01/24/2014 4:59PM

Player experiences good luck and bad on Day 1

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There is a razor-thin line between winning and losing in all handicapping contests, especially the National Handicapping Championship. Now I’m not saying it’s all luck – you have to put yourself in a position to be lucky. But there’s no doubt that the fickle hand of fate plays a major role.

Let’s look at two things that happened to our player-to-watch Eric Moomey on Day 1 at the 15th annual NHC. Moomey got his day off to a good start in race 4 at Tampa Bay Downs – but it nearly didn’t work out. Moomey was torn between two horses, switching at the last minute. They ended up running 1-2, with Moomey’s eventual selection winning at 11-1 and putting him in contention.

:: National Handicapping Championship leaderboard

But the good fortune didn’t last long. Shortly thereafter, Moomey had planned to play a 14-1 shot at Fair Grounds. But the preceding race at Oaklawn got delayed at the starting gate and he got shut out. Do I even need to tell you who won the Fair Grounds race?

It just goes to show – preparation is everything at the NHC. And a guy like Moomey – primarily an online player – really needs to be on his game to avoid making a rookie mistake like getting shut out.

Still, he is talented enough – and philosophical enough – that it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he recovers and gets right back in contention.

Chance to put faces to names

 I have spent most of the day sitting at the DRF table, chatting up readers and signing books. It has been a great thrill to meet so many people who are as excited about contests as I am, male and female, young and old.

:: Get comprehensive, real-time coverage of the NHC

The biggest thrill for  has been meeting so many of the players I interviewed for The Winning Contest Player, seeing many of them for the first time in person. They are a great, fascinating group of characters. And I can guarantee you will like the book – not for anything having to do with me, but just because you can’t help but learn something listening to people who are so smart.

Many kudos to Team DRF for doing such a nice job putting the book together – it really looks terrific.

Mandatory races for Saturday

Saturday’s eight mandatory races are, in chronological order: Gulfstream Park, Race 5 (11:36 a.m. Pacific); Tampa Bay Downs, Race 8 (12:53 p.m.); Tampa Bay, Race 9 (1:22 p.m.); Gulfstream, Race 10 (2:03 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 7 (3 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 8 (3:30 p.m.); Santa Anita, Race 9 (4 p.m.); and Golden Gate Fields, Race 8 (4:15 p.m.).