"Choices are the hinges of destiny" - Pythagoras
Unless you were me making choices yesterday at the Monmouth SSC#3. My running line for yesterday... dwelt at the start, steadied, checked, clipped heels, distanced, eased, and vanned off.
Normally a poor performance in a handicapping contest makes me doubt my handicapping ability (or inability), however yesterday's lackluster effort in the Monmouth SSC#3 did not tarnish my confidence, but pointed out my lack of betting prowess. Congratulations are in order for NJHorseplayer and his 8th place finish giving him two spots in the SSC Finals in April!
Converse to my 2/11 performance at Monmouth, I did manage a 93rd place finish in the Equibase Gulfstream-Fair Grounds Contest (out of about 1700+) with 6/10 winners and a $2WP return of $54.20 for a ROI of 1.36, a 3/4 day at Public Handicapper putting me back in the black after a couple rough weeks, and my Pace Advantage PAIHL Team finishing 5th out of 43 this week.
Where did I go wrong? As a trusted friend and fellow handicapper once said, it is better to be good bettor than a great handicapper... Once again, I am living proof of that. I was armed with a fully handicapped 34 races from the three contest tracks - Aqueduct, Tampa Bay, and Gulfstream. I had expected to only look at Aqueduct and Tampa Bay since Gulfstream was full of stakes and turf races, however after analyzing Aqueduct and Tampa Bay, I found I was not feeling good about either card. Had I been going to the track for any other reason, I would have only put in a total of 3 or 4 bets at best, hence the comedy of errors started.
#1 - I opted not to play the opener at Gulfstream... I had specifically handicapped the tracks backwards so I would give my best attention to the ends of the cards, not the early going. All of my figures and factors pointed towards #7 Shining Copper (giving him fair odds of 4-5)... I passed and despite some trouble at the top of the stretch he hung on to win by a nose.
#2 - I opted to pass on the 2nd race at Tampa Bay - I had figured the pace to set up a late run by the #8 Mark's Soul, but again - wanting to see how the course handled early, I passed... another winner wasted.
#3 - Aqueduct Race 2 - Uninspiring field, but I did like the first time starter #6 Baroness Amira - solid work pattern, high percentage trainer, apprentice jockey, sharp works, mediocre FTS pedigree but sire's offspring do win a good share of purses. Again, I didn't want to take a shot at this one across the board - finished second for $13.00/$7.80.
As the day continued, the early going was full of low prices and after my three non-plays and a couple of near misses and my bankroll dwindling...
#4 - Forcing the action. Had I stuck to my original game plan, I could have rebounded, however seeing the leaderboard with 1st place being over $2k at the time, panic mode started and the day went downhill as I searched for non-existent value and was out before the latter races where I shined (overlapped with Equibase and Public Handicapper). Overall, I had a pretty good day of handicapping but chose to play the losers and watch the winners... I zagged when I should have zigged.
What did I learn yesterday?
Stick with what works. I know when my software and figures work and when they don't. I didn't utilize them as I should have - (First race at Gulfstream) and then tried relying on them in spots they don't work as well.
Don't deviate from the plan. A couple of missed opportunities and losses shifted me to chase non-existent prices too early - had I stayed with what worked, I may have been around later.
Change your latitude. As part of my 'routine', I need to also take a step back and look more closely at the running lines at the bottom of the sheet... Aqueduct Race 8 for example - Christiesborntorun flew late to take this race at a nice price - 3rd off the layoff following a solid fall effort on the grass in a race today that would feature a hot pace that would help him (looking back over his last two years of PP's would have picked that up). Generally, I look for the most recent applicable running line for analysis, some merit needs to be given to what the horse is capable of on any given day.
Don't be afraid to play a hunch - a maiden first time starter could have been quite a reward with even a show bet and a nice price.
Plans moving forward?
Go back to the circuits and plays that I know - I have gotten away from playing Pick 4's to focus on winners; I have drifted away from daily play at Parx and tried to get a feel for contest tracks (GP, TAM, AQU) - both at a cost of not playing where I do my best and in the manner I do my best. On the bright side, Atlantic City and Monmouth are in the horizon and I am looking forward to getting back to what I know and what works for the summer. Time to point myself in the direction of the Monmouth-Woodbine challenge (assuming they have it again this summer) and maybe some preliminary feeder on Derbywars or Horsetourneys that fits the parameters of the tracks that I want to play (and my schedule).
Continue tracking plays, accumulating and analyzing data, experimenting with new factors and figures, continue to make improvements to my software, and work on how to predict whether a horse will run to it's true potential today (and what that potential would be) based on various factors both inherent to the horse and the competition faced today.
Hopefully the results of the work I have cut out for myself will give me the destiny of winning or an improved showing in my next live contest!