Tuesday, October 31, 2006

5:00 PM "Win and You're In"

Thanks to Patrick, the eight fabulous Halloween themed sugar cookies, a cup of coffee and a new seat (see below), I can finally concentrate and actually put something down in writing. Some people might even call it an update.

By now, I'm sure all of you have already heard of the NTRA's new "Breeders' Cup Challenge." The NTRA, Breeders' Cup Ltd. and ESPN hosted a very nice lunch today at the Muhammad Ali Center in downtown Louisville to make the surprise announcement. All the big wig-wigs were there: Avioli, Farish, DeLuca and even Wayne "4-quote" Lukas (more on the nickname later).

(Greg Avioli, NTRA & Breeders' Cup Ltd.)

(Len LeDuca, ESPN)

(Randy Moss, MC, ESPN)

So the horse racing world is finally making strides to incorporate some sort of comprehendable "points" system - or so the theory goes. Bloodhorse has their story HERE - you don't need me to break anything down for you

I will however list some items from the notes that I took. As you can see above, all the big-wigs involved were there decked out in full suits and ties.

NTRA/BC Ltd. CEO Greg Avioli made comparisons to the changes MLB made (Wild Cards), NFL (four divisions in each conference), and PGA (moving to a points system and shifting 1/3 of their tour dates around)

The NTRA/ESPN is looking at the 24 races at six of the "best venues in racing" as "playoffs or automatic qualifiers (herego, "Win and You're In") which will "give context to racing fans".

It was also mentioned that in the past, these 24 races "have provided 40%-50% of BC starters" (interesting stat).

The NTRA/BC will be kicking back 2% of BC purses each of these races to be given out to 6th - last in order to encourage owners and trainers to enter and start horses who may be going against a strong favorite.

Mr. "four quote" (see above if you forgot the reference) was extremely outspoken and amusing when questioned by MC Randy Moss (D. Wayne was seated at the dais with the big wig execs). HIs best quote, "It's unfair to have five guys make the decisions they have to make" (of course referring to the current BC system). D. Wayne is now "four quote" b/c a few journos who have been here all week have surmised that D. Wayne has his speaking points down to the same four quotes: two of which we have on tape from yesterday LINKLINK!!!!!

Unfortunately, due to transportation issues, I was unable to stick around and drill deeper down into the ramifications, etc. with Mr. Avioli. There is a teleconference that I will participate in tomorrow where I hope to broach said subject. The conference call is supposed to be with all of ESPN's personalities and I've been told I can steal Mr. Avioli for a few minutes following the call.

-MAJOR kudos to Evan and Claire for helping Bloodhorse make a strong entry into the blogging world. Good work, Mr. Paulick and nice job guys on your work so far. Sure, your well-done blog is below the fold, but know that in this bloggers opinion - you're kickin' my ass in the writing department! (visual/multi-media content is another story. Maybe Mr. Paulick and I can strike a deal at some point this week?)

-It rained for about 2 hours earlier today, and the weather is much cooler. The track should certainly be fast/firm for Saturday as the "forecast" doesn't call for any more rain leading up to BC Day. It should be about 50-55 degrees with some clouds and sun. (here are some late day photos)

BTW, Thanks to Tim Layden of Sports Illustrated for letting me use his seat (until I went outside for the change of perspective)

Oh yeah..HAPPY HALLOWEEN!! Today, I'm dressing up as a journalist. What's your costume?

The Nick Zito Experience Pt. 4

Gotta pack up my stuff and head to the media luncheon downtown. Here's the last part of the Nick Zito Experience. Again, apologies for the crappy audio...

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Zito's musings on the Classic, Bernadini and CP West (I had to bail b/c of the horrid audio conditions!)

The Nick Zito Experience Pt. 3

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Here, he talks about Sun King being, "A cool horse."

The Nick Zito Experience Pt. 2

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Here, Zito talks about The Derby vs. Breeders' Cup

The Nick Zito Experience Pt. 1

Today's audio is not nearly as good as yesterday's. Between a stiff breeze and constant backstretch PA announcements, some of the Nick Zito experience is hard to hear. If you happen to have a set of headphones nearby, you might want to use them.

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Here, Zito talks about Sun King (audio qualtiy not the best due to the backstretch PA)

9:15 AM

Already been out to the backstretch this morning and am now back on the 6th floor in the main building on the front side of the track. A few quick thoughts as I upload some of today's content...

-Even though Nick Zito's been doing the training gig for nearly as long as I've been alive, I don't think he's much of a morning person. I sideled up next to him at about 7 am this morning, and I will let you know that he was inn no mood to talk. In fact, he was in no mood to say much of anything!!

-It is only Tuesday and the pace is definitely picking up around here. The Euros - horses, trainers, media, hangers-on, etc. - are coming at what seems to be a rate of 20 at a time, the trucks and trailers are beginning to fill parking lots, and I spotted Randy Moss for the first time on the backstretch

-Thanks quickly William C. Rhoden of the NY Times for letting me use his spot here in the press room this morning

-Today is the media day luncheon to be held at The Muhammad Ali Center in DT Louisville. Not sure what it's all about, but there is a press conference and cocktails, so I think I will head over there in a few hours and see what's up.

-Be back in a few with some media for you to check out.

-BTW, the weather today feels about 10-15 degrees cooler, and the outlook for this afternoon is a little rain, but the rain doesn't look like it will last long or be too hard. It also doesn't appear to show up again for the duration of the week...

-Finally, I just want to say that local tv news is just plain awful - no matter what city you're in. Whether it's Portland, Louisville, or NYC, it all stinks.

Monday, October 30, 2006


As the day winds down and a Kentucky evening sets in, the second day of Breeders' Cup comes to a close. It's been an amazing experience, From the track, to the town, to basically every person I've met so far, this has been all that I've hoped. Early nights and early mornings are fine with me.

Living the life of the horseman(woman) is not only noble, but exciting, fulfilling and worthy of praise. My hat goes off to all of the backstretch workers who bathe, walk, fix, talk and do whatever else needs to get done to get our beloved horses on the track and racing. As I walked the backstretch this morning, I couldn't help but wax romantic about living life on the backstretch. Maybe it's the gorgeous weather we've been having (I've never mucked a stall at 6 am in the middle of January in NY or Kentucky) but the life of a horse(person) could easily be for me. Perhaps another time in a another place. I like to joke that my ultimate "romantic" fantasy is to work on a horse farm in Chile.

Finally, as I head to bed, I just want to give a quick shout-out to some journos who have been more than gracious in their treatment of this lowly blogger. Whether it's a friendly tip, a helpful suggestion or kudos on a job well done (horse racing blogs in general) most of the people covering the sport (of the ones that I've met) are quality class people. Believe it or not, they are reading our blogs and they are enthused and intrigued by our participation in the sport.

A quick promotional support shout-out to Rod Meyer of Blue Note software for his support in providing some of the technical gadgets that allow me to relay my colorful experiences to the world. Thanks to "Red" Schneider for teaching, mentoring and introducing me to this great game. And thanks to my fellow bloggers at the TBA and beyond for all of your support, suggestions and b@*l busting - it is much appreciated!

As I sat outside the 6th floor press box on today's 73 degree fall afternoon in racing's "Mecca", I couldn't help but think how content and fortunate I've been.

Looking forward to tomorrow...

Quote of the day: "People have opinions. Horses have the facts" D. Wayne Lukas.


Todd Pletcher Barn

Media "working"

Other side of Pletcher Barn

3:25 PM: TO (time out)

I need to explore the grounds and try to to get back to the backstretch to see who I can harass, errrr interview.

Hope the content proves to be interesting and at least a little bit compelling. I promise, as the week goes on, I'll get more talkative (which I guess isn't too good, but hopefully I can stir up some interesting conversations).

I still have some more photos and some video to post, but I'll save those for later.


Watch the Million Dollar horsies workout

The D. Wayne Lukas Multi-Media Experience Part 4

Part 4: The Audio

Pt. 1: D. Wayne talks about Louisville as a sports town, CD as "neutral court", ("the game" refers to Thursday's Louisville/West Virginia footbal game across the street at Papa John's stadium), Derby vs. BC, his thoughts on Polytrack....

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Pt. 2: Lukas goes on to talk about the BC on polytrack and the future, training techniques, etc.....

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The D. Wayne Lukas Multi-Media Experience Part 3

Here are some photos of the media speaking with Mr. Lukas (sorry about the glare!)

The D. Wayne Lukas Multi-Media Experience Part 2

Part 2: The Video (the audio isn't the best here, but you can get some good insights from the man on Pegasus Wind.

The D. Wayne Lukas Multi-Media Experience Part 1

Part 1: The media awaits the Breeders' Cup all-time leader in firsts, seconds, thirds and overall money won.


Trainer Nick Zito has scratched the 5-year-old gelding from Saturday's TVG BC Sprint.

"Zito indicated that the son of Distorted Humor had aggravated a previous shin injury in his left fore as the cause. The defection of Commentator will allow Ron Manzani and Russ Sarno's 5-year-old gelding Areyoutalkintome to draw in to the race from the preffered list."

1st Video....

Here is my first public movie/video ever. It is short, but I just wanted to get some shots of the quarantine facility they've set up in the backstretch for horses shipping in from overseas. Here's a good write up on the whole Churchill Quarantine deal.

Paul McGee talks about Suave and the Classic (press "play" below)

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First day on the backstretch...

What an unbelievable day so far. Woke up at 5 am to get my official media credential badge and begin the first day of official media coverage. One of the first people I met this morning was Maryjean Wall of the Lexington Herald-Leader. Thanks, Maryjean for answering all of my questions and your invaluable tips and advice!

I just returned to the front side of the track (main media room) to upload the audio and visual materials I got over the past few hours on the backstretch. I have an interview with Paul McGee re: Suave and th Classic and some audio of D. Wayne talking about Pegasus Wind, polytrack and the rabid sports fans of this town...

I am in the process of uploading that stuff, so it should be just a few more minutes. In the meantime, please say thank you for me to Ed Fountaine of the NY post for letting me use his booth this morning. Thanks, Ed!!

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Here's a better photo of the new Pat Day statue in the back paddock area of Churchill Downs. If you want a great pic of Pat standing next to the statue and some more details, Bloodhorse has all the news and info right here If you are interested in purchasing a replica for charity, here's some more info on that deal.

Here the historic plaque located about 20 feet away from Mr. Day's new honor.

Well, it's time to call it an official first day here in Louisville. Every second I am in this city, my adoration for the people and place grows ten-fold. I never realized how great of a sports town Louisville actually is. With major music venues attracting most top (or at least interesting) bands, I would seriously consider a move here if the right opportunity to make a living happened to arise. Mom, I think I'm falling in love.

To officially end the day, I ventured downtown where I capped the day off with a visit to The Seelbach bar/restaurant located inside the Seelbach Hilton. I felt it was my duty to support some of the proud sponsors who support our great sport.

Ending the day with a bit of Woodford Reserve on the rocks seemed like a fitting closing act to an amazing 1st day - I felt it was my duty.

Jockey James Graham

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Jockey James Graham was kind enough to allow AvgHorseplayer to ask him a few questions on his way out of Churchill Downs this afternoon. Many thanks to James for being our first interviewee!! Click "play" to listen.

Here are the three races James was involved in today (his mount in the 10th was scratched)
Race 4
Race 5

Race 11

4:39 PM (G3 Iroquois Stakes)

This guy was waiting his call to duty just before the 8th (Iroquois). Looks like he got a little snacky. I asked the outrider about this horse's diet choice and he said, "We all have our favorites, man." O.k., then.

Here are the jocks walking to the paddock area before race #8.

Willie Martinez

Julien Leparoux (foreground) w/ Mark Guidry (maroon) and Garrett Gomez following.

Calvin Borel (foreground) w/ Robbie Albarado following

3:00 PM

Finally made it to the betting window and waddya know. First bet's a winner! I spent the entire pre-race angin out by the paddock area scoping out the scene. Big D. Wayne walked right next to me and I was blinded by his "Bob Knight ,Hoosier Red Blazer' - that thing was bright!

Sir Biancone was holding court in the middle of the paddock before any of the horses had made there way out - for some reason Sir B. reminds me of Mel Brooks (minus the NY accent, of course).

With 12, 2 yr-olds entered in the 5th, I spent my time just watching the horses. The first horse that caught my eye was the #1. Then as the ring walk began I noticed two others that caught my eye. What do I look for? In this case the fact that these three each had their tails extremely high in the air, while every other was just laying softly upon their respective bums.

So I boxed all three in a $1 exacta and walked away with a nice little score. Of course though, I backed off the $1 tri box which would have been a REALLY nice score!!

-If the weather is anything close to what it's like today, Saturday is going to be one special day!

1:35 PM

Thanks for the seat, Emmanuel

BTW, the first two race results had pretty sizeable payouts. Also, for the 1st two races, being in front of the pace has been a pretty good place to be:

1) $36 WIN $230 EX
2) $41 WIN $296 EX

1:25 PM

I've completed my first complete walk through of "America's Greatest Track". So I enjoy a little hyberbole...what are you gonna do?

Churchill Downs is just an amazing place. I'm sure it helps that today's weather is just absolutely gorgeous. This entire faciltiy is a ginormous tribute to AMerican racing and the local fans here in Louisville.

For an opening day, it seems a little subdued here and in general, it feels like a smaller crowd than I had anticipated. 28,000 people in a venue capable of holding over 100,000 will ever feel like a lot, but just about every track in this country would be more than happy with that size crowd.

Here's a few more photos from my first turn around the joint:

They just unveiled a brand new statue/tribute for Pat Day. I'll get some better close ups later on today for you, but here's a shot from behind the large crowd gathered: (that's Pat in the sunglasses right next to the statue)

Here's Jockey Eddie Castro on his way out to the opening race here on opening day of the Churchill Downs Fall meet:

11:59 am: SCRATCH UPDATE....Untouched Talent will miss Saturday's Juvenile Fillies race.

From CD Media Advisory:
The daughter of Storm Cat underwent a procedure for an entrapped epiglottis. Untouched Talent finished second in the Alcibiades Stakes at Keeneland last out on Oct. 7 after shipping east from California. The defection will allow James Spence's Lilly Carson to draw in off the Preferred List.
11:36 am: Finally made it out of the hotel and into historic Churchill Downs here in Louisville. Here's a pic of Gate 10 -people waiting to get in when the gates opened at 11 am.

Being a lowly blogger means things most likely aren't going to work out anything like you originally expected. But that's ok for me, I like living life that way! It took a private, personal escort for me to finally make my way into Churchill's absolutely gorgeous Joe Hirsch Media Center. I walked with Ted, only in his second stint at CD, through some hallways, up an elevator and wound up here:

Currently I'm sitting at Marcus Armytage's seat. Turns out Marcus is from The Daily Telegraph. Marcus has a nice seat up near the front of the room. Thanks, Marcus.

And finally, what kind of journalist would I be if I didn't take a photo of the world famous Twin-Spires

Saturday, October 28, 2006

I finished the last of my pre-travel prep work at 12:45 am. Packing took me about 45 minutes and by 1:30 am I was lying in bed trying to settle my nerves and grab a few hours of sleep. I have no idea how much sleep I am going to get down there but I' thinking, not much. Early rising and late crashing will most likely be the rule my stay.

I pushed myself out of bed at bout 10 after 8 this morning and managed to get through security by 10:45 am. Though mellow and low-key, security was a mini-scene, as the 86-yr old Gestapo Capt. checking ID decided to ask each passenger 99 questions for verification of identity. It was frustratingly-hilarious - amusing probably to only me as I was in no hurry with plenty of time before my flight.

It really is a pleasure to not have to always feel rushed when flying. Even if I have to leave an hour earlier than I would to drive a car, Portland transit is so fantastic. I planned my whole trip on trimet.org - bus to the max, $2 and at my gate within an hour. That's another thing I love about this town -outstanding public transit system.

Traveling on the precipice of being sick is not something I prefer doing either, but it was pretty clear by the time I caught my MAX transfer that I was just going to have to deal with not being 100% physically healthy. I concerned that there will be no opportunity for me to recover over the next 8 days. This means danger for me. I will be keeping a close eye my body and the physical demands.

I am really looking forward to using the different multi-media tools I recently purchased. Did you know that you could run a video camera on your way to the airport, mini-document the journey, go through security, and have the 10-minute video up on the web before your flight even leaves the gate!! Take that Dan Ilman!! BTW, as long as we're talking about Illman for a second; Why doesn't that guy have a Wikipedia page? I just checked it on the 'net(s) and there's no posting. Dan, if you read this head over to Wikipedia and get one going. In fact, I think the TBA should have as well. Not sure if I'll get to it this week, so if anyone wants to head overt o Wikipedia and start a page for the TBA or Dan Illman please do so! In fact I encourage you to do that, as well as add any other horse pertinent pages you think the world could use.

AvgHorsePlayer.blogspot.com Breeders' Cup Blog Coverage Features: (or some of the stories we are planning on pursuing for you)

The connections of Gatorize
The connections of King of the Roxy
A look at the brand new, state of the art, on-site Quarantine Facility
Euros flying in on 10/29, 10/31 (we'll see if we can get any access for this one. also note, this was planned here at AvgHorsePlayer BEFORE ESPN released their story lines!)
Local jocks vs. out-of-town invaders
Foreign jockeys coming in from overseas
At least one National Weather Service Interview
*BC Promotional Budget and ESPN Execution (discussion/exploration)
10 minutes with:
Greg Avioli
Dwight Manley
an ESPN VP (whoever replaced Mark Shapiro)

I noticed two BC commercials tonight on ESPN. The first at about 8:35pm (pdt), and another a few minutes after the World Series game ended. Not such a bad showing, except for the fact that I am not sure if I'll ever get over the fact that people are not gravitiating towards the current stars of promotions and advertising- the horses. To the non-fan, when you show pictures of horse racing, they are non-descript, all looking exactly the same as any other horse people have ever seen. Everyday I am involved in this business seems like another day I become more sure that the future stars in this sport are the humans, not the animals.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Brief update....

Come tomorrow evening, I'll be settling into my week long headquarters - at The Breckenridge Inn. The past few days have seen me "hittin' the books" as hard as I have since 8th grade Chemistry. For a major ADD-er like myself, I hope you realize how much of struggle its been to read, write, organize, contact, prioritize, read more, organize more. Not that I'm complaining. No, this is no time for complaints. Right now, this industry is at a key point in determining its future.

There is a furor going on right now across the blogosphere questioning the current marketing efforts for this year's Breeders' Cup. Like I said, right now is not my time to complain. I am too busy making sure my ducks are all in a line.

Preparation for the coming week is my life. In fact, I couldn't be happier. For a mellow, Pacific Northwesterner, the adrenaline rush provided by the stress and preparation crush fuels me and makes me as excited as I've been in a long while.

Cameras, mics, chords, batteries, computers, pens, pads, earpieces, et. al. are scattered about, awaiting there proper travel arrangements. Those however, will have to wait until later tonight to receive their official positions for the trip to Louisville (where according to Weather.com, it is currently 55 degrees).

I definitely plan on addressing the marketing/promotion issue that is lighting up the information highway - even garnering responses from officials at certain national horse racing outfits. I will say though, that in my heart if there is any blame to be cast it is clearly with the NTRA and much less so with ESPN; like I said more from me on that later.....

...stepping away from this post and re-focus on organization!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

UPDATE: Seven-day forecast for Louisville, KY

If you are anything like us here, which I'm sure you are, you might have been up late last night thinking of the upcoming weather situation at Churchill Downs.

Click here for the latest seven-day Lousiville forecast provided by the National Weather Service.

UPDATE: I've added a "weather widget" to the side of the page so we all have quick, easy access to current weather conditions at Churchill. As you can see, there is a spot in the box where you can click for the 10-day forecast.

Breeders Cup tix still available...

As of 12:01am (pdt), Thursday, October 26th, if you were still looking for tickets for the big day next Saturday at Churchill Downs you would be in luck.

Scanning three of the more popular ticket "trading" websites; eBay, Craigslist and StubHub, I was able to find hundreds of available offers.

Ranging from respectible ($30) all the way up to fairly-ridiculous (3,883) choices are still aplenty. Depending on your wallet size, die hard fans who may have delayed in purchasing tickets and strategic thinkers (errrr, gamblers) who waited until closer to raceday, still have various seating choices to choose from.

Craigslist Louisville, showed 35 postings for available ducats for next Saturday's big day ranging from the previously mentioned $30 (in section 126 row N) all the way up to $350 for a "clubhouse box" or a spot at the "trackside village".

Over on eBay, 240 entries come up in a search for "Breeders Cup Tickets" with the most expensive going for a mere $4k-$5k. Some of these are package deals, so go ahead and get ten of your favorite buddies, and you could have a VIP box suite for $500 per-person - which actually is not such a bad deal if the bid holds up!

StubHub has your "Turf Club" seats for a measly $3,883, but if you wanted to skimp, you could also get away with these for $35 a piece.

With over 300 hundred tickets available on the "grey market", I hope to be seeing you at Churchill Downs next Saturday, November 4th.

If you happen to score VIP Box, don't forget you're old freind at AvgHorsePlayer.

I'll be there, and I've been told I clean up nice :-)

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My votes have been cast...

.....and it feels so good!

Locals vs. Invaders - Jocks. Not horses!!

Here's a list released yesterday by Churchill Downs of the upcoming jockeys who will be plying their trade at CD's Fall meet which runs from Oct. 29th-Nov. 25th:

Julien Leparoux
Rafael Bejarano
Eddie Castro
Robby Albarado
Mark Guidry
John McKee
Randall Toups
Brian Hernandez Jr.
Corey Lanerie
Shaun Bridgmohan
Willie Martinez
Jesus Castanon
Larry Melancon
Bill Troilo
Brice Blanc
Jordan Charkoudian

It could be very interesting to explore the different personalities of the full-time Churchill jocks vs. those who are coming from far and wide - both nationwide and internationally.

This is one topic I will definitely be pursuing down in Louisville next week. I am looking forward to exposing the jocks to the outside world. The lives of these unique, diverse men and women deserve an opportunity to speak to the outside world.

Full release here.

New toys coming together...

As you can see above, the various technologies I've amassed are beginning to take shape. I've gone ahead and posted a little audio welcome just above the postings/profile.

I am really looking forward to using the video, audio and digi cam to help bring the level of coverage up several notches.

I am still plugging away at some last minute items. Just fine tuning and tightening the operation. I am gaining confidence and excitement as the days near.

I just double checked my flight and it looks like I'll be in Louisville around 10:15 pm this Saturday night!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Avg Breeders' Cup Update...

With 5 days remaining until I embark on my Breeders' Cup Blogging Journey, loose ends are the name of the game for me.

I am in the middle of amassing various technologies to incorporate for my coverage throug the week of the Breeders' Cup. This is all working nicely into my long term plan which began four short weeks ago. I am looking forward to bringing multi-media fun and diversity to the game of horse racing!

For the next 24-36 hrs. I am doubting I will be able post much, if anything at all. However, come Wed. evening, I expect to have multiple technologies enabled and posted on the blog for a preview of what's to come.

For now, just know that I am higher than any substance (synthetic or natural) could make a person. Fueled on adrenaline, excitement, anticipation and caffeine, the ride has just begun for me, and I look forward to bringing you along on through these unchartered waters......

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Fun Fact (we are allowed to have a little bit of fun, no?)

Taking a quick break from the mounting excitement and upcoming crush of this year's Breeders' Cup, I came across the following lyrics:

There ain't no time to stash the gumbo
Or rattle around in a cage
The sacrificed child's made bubbles
And spittle is everywhere enraged
In the hot sand I ran on my feet
They're blistered and caked with debris
Chez rolez is guarding the tote board
While Angry piddles with glee

Listening to Jimmy Buffet provide a flawless cover of Phish's "Gumbo", this verse caught my attention for including the industry specific, "tote board".

I was intrigued by its use here and the impending search for its actual meaning began.

Here's what Wikipedia has to say:

A tote board is a large, numeric or alphanumeric display used to convey information, typically at a race track (to display the odds or payoffs for each horse) or at a telethon (to display the total amount donated to the charitable organization sponsoring the event).
The first tote boards were manufactured for the horse racing industry by the American Totalizator Company, and "tote board" is probably a colloquialism for totalizator.

I think that's enough for now.

P.S., it looks like Sir Buffet was in a bit of a predicament recently.....

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I'm off to my first ever Oregon Racing Commission meeting.

I've been trying to get to one of these once-a-month affairs for over a year now, and will let you know what exactly goes down.

And don't forget to root for your NEW YORK METS  tonight!!!

iTUNES and the future of horse racing...

So what went through your head when you saw this in the Thoroughbred TImes?

Avioli suggested that the industry pool its resources and develop one online site for wagering.
"There's iTunes for everyone's music needs, so why can't there by iHorse," Avioli (Greg Avioli, acting chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Ltd.) said. "We only need one site. One site would get more visits than multiple sites combined."

(full article is here)

For me it was: Napster to Go, MSN Music, Wal Mart, Yahoo! Music, MusicMatch, eMusic, Rhapsody, Limewire et. al.

Then I thought: Party Poker, Poker Stars, Full Tilt Poker,BoDog, Ultimate Bet, et. al.

Then I thought some more and I began to fume.

So I looked a bit further than just the one TTimes article. I came across something on Bloodhorse as well as an online casino-y/news-y site and read a bit more.
Here's where I stand on this. Avioli has a good thought, but come on, what kind of an awful analogy is the iTUNES deal?

Ask ANY musician and they will tell you that they absolutely DO NOT want their music solely being distributed/sold in one place. Musicians allow there music to be sold basically on as many sites as will take them. Does this hurt the music industry? I guess it depends on who you're asking.

One person it absolutely affects - positively - is the consumer. Or, in keeping with Mr. Avioli's (Greg Avioli, acting chief executive of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Breeders' Cup Ltd.) analogy, the fan.

Let's be clear here, by no means is iTUNES the only place to find music. Sure it's the largest, and easiest (gotta love MAC stuff these days!!) but it def. is NOT the ONE source for people to purchase music on-line. So please, take that statement back and do away with it forever. For our collective good.

However, I will say that I am with Aviloli here: (Bloodhorse)
The Internet gambling bill, attached to broader port security legislation signed into law by President Bush Oct. 13, bans the use of credit and fund transfers for illegal wagering but permits account wagering on horse races under the Interstate Horseracing Act. The IHA, a 1978 law that governs interstate wagering, was amended in 2000 to allow for account wagering across state lines.

Avioli noted passage of the law doesn't remove a conflict with the United States Department of Justice, which believes interstate wagering isn't allowed under the Wire Act of 1961. The Department of Justice contends the Wire Act, a criminal statute, trumps the IHA, a civil statute, Avioli said.

Another issue is a World Trade Organization ruling in which U.S. laws on remote gambling were considered in violation of WTO commitments based on a dispute between the U.S. and Antigua over cross-border betting. A deadline for U.S. compliance passed with no action earlier this year.

Avioli said there are several ways for the U.S. to comply: legalize Internet gambling, outlaw interstate wagering via the Internet, let international companies take bets from U.S. residents on horse racing, or settle the dispute through payment or changes in taxes. Avioli said the latter seems a possibility, though "short of those answers, this is going to stay in limbo."

And even here.....

Avioli suggested horse racing has a "golden opportunity" to capitalize on its legal account wagering status. Avioli said ideally, the industry would have one wagering site that would return proper revenue to racetracks and horsemen.

But not so much here:

"It would be powerful," he said. "People would know to go there to bet. It's pie-in-the-sky, but that's my plea for positive change."

True, this is absolute pie-in-the-sky perfect scenario. But in actuality we all know there is no chance in hell that will happen. If you think people aren't betting on horses because THEY DON'T KNOW WHERE TO IT, then I think you and I need to sit down during the BC and have a chat (which I would like to do anyway!!).

In fact, in another session at this week's 14th Annual International Simulcast Conference in Philadelphia, Dennis Dowd, senior vice president of racing for New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority said,

"Fans willing to bet at home are generally your more sophisticated player, so we definitely want to find out who they are."

So, can we agree that the focus of the future of the sport should not revolve around attempts at centralizing the INTERNETS? Let's start to focus on other more tangible ways of harnessing the great power and allure of the sport that we all love so much.
Let's start addressing issues from the BOTTOM UP - not strictly from the TOP DOWN as I believe has been done in the past.

Let's implement some consistent change and programs that will truly unite this industry and ignite an entirely new base that will fuel the continued growth and popularity of horse racing.

Through thick and thin, we trot on as a success in the works

Over the past few weeks it has become increasingly difficult for me to consistently contribute content for this blog. Half-way through a firm, four-week plan, preparations for the Breeders' Cup have consumed my time and my energy. Unfortunately, much of that has been the creative juice that helps my life move forward at an enjoyable, acceptable pace.

It's times like these though, tha I'm glad I read blogs like this and this. Pauly is an excellent writer who has been able to pull me in as an avid reader. Writers, and artists in general, have an amazing ability to speak to different people in many different ways. Reading this post, helped put me in a current state of feeling like I can make a difference. And although it may be unhealthy at times, contributing to a passion, and feeling like I'm making a difference fuel my day. Some might call it "feeding the ego." I call it my life.

Being negative is a strong "Bailey Family Trait" that I am in the process of attempting to overcome. Rage is one of my most common themes. Raging at an injustice, a misquote, a snub - I think I've covered them all.

This is my latest attempt to try not to be "that guy" - the glass-is-half-empty all the time guy. I'm trying to better focus and structure my rage.

Where I could have easily started this post diving aggressively into this bit of news: (courtesy of Thoroughbred Times)

'Avioli suggested that the industry pool its resources and develop one online site for wagering.

"There's iTunes for everyone's music needs, so why can't there by[sic] iHorse," Avioli said. "We only need one site. One site would get more visits than multiple sites combined.'

Instead I will take my cue from the Quinella Queen and take a moment to celebrate the achievements of a few diehard fans who have an unmistakable passion and love for thoroughbred horse racing.
It's been 12 months since the inception of "our little group." We've tripled our participation in merely 365 days. I call that astounding. Those who have contributed in the past, and especially those who find the inspiration and motivation to continue to push on today - I say, "Very Much Cheers My Friends."

I am proud to be associated with you all. Through thick and thin, we should all take a minute to step back and take a nice long look at what we've accomplished over the past year. I've pissed some people off, and others have done the same (or at least similar).

The difference though, I am coming to learn, between bellyache and call-to-action lies in the passion that we all have to make a positive difference in something we truly care about.

Thank you for that. In this little corner of life it is greatly appreciated.

I think I'll save the negativity for tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Football Weekend...

Here's two photos from this weekend's sojurn down to Eugene for the Oregon v. UCLA football game:

Friday, October 13, 2006

Good weekend...

I hope everyone has had a great week. Unfortunately, Movement did not finish in the money this afternoon at Golden Gate. Check over at Brad's blog for all of the details.

As I write this, the Mets are already up 3-0 in the 1st inning!! With another great weekend of horse racing in front of us, I will be out of pocket until Sunday evening. In the meantime, don't be afraid to search around the TBA all weekend long for your fill of blogging goodness.

There have been a few site tweaks to the site, as some ads needed to go up. I'm hoping to have all tweaks and changes fully implemented by the middle of next week.

This weekend finds me in Eugene, OR for the Oregon Ducks v. UCLA football game. Forecast is nice and sunny, so we've got that going for us. Vegas has the Ducks as -8.5. They opened at -10, so the LA money is flowing in. UCLA will be using their backup QB, so I guess anything is possible. If you put a gun to my head, I think I like the home team (Autzen Stadium is a TOUGH place to play and win) minus the points.

Today, I received this in the mail:

I wonder what these guys could want from little old me? There should be some more details to come your way Monday morning.

Have a great weekend everyone!!

Mark your calendars...

This is sick!!

How cool is this job?

If this had come up at nearly any other time in my life, I would be lobbying hard for this job. Sounds like a very cool way to jump into the horse racing world and make a difference. I think as my first duty (if I did get the job) would be to get the NYTHA website up!!! I've been wrong before, but I was unable to find a live website for the NYTHA. If anyone knows of one, I'd love to know!

(as posted on drf.com)

The New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association seeks candidates for an Assistant Executive Director. Candidates should meet the following qualifications:

- Must be capable of working with a diverse cross-section of individuals such as trainers, owners, track management, track officials and employees and legislators.

- Possess leadership, relationship building, supervisory, organizational and computer skills.

- Prior experience in the racing world and affection for the thoroughbreds is desired.

Salary and benefits are commensurate with experience, skill sets and education level.

Resumes must be received by November 15, 2006.

Please fax or email your resume to:

New York Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association
Fax: 856.778.9610
Email: nythajobs@gmail.com

A little gambling for your Friday?

Friend, fellow blogger and Fernet lover, Brad, has the TBA's favorite filly entered in the 2nd race tomorrow at Golden Gate Fields.
With Movement making her turf/two -turn debut, I ventured over to Equibase to find out all of the details on the little horse that could (might).

It turns out that Movement will go off in tomorrow's 2nd which is slated to post for 1:18 pm pst. Over the course of a few minutes perusing the field, I came across a few interesting angles that I am going to use tomorrow:

1) I will be betting the early double using Spicoli with both Movement and Exploitress.

2) An exacta in the 2nd using Movement and Exploitress - box it, Dan-O.

Mind you, I haven't seen any pp's for either of these races. Sometimes though, this game works in funny ways. Like betting certain horses strictly by who the jockey is sometimes using any quirky little angle can provide a more than respectable ROI. As an avid horse player (also known as being just an "average horseplayer") there is nothing better than touting out a race and picking a winner. I never mind though, bringing in a few extra bucks for no other reason then a horse's name, or even an incorrect ticket punched by a careless window teller.

But why Exploitress? Well, my skewed logic leads me back to Brad's blog. Of course we all know that Brad's blog is called, "Brad Buys a Yearling", but let's not forget the exact web address that takes us there: http://exploitfilly.blogspot.com/

I am not too sure about the genesis of the address, but in this case it's good enough juju for me.

Finally, how does one NOT bet on a horse called, "Spicoli"? I mean come on!!! Also, (Jeff) Spicoli is the only KY bred in the 6 horse field for the Friday's9 opener.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


While I appreciate every shout out I can get, it looks like our friend the Quinella Queen has unleashed a hex/jinx regarding my Breeders' Cup Countdown widget.

All was fine and dandy until the pimpage and now I it no workie.....

Kind of like my brain today. I have some things on the drawing board waiting to be honed and crafted into intelligble, semi-entertaining blog fare. However, late nights and keeping things in order have made intelligble posting a major challenge.

In the meantime, tune it to FOX and enjoy the finest baseball team in NY battle it out in the NLCS.

UPDATE: It makes no sense to have a countdown clock that isn't working, so I've made the executive decision to pull my countdown to the BC down for now. I've got some site updates to make anyway, so I'll try to get it back up and running after I address some more immediate site needs.

Monday, October 09, 2006

A fantastic run of days....

It was a great weekend for yours truly, and it's been an even greater 10 days! For any and all sports fans, what an amazing three days of non-stop action.

Across the board there were events, games and happenings for all to enjoy. Several Grade 1 races, a Mets sweep, multiple exciting college football games and to cap it all off, a complete Yankees collapse - and that was only Saturday!!

Sunday brought the season opener for Portland Meadows, a great Giants win, the Yankees and their fans crying like little babies, and oh yeah, did I mention Portland Meadows opened its season?

For your Avg. Horseplayer, it's been an amazing run of long days, partying, meeting new friends and hooking up with mates of old. The only negatives are that my body has finally revolted and I've been neglecting this blog. That's what teammates are for though, no?

I'd like to give a special shout out and major kudos to Patrick Kerrison and the entire staff at Portland Meadows. This includes Magna Entertainment Corporation, owner and operator of PM. In the past, I've been quick to hammer PM and even quicker to pounce on the corporate conglom that is MEC. However, I must say that MEC has made some significant investments and improvements in my local track and they deserve proper kudos.

Driving up from San Francisco, Tote Board Brad was waiting my arrival at PM in the lower level simulcasting area. We finally connected just before the 3rd race. Walking out onto the apron, we were greeted by fellow blogger and PM/MEC big shot Patrick K. where we were then treated to a first class day which included a nice shot of us poaching a winners circle celebration:

Patrick informed us of the major investments MEC has made in PM and the buzz of the crowd in attendance was proof that a new found focus is already paying off. In the past, I may have "poo-pooed" or spoke negatively about PM - these days, I look forward to going more often, as well as spreading the word that PM is a great place to spend an afternoon.

While at the track, I was also able to meet up with old friends Jolene Loudon and Michael Thompson (who was recently elected to the OTOBA Board of Directors). Unfortunately for them, their two entries didn't hit the board. Check out Jolene's post from today to find out how she's feeling.

Jason Beem also made his first live appearance of the year providing fast, clear, animated and accurate calls of the days races. Thanks for the reminders to "cash all of our Scientific Games tickets" Jay!! Although our day did not include a visit up to the "nest" to meet Jason, you could clearly catch our man plying his craft - Jason seems to have a proclivity for hanging half-way out of his upper deck perch to call a race!

Neither Brad nor I could even come close to getting arrested at the windows, but as he says, "we did make a nice contribution to the local economy and handle." We continued our local contributions by settling in for a few drinks in the NE Portland neighborhood called Alberta St. After discussing the state of horse racing, blogging and world peace (not), we headed down to one of my favorite PDX restaurants, Ciao Vito. With our stomachs full and our minds drainedhttp://www.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gif, Brad and I parted ways. Another internet connection successfully manifests itself in real life!!

...Which brings us to Monday. Supposedly it's Columbus Day, which to me doesn't really mean that much. Wasn't it the Vikings who first discovered North America? Oh well, who am I to spoil a whole nation's fun?

-If you haven't noticed yet, I've implemented a countdown box in the NE corner of the blog. This just so we are all clear on exactly how many days are left until this year's Breeders' Cup.

-Much to my dismay, today is the last day of the New York Daily News' gossip column. With my disdain for Rupert Murdoch's New Corp, where will I get my daily does of gossip and dirt?

-Like Yankess and Jets fans, Oregon football fans had a very difficult weekend.

I've got another surprise announcement coming up, so stay tuned for some pretty cool news.....

Have a great week everybody!!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Many Congrats....

...to our pal Jason over at Up on the Roof.

Our resident race caller, in his rookie season as a full-time caller, just got his second professional gig. Even better than that, Jason will be calling in my hometown of Portland, Ore. at the world famous (cough) Portland Meadows.

With PM alum Chris Dragone moving from PM, to the Maryland Jockey Club and most recently taking the position of Exec. Dir. of NY Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. - the sky seems to be the limit for the hometown kidz.

Many, many congrats to Jason. It will be great to hear him on a more consistent basis.

I love pimping.

While, I hate to toot my horn, I think I might just a little bit. If I don't, who will, right? I don't know how many of you have heard of or utilized your local MetBlogs site, but I love the one in Portland! In Portland's case, the site offers a pretty accuarte"flashbulb" sense of what's going on around the city. I don't remember how long I've been a PDX Met Blog reader, but I have grown accustom to checking it everyday; multiple times.

Recently, I had sent a headsup on a new coffee shop that opened in a semi-reviatlized corner in my new hood - check it out for yourself.

I can't remember if I've written about "The Bean" in a previous post, I'll have to go back and check. The Bean website isn't up yet (so I was told, although I haven't checked yet) and I feel like I didn't talk too much about it here b/c it didn't have a web link. Anyway, I'm glad they got a nice little mention. Good people. Good place. Good coffee - it made my night to see it. Big thanks to Betsy at PDX MetBlogs!! I love Portland. It's the like: The Town That Gets Shit Done." Maybe we could adopt that as our official slogan?

Check out the MetBlog in your city.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

From Portland to Saratoga...

As reported in today's Daily Racing Form and Thoroughbred Times, former Portland Meadows GM Chris Dragone was just named as Executive Director of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc.

It's great when a "local boy" moves up the ladder in the industry. I had some interaction with Chris a while back when trying to organize a birthday party at Portland Meadows earlier this year. I was not aware that earlier this year Dragone had left the Pacific NW to take over as Senior Vice President and General Manager of the Maryland Jockey Club.

This story is full of interesting tidbits and information:

-The Dragones are (of course) not originally from Portland (it feels like barely anybody is these days). They are east coasters tried and true. The NYRA Owners Guide has the late Allan Dragone listed as being born in Massachusetts in 1926, but maintaining official residences in Darien, Conn., Vero Beach, Fla., and Falmouth, Mass.

-The Dragones have a pretty deep connection to the racing industry as Chris's father was once the New York Racing Association Chairman

-The Dragones own and operate December Hills Farm in Central NJ (no, don't ask me what exit that is) I was also unable to find any website for December Hills Farm

-Chris's wife, Shawna is a jockey and from what I could find out, she uses the name "Whiteside". At this point in the day, that fact is unsubstantiated. (Hopefully Jolene or Patrick can give some more insight on this). Either way, Shawna Whiteside finished up last year's PM meet in the middle of the pack of the jockey standings going 6-3-1 from 52 mounts.

-According to our friends over at Oregon Racing News, Shawna Whiteside won her first career race this past February 25th

Here's the story in Thoroughbred Times
Here's the story in the Daily Racing Form (free login needed)
New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. release

Monday, October 02, 2006

The horses found me...

I was hiding out in the mountains recuperating from a non-life threatening injury and the horses just found me. I swear! A very nice surprise on a beautiful weekend.

I'll post some thoughts on what, if anything, this weekend's various outcomes mean to me.

All that really matters though, is Hammerin' Hank hit his NTRA Pick-4.