Tourney Talk – Del Mar Handicapping Challenge

The 2018 Del Mar Handicapping Challenge is this weekend, and I’m out here competing for over $250,000 in cash and prizes. It’s a format that I really like. For starters, the entry fee is $8,000, but since $6,000 is returned to you for the purposes of live money wagering, it’s really only a $2,000 entry fee. That’s how I look at it. The rules are simple:

-Make at least $3,000 in wagers each day (Saturday and Sunday)

-Bet at least $500 on at least three races

-Win, Place, Show, Exacta, Trifecta, and Daily Double wagers only

-Bet on any race from Del Mar, with two Saratoga races on Saturday and the Haskell from Monmouth on Sunday

130 contenders are expected. Prizes are paid to the top 10 finishers. You keep your bankroll. First place is about $80,000 plus entry into the Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge and the NHC

I’ve really only been competing in tournaments seriously for about a year, but I’m starting to warm up to the live money events as my favorite format. To this point, I think I am at a disadvantage to more seasoned tournament competitors, but the gap may be closing a bit as I warm up to the idea of getting aggressive and letting it rip.

My plan for tomorrow is to pick my spots very carefully. In previous live money events, I have made the mistake of trying to pad my bankroll with small bets on lesser opinions that don’t hit, and therefore my bankroll takes a hit before I have a chance to wager on my good opinions. I won’t be doing that this weekend. I’ve looked at all of the available races for Saturday, and I don’t think I’ll have more than four plays all day.

Del Mar Race 4: I’m a little surprised to see Kershaw and Bank Walker in here for the $40k tag. Kershaw put up an impressive 84 Beyer in his debut, and if you buy into the concept of pars, he should handle this level with ease. It just seems like maybe one more try at the MSW level would have been appropriate. As for Bank Walker, he’s been off almost a year after running well here last summer. He ran 2nd to Bolt d’Oro two starts back, and as with Kershaw, I’m just surprised to see him up for sale. The horse that interests me is Violent Affair. Gary Stevens jumps back aboard. Drop in class. Some good works since the debut. And maybe we’ll get 10-1 or better.

Del Mar Race 5: The Big Train will be my big play of the day I think. May use him under Force in case that one rolls.

Del Mar Race 7: Depending on the tote board, Ashleyluvssugar may be a $500 play for me.

Del Mar Race 9: American Pastime is interesting to me off the long layoff. I’ll watch the tote here too.

Saratoga race 9: Hi Happy may go favored, but I think he’s the best of this bunch and projects to get a good trip just off the inferior pace and way ahead of the deep closers. He may be long gone by the time the real running starts.

Of course, all of this is subject to change.

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