Through all the highs, lows, and curve balls that life threw at us this year, I do find myself wrapping up 2012 on a more positive note, but know that I still have a ton of work cut out for me before I am ready to fulfill my quest to win the 'Big One' (or the smaller one) in Vegas.
Reflecting back on 2012, where did I see my improvement?
- A good run at the SSC qualifier at Monmouth - went all-in on the wrong horse in the last leg, but made it to the final race and had the field down to two choices... the one I didn't select won for fun. That day gave me a new perspective on contest/tournament play and really reinforced my preference to a format that allows you to select your plays versus mandatory-only formats
- Improved my Pick 4 strategy by tracking 'contenders' per race rather totally toss a race where I didn't see a play jump out at me.
- Assigning a logical play per race with a confidence rating... after all, most contests require a minimum number of plays out of 2 - 3 full race cards and you need to have a bullet late in the game.
- Improved on my work with horses that have an early pace advantage - when identified, I am seeing a 50% win rate and nice ROI, but like anything else I do, I am still looking for ways to improve on that (track to track par values, form factors, etc.)
- Started to take race conditions more seriously as a step in evaluating a race - been finding some locked in horses and some hidden value.
What do I do differently moving forward into 2013?
- Blog more frequently. My last post was about 9 months ago.... A lot has happened with my handicapping, my takes on certain conditions/angles/etc. All are things that I should be writing about and discussing more freely with the handicapping community.
- More interaction with the handicapping community. Fellow bloggers (and Rutgers Alumni) Terry (Red Rock or Bust) and Bill (NJ Horseplayer) are two great guys I had a chance to meet in person at Monmouth earlier this year. I enjoy reading their blogs and takes on the industry and how they approach tournaments being in a similar boat as myself ( a full life outside of handicapping ). The Knight Sky Racing Blog is always a good read on the state of racing here in NJ (and industry wide). Twinspire's Derek Simon has been a pleasure to interact with via Facebook - between his blog entries, free plays, and the ability to discuss some spot plays, it is great to see his insight and how open he is to discuss thoughts and plays. A new blog I recently started reading more is Equinometry by Lenny Moon - a lot of great subjects and information to be shared there as well. I have been absent in a lot of this great conversation and exchange of ideas/concepts - something that will be changing in 2013.
- Make better use of social media. I have a twitter account that I rarely use... time to post some plays and do more than post a link to my blog entries (or harassing PSE&G as I did post-Hurricane Sandy)
- Pace. While I made great strides with analysis of early pace advantage, I need to focus more on the late pace of the race as well. In races where I feel that the early pace will collapse or be weak, I can isolate the group of late runners - but can't quite put my finger on what makes the eventual winner stand out from the rest of the pack.
- More focus on the conditions of the race. I think another good, in-depth read of James Quinn's "The Handicapper's Condition Book" is in order.
- Introduce my kids to horse racing. I have fond memories of going to the track as a kid and doing the early morning backside tour and spending time with my grandmother and late Uncle (who was a professional gambler post-retirement). They are the future of the sport... let them fall in love with the excitement, the horses, and the setting - they'll be hooked for life like I am.
- Lastly... win my way to Vegas for January 2014. I will be playing the Monmouth SSC and all the freebie NHC/HPWS events, but look for me to play a Horsetourneys or Derby Wars feeder event (like the low price for buy-in)...
Happy Holidays everyone!
Here is to a happy, prosperous, and fruitful 2013!