Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest

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“Hope is not a plan.” – Anderson Cooper, CNN

The annual Road to Kentucky handicapping contest begins this Saturday at Canterbury Park. It’s a 14-week extravaganza held each Saturday culminating with the Run for the Roses on May 3. The contest format is “pick and pray”, meaning all selections are submitted prior to the first contest race. Each week will feature one chosen contest track with a prominent Kentucky Derby prep race, and some weeks will also feature added bonus races. It’s free, and weekly and cumulative prize money totaling $30 thousand dollars is being offered so in the words of Canterbury Park’s Paul Allen – “Let’s Play!!”

The contest has drawn approximately 400 participants per week in previous years. The top 6 finishers each week are awarded weekly prizes, and the top 25 finishers in cumulative points are awarded overall prizes. Finishing in-the-money in a contest with this many players involved is not an easy task, so it’s important to understand a fundamental reality of this contest:

Every horse in every race will be selected by somebody.

What this means is that using logical, low-priced contenders race after race will probably not yield a favorable result. The “chaos” factor in horse racing is too high. Even when five consecutive favorites win, that unlikely 20-1 upsetter that finds the winners circle in Race 6 will generate more points than those first five winners combined. Also, longshots running second will usually be more valuable than winning favorites. Therefore, the players using a higher risk-reward strategy, stabbing at longer-odds horses throughout the contest card will put themselves in better position to be successful in this format.

Let’s take a look at the winning selections made by Jose Arias on Day 1 of the recently completed National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas. Arias took this strong field of 400 contestants wire to wire, leading after each of the three days to capture the top prize of $750,000. He had five winners out of his fifteen plays the first day, at odds of 7-1, 6-1, 22-1, 15-1 and 21-1. The point is, he wasn’t selecting his “most likely winner” in these races. Rather, he was selecting horses he felt were “live longshots” that would generate meaningful points, if correct.

The NHC format was different from Road to Kentucky in that contestants were making selections throughout the day rather than before the races started. But the large field size made selecting winning longshots a requirement for contest success. Somebody is going to have these horses.

When you’re right with your opinion you want to be rewarded, and that longshot sitting on the fringes of your contender group may just ride the wave of horse-racing chaos to victory, propelling you to the top of the leaderboard.

Good Luck in Road to Kentucky 2014.

The Oracle

 Editor’s Note: You will need an MVP Rewards card to play in Road to Kentucky. Membership is free and you can sign up and receive your MVP Rewards card immediately. If you have a card already but have not been to Canterbury Park to get a replacement card since Nov. 18, 2013, you will need to get that replacement card before you enter R2K. Saturday’s featured card is Tampa Bay Downs. Post time is 11:25 AM. Bonus races are Sam F Davis at Tampa and the Withers at Aqueduct.

This blog post was written by Bruce Meyer, the 2011 and 2012 Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year. Follow Bruce on twitter @oracle65.

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Comments

  1. R2K 2014 Morning Line
    The Oracle 2/5
    Field 4/5

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