Saturday's Google spreadsheet with my picks is here
I will be updating it while I write these posts.
I was able to get plenty of sleep Friday night, since I had jettisoned the logical handicapping.
Saturday morning I went down to the racebook around 9 AM and made all my picks for the day. You can change picks once made, but as it turned out I changed only one of them (more on this later).
I went with my top Targ CR choice for all races. If there was a tie, I picked the horse with the higher morning line odds.
My first optional was the 4th at Aqueduct at 10:55 AM PST.
I decided I needed to relax, and the best way for me to do that was to go to the gym and work out on the elliptical. I had had no exercise in several days (I didn't set foot outside the hotel the entire time I was in Vegas), and I am always more relaxed after I exercise.
So, I ended up missing that first race, and also the first mandatory race, the 1st at Oaklawn. I arrived back at the racebook just as my 2nd optional was about to go off, the 5th at Gulfstream, 11:17am.
I was hurrying to make that one because I wanted to change my pick.
I didn't make it in time - but that turned out to be a good thing, as my original pick at 5-1 finished 2nd to the favorite, while the one I wanted to change to ran out. I collected $5.40.
When I checked the results of the two races I missed, I was amazed to find that my pick in the optional Aqu 4th had finished 2nd and paid $79 to place! Checking the result chart later, I learned he had gone off at 131-1, had been 2nd, dropped back to 3rd, then came again to beat the even money favorite for the place - very nice! (He was not threat to the winner, who was another 7 lengths in front.)
This horse was the top ARV Targ CR of 4 after the horse with 5 scratched. Because his place payoff was higher than the winner's win plus place payoffs, this was an ARV hit - nice to start with that ;-)
I collected $22 in contest points for this, because of the 10-1 odds cap for place horses.
My pick in the other race that I missed was no factor at 14-1.
So I now had $55.80. The leaderboard was up sporadically on the big screen, and they were posting it on the bulletin board on the wall, but I did not bother to look what place I was in until later.
(You can see the final, day 1 and day 2 leaderboards here.)
Also at this point I had 7 (seven!) 2nd place finishes in the contest - but no winners. I did not let this get to me, I was relaxed and having fun.
The 2nd mandatory and my 4th race of the day was the 5th at Aqueduct. Top ARV choice was #4 Thunder Chief, ML 4-1. I ws not thrilled with those odds, and with a rider switch to Eclipse award winner and Aqu leading jock Dominguez I expected low odds. To my surprise, he went off at 5-1, took the lead after 3/4 mile, and just held on to win by a nose!
WINNER!!!! My first winner of the contest! Another ARV Hit!
It was worth $17.80, and I now had $73.60.
I estimate I was in about 70th place at this point.
I was doing really well!
In the 3rd mandatory, Aqu race 6, my 23-1 pick trailed the field, and was being eased up when his rider fell off ;-) (I believe he was OK). Ah well.
In my 3rd optional, Fair Grounds race 5, my 7-1 pick was a great ARV match (Targ CR 6 of 7), but had a terrible trip, breaking slowly and racing wide, finishing 11th.
The 4th mandatory was the 8th at Gulfstream, the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint Stakes. I had an ARV tie of two horses with Targ CR 5. I picked the longer odds horse #8 at 9-1 - the other horse was the favorite, who went off at 6-5, so it was a no-brainer. I also had a good feeling about #8 Aegean - I had her when she won a stakes early in her 2 year old career.
In the race #8 came 4-wide around the turn, grabbed the lead at the eighth pole, and was all out to last - winning by a nose!
I was screaming!!!!
It was worth $29.60.
My total was now $108.60.
I went over to look at the leaderboard - I was in 53rd place!
The leader was still way up there at $201.20, so I had a ways to go for that.
You do collect prize money down to 30th place though.
I mistakenly thought it was only to 20th place at this point, so I noted that 20th place was at $137.20, definitely within striking distance.
In addition they pay daily prize money to the top 3 finishers on each day.
My $74.80 was pretty far back from the 2nd day leader's $135.20 though.
So at this point I was about halfway through Saturday's part of the contest.
I felt much better, was doing much better, and was excited about the possibilities ahead.
I did not feel rushed or disorganized at all, as I had started to feel Friday.
I had my picks down, and was following along to see if I wanted to change them.
Even though the races came one after the other at some points (check the times on the spreadsheet), I did not get rattled.
Next: Saturday's Second Half