The first week of the Road to Kentucky Handicapping Contest is complete. This year the contest was expanded to sixteen weeks and there is $30K in prize money up for grabs! The contest track was Fair Grounds, which featured a fast main track. There were twelve contest races, including the featured LeComte Stakes which was worth double points. Unfortunately, three of the originally scheduled turf races had to be moved to the main track, resulting in some short fields after scratches.
A perfect score this week was 2,956 points. In general, scoring between 50-60 percent of the maximum weekly points puts you in contention for the top overall weekly prizes. That puts the top of the leader board somewhere between 1,500-1,800 points after week one. Remember, averaging about 1,000 points per week is where the eventual overall winner is likely to end up, so even if that doesn’t result in a weekly prize it’s still a very good score. The target score to achieve over the entire contest is between 15,000-16,000 points.
The week one scores should be available Thursday afternoon HERE.
It was not a day for chaos to rule, and points from longshot selections were hard to come by. There was one double-digit odds winner on the day (11-1), and only six double-digit odds horses managed to hit the board over the course of the 12 race card. This means that the low and mid-priced horses were dominating the action and it was difficult to pick up large chunks of points in any one race. Slow and steady prevailed on this day. The key contest selection was the LeComte winner, International Star, who broke from the rail and benefited from a good inside trip to prevail at 9-1 over War Story (5-1) and Tiznow R J (4-1). The winner was trained by Michael Maker, owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, and sired by Kentucky Derby winner Fusaichi Pegasus. He had spent much of his career running on turf and polytrack to this point, but took to the Fair Grounds dirt quite nicely. My contender group net is typically pretty wide, but I was not able to envision this horse finding the winners’ circle. Congratulations if you liked his chances and selected him as your contest play! This horse was worth 688 contest points as a double point race, over 23% of the total points available.
My LeComte selection of Runhappy was typical of how the entire day played out for me. Runhappy was over bet and under prepared, which is not a good combination in the horse racing world. He was exiting a freakish maiden win at Turfway Park, but may turn out to be more of a YouTube sensation than Kentucky Derby contender. That debacle aside, I managed to select a 9-1 winner and a few other horses on my contest card earned minor shares, but I checked in with only 428 points. Disappointing day for my R2K selections!
This Saturday the contest track is Gulfstream Park, featuring the running of the Holy Bull. Hope to see you here!
(The author is the reigning Canterbury Park Handicapper of the Year, a title he has won three of the past four years.)