Monday, March 27, 2006

"Good things Rube" (name the movie)

An exhausting, yet gratifying weekend of horse racing is now complete and I have finally caught my breath.

Major kudos to Katrina and the Dubai Racing Carnival for hosting some of the most thorough coverage from this weekends Dubai World Cup.

Another high note was the first ever Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance hosted chat room that took place all day Saturday. No need to go into too much detail as my talented colleagues did a splendid job of touting, chatting and summarizing the days events. Just click on any one of the links to the left and you will be entertained for hours!!

The only negative note from the weekend was this:
Horse Racing Fans Screwed Again!
The folks over at Equidaily encapsulate my entire thoughts and feelings from that afternoon---I MEAN TENNIS????? A non-major???? NOT the Finals? Oy.

Finally, if you read this post late last week by yours truly then you can appreciate what I've got for you below.

I am always amazed when I come across a responsive, personable, human media person who takes the time not only to answer your fan mail or stupid-ass query, but will even go out of their way to find out an ANSWER for you!! I worked at a major radio entertainment network a few years ago and we would get hundreds of inquires, comments and questions. I know how hard it can be to answer all of the feedback one can get when their work is broadcast all over the world. That's why when I received the following response from a letter I had sent to DRF's Dave Tuley, I was once again convinced that he is one of the classier, upper echelon in the media mayhem of our current world. (read the post linked above and you will understand what the response is all about):

I'll just reply here and you can disseminate it as you see fit.
First a clarification: DRF, the company that signs my pay check sponsors the NHC and is certainly supportive of it, but pretty much leaves the running of it to the NTRA, so you're not hurting my feelings or ruffling the feathers of anyone at DRF by airing
complaints. Feedback is great, and the goal of everyone is to make this
thing as fair and equitable as possible. That being said...
What I'm told is that the NTRA and America Tab felt it was necessary to
do that to prevent fraud of people entering under multiple
names/addresses/etc. and circumventing the maximum entries per person rule and also
to protect against chargebacks if people claim they didn't enter (which
would already be added to NHC purse and wouldn't look right if it was
announced 200 people enter and then 20 chargeback to their credit cards
and people wonder where the extra $2,000 went).
I understand your reservations about doing it, but if you register at
YouBet or TVG, you'd have to supply your SS# to verify your identity. I
don't how this would change. If you want to lodge a formal complaint
with the NTRA, this is from the page:

If I have general questions about the National Handicapping
Championship program, who can I contact?

The NTRA administers the NHC program. McKay Smith, director of product
development for the NTRA, runs the day-to-day operations. He may be
contacted through the NTRA switchboard at 1-800-RACECUP or 859.223.5444,
or via e-mail at

Ok, it's not the Magna Carta, but would Tom Brokaw or even Steven Crist take the time to give that response? We at the TBA have attempted to contact many a media folk over the past year and I will tell you first hand that this type of response is extremely uncommon--yet highly valued and appreciated by yours truly.

Thanks, Dave!!

Friday, March 24, 2006

Why do things HAVE to be so difficult?

Receiving THIS in my yahoo inbox this morning sent me on an unexpected, early, yet short-lived euphoria trip; well before my usual peak time of around 2pm.

Perusing this seemingly inclusive, attractive offer to qualify for the National Handicapping Championship was what I though initially a fantastic idea. IF you want to read a professional journalist’s take on this, go HERE --registration required. My man (and one of my favorite columnists) Dave Tuley breaks it down in a far more succinct manner than my verbose mind ever could. Keep in mind, the guys who sign his pay checks are the ones in charge of the contest.

So I spent some time reading the rules and format of this tournament and all was well until I clicked on "purchase entry". Keep in mind, there aren’t that many folks who fit in to the demo that the NTRA is looking for to buck up $100 at a time for a chance to qualify for the NHC in Vegas next January. But here's my gripe and where I decide to NOT participate no matter how much it hurts.

If you click on "purchase entry" you will no doubt notice that the DRF (as sponsor) has asked that we enter our SOCIAL SECURITY # in order to register. Are you kidding me? There may be some semi-good reason that the DRF/NHC wants my SS#, but I am certainly not entering it online!! I don't even do that for my bank or my credit card company!! In fact, I am already registered on to purchase PP's and I am not asked there.

So I ask, WHAT'S THE DEAL WITH THE SS#? I think it's presumptuous and unacceptable to ask for someone's SS# online unless you are the government or a substantial financial institute (and the latter better have a good reason).

With all of the boneheads running IT security and hackers working 24/7 there is no way you are getting my SS#. Dave T...Tell me what's up man? I know you visit Avg Horseplayer sometimes, give me some kind of decent answer to this nonsense. Should you not be able to give me a solid, legitimate answer then please pass along my sentiment and discomfort with such a seemingly inappropriate, unnecessary personal information request.

Maybe I am just paranoid, but at this point I have no desire to enter my SS# on a website. At this point, I'll just keep my $300 and tout elsewhere.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

If Only

If only the people involved with the NTRA were THIS creative.

I guess we can continue to hope. Someday, baby.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Even Track Announcers Get Typecast

Circling in and out of consciousness and unconsciousness; reality and fantasy; I somehow managed to stumble across one of my favorite time wasting (yet highly informative) websites:

To explain how my brain got me exactly where I am at this point is an exercise in futility. There is no way (~150-1) I could plot and pinpoint each thought that surfaced (only to quickly fade into a fresher version) over the past 10 minutes leading me stumble upon the fact that my new favorite announcer, Trevor Denman, has been unceremoniously typecast as what else. You guessed it.... a track announcer. BUT WAIT!!! Before you take my word for it, here are a few quick trivia questions to test your TV/TD knowledge:

Without going over (Price is right rules as always), how many films has TD been credited with? (If you get within two, well, good for you. Nice work)

Name ONE of two TV shows that TD has made an "appearance" on? (c'mon, it's easy with the hint) 1 million bonus points if you honestly guess both-if you DO get both, then I am thinking you need to get out a tad bit more.

"And away they go...."

Editor's Note: Through more mindless IMDB-ing, I just found out that Jay Cronely WROTE:
1) Quick Change-An amazingly funny, highly UNDERATED classic with Bill Murray, Geena Davis, Randy Quaid, et. al. One of my all-time favs
2) Funny Farm- Does this movie even need an explanation, much less my worthless endorsement?
3) Let It Ride- see #2 above

Tough breaks in NCAA weekend action

Just to own up to a poor, poor touting performance.

I fully recognize my dismality at going a measely 1-3-not to mention my equally dismal overall bracket performance which has me deep in the basement of both pools I entered.

Oh well, there's always this week!!

Friday, March 17, 2006

What's in a name?

For those of you doubters out there, you MUST read this article.

Ok, so maybe there aren't so many doubters, but if you have visited this blog at least once (and are back again reading here) you will certainly appreciate its relevance.

Do you think if we dissected Jimmy the Greek's bones and analyzed his DNA, we could figure out the keys to successful gambling? Maybe I could earn a few million for sharing my gambling genes with willing "mares"?

I can tell you one thing, I come a lot cheaper than a lot of the "studs" out there!

Pretty sure what to think about this...

Does anyone else get as riled up over this as I do? Maybe I am a bit disgruntled, unhappy, detached, stifled and a bit lazy, but this truly pisses me off.

BTW, I NEVER click on anymore. "Why? Because F*ck them, that's why."(Name the movie from which I lifted that uncreatvie little quote)

World Record KO

Since posting a personal record for earliest unofficial elimination from an NCAA Tournament Pool(s) with a horrific loss by a Final Four selection of Marquette, I am shifting gears to picking individual games.

Friday's Games:

Texas(-15) vs. Penn: In a recent conversation with an Ivy League Coach friend of mine, he was actually unable to express enough how overatted this Pennsylvania team is. Not even close to being on par with some highly formidable recent Penn/Princeton squads. (2 units-TEXAS)

California(+1.5) vs. N.C. State: No one believes the Pac-10 is an all around shitty confenrece this year more than I do, but there is a lot that can be said for the high caliber of roster players and coaches from the top two teams from this conference (Cal & UCLA). DO NOT sleep on Cal's amazing Leon Powe. The sophomore averaged 21 pts. and 10 boards a game. I love GETTING points in this one. (1 unit Cal.)

Georgetown(-4) vs. Northern Iowa: Puh-leez! The Big East? Georgetown running Princeton style offense with coach John Thompson III? I love this game. I would be shocked to see an upset here even though it is #7 vs. #10. (1 unit G'town)

Michigan St. (-4) vs. George Mason: My Hofstra Flying Dutchmen/Pride got screwed out of a bid coming out of the CAA. George Mason lost twice to the Dutchmen/Pride in the final two weeks of the season. Now they are supposed to stay within 4 points of one of the best coached teams in the nation? Experienced Big Ten talent, size and coaching should be plenty to cover the four points (1 unit MSU)

Enjoy today's games. As I told a friend earlier this morning: "I'm not rooting for anyone in particular. Just hoping for the largest amount of amazing games."

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Back from LaLa Land

I know, it's so cliche, to call LA "LaLa Land" but it really is. Just returned from my first ever trip to Southern California and you're g-dam right I went to Santa Anita.

Despite cool temps and some rain (it OPENED up just after the 7th race with hail and pouring rain for about 10 minutes) 10,000+ showed up for a day of Saturday racing that included the Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap.

I blew through a few bucks despite hitting a couple of races. My bigeest disapointment, but also my best learning experience of the day was the Santa Margarita and the last race of the day.

I failed to capitalize on an 8-1 horses for courses winner. Healthy Addiction ($19.40) was 4-4-0 in NINE tries at Santa Anita and wound up going gate to wire. DOH!!! Although, I did have him as a saver on a double ticket that didn't include 9th race 1st timer Gunslick who I liked due to his last workout being "Hg"- a friend had disuaded me and I failed to even invest $2 which would have returned $378 - DOH!!!

-In other news, if anyone is looking for a job, there seems to be one open here (thanks to Equidaily)- please feel free to use me as a reference.

-Yes, I know I am late with this, but I am a lazy, busy, somewhat disgruntled person theses days, but CONGRATS to "GrandStandGabe" who was recently named as River Downs' TA for the spring meet. Read all about it here. Feel free to send your best. I meant to post something last week, but got lazy and our good friends over at Oregon Racing beat me to the punch via DRF.
Good luck Jason!!

-And finally, for my Final Four picks, I have not gone out on too much of a limb but here ya go:
DUKE, UCONN, VILLANOVE, MARQUETTE. Yes, THREE Big East Teams. I am really sold on the fact that the Big East was the best conference by far this year.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Off to see a man about a track...

All of us in the TBA have been slacking this week, myself included.
I have had things to write about, but nothing too earth shattering. I will let everyone know what I am on my way to Southern California (for the first time ever) and will be making my first trip to Santa Anita. The weather forecast is for rain Fri, Sat. AND Sun. Just my luck!!

Oh well, I am not deterred. I am just excited to experience a new track. I have seen SA on TV many times and look forward to basking in all that it is-rain or shine!

I hope to have some thoughts on the visit when I return Monday, but that could be sooner if our home for the next four days turns out to have a good internet connection.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Big Cap

What kind of a horse racing blogger would I be if I didn't make some public picks for today's big day at Santa Anita?

I think it's hard not to include High Limit in any selections, but I am going to go with Spellbinder here for the win.

I will also use a three horse box for exacta and tri combos using:

Spellbinder-High Limit-Wilko
Spellbinder-High Limit-Magnum

Good luck to all. Too bad today's raes aren't on cable for al to watch. Should be a good day!

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Just a query

It’s 10:02 pm, I’m watching The World Poker Tour on the Travel Channel (“WPT Battle of Champions III) with Daniel Negraneau, Tuan Lee, Eli Elezar, and Alex something-or-other at the final table. I started thinking about some of the million dollar plus prize money awarded to the winners of these tournaments and a question arose in my brain.

Fresh from my first venture into on-line tax filing I started to wonder how these poker players, earning paychecks both big and small claim their winnings? With some huge Powerball drawings these past few weeks, I feel like we all understand the basic laws of lottery winnings and tax implications. Meaning, a $360 mil. lotto score is essentially only about $180 mil. or so.

My thought was officially this: Are the players who cash checks “contest winners” and therefore taxed at the 50% mark? Or are they independent contractors and use 1099? Or are they considered salaried?

I am curious about this and would love any readers from the poker who world might have some insight into this mota-induced query.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Yes, I know this is a horse racing blog...

I do realize that this is a thoroughbred horse racing blog, or a thoroughbred horse blog, or just simply a horse blog, but sometimes it is necessary to address issues outside of the life at (and around) the track. This is what keeps our touting senses freshened. I liken it to "turning horses out on the farm". Bettors can build up fatigue just as much as any over-used immature 3-yr. old fresh off of the derby trail (see High Limit). So sometimes, we need to journey off of the thoroughbred path and into some fantasy worlds that freshen our minds for the touting tasks that lie ahead.

With that, please enjoy this review of the upcoming Sopranos season on HBO. Don't worry, nothing to important is revealed that might ruin for anyone.

  • New Season of Sopranos Reviewed