Thursday, August 31, 2006

Hirapour Obese?

-Hirapour finished a disappointing 5th in today’s feature at Saratoga, the NY Turf Writer’s Cup, a steeplechase affair going a little under 9 ¾ miles.

Did you put your hard earned money on a 1-2 shot carrying 164lbs? I know I didn’t. Although the title of this post is a slight exaggeration, Johnathan Shepard’s other horse entered in this race, carrying 16lbs. less withstood a very shaky last jump to hold on for one length victory.

-With exactly seven days to go until my first trip to Vegas in over a year, today marks the beginning of my official Sin City Countdown. Next Thursday at this time, I’ll be halfway home to my den of iniquity.

Ten men, mostly from the greater NYC area will converge for what is becoming a parody of itself – the Vegas Bachelor Party. No twisting of my arm here. The last time I was in Vegas, I quit my job and extended my stay by 50%. This time around, I want to give huge props to my boy Uptown.

This is Uptown’s first appearance in this blog, and without him, my Vegas planning would be much more of a headache. Uptown, a Vegas resident was asked by yours truly to do some research on the sports book director at the hotel we are staying at. Uptown went out of his way to actually make the call for me. The call? Three days of reserved booths at the sports book on the opening weekend of the NFL season. Uptown earned a free trip to the hotel pool and some other niceties.

-I’ll be getting some college football warm-up this weekend as me and Rodriguez are heading down to Eugene to catch the season opener for the Oregon Ducks. Oregon opens their season with Stanford in a key early season Pac-10 match up.

Our day will start at 8am as we travel the necessary 2 hours down I-5 into lovely Eugene. After a few spotty weather days this week, the forecast calls for a high of 90, with a 100% chance heavy tailgating. Rod has been attending Ducks games for a few years, and finally has his own season ducats. I’ve never been to Autzen stadium, so I am looking forward to a pretty good time.

I probably won’t get a chance to bet on any of the races this weekend until Monday, although there is an outside chance I’ll be in for Sunday as well. With a 3-day weekend ahead, Friday 5pm can’t come soon enough!!

An answer to an answer

Being tied up in some other blog business, I managed to overlook a live chat on Bloodhorse today with that publication’s editor in chief, Ray Paulick. I want to preface this column by saying that I've never met the man and I'm sure he's a nice fellow, but I ned to take umbrage with some things he said in the chat room this afternoon.

Big thanks to Brad for bringing it to my attention. Brad shot me an email earlier in the day asking if I had posted (which I didn’t). Our blogging amigo in SF has his own take on the answer he received from Paulick regarding the internet(s) and “alternate forums”.

In case you missed it, here is what transpired:

Q: San Francisco, California
In a Blood-Horse column from February 28, 2006, T.D. Thorton says that "Today's most engaging conversations about racing's most searing issues are all happening loosely structured groups and forums." What sites do you read for alternative content and what forums do you visit for such engaging conversations?

A: Paulick
I'm a big fan of for links to non-traditional racing press. I scan blogs and some forums, which often can be useful for news leads. Frankly, the state of horse racing blogs is pretty sad compared to politics or other sports. Some bloggers go weeks without posting a comment (they'd never work at!). has dropped forums because of the actions of a few individuals who post irresponsible and damaging comments. We can't justify hiring a 24-hour babysitter to monitor it.

I will break down his response for you, my readers:

I'm a big fan of for links to non-traditional racing press.
So am I. Great site that I check out twice a day.

I scan blogs and some forums, which often can be useful for news leads.
Well, thanks for keeping up to date on what’s current in our sport. We bloggers try and uncover as many new leads and story angles as possible.

Frankly, the state of horse racing blogs is pretty sad compared to politics or other sports.
“Pretty sad,” you say sir? You are damn right it’s pretty sad. With 20 members of the TBA and a few others scattered about the vast wasteland of the internet(s), we thoroughbred bloggers are only about 1,000 blogs away from poker and about 5,000 blogs away from catching up to the entertainment world. This sport has been severely lagging in keeping up with technology and has been Disproportionately slow in finding creative ways to incorporate each new possibilty. Sir, I realize us 40-hour-a-week working stiffs, who also like to spend some time reading about, watching, and touting horses - who also enjoy spending time at the track - can’t update our individual blogs everyday. This is a shortcoming I will concede. But forgive us for not having full-time blogging gigs that allow us to do the necessary research to conduct thorough, informative interviews. It is my view that the leaders in this industry (i.e. you) have not had the foresight or wherewithall to invest both time and effort in making these new technologies a boon for the industry.

Some bloggers go weeks without posting a comment (they'd never work at!).
I would say that your publication would be extremely lucky to have any one of us bloggers on your staff, sir. The passion, energy, creativity and teamwork displayed on a volunteer basis is something any leader would want for his/her business. has dropped forums because of the actions of a few individuals who post irresponsible and damaging comments. We can't justify hiring a 24-hour babysitter to monitor it.

A babysitter? Come on. That’s a bit condescending don’t you think? The greatest marketing buzz of all time (see Snakes on a Plane) was created and generated by on-line message boards and forums. Moderated or un-moderated; it really doesn’t take too much to host a productive, healthy forum. In fact, here’s one right here that seems to work just fine:
Oregon Racing Forums

In creating this blog and hooking up with like minded souls from around the world, I know my vision of horse racing includes forums, chat rooms, blogs, podcasts, video-casts, You Tube, iTunes, and whatever else the Wild Wild Web throws out there.

There are folks out there who do get it and are willing to take a chance. I’ve met and spoke to many. Some are afraid that members of the old guard in power might not like these “new fangled technologies.” Were these the same guys that feared FM radio? How about the VCR? Cable TV? Satellite TV?

Let’s get away from fearing technology and change. Let’s embrace and begin to envision the possibilities of 20+ million internet users logging on to participate in the world of thoroughbred horse racing. Think of the boost in sales when someone can log on and purchase a yearling while sitting on their couch at home. Folks can already bet on any race they want from the luxury of their living room. What other possibilities lay ahead? Many. I envision an industry that thrives for the next 50-100 years. The only way that can happen is by keeping that open mind. Let’s keep our minds open to what happened to the poker world. Imagine horse racing being featured in ESPN four nights a week!!

This is my vision of horse racing’s future. What’s yours?

Editor's Note: Paulick addreses this issue as well as his thoughts on the internet(s) over the course of the chat:

Las Vegas, NV
In your opinion, what can racing's marketers do attract new fans and generate even a fraction of the participation and interest that poker now has?

The interactive aspects of racing (online watching and wagering), and new ways to graphically present an actual race as a video game can bring in younger players. My son and a group of his friends had weekly poker games (inspired by the World Series of Poker on TV). They went to Keeneland one Friday and my son (an avid handicapper) said most of the guys didn't understand how to handicap and felt it was too hard to learn. So even though poker and horse racing handicapping can be mental challenges, one is apparently much easier to learn. As for me, I don't know a "river" from a "flop." But seriously, efforts by the NTRA to make handicapping less intimidating and easier to learn have been dropped for whatever reason.

Aiken, South Carolina
What's the best way of promoting Thoroughbred racing and the Thoroughbred industry? Are there any new mechanisms on the horizon to create additional exposure for the sport other than the existing ones that are already in place?

There are some good opportunities, most notably the Internet. If we can keep Internet wagering on pari-mutuel races legal, lower takeout, and improve the quality of the product (larger, more competitive fields), racing can be very attractive to online gamers. A tracking system that automatically charts horses and creates a video-game type of visual can make watching a race a lot more fun than seeing two-inch brown horses going in circles on a TV or computer screen. Technology is our best opportunity, but we can’t afford to overlook the lessons of Barbaro: the horse is a beloved animal. Some part of marketing and promotion has to capitalize on the love people have for horses.

Link to chat transcript.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

I'm not one who normally talks about this stuff..

but it is too good, and I felt it needed to be shared.

From this week's Willamette Week newspaper:

CAPRICORN:(that's me)
"If you were at the Burning Man Festival in the Nevada desert right now, you might be racing your souped-up tricycle through a miniature golf course-style maze while dressed in a superhero costume, after which you'd enjoy a sushi dinner served on the naked belly of a good-looking clown. Or maybe you'd be exploring the benefits of of a short duration marriage to a temporary soulmate selected for you by a seven-year old girl deity sittin gon a neon green plastic throne surrounded by a circle of flame. Since you're probably not at Burning Man, however, you've got to find other ways to carry out your astrological mandate, which is to enjoy semi-crazy acts of liberation you'd normally never try."

If you're reading this and thinking about making a seemingly difficult decision whether or not to trust your job with this blog, I urge you to take the chance - whether you are a Capricorn or not.

Blogs are differnet and new, (especially in this industry) therefore they possess an heir of uncertainty that leads to some uncomfortableness. The internets are here. We have long passed since Web 1.0 and are rapidly approaching Web 2.0. I am perched atop my high-horse asking for a chance to lead this sport, the game we all love to the top of the 21st century. With a devoted pack closely behind, supporting this movement, the risk you may see now as gigantic, will prove to be nothign when paired with the unlimited potential gains lying there for the taking.

I will get to this issue later on tonight.

Now, onto cheap sushi for this evenings meal.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

I Gallop, You Gallop, He/She/It Gallops

Another dark Tuesday for most of the racing world, and some rain and clouds here in the Portland area.

With this being such a widely held off day for jocks, trainers, owners, horses, I wonder if those trying to stay in shape have gotten themselves an iGALLOP

If you’ll notice, neither Gary Stevens nor Jerry Bailey were asked to model this for Brookstone.

Probably a good choice.

Check out iGallop's Commercial

(tip of the hat to TMZ on this one)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A tough year, just getting tougher.....

In talking about the year that is in the world of horse racing, our esteemed colleague over at Pulling Hair and Betting Horses, Patrick, was all to prescient in his most recent comments regarding LITF:
“This year has pretty much been good news followed by bad news every week.”

Maybe the TBA is jinxed? I am dumbfounded at the latest catastrophe to strike the sport.

This was "our" first horse.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not horse related, but phenomenal nonetheless

Best piece of horse writing (regarding betting) I've read in a LONG time...

If the folks at ESPN feel like sueing me for re-printing "a piece" of Jay Cronely's latest article. Then, bring it, bi#^%!s.

The following is an EXCERPT from's Jay Cronely who has been growing on me more and more lately as an entertaining and informative read.

"Questions of value:

Q - Most times when I turn on a nationally televised race, I hear one of the expert handicappers say that he or she is searching for value. What exactly does that mean?
A - This is a valuable handicapping aid, one that should never be ignored. When you hear a TV expert find a 'value' in the upcoming race, take a black pen and run a line through the horse's name, eliminating it from consideration. I used to use Magic Markers to black-out TV 'value' picks, but the ink seeped through the Form. Horses that win and pay a price are not 'values.' Good handicappers don't know what a horse is apt to pay until it has been tabbed as a winner. A 'value' horse is a stretch, it's what you play when you're down a bundle.

Q - What, in your opinion, is a good value, anyway?
A - Anything that wins. If a 100 percent return on your investment isn't enough, and if you're betting five bucks, it probably isn't, then you're going to have to hook an undervalued winner to a Pick 3 or Pick 4 or more. Or watch a 'value' run fifth.

Q - If you like two horses the same, and one is 1-1, and the other is 10-1, shouldn't you play the one that offered the best value?
A - If you can't play them both, go home.

Q - For your information, wise guy, there are handicapping systems based on making wagers on the best values in a particular race.
A - Being alone with your thoughts is so unacceptable to some people, they try to take the instinctive and creative elements out of handicapping and reduce the game to a set of impersonal numbers.

Thing is, each race is different."

If you want the whole thing, go to and go the horse racing section.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Tuesday is Monday....

Sometimes it’s hard to find a ton of inspiration to post here. The more you look at, analyze and break down one specific topic or subject, the greater the opportunity for the wheels of creativity can grind to a screeching halt. No neck braces needed, this inspiration spiral into the depths of cynical nothingness is a slow, wringing process.

Where does one start day after day, expounding on the same topic. Often times I am even turned off by the sport I love so much. Over saturation of anything is a bad thing. Everything in moderation, that’s what I say.

So here we are today, a Tuesday no less. The darkest of the dark days sees a measly 14 tracks running. On top of that, today was my Monday!!

Not even a 10-minute sojourn down the block to my local OTB to liven my spirits on a sluggish, recovering first day of the week. At least it’s a 4-day week!!

-Please take a few minutes to read this article/review. Although NOT horse racing specific, it is both real-life and animal centric. I literally almost started crying on the bus reading this piece. Don’t ask me why. That’s for my next blog – Ruben’s Head. Btw, here’s a link to the film’s website. Check it out and see when, where and if it’s playing in a city near you. I will be checking it out before it leaves town on the 24th - hopefully I can give you all an official review before then.

-Good move by Equibase to offer Spanish language race programs. At least SOMEONE in this industry has some good marketing people working with them.

-I’ve been reading Jane Smiley’s “A Year at the Races” for some time now. I don’t know for sure when I boughtit from the greatest book store in the nation, my receipt doesn’t have the date on it (curious, no?). The point is, I won’t give this book a bad review b/c I haven’t yet finished it. But the fact remains, at this point, I am less than thrilled with what I’ve gotten through. I will keep this on my night table and keep trying (in between “My Losing Season” and “Eats, Shoots and Leaves”) to complete the “reflections on horses, humans, love, money and luck.”

-When are the jockey’s going to properly organize and become employees of the NTRA. All tracks should be under one governing body. The tracks should be licensed and ruled by an organization that employs its superstars. If anyone thinks horses are the future of marketing racing, I believe they are sadly mistaken. When SOMEBODY finally takes the time to nurture and grow the personalities and stories that are jockeys, the sport may finally seem some of the much talked about growth. If I were commissioner, or at least a paid consultant, my FIRST act would be to demand MANDATORY English annunciation, pronunciation and articulation. What good are post race interviews when ¾ of the viewing public can’t understand what he/she is saying. This is NOT an ethnic, racial or cultural bash, it is a fact of life right now. I’m not saying every jockey needs to be fluent in English. But each (to start just the ones who regularly appear on national television) man or woman needs to be able to clearly articulate (in English) what just happened in the race; what the trainer or owner told him/her prior to the race; or what his/her dinner plans are for this evening after winning the Kentucky Derby.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Portlanders head to Tillamook

*Inspiration provided by Bill McDonald

Saturday, August 05, 2006

s please.....

Where can I sign up for the Sue Broux fanclub? That girl sure does know how to stir some shit. Done right, too. Texas style.

In the meantime, we just keep growing. I am loving how some of these long-distance relationships are translating into real world success for participation.

If you haven't already, please welcome:

Can't Wait for the Inner

Hey Rob!! Welcome. As easy as it is to hate Aqueduct, some of my favorite handicapping days have come in the 2nd floor deli spent with my mentor, explaining the intricacies of touting. It used to be so great to look at the horses (pp's). Bullshit. Watch the race. Bullshit some more. Then, delve right back into the paper.

Mmmmmmm, corned beef sandwich and a black cherry soda - just one of those unique "Senses" memories we all strangely have. Aqueduct has that different feel than Belmont does. It is a comfortable track to stay inside and enjoy the races. Which doesn't necessariy mean it's nice overall...but, hey it's The Big A!

It's great to have one of my favortie bloggers, and local celebrity on-board. I know Jayson has been posting some really cool stuff for some time, and it is even cooler that he has finally decided to join our little gang.

I believe Jason is a good example of how this game needs us young, interent saavy folks. The game need's some more creativity - added value as they say. Yes, the game is run by money, but people who have money always like to have more. Why can't we all do our part to participate in improving the track as a place to have fun? Which it is!! We just have to tell more folks about it and faclitte ther initiation.

I'll close with this off of Craig Newmark's blog:

"...I feel that professional and citizen journalism are converging, merging their strengths. Professional journalism tends to involve professional editing and factchecking; citizen journalists frequently have the courage to speak truth to power."

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Wild Weekend

It’s taken me a few solid days to recover from a marathon day of handicapping. Weeding through past performances from 9 different tracks across the country from 9:30am until 7pm can definitely take its toll on you physically and mentally.

Luckily, the folks at Emerald Downs, who were once again hosting the Ultimate Qualifying Tournament at their lovely track just SE of Seattle. The folks who ran the day really hooked it up. Non-stop buffet food options and unlimited liquid beverages, capped off by post contest hosted bar. A staff that was beyond friendly, helpful, patient, and in some cases distractingly attractive.

With that said, many of you who read this blog know there was some controversy and yours truly was right in the middle of it all.

Seems there were some official scoring snafus in the final, official scoring. In my case, I initially was told that I finished 8th, taking home $750 and a free trip to Vegas in January to compete in the invite only DRF NHC at Bally’s.

Less than 24 hrs. that result would be changed to an 11th place finish, and my trip to Vegas washed away. In hindsight (and put fully into perspective) 11th out of 400 seems not to be too bad of a showing.

Needless to say, Susie Sourwine, VP of Marketing at ED came to the rescue and offered me a very considerate “compensation package” to make up for their mistakes. Ms. Sourwine acted as an experienced, courteous professional and I appreciate the way she handled the whole situation.

Even more so than ever before, go check out Emerald Downs if you ever get a chance. Besides the fantastic facilities and gorgeous vies of Mt. Rainier, you will be certain that you will be taken care of appropriately by their staff.

I had planned on live blogging form the tournament, but when I inquired just a few days before the event, I was told they had no Wi-Fi. I knew the girl I spoke to really had no clue, but I opted not to bring it anyway. In the end, even though there was internet access that many took advantage of, it was probably for the best that I didn’t have my laptop. Between placing bets on two cards, touting, talking on the phone to m partner and trying to keep track of everything else going on, I don’t think I could have handled another distraction.

Oh well, it would have been cool. Now we all have to settle for the slacker, secondary, abbreviated version!!

I am getting settled into my new place and hope to have my regular internet connection ready to go this weekend. In the meantime, I am lugging my 1947 Dell laptop to and from work so I can stay connected while setting up my new residence.

-It looks as though we have ANOTHER new TBA member. I will post that information tomorrow. I have some other projects I need to go work on before I pass out.

-Finally, I don’t think I’ve pimped it yet, but PLEASE go check out Saratoga Racing Daily. This is one of the best blogs going out there. The site covers everything Saratoga from the t-breds to the trotters to the nightlife. As the tagline says, “Racing Saratoga – All day. All night.