The Dog Days Satellite Contest Recap

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“There’s a fine line between winning and losing”.

“Yeah, the finish line”. – Let it Ride movie quote

On Saturday, September 6, Canterbury Park held the Dog Days Satellite Contest qualifier for the Dog Days of Summer Handicapping Tournament.  There would be one qualifier for every 14 entries, and with 126 total entries that meant 9 qualifiers into the Dog Days Tournament to be held September 13-14.

The Dog Days Satellite cost $50 to enter, and you could have a maximum of 8 entries.  Or, you could win entries into the Dog Days Satellite by playing in the Dog Days Super Satellite weekly contests for $10 which were held every Thursday – Saturday in June, July and August.  That was the route I chose, and I ended up spending $270 over 9 weeks in the Super Satellites to win $400 worth of Satellite entries.  Not a huge discount, but I did pick up a few Handicapper of the Year Points along the way which is a separate incentive for playing the contests.  Big picture, it was worth it.  But to make it really pay off, I needed to finish in the top 9 with at least one of those entries to win the $650 Dog Days entry fee for next week.  I had been in the exact same position on June 14 for the first Satellite qualifier and had come up completely empty with all 8 of my entries.

Well, there’s that.

The format was simple.  Make ten mythical $2 win-place bets at any track offered at Canterbury Park until 5:30PM.  My goal based on previous contest results was to turn the original $40 into at least $120, which should be a contending score.

I decided to play 4 entries in their entirety as an “early” session and the other 4 as a “late” session.  That way, if the longshots hit early or late I had plenty of coverage.  It was a pretty simple way to manage my entries.  Also, the scores are posted for the first time at 3:00 when the contest closes, so saving a few entries until then can be an advantage especially if the current scores are low on the board.  Contest strategy is always evolving in this type of event depending on the leaderboard.

Not much was happening for me the first few hours.  I had made 5 plays on each of my 4 “early” cards, and had a 14-1 winner at Woodbine to show for it.  So my best active card had $43.90 with 5 plays remaining when I decided to play Race 5 at Gulfstream Park, a 5 furlong maiden turf sprint for 2-year-olds.  The horse I played was the 12 Runforthewoods, who had shown brief early speed in two dirt sprints and then lost the rider at the start in his lone turf try.  If nothing else, he figured to be forwardly placed early and he was a giant price.  Admittedly, this was a stab.

As it turned out, Runforthewoods broke sharply and was able to clear the field from his outside post.  He was unchallenged through the turn and opened up a winning lead in upper stretch to coast home easily in front.

He was 60-1.

A horse like that in a contest with no cap is pure gold.  No more sweating it out as qualification into the Dog Days contest had been assured.  My contest total for that entry was $210.50, and that is a number that would not be beaten by 9 other entries.

I was very happy to qualify, but there was plenty of late contest drama yet to play out.  While trying to secure a second entry when playing my “late” session, I won a tight photo with a 33-1 first-time-starter at Churchill Downs named Handy Candy, which temporarily vaulted that contest card onto the first page of the leaderboard.  But minutes later, a 40-1 super-bomb used on 5 entries (not me!) won by a nose at Gulfstream Park and pushed my second contending card down to 13th place.  I had one more shot in the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, but when heavily favored Vicars in Trouble coasted home in front I was out of time and out of bullets.

You needed $120.60 to finish in a tie for 9th place and get in a playoff for the final entry.  That’s tough to do playing short-priced horses, and I’ve said many times my recommendation is to always go bombs-away, at least until you hit one.  It’s a different animal than day-to-day wagering, but it can be a lot of fun.  As with live money wagering, some days it’s simply your day.

If you didn’t qualify for the Dog Days Tournament this weekend, you can still buy your way in.  It’s a $400 bankroll anything goes format, and the strategy will be completely different than this qualifier was.  Win Dog Days and you are going to the National Handicapping Championship and the Breeders Cup Betting Challenge!

Why not you, why not now?

The Oracle

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