Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Randomness and some interest piquing

-On what seems like an endlessly long, excruciatingly slow week in both the real world and the horse racing world, a few items piqued my interest.

I first read about this over at our friend Jason’s blog.

For those of who may not know it, Jason Beem is the race caller at River Downs. Originally from Seattle, Jason honed his skills at Portland Meadows this past winter and scored his first full-time professional gig as a race caller for the summer season in lovely Cincinnati, Ohio. If you don’t check out his blog on a regular basis, I suggest you start. “J” does not post daily, but when he does, it is always a pretty interesting read.

The story was picked up on equidaily.com and stands as a fairly interesting news story. The internets come through once again. By offering unique insight from a completely different perspective, one blogger was able to enhance a seemingly benign story, making bloggers proud across both of G.W.’s internets’. Maybe when the season is over and Jason moves back to the Pacific NW he will decide to join the TBA.

-The World Series of Poker is under way, and if you are looking for in-depth coverage with a little bit of an edge, check out Pauly’s Blog. You get great insight into the month long event that you can't find anywhere else. Special sections such as "the last five players I took a 'leak' next too" being a fan favorite. You won't find THAT on ESPN.com. Beyond that, Pauly is not shy about pimping other great WSOP news sites. It's always a great read when things get slow at work.

-The good and the bad of capitalism and commercialism makes its way deeper into horseracing.
Anheuser-Busch has stepped in to drop some major loot on the next couple of Preakness' and Kentucky Debry’s broadcast on NBC. So the good is pretty clear: a nice infusion of cash by a major name brand with a boat load of dough and some invaluable cache with the 21-35 demo. The figures are not clear, but I do know that A-B (aka Bud, Bud Light, et. al.) dropped a cool $40 million (US) to be THE beer sponsor of the current World Cup over yonder in Deutshland. On the flip-side, I can’t help but be a touch bitter at the corporatism that A-B represents. The hippie in me will never get over mass consumption and commercialism. Good thing I live in the “Peoples Republic.” And yes, The Kentucky Derby presented by !YUM! Brands annoys me too - but for some reason a bit less than this deal.

-Peter Gammons has taken some heat lately, but he is still one of the better providers of professional sports insight. Get well to Peter!!

Thursday, June 22, 2006

"Blame Canada"

WHEW!! That was close. I almost made it another 10 days without posting.

There isn’t much to write about. I just wanted to get off the ugly schneid that is posting laziness.

Congrats to fellow TBA-ers Jessica, Michael + Alan for their great news this week. Thank you also to these folks, because their good news helped get me out of my “pre-July 4th horse extravaganza funk” which had settle din quite mightily.

I don’t see much wagering action for me until next weekend – which is fine with me. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be at the track everyday if possible, but really?

I hope everyone has a great weekend. Keep an eye on those pesky Canadians this weekend. I know I will (always do!).

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

It's only been three days

Leave it to me to post my Belmont follow-up some 72+ hours after the conclusion.
I got to watch the Belmont – like the Preakness – via TiVO, so I was able to FF through the commercials and seemingly endless Barbaro package pieces.

I think a big kudos to ABC for their coverage. Using Jerry Bailey to talk about in depth, picture-perfect intricacies like the starting gate, is a major plus. Throw in a little Hammerin Hank and some wise cracks from Kenny Mayne, and you’ve got yourself a little broadcast.

No one is better than Costas, but he always feels a little misplaced doing the horses. Tom Hammond knows his stuff, but his face–jobs/make-up deal always leave me a bit unsettled. I’ll take a hyperbolic, somewhat aged Brent Musberger any day!!

As far as touting and the result goes…. I am fine with the result. I never would have had Jazil, as I had given up on him a few weeks prior and I had ZERO interest in investing any of my hard earned cash in Bluegrass Cat.

Que sera, sera, I guess.

My next major touring efforts will be a July 4th weekend visit (or two) to Monmouth Park in New Jersey (the shore to be exact) and then the DRF Handicapping Tourney at Emerald Downs on July 30th. My friend Red and I have two entries that we are sharing – he being in NY, me at Emerald Downs. Let’s see how that works out!! If you want to read a cool story about my friend, Red, click here – it’s from Sunday’s New York Times so you have to register, but it’s FREE!!

-Do yourself a favor and check out THIS movie ASAP.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Picks....and selections, and recommendations...

O.k. back to business….

-Picks for the Belmont: I am going to stay away from the lower prices. Sunriver def. has a legit shot, although you couldn’t pay me enough to place a bet on Bluegrass Cat. That being said, I like two horses on top.

The sometimes key to handicapping – and this holds more water in the lower level races – find an angle. Find that one little difference that you either think gives you an edge, or at the very least separates one horse from the rest. Making that proper selection, that's what it's all about.

Both HIGH FINANCE and OH SO AWESOME offer unique potential angles that lead me more towards them...

**Editorial side note: I really don’t think they have a legit shot at finishing 1-2, but one of the two to win is not out of the question. The betting dilemma comes in the decision…which one to single on top? This is the game. Can you make the better decision more times than not?

In HIGH FINANCE, my friend “Red” was kind enough to point out to me the 1-mile workout the Richard Violette trained colt put in the Sunday before Memorial Day. It is not often you see mile-long workouts and HIGH FINANCE is the only horse in the field with a marathon prep.

OH SO AWESOME’s last race is one of my favorite betting angles. Closing in the slop/mud. We all know how speed favoring a wet track can be, so whenever I see a horse put in a nice closing effort in less than ideal conditions, I take note. Beyond that, this horse was slated for a grass effort in his last and closed to third in the “off the turf” 72K Match Hatch Stakes. He has gone 1 ¼ miles once before and you have to love anything Jimmy Jerkens throws out in a Triple Crown race (25% winners so far at the meet, also).

I won’t completely get rid of Sunriver or Bob and John. For the final leg of the Triple Crown I will be using two, three-horse ex/tri box combinations:
2-5-6 & 4-5-6.

I do not like to bet speed very often, so for the win I’ll use the longer shot OH SO AWESOME.

-Alan at LATG put the attendance over/under at 54k. I am thinking anything over 50k and the NYRA (and the horseracing world) will be ecstatic. My prediction (ok, maybe it's hope) is that it will be between 50 and 55. I can’t see 60, but I also don’t think (hope) 40. Folks in the NY area love going out to Belmont for the big day and I have faith that they will flock to the Queens via car, bus and LIRR.

-My pick for the World Cup:
ENGLAND @ 6-1 (Brazil is the 9-4 favorite)

-It will be interesting to see how many races are shown tomorrow. Over on Equidaily.com, there was a call to arms for horse racing fans to send ABC an email demanding that they show all four races leading up to the Belmont (2+ hour coverage). Seems to make sense, right? Do something for the horseracing fan? Stoke a little interest? Well, keep that common sense thing in to a minimum when you are talking NTRA and their handling of television marketing. Yes, it is ultimately ABC's chouce what tey do, but I blame the TRA for not having a heavier hand. This is just another example of awful brand management. Don't count on see too much of the first three legs of the guaranteed $1 million dollar pick-4 live. Too many Barbaro stories to do.

Two non-horse notes:
1) Lewis Black premieres his new stand up on HBO Saturday night at 10pm EST. If you have never heard or seen Lewis, you should REALLY check him out.
2) Season premiere of Entourage is Sunday night at 10pm EST. Another show not to miss. Only in its third season, so you still have time to catch up. If you don’t have HBO, get the DVD’s. It is well worth it.

Good luck to everyone this weekend.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

"State of a state. State of a state of a union..."

It seems like it’s been a quiet weekend of horseracing. A final lull before the final leg of the Triple Crown.

Soon all the mainstream media who come to the backstretch, the front stretch, or the breeding farms from about the first week in May until the 2nd or 3rd week of June, will go back to their boring world of everyday sports writing. Drumming up stories where there were none to begin with will not cease, it will only spread slowly to where these writers feel most comfortable or feel they are needed most. The College World Series, the World Cup, NFL pre-season (ugh) and yes, maybe even a FEW will go on to Edmonton or North Carolina for the National Curling Championships.

Stay tuned here, to the RACING UNDERWOLRD to feel the pain, frustration, anger, adulation, joy and excitement of the REAL horseracing world. Reading right here, right now, you will find the passion and strength of honesty and conviction that this sport needs to expand and grow, infiltrating the consciousness of this country's sprots minds.

Horse racing is not going anywhere. It is too big financially to ever disappear (SYNIC!!). However, if the Fran Magnas and Donald Trumps of the world don’t wise up, the power and influence that they have become so used too, will implode from beneath their feet like Crater Lake some 7,700 years ago.

It is here where the creative ideas stir in a cauldron of love and devotion, that the future of this great game lies.

In the coming days, don’t believe the hype about how uninteresting or boring the Belmont Stakes. Don’t believe the nay sayers who will call out Barbaro’s unfortuanteness and demand the game be done-for.

This can be a glorious time in the fabulous world of horseracing. We are currently running behind the eight-ball that is popular consciousness, common sense and mainstream media’s short-sidedness.

The future is bright. The industry needs to take its blinkers off and clean out the blue-blood. You don’t have to get rid of it, just flush it out like a dialysis machine and bring it back in to your system with a fresh outlook – maybe a little more indigo?

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Tillamook County Fair Dates

Ok, I found it. For those of you interested, feel free to join us in lvely Tillamook, Oregon August 9-12, 2006. Tillamook County Fair