by Michael Beychok
Sunday mornings at the Treasure Island the day after the cut down to the final 67 players is made comes in two basic forms for the two different outcomes for players. The first is the euphoric wake up to a bright new day of handicapping and the chance to win 800k and the Eclipse award. The other version of Sunday morning is what I’m experiencing. That is the “I can’t look at another horse race I’m so disappointed in my results” wake up experience. Until, you realize that you’re a horseplayer dammit and there is another tournament today that has some value, so you better get to studying.
My results yesterday were mixed. After a slow start highlighted by yet another two selections running second at 10-1+ odds I settled into an off pattern of making some bad selections. My ticket that went into Saturday with 67 points got up to about 80 points and sat there until a mandatory race at Oaklawn where I hit a near capper horse at 27-1. Now, again some people will say that is not really handicapping and I was playing the situation as much as the horse’s chances to win. That is partially true. I was trying to find a 10-1+ horse and settled on the 4 in Race 8 Painthergone who drifted up to the off price. I did place a nice real, live money wager on this horse however, so it was not a total situational stab.
This horse got me to about 145 in points and I had 3 selections left to make in the quest to get to 180 points – the anticipated cut line. (The line actually ended up being 182). I whiffed on all three remaining selections but for a brief, shining moment I was back in the thick of what make contest playing so great – the anticipated payoff at the end.
Alas, I didn’t make it to the final day this year. I want to highlight how great an experience this tournament is to any player who may be thinking about trying contest play. The chance to visit with new friends and old friends is a highlight of the year for me. The atmosphere of a hyper contest area is something that is not matched anywhere else. I urge players to go out to their local track and try to win a seat next year. I hope to see ya out there on the road somewhere because that’s what I’ll be doing.