at Delaware Park on occasion in the past.

I could have sworn that the NTRA site had originally said the races would come from Aqueduct (which maybe after the lackluster fields offered at the Monmouth SSC last week, they had some reservations), Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, and Santa Anita.  I managed to kill a few trees in an effort to get ready, only to find that I had a couple of the wrong tracks printed out.  The contest site for this event did have a couple of wrong dates listed and said that the contest races would be posted on Friday afternoon - I guess 4:45 PM is better than nothing... technically they did sneak that in before the EST 'end of business' for the day.

How do I feel this week?  I honestly can't really tell you.  I felt pretty good about the Monmouth event last week and 'crashed and burned'.  Again, not thrilled with the selection of tracks, but at least feel I have a shot with some of them.  I have several new ideas in my head that I want to pursue and refine, so after the qualifier tomorrow, I will take a couple of weeks of limited handicapping and spend more time researching, refining, and analyzing data (and spend a much needed night away with my wife in Atlantic City at the Borgata - the best racebook in Atlantic City and the home of Bobby Flay's!)  It will be a nice breather before I get ramped back up for the Public Handicapper contest over the summer (which does offer a few spots to Vegas), maybe another shot at a live event at Monmouth (if/when they are actually running), and another online qualifier at the NTRA site.

I will report how I did, time permitting I may even give a race by race analysis of what went right for me... and with some better luck than I had last week, it will include how I made the top four and what I plan on doing between now and the finals in Vegas in January!  We'll see how this one ends....

But I heard him exclaim ere he drove out of sight,
"You won your way to Vegas, and to all a good night!"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Little Bit O' Luck

Other than being an annoying character for the NY Lottery commercials, I could have really used a "Little Bit O' Luck" on Saturday at the 2nd Round of the SSC at Monmouth Park.

It was really a decent set up by Monmouth, I was able to grab a table to myself in the Terrace Dining Room where they had complimentary soda and water set up.  Included in the contest package was a $10 dining voucher which covered all but a few bucks of lunch from the menu they had available.  Registration did get a little backed up, but all in all, I was impressed by the effort they put forward in my live debut in a NHC qualifying event.

Things I would have done differently...  Knowing now that there was actually a place to set up, I would probably bring my laptop next time so I could make changes to some of my sheets when scratches were announced... finding a table near an outlet would just be an added bonus (good thing I have a spare battery!).

How did I do?  Well, started off 0-fer-6 (a bad start, losing an inquiry and objection, and then a race featuring my horse dumping the jock and taking out a good portion of the temporary rail on the turf course didn't help).  Finally, I 'broke my maiden' and scored a winner.  At that point, I was falling far behind the leader board and starting having to take a couple of shots with a price, which didn't pan out too well.  Ended the day exhausting my bankroll on 1-fer-13.  I did find that a number of the other contestants were very friendly and willing to swap strategies and stories.  I walked away with a number of lessons learned.  I had made an effort to look at all three race cards, when I should have focused more on one or two, and scanned Gulfstream.  If the contest had included my bread-and-butter tracks (Finger Lakes, Turf Paradise, Hawthorne, etc.) I would have felt more comfortable with the connections and track biases (and cheap claimer sprints).  I probably should have stuck to sprints, claimers, and maiden races where I do my best (instead of thinking about who that day would have a shot in the Kentucky Derby).  I should have made my selections and sent my wife to bet... I can pick 'em, but she is the one that can really play 'em. 

Well, time to quickly lick my wounds, rebound, make some changes in strategy, and get ready for the NHC freebie online tourney on March 6th.   Maybe the 'mandatory' style and set wager amounts will be more comforting than pick the races you want and the value and wager you want.

Maybe Sunday will be different...  win that head bob, clean starts out of the gate, keeping the jockey in the irons for the entire race, have my ML 6-1 horse go off at 10-1 instead of 9-5...  Sometimes all you need is just a "Little Bit o' Luck"!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Gettin' prepped for the SSC Round 2

The change in handicapping strategy from my normal day-to-day routine is welcome and a little intimidating at the same time.  I am trying to turn my normal handicapping upside as I prepare for the Saturday Round 2 qualifer at Monmouth Park!  This will be my first in-person live contest event, the balance of my contest experience has been online with mandatory races or via the great website (who really does a great job - it has been amazing to watch how that site has flourished over the last several years).

I guess being a fireman in my former life helps me with my day-to-day handicapping... sort of a 'rapid triage' of the entrants and races... if I see nothing I like, I move on and try to find something that raises a flag.  Faced with a minimum of 10 bets, thinking I will probably need to make at least 15, out of 32 races this Saturday.  Aqueduct (inner) is really the only NYRA track I have historically done well at, Tampa Bay has always been a good place for spot plays for me (granted hit or miss on what I find that day), and historically Gulfstream has never been too kind to me.

So what is the strategy?  Aside from my conventional approach looking for spot plays, I am bringing back my old software and over-analyzing pace (early thanks to Fraser for some insight on this one!)  Besides pounding horses I know should win, or have a high probability of winning, I see the need to look for some value late in the cards since I think most entrants will be finding themselves 'swinging for the fences' at some point.  Knowing that the first round was won with a bankroll of of $1,698; with the 15th place (last qualifier) in the range of more than $500; I think I will need the percentages on my side tomorrow.

We'll see if I can 'break my maiden' tomorrow... it has certainly been an interesting couple of days preparing for this contest!  Good, bad, or indifferent, I will learn a lot from this experience tomorrow, and hopefully secure a seat in the April 9th finals!

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Who am I? Why am I here?

Okay, so I started off with a bad reference to former vice presidential candidate Admiral Stockdale.  Really though, who am I and why am I here?  Well, with the growing popularity of the NHC and increased purses and exposure, all of us weekend/part-time handicappers have the thought that we could go and win the whole thing out in Vegas some January (heck, just making it there would be an experience... granted, winning would just be the icing on the cake). 

A little background on myself...  I've going to the track for the last 20+ years courtesy of my late uncle who worked at Fort Monmouth and spent many of his lunch hours at Monmouth Park, who passed a lot of his knowledge and gambling skills on to myself.  Being an engineer, I am fascinated by numbers, trends, streaks, and finding anomalies.  Some of my friends will joke that if I saw two cockroaches running along a wall, I could probably analyze the pace and assign speed figures to them!  I started touting online for a variety of different websites (all now defunct) back in the summer of 2000, covering primarily Monmouth/Meadowlands, Philly Park, and Delaware Park;  and finally gave that up in 2006 so I could pursue spending more time with my growing family, focus on my career more, and shoot for my professional engineer license.  The passion for racing and all of the research and data I had been collecting and analyzing never wained.

I have always done well at the track (or simulcasting), using discipline as the most important factor in my playing.  I have kept countless records and databases, even down to analyzing the exact types of bets that I do my best one and limiting play accordingly, so when I was back to handicapping regularly again in 2008, I was ready to hit it hard.  The lure of big money in Vegas was then staring me in the face and with a local man winning the whole thing in 2006 (Ron Rippey - Star Ledger handicapper) I was even more inspired to one day do the same thing. 

So here I am...  realizing my quest is not unique, but the paths we all take to get there are.  I have read several other blogs here (Red Rock or Bust is one I particularly enjoy) and with my wife's urging to use this as an outlet for my frustrations and joys in the process, I decided that I would give the whole writing thing a shot (remember, I am an engineer...  writing was never one of my strong points).

Already having failed miserably in the one freebie NHC online event of the year, I pointing myself towards the Feb. 26 SSC Round 2 Qualifier at Monmouth and the NHC Freebie on March 6th.

A couple quick thanks to end my first post... first and foremost - my wife, she has put up with my banter for years about this angle, that angle, ROI, this track, that bum jock, what if I did this, early speed does that....  Secondly, I would like to thank my late Uncle Dutch... who taught me everything he knew about racing and gambling in general...  my late grandmother who would sit by the phone waiting to hear my Triple Crown Analysis... my friends Jake from Kentucky and Fraser from British Columbia - we have been discussing and bouncing thoughts and ideas off of each other for years.