01/27/2014 12:13PM

No regrets, says NHC runner-up

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NHC 15 is in the books. Jose Arias took the lead on Day 1, and built it to a commanding lead on Day 2. On Day 3, a couple of players got very close to him at the final table, notably Nick Alpino and Tony Brice. I had a chance to catch up with Brice, who won $200,000 for finishing second, right after the last race. Brice picked the winner of the last contest race, Fit to Rule, but ended up $1.20 short.

What were your thoughts going in to the last race of the contest?

Once I got to the final table, mainly I was just focused on finishing second. Jose had such a great tournament but I thought second might be there for me. I had to go with the horse I loved in the last race, even though I knew it probably wouldn’t be enough to win it.

After the race, did you think you might have won?

I really didn’t. I saw the odds tick down to 7-1 before the race went off and the odds just didn’t seem to be heading in the right direction for me. I was hoping, obviously. But again, I wouldn’t have changed anything. I couldn’t go against the horse I liked.

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What are your thoughts about finishing second?

$200,000 will change my life. My wife was laid off a couple of weeks ago and this will change our lives.

What type of races do you like to bet?

More than anything else I specialize in finding longshots in dirt route races. Oaklawn has been my home track since I was 16 years old. It’s a track I’m familiar with and I have a sense of what different trainers are trying to do.

What was your best contest finish before NHC 15?

I think I finished third in a Lone Star Park qualifying tournament back in 2012. That was my best tournament. But I didn’t even make it out of the final there to make it to Vegas. But luckily, this year, NHCQualify was out there and I was able to qualify on there.

How would you describe your handicapping methodology?

I’m actually kind of old school. I like the classic [DRF] past performances. I try to make pace figures for races relative to how the race has been run. So I figure trip into the pace and I use speed as another sort of tie breaker. And I really try to pay attention to the trainers and what they do. If you can spend enough time looking at trainers and try to get in their heads, how they bring a horse up to an optimal effort, that can give you an advantage.

Advice for aspiring contest players who want to be where you are now next year?

I would say figure out what you do best, and every time you can, just focus on that. I can’t handicap turf races. I don’t know what’s going on in California well enough. I just focus on exactly what I know and what I’ve proven to myself that I know well. And that’s what I would encourage everyone to do.