This website has been up and running for about 10 days now. I still don’t know where I plan to take it. It’s part personal blog, part handicapping resource, and hopefully someday part community meeting place. I’ve been playing the horses for over 20 years, and like you I love this game. And as I type this, at 9:06pm EDT on Labor Day, the sense of frustration I am feeling towards myself is unsurpassed by anything I have ever felt before as a handicapper.
My kids live with me about 50% of the time. Some of you may have seen them in my videos here and on social media. Lyla is almost 7 and Reagan is 5 1/2. And since there was no school today, I decided to spend the day doing whatever they wanted. Sitting in front of the TV watching Saratoga and Del Mar just didn’t feel like the right decision. So I decided I’d play in the BCBC and NHC events on Horseplayers. Both events were Pick-and-Prays, so I did my handicapping, paid my entry fees, put in my selections, and took the kids out of the house. As part of this decision, there would be no real money wagered on anything other than the tourney entry fees.
Below are my tournament picks, along with alternate selections should my top pick scratch. Those alternate picks would play a huge role in the absolute gut-wrenching anguish I am feeling at the moment. We’ll discuss below.
The crux of the issue lies in races 8-11 at Saratoga.
Race 8: I liked Bootlegger a few weeks ago at Saratoga until Gabby Gaudet pointed out his poor form on a soft turf course, which he caught that day. I didn’t play him, and he lost. (Thanks Gabby). Today was firm, just like he likes it. I picked him on top, and he won.
Race 9: My hand to The Almighty, I had Qurbaan as my top pick until I switched off of him at the last second. The reason? Well, the same day that I almost played Bootlegger at Saratoga (August 11th), I did in fact play Projected later on the card. He ran well in defeat. And for some reason that I can’t explain, a thought crept into my head and made me feel I had to play both horses in this tournament to appease the Gambling Gods. So I switched my pick. I give you my word, that’s what happened and that’s the reason. Qurbaan won, and was worth over $38 in tournament points.
Race 10: This is where it gets even worse. I couldn’t decide between Dream Maker and Mind Control. Mind Control met an angle that has been so strong this meet: no races and no works over the track. But at a ML of 5-1, I did’t think the value was there. So, feeling that there was no way Mark Casse could end the Saratoga meet with just two wins, I chose Dream Maker. Mind Control went off at 10-1 and was worth $30 in tournament play after he won. So just from a tournament perspective, I missed out on $68 in points in two races.
Race 11: I did the right thing here and went with an angle that has worked for me many times: longest layoff in New York-bred turf races. Sunshine Gal won and was worth $23 to me.
Now, this is where it gets even more sickening. So if you get nauseous easily, perhaps stop reading here.
Whenever I am in a tournament, I play a Pick 4 if tournament races line up with that track’s Pick 4. The winners of the four races in Saratoga’s late Pick 4 (races 8-11), were all among my top two picks for those respective races. My normal betting behavior would have me playing at least a $1 Pick 4 (often more than $1) using, at the very least, my tournament top pick and alternate picks. But because I was determined to take a day off from betting, I did not play. The Pick 4 returned over $15,000. And there is zero doubt that I would have hit it for at least $1. The evidence is right here on this page.
To make matters worse, by opting for Projected over Qurbaan and Dream Maker (and friggen Casse) over Mind Control, I cost myself a BCBC seat and an NHC seat. See below. Add $68 to my score.
NHC (same score for me as above….$61.70)
I would have won the BCBC contest, and finished a good-enough 2nd in the NHC contest.
Now, I know what you are thinking, and you are correct. No one made me change my picks. And had my actual top picks won, I wouldn’t be telling this story. And there have been plenty of times where I have switched my pick and won. Plus, I have no way of knowing who ELSE may have switched off winners during the deliberation process, and potentially would have kept me from winning one of the prizes. But in all likelihood, had I zigged when I zagged, I’d have qualified for both events today. And had I not chosen today to abstain from actions of the pari-mutuel variety, I’d be at least $15,000 richer, and probably twice that amount.
Which brings me to the internal crisis. Was today the day for me? Am I the horse who runs an amazing race but finds trouble and finishes 2nd, and then gets hammered at the windows next out and runs 5th as everyone says “I guess last time was THE time”? In terms of dollars, this is NOTHING compared to the guy who was home free for $500k at Gulfstream in the Rainbow Six and then saw the jockey fall of the sure winner. So I don’t compare myself to that guy. But I remember thinking that guy might have to quit the game. So do I need to take a month off and regroup? Or am I seeing the horses clearly now after an absolutely awful summer?
I love this game. Yeah, I’d love it a lot more had I qualified for BCBC and NHC today. And I’d love it even MORE with $15k in my ADW account.
Someone give me a virtual hug.