"Look, all you can do when you find your niche is go with it." - Vincent D'Onofrio
Having spent most of the year chasing contests that were outside of my comfort zone and trying to force action on tracks and in conditions that I am not that confident in, I have finally gone back to what I know. The last two weeks have been much more fruitful and have helped to build back my confidence as I have been back handicapping Monmouth Park, Delaware Park, Parx, and Finger Lakes (insert groans here).
I once has a disagreement with someone over what tracks are playable or what makes a race playable. While we both agreed that you need to be comfortable with how you feel the race sets up or what the intent of the horsemen is, the disagreement fell to what circuit(s) should be played. My acquaintance insisted that only high purse, premier venues were worth playing (higher handle, larger pools) and I insisted that winners are winners where ever you may find value (when your fair odds are better than the post time odds). I can see his side of the argument - better tracks and purses attract better horses and larger fields, which leads to larger pools; however what good is all that if you can't dissect the race and make a profit? Why mess with a good thing?
I admittedly do chase, with some success, guaranteed pools on some Saturdays on the NYRA circuit, but know that this is not my niche. Maybe in my mind it is okay to be Crash Davis and tear it up on the minor league circuits. I guess what is really boils down to is that when your cash is on the line, you need to be comfortable with your decision. If this means forgoing certain contests or events since you are not comfortable, that is fine, but taking that occasional shot is worth it. I spent a few months trying to adapt to circuits and conditions I am not always confident in playing and had moderate success, but not to the extent I have had on a day-to-day basis in the past when I stick to my bread and butter tracks.
Some thoughts on Saturday's Monmouth card:
Race 1 - 4 Tex Appeal (2-1) has the pedigree to suggest a debut winner despite the trouble Cibelli has had recently (not going there in this blog); 1/1A Aristone Entry (8-5) also appears sharp - not much value here and a low confidence with all the 2YO debuts, I would suggest passing.
Race 2 - 4 South Beach Queen (7-2) stretches out on the drop and Breen does connect on a high percentage of MC races. 3 Johanna Honey (4-1) tries two turns off of the layoff and her breeding suggests she should like this distance. 6 Armedia (5-2) rounds out the contenders that will be chasing a pace set by 7 Chocolate Drops (9-2) who may get loose early but will falter late.
Race 3 - 1 Jack Taylor (3-1) may get loose on the lead uncontested and cruise home wire to wire as Lopez and Trujillo have been historically solid at MTH; 4 Quepos (3-1) looks to pick up the pieces if the early pace fails.
Race 4 - 3 Ingenuity (9-2) shows a solid work pattern and decent pedigree and along with 7 Thunder Hole (6-1) may be able to take advantage of a speed duel between 1 No Its Not (5-1) and 4 Bob And The Gang (2-1). 6 Best Man (5-2) may also be looming late and is not to be overlooked.
Race 5 - 5 Dazzlin Dr Cologne (6-5) may be able to overcome a slight class disadvantage and take this field wire to wire. Should he fail on the lead, 6 Raised for Speed (4-1) looks to be making a move late.
Race 6 - 2 Shimmering Rita (3-1) looks to have an advantage on the early pace and should take this field wire to wire. 9 Forgotten Prayers (5-1) could play spoiler second off the layoff and on the drop with Moya in the irons.
Race 7 - 2 Silent Appeal (9-2) dueled in his late and should be sharp here first off of the claim against statebreds. 3 Crafty Concorde (9-5) will be a factor as he stretches back out.
Race 8 - 6 Open Outcry (6-1) will be part of the late charge that includes 4 They Call Me Giant (5-2), 1 Marvelous Chester (6-1), and 9 Person of Interest (7-2) as 6 Crafty Time (30-1) will set the early pace and falter by the half.
Race 9 - 7 Invocation (5-2) and 2 Nathan Ridge (7-2) will be battling late as a speed duel develops leaving these two a good shot late.
Race 10 - 8 Memphislivesinme (4-1) may end up setting the pace in an early speed devoid field and could steal this one on the front end. 10 Tanzana (6-1), 3 Mississippi Man (5-1), and 4 Triple E (3-1) are all also solid contenders who could force the issue here and be making up ground late.
Race 11 - 8 Final Forest (4-1) and 4 Geeky Gorgeous (8-1) both look to benefit from the weak early pace set by 3 Bombast (6-1) and 9 Arlo (7-2)
Race 12 - 8 Rumble Seat (6-1) makes her 3 year old debut here and does show a decent pedigree for this surface despite having no success last fall; 1 Sweeter Turn (7-2) will benefit from getting back on the turf and the class drop, as 7 Celtic Blessing (5-1) has shown better ability than most over the turf, and 3 Skort (4-1) may find some life with the switch to Bravo.
Good luck all!