Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Quote of the Day

From McGrupp:

"I only got two other Christmas cards... one from my broker in Boulder, CO and the other from an ex-girlfriend turned Jesus Freak. One just wants my money and the other thinks I'm a hedonistic sinner. I haven't figured out which one is which."

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Horseracing Film to Debut in May

I had the privilege of seeing the Hennegan Brothers amazing film, "The First Saturday in May" on Wednesday here in Tucson.

It has been said before in many places, but I will reiterate: This movie is absolutely fantastic and has the potential to reach the masses. I stopped counting the number of times I got the chills while watching at 6, and even welled up in the eyes a few times!

The producers/directors/filmakers Brad and John Hennegan, announced that they will be releasing the film via Mark Cuban's "Independent movie theaters" this April, hoping to piggy back off of the mainstream medias "Derby Freakout" period.

Here's the Bloodhorse story on it from today.

The brothers mentioned the film would be released in about 12 cities nationwide in April, leading up to a full DVD release sometime thereafter.

Here's some interesting information on the Mark Cuba/independent theater situation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Peace, Love and a Cornucopia of Double-Digit Wins

On this Thanksgiving Day Eve, I just wanted to extend some love and thanks to the world.

It's so easy these days to let events get high-jacked by commercial interests. Thanksgiving is one national event that I am thankful to be able to block out the corporate infiltration and the static noise that can build up over the course of time.

T-Day is a day for family and friends. A time to put down the blackberry, set aside the computer, cell phone and one dimensional spreadsheets, and take a nice, long, much needed, well-deserved deep breath amongst those closest to you.

It seems that life these days has an uncanny ability to slowly suck the joy out of being and this day of thanks allows us a respite, albeit brief, from the slow drip of looming monotony and gloom.

I'm thankful for being alive, healthy, and able to pursue a life that is challenging, fulfilling, enjoyable and full of endless curves of the unexpected.

It's what makes life, LIFE.

Sometimes it sucks. Sometimes its hard. And, sometimes it just plain sucks hard.

But sometimes it's not.

And that's LIFE.

Stepping away for a short-time and giving thanks can be extremely cathartic and undeniably healthy.

This is what I love about Thanksgiving. A day to catch up mentally.

I'm thankful for who I am and where I've been. I'm thankful for the way I was raised and the people I've met along the way.

I'm thankful for the warm sun (no more Portland winters for me!) and thankful for cool nights.

I'm thankful for every life experience I've had - both painfully difficult and amazingly simple or joyful.

I'm thankful for today and hopeful for tomorrow.

I'm thankful I'm not the Green Monkey.

I'm thankful I'm not the Green Monkey's Owner.

And, I'm thankful I'm not the guy who advised the Green Monkey's owner to purchase him!

I'll leave you with two final thoughts:

1) A line I came up with earlier in the week (and the subject of this post) that has caused much hubbub throughout my office:

"Peace, Love and a Cornucopia of Double-Digit Wins" (from the bottom of my heart)

2) A little music video of some boys having a good time. Feelin good and performing to the delight of many in 1997 and even today - 10yrs. later after they've thrown in the towel as a group. Giving the gift of music and helping all of us along on our respective journeys.

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Click here for a bunch of guys having fun (if you reading on RSS)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Where men are men,
Horses are horses,
And earthquakes are still scary as hell.

(as long as no one was hurt, it was kind of fun).

This city's biggest earthquake since 1989 (Oak. vs. SF World Series).

Saturday, October 27, 2007

BC Saturday Selections (Just Avg.)

Race 4: Juve - #9 Smarty Deb
Race 5: Juve Fillies - #12 Salute the Sarge
Race 6: FM Turf - #9 Danzon
Race 7: Sprint - #7 Idiot Proof
Race 8: Mile - #13 Excellent Art
Race 9: Distaff - #9 Teammate
Race 10: Turf - #3 Better Talk Now
Race 11: Classic - #1 Lawyer Ron

Good luck and have fun!!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Friday's BC Selections

Race 8 (BCFM Sprint): #5 JAZZY



Saturday's to come soon...

Friday, October 12, 2007

Two Weeks from Today: Breeders' Cup 2007

WOO HOO!!!!!

This is an AWESOME video put together by "derbydanx" over at the DMFF

If you weren't excited, this should help you get into the mood a bit:

To view the video, click HERE

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Tis Almost Time....

Click HERE for Video 1

Click HERE for Video 2

Click HERE for Video 3

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

My new favorite song

(not the greatest sounding version, but I promise, if you go and buy the album, "Chained to the Chariot" you will NOT be disappointed.)

Keep an eye on Rotary Downs, I'm thinking they've got some cool, big things ahead of them....

Friday, September 14, 2007

I'm Betting Against

Somewhere around 11:00am Saturday morning, I'll roll into the first floor of Portland Meadows to watch and wager on one race - the 4th at Belmont.

In the 4th at Belmont I will be betting against Even Money ML favorite and $16mil. purchase The Green Monkey.

My money will go elsewhere.

As my racing compadre said, and I whole-heartedly agree, "I hope he finishes dead last, or breaks the track record."

I'm not saying he will do either, but my money will be saying that he doesn't finish 1st or 2nd.

For those of you keeping score at home, I'm taking SixThirteen to win and boxing an exacta with Holla Bend. That's, Sat., Belmont, Race 4, #1 WIN, #1,5 EXACTA BOX.

So the racing world isn't perfect. Somehow, everytime we seem to lament and are in the midst of a slow-period, something extremely interesting pops up on the scene.

THIS is why we love this game.

Exclusive Footage

No wonder it's taken this long! What is Pletcher thinking with training methods like this?...

....and if you didn't think he was worth $16,000,000, then you haven't seen this

Monday, September 10, 2007

I love horses and I love horse racing. I love being involved in this crazy business.

Sometimes, however, one needs to expand horizons.

The following are some pics of expanded horizons (don't get me started on Teuflesberg, one of our BCFL stables' draft steals could have earned us some needed points at Turfway. Good thing we've got Lawyer Ron...)

The Big House - EMPTY

The Big House - Full (109,733)

I think that's officially called "maize"

If you "click to enlarge" you'll see the score: Oregon 39 Michigan 7


Autzen Stadium - Eugene, Ore. (good seats on the field)

Qwest Field (Seattle, Wash.) - Empty

Qwest Field - Full

Qwest Field w/ dt Seattle in background (I feel like I took the same exact shots last year!)

Beautiful Hood River, Ore.

A blurry Stevie Wonder (if he comes near your town, fork over the shekels, it's way worth it)

Mongolian Grill

Dancing Nancie

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Could this be the end of racing in Oregon?

Can't say I'm surprised at this development.

I know for a fact that OTB's can make money in this state. I wonder if MEC is willing to sell those rights separately.....?
In honor of Dwight Manley's resignation today from the Jockeys Guild, I thought I would (re)post an interview I did with Mr. Manley last year during Breeders' Cup week on the 5th floor at Churchill Downs.

Click here for the interview/post from 11/3/06.

Enjoy. Comment. Or don't.

Monday, August 20, 2007

A few quick links...

Maybe this article should be posted in every jocks' room across the country?

Did anyone else know that Bo-Rail has a "blog"? And that the NYRA is hosting it?

I'm really hoping people don't confuse me with him/this.

Looks like they WILL be racing here in Oregon, despite an ugly political mess.

Finally, I am sure everyone knows already, but there was a provocative Jockey Club Roundtable meeting Sunday at the Spa. Some people are NOT VERY HAPPY about the discussions.

Crist has yet to offer his thoughts (free sub. reqd)

In case anyone has similar tastes in music, Kid Rock has a new album/single coming out. Before you completely poo-poo or dismiss this, go see him live or check him out with Hank Williams here from CMT's Crossroads program. Good stuff.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Monday, August 13, 2007

Even if...

...you're on vacation.

This is a very interesting read from the Oregonian.

It's really a shame when pieces and people of the industry, unconcerned for the overall health and viability of the game, are exposed. Who knows how this ends up. Probably years of motions and hearings and lots of attorney fees.

One thing's for sure: The industry loses no matter what with publicity like this.

h/t to Bojack

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Friday, July 27, 2007

Guess Who's Back? (Tell a friend)....

It feels good to actually take some time and blog again. Let me take this moment to welcome myself back.......

Ahhhh, much better.

I haven't really missed too much, as I have been following everything going on lately. From opening day at Saratoga, to Polytrack theories on the west coast and CEO's chatting with fans....oh, and what's this? A new addition to the horse racing blogosphere?

"...In the meantime, I was beginning to read the numerous racing blogs that have emerged in recent years. They're no substitute for actual journalism and some of them are simply dreadful..."

Yes, I know most everyone has read that already. However, this writer, contributor, and fan will have no part in any defensiveness, anger or tit-for-tat regarding Mr. Crist. W eare fully aware of the quality of blogs out there (including our own Avg. little site right here). However, I will post this video (short, only 2 minutes) that is a good companion piece for Mr. Crist's inaugural blog post:

Click here for the video via RSS.

-Buried in the comments section of Left at the Gate was a great fan link to some opening day SPA photos. Gee, didn't see too many like these (from a fans prospective) in the MSM... (ok, that's it no more cheap shots from me. I absolutely love the MSM and all they offer the world. What, with all of their fact checking and copy editing...what's not to love?)

Click here for some very cool opening day SPA photos (photos courtesy of "Jim L." via Left at the Gate)

-Breeders' Cup CEO Greg Avioli spent some time answering questions on the Bloodhorse's weekly chat session. Kudos to him, as well as to my man Ray Paulick for getting BCCEOGA (nice initials, huh?) to show up and field some queries.....

...Mr. A did mange to make me shout out loud at the computer screen with this little beauty:

Boston, MA:
Will we see the Breeders' Cup go to colored saddlecloths? You can't see your horse on TV, and everybody else has gone colored in the last 10 years including the Triple Crown.


This is a tough issue balancing tradition (what makes Breeders’ Cup different from other days at the races) and customer convenience. I think much of this issue will be solved with broader adoption by tracks of the Trakkus system or comparable computer/gps systems that allow real time tracking of horses on the track with colored “chiclets” on computers, television or infield jumbotrons.

Now, please tell me if I'm wrong here, but doesn't the answer above completely contradict (or run against) an answer given later on in the chat:

The hardcore racing fan, like those reading this chat, generally understand the nuances to our season and how, say, the winner of the Whitney was very likely to be a contender for the Breeders’ Cup Classic. But if there are 40,000 people at Saratoga this Saturday, under the old system I would guess that about 80% would have no idea of the link between the Whitney and the Classic. With the Challenge, that link is direct and meaningful in a way that is easy for casual fans to understand and appreciate. It gives us the chance to start telling the stories of the Breeders’ Cup contenders sooner, and it gives Saratoga the chance to link directly with our event and garner marketing benefits and television exposure by doing so.

Seems, like the majority of these people might enjoy actually FOLLOWING THE HORSE THEY WAGERED ON during the biggest day of the year, no?

Instead of relying on some private company selling their multi-million dollar technology to individual tracks, JUST CHANGE THE SADDLECLOTHS!! (BTW, I submitted the exact same question as Boston, MA regarding this issue)

And...not to knit-pick,(and who knows who was actually typing Mr. A's words) but if you are going to ask companies (i.e. racetracks) to invest millions in a product, you might want to start by spelling said product correctly - only one "k" in Trakus.

-Finally, I subscribe to a "newsletter" called "The Lefsetz Letter" written by Bob Leftsetz. It is a music industry blog/newsletter and Mr. L. enjoys writing multiple "posts" each day which then wind up in your inbox via free subscription.

With each of his posts, I become more and more amazed at the many parallels (that I can see) between the music industry and the racing industry. Mr. Lefsetz does a great job breaking down the hits and misses of the music industry on a daily basis. Here's a tidbit from the other day which I thought had some resonance for our little industry:

...He (Paul McCartney and his recent Starbucks release) wanted to know how he could sell the most albums, he didn't ask how he could get his music in the most hands. Asking this latter question is going to lead to the answer. Prince asked this latter question and came up with an innovative solution that worked for everybody (except the old wave businessmen).

Instead of an ever-diminishing music business, instead of labels encroaching on touring and merch income to make their bottom line, acts and labels have got to think how can they get music in everybody's hands.

Computer companies did it. Dell lowered the price, the Net blew up, and now many people have multiple computers.

I don't know anybody without a cell phone.

And everybody didn't acquire an iPod until you could get one for under a hundred bucks.

What don't the labels get here? You lower the price and you increase the volume. That's the formula, not raising the price.

To sample Bob Lefsetz writing click here
To subscribe to The Lefsetz Letter click here

Sunday, July 08, 2007

If you've seen this guy at your local track or OTB, please alert the authorities immediately. Do not approach. Subject may offer you hair-brained handicapping theories and/or techniques. (there were no horse t-shirts available)

Another GREAT promo by The Simpson folk. Go here to create your own Simpson's avatar.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Good Times

I'm hoping even the East Coasters can enjoy this awesome-ness:(wouldn't it be cool to see horse racing fans get this excited for the Breeders' Cup?)

For RSS Readers, click HERE

Thursday, June 28, 2007

WE'RE NUMBER.....errrrr 31??

So which would you rather attend, The Kentucky Derby or "any Red Sox-Yankee Game"(15)? An "NFL Conference Championship" game(7) or Kentucky Derby?

Knowing my audience, it is most likely a no-brainer. Being in Louisville on the first Saturday in May probably ranks right up there with, well....."attending a World Cup soccer match"(2). That seems to make sense. The most popular sport in the world and one of the oldest, most storied event in sports history. Sounds about right.

I'll even admit that the "Masters in Augusta"(8) rivals the uniqueness, splendor and party atmosphere that takes over the entire city of Louisville every year during the 1st week of May. But the "Stanley Cup"(20)?

Apologies as I beg to differ - emphatically.

In his recent ESPN column, Jim Caple lists "101 things all sports fans must experience before they die". If you haven't seen it, Mr. Caple places the Kentucky Derby at #31 on his list. At 31st, attending the Derby is apparently more desirable than the "Indy 500" (33) but not as imperative as checking out the "Bayou Classic"(31). If you're not quite sure what that is, here's a link.

Mr. Caple continues to astound by claiming events such as "US Open Tennis"(30) and "US Open Golf"(28) should be attended before you think about heading to Kentucky in early spring - much less planning your hotel accommodations in early December.

The esteemed sports writer who sets the stage with, "The rankings are based on the total experience, including the event itself, the participants, the setting and the atmosphere for the fans," purports that you should be booking your flight to NYC to check out a "game at Rucker Park"(29) - soon.

And, while I have you in a basketball mood, don't forget to score some tickets to the "NBA Finals"(13). This of course from the sport that gets more headlines and excitement from its DRAFT than when it actually holds REAL GAMES.

Granted, just about everything listed from 1-101 is a very cool event that any sports fan would love to attend. However, placing an "NCAA (basketball) subregional"(5) 27 spots higher than the 8th most valuable sports franchise seems a little misguided.

Don't get me wrong, though. Just because a sports franchise is financially successful, does not mean it is a must see or do for a sports fan. I do think however, it does help put the Derby into a little greater perspective.

Is it really necessary to attend a "spring training game"(6) before you check out the hats and blossoming three year olds at one of the grandest racing facilities on the planet?

Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to attend my first Kentucky Derby. Though I arrived at Churchill Downs a scant 25 minutes before Derby post time, it was one of the greatest sports moments of my life. As jaded and as loyal as I am to the sport of kings, I could tell that the majority of the other 150,000+ in attendance felt the same way.

Maybe next year I'll skip the Derby and head to the (baseball) "Hall of Fame Induction"(16) in Cooperstown,NY.

Will Pete Rose be there? Maybe I'll ask him which he'd rather attend.

**FULL DISCLOSURE: My salary (at this point in time) is paid by Churchill Downs Inc., but please believe, I would feel the same way and would have MOST DEFINITELY written the piece even if that weren't the case. If there is an editorial criticsm here, it lies in my fanatacism and loyalty for the sport itself. But then again, it is my blog.....

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Ugggh...Invasor Retired (I'm sick of that headline too!)

So it sucks, but it is what it is. At least he has a good reason to go to the breeding barn.

Another great story/fan interest, Invasor really would have made this year's BC Classic quite fantastic.

John at Not to the Swift has some video
posted from our mini-TBA gathering this past Feb at Palm Meadows training facility in Florida. John and I both got some Invasor video, but John also got a cool impromptu interview with Invasor's trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin.

Here's my video of the HOY: (scroll ahead to about 4:10)

RSS Readers can click HERE for the vid.

Thanks for putting the truest words into my mouth, John. I could not have said this better myself:

"We do not remember days; we remember moments."


Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Many thanks to Alan of the Bug Boys and Jose of Warstone (both of whom I was able to meet for the first time at The Belmont for answering my question from yesterday. I suppose I could say thank you to Anonymous for his/her input on this, but I don't really get the conspiracy angle floated by him/her. It was just a question. The word conspiracy didn't come up at all with this.... Thanks again for the input (everyone)!

Another shout out goes to Fran at Hoofcare who brought this blog to our attention.

Cool idea. Hopefully it can be executed well. I don't see a direct link to this new blog anywhere on the NTRA site yet. Maybe I'm missing it, and maybe it's just not up yet, but a direct link would be nice and helpful. Publishing comments will be important too. I see a link to make comments, but I don't see if they have been/will be published. Let's wait and see how this one develops...

Which brings me to another blog that I came across HERE.

I am not sure if someone has already reported on this, and I can't remember how I even got there, but it is up and running, as the last post was made 6/16/07. Anyone know anything about it? No comment ability, no links to anywhere and no credit for who put it together. Hopefully this blog will mature and be a helpful, informative site like THIS ONE is.

Here are some photos for the ADD crowd:

Portland Rose Gardens

Belmont Stakes 6/9/07 (view from our seats)
Dark Star Orchestra, Hartford, CT
Would YOU buy fish from this guy?
Random Portland Cowboys Prepare for Something Cowboy-ish
My Nephew, Phred

I have a question..

...for all of you astute readers, fans and bloggers:

I caught the Barbaro documentary on HBO last week and I was curious if anyone knew exactly why Edgar Prado, wearing the Jackson silks, could be seen with a "Fogelsonger" across the back of his helmet?

Did anyone else catch that? It was a shot of him right after the Preakness disaster and he is walking off the track into the jocks room (or some place else indoors).

I guess the only thing I can think of is that Fogelsonger is a regular rider for the Jackson's and has his name on the only proper, color coordinated helmet/silk.

Did anyone else notice this? Am I going completely crazy?

BTW, I did love the documentary, and I think one of the best things about it was that it was not 2 hours long. 60 minutes was more than enough time to tell the complete story accurately and thoroughly.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

Tis Belmont Day

I am sitting here in bucolic West Hartford, CT, waiting for my sister and her husband to finsh getting ready. We are hoping to begin our day, get in the car to head south to Belmont Park, hopefully by 8am (more like 8:30am, though). Our first stop is Fort Lee, NJ to meet up with the rest of the "Average" clan, then take two carloads the final 12=miles over to Queens.

What kind of horse racing fan would I be if I didn't offer SOME sort of pick or two...

win: Curlin
place: Tiago
show: Hard Spun

Unfortunately, I don't thinking Rags to Riches places today. The other thing I would like you all and the racing gods to know is that I HATE to bet chalk and rarely do. I am the guy that when he bets the chalk it always loses. ALWAYS. Oh well, sorry Curlin (and connections), I really think he is much the best and hopefully can get at least even money and possibly score a more substantial profit hooking him up in an exacta with Tiago.

Hope everyone has a great day! Looks like hot and humid with a slight chance of rain before noon (EDT).

Good luck!

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Well, it is the weekend and no one really reads these too much. It's also 72 here. Street Sense is the talk of the town.

All of these factors add up to some photos and a teaser, only. I've got some cool stuff to post but will wait until tomorrow and Monday to put them up. Hope everyone is having a great weekend! I had a winner in the 1st at Woodbine this morning, but didn't have the back end of the double (finished 2nd). The one turn turf miles there kill me!

Some photos (with a crappy cell phone):

Portland, Ore.

Blurry Blackalicious
House Guest
Michael Franti and Spearhead, Eugene, Ore.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Tired from a long weekend, but here goes….

-In “real life”, please take a minute to congratulate Patrick over here. Very many congrats to the Patrick and his family. Hopefully we’ll all get to see him in a few weeks at the Belmont

-Looks like something is amiss over the Daily Racing Form’s “Sports Betting” pages. One of my favorite columnists, Dave Tuley is no longer writing for the Form (as far as I can tell). Not sure how many of you read his columns, but I know I did. Dave was great with getting back to you in a hurry with any questions readers may have had. To find out a little more gossip/details on it, you can go here and here.
Interesting….Where might this talented, informative scribe end up? (why is everybody looking at me? If you have any tips, send em my way, anyone asks for diplomatic immunity, you got it)

-If you haven’t signed up for this summer's Ultimate Qualifying Tournament at Emerald Downs, there should still be some spots left. I am all signed up and ready to go, especially after last’s years situation! I am very much looking forward to this event, as Susie, Adrian and the entire team up there do an amazing job with this event.

-Glad to have the Good Doctor stop by here the other day. Always great to know that cat is checking in once in a while. Pauly has the best Poker coverage, as well as more than enough brain candy to keep you occupied. The 2007 WSOP starts this week, so make sure you are checking in for live updates on his site Tao of Poker .

-Does it seem possible that we could get these five into the starting gate on June 9th at about 6:15-ish pm EDT at Belmont:

1) Curlin
2) Street Sense
3) Hard Spun
4) Chelokee
5) Rags to Riches

I don’t feel like I ask for too much, but without a Triple Crown winner, this Belmont could use various storylines for fans to gather round….

Rags to Riches could be for all of the ladies…
Chelokee for the die-hard Barbaro clan
I think Curlin really earned some backers with his gritty Preakness showing…
And Street Sense has solid following with Calvin Borel and team in tow. I would make a case for Hard Spun, but he doesn’t have a huge following, but is an interesting storyline for just being so gritty on both legs of this year’s Triple Crown.

Outrageous? Outlandish? Neither.

Out of the realm of possibility? Let’s hope not!

Thursday, May 24, 2007

-There seemed to be an interesting smattering of opinion over my last post regarding "The Hammer." I don't want to slam anybody, especially Hank, I just think it may be time to move on and get away from the over 65-New Yorker gone Florida bit. After all, we are coveting the younger demo, right?

I don't think "The Twins" are the answer either. How about a good mix of Kenny Maynes' and Jeanine Edwards'? Am I asking too much? I don't think so. I think there are capable, enthusiastic, youngish entertainers out there who could do a lot to help boost the image and perception of the sport.

-With all of this commisioner talk going on, I am really excited about having my foot in the door. I am doing my best to try and implement or at least instigate some changes. My goal, at the very least is to inject a new spirit and state of mind into the game....

It may take a while, but I am confident that within 12 months, given the proper amount of lee-way (which I feel like is getting closer and closer ;-)...I will be able to have the positive impact on this sport that I always dreamed of having and all of us having been talking about for over two years now.

Maybe it's a bit polyanna-ish, but I will continue to think this way until I bang my head into enough concrete walls, that I start behaving like Jason Giambi or Clinton Portis.

-Another interesting comment left was from fellow Oregonian photogchic, who brings up a great point about handicapping for/against drug administering trainers (or SUPPOSED drug administering trainers).

I know that when I was living in NY and was playing Belmont/Aqueduct on a fairly regular basis (live, at the track) there was always talk about this hot trainer or that one who was hot for "certain reasons". In those cases I would definitely take it into account. On a more national, expanded betting plan, I tend to not think about it so much. In fact, this is where my cynical side kicks in and my thought process evolves into either, "Hey, they are all probably doing it, so who really cares" (from a race to race wagering standpoint) or the other side of the coin which is my Jai-Alai ethos, "If it's fixed, so what, I don't know who it's fixed for, so I will just go about my normal business". There are really only so many things you can worry about when playing the horses, no?

Do I profess to be a sage in this arena? Absolutely not, but I thought I would throw my two cents in....

-Finally, to maintain my official "blogger status" I've posted some random pics below (hopefully for your enjoyment). And no, most don't have anything to do with the horses....what would Hank say?

Safeco: Mariners vs. Yankees

"Rough Night"

My Chemical Romance: Memorial Coliseum, Portland, Ore.


West Coast Breakfast (think Breeders Cup here)

OTB, Port Authority Bus Station, NYC

Monday, May 21, 2007

It was a perfectly rainy Sunday here in Portland. A perfect end to nearly two weeks of perfect wether and a truly exciting Preakness. The leadup to the 132nd Preakness didn't seem to have the juice of the Derby, but in the end turned out to be one hell of an exicting race.

Some quick thoughts...

Once again I was able to pick the winner, but show no ROI whatsoever. At some point in my life I look forward to becoming a good horse player.

1) Kenny Mayne: Is there a better ambassador for the sport
2) Jeanine Edwards for asking Robbie Albarado is he "jumped or fell" off of Einstein. an instant classic
3) How full of crap D. Wayne is. When asked before the race if Flying First class would try and grab the early lead....his answer was pretty much no. BS at its absolute finest!
4) Curlin: for upping the level of excitement and setting the stage for hopefully an amazing summer of top-level racing
5) Calvin Borel (see #1)
6) I love the fact that I'll be at The Belmont on June 9th as a fan, with my family...even though no triple crown is on the line

The Preakness evoked such strong positive vibes for me that I decided to put on the NTRA's "Riding with Barbaro" bracelet I purchased in Kentucky, Derby weekend.

Here's the enthralling photo:

One final thought.....do we really need hank Goldberg on TV as someone who should be representing our sport? Folks like the afore mentioned Mayne and Edwards, Randy Moss, Bob Neumier, Gary Stevens, Reese Davis, Chris Fowler; these are all fully competent ambassadors who the public can relate to (at the very least). I'll even add Bob Costas to that group, although I do realize some dislike him for his spotty, "Big Day Only" appearances. But Hammerin' Hank? Does he really offer any value? I would even say that he takes away from what good "joo-joo" these broadcasters bring to the table. Most of these personalities get criticism from all sides of the ball- some deserved, some nor. On the other hand, I have NEVER, EVER heard a positive comment regarding H.G. and his TV presence.

I'm just sayin', that's all.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

So yesterday's Fox Sports Radio interview fell through thanks to T-Mobile’s fauly connections. It’s kind of a long story, but I’m going to believe that it is all for the better that the interview didn’t go off as planned.

Preakness Picks(s): I like Curlin, but hopefully he’s more than 5-2. I’ve already made Curlin/Circular Quay exactas/Triples, we’ll see how that goes. I am getting the feeling that Curlin is going to drop from 7-2 ML to something around 2-1. Again, we’ll have to wait and see.

I’m spending the day at the USOT offices here in Portland, working from what I’ve dubbed, “The Preakness Bunker” making sure that all is well with TwinSpires.

Good luck today everyone!

A Street Sense win is good for the game, but bad for my wallet!!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Just received my Belmont tickets in the mail. The ensuing giddiness was childlike and refreshing. I haven't been this excited to receive something in the mail in a long time. And it's not like I was expecting them or waiting for them. The unexpectedness made it all that more enjoyable to receive the eight reserved 3rd Floor Grandstand seats. The NYRA did manage to leave out one parking pass (General) that I had ordered and paid for. I'm sure they'll just send me a new one. They're probably printing those things like a South America dictatorship.

Going to The Belmont is forcing me to root for Street Sense in the Preakness. This is a weird feeling because I have absolutely no faith in this horse and am more excited to bet against him then bet on him. Currently it's 50-50 that I'll make a wager on the race because of these mixed emotions. Hosting seven family members is a big day for me and the entire clan. We don't get to do a lot of these gatherings, so it would really be an experience if there were to be sports history on the line.

One final kudos to the NYRA for giving us 4 seats in Row B and 4 seats in Row A, seats 1-4. I wasn't sure if they would and I didn't request it, so I was hoping they would. If we were 8 in a row, I would have been disappointed, but it would not ruin anything about the day. This arrangement however, is near perfect.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Here are the only two photos I took at Churchill for the Derby. Yes, they stink, but all I had was my camera phone.

I forgot to give a posthumous congratulations to the guy standing next to me for the Derby. Somehow he decided to make a $20 Trifecta box, 7-8-2 costing him $120. Needless to say, the rookie grossed a very nice $4400 for his play. I know he knew nothing about handicapping or playing the horses, but sometimes it just doesn't matter.

How fitting was it to have "Let It Ride" be featured on ESPN Classic all day Sunday. With a plane full of Dery fans on their way home, it was great to be able to decompress from an amazing Derby experience by watching Richard Dreyfuss have "a very good day"...all from the comfrot of my Frontier airlines seat.

I think I scared the woman sitting next to me several times with my uncontrollable laughter that probably looked like I was having a mini-seizure. I think I only woke her up twice the entire trip.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

My Derby/Louisville Experience or How I Learned to Love Bourbon and Coke

Wow! What a wild weekend for this blogger.

I spent about 90% of my time here in Louisville here which was “eventful” to say the least.

From the minute I put my suitcase down in my hotel room, I was slammed with work.

All went fairly well, but I was hoping to at least hook up with fellow blogger MT who as most of you know spent the entire week as a credentialed media member. MT provided great insights and coverage of Derby week, so congratulations to him and apologies for not getting a chance to hook up (Somehow I managed to lose his phone number and by the time I got a free minute to unwind it was late on Sat. night and I realized I didn’t have the number!)

As far as the race goes, I made it to Churchill at about 5:40 pm. Many thanks to CDI teammate Mike Murphy who got me as close to "The Downs" as legally allowable. I ran and walked hurriedly getting myself to Gate 1 a sweaty, anxious mess.

I managed to get myself in without my credential and was able to enjoy the race in person…

WHAT AN EXPERIENCE!! I can’t stress enough what an amazing atmosphere the Derby is. I recommend EVERYONE and ANYONE who as any interest in having fun go to the Derby. Though it may cost you a bit of money in tix, hotel, etc., you must grab 3 or 4 or 5 of your closest friends and/or family and make the trip. I promise you will not be disappointed.

I spent less than 4 hours at Churchill Downs all weekend, but enjoyed and appreciated every last second of it.

Closest “celebrity” I got next to: Former NY Knick sharp shooter Alan Houston

“Biggest” “celebrity” I spotted: Nick Lachey and Vanessa Mannillo being escorted to their SUV after the race.

Finally…..I didn’t have Street Sense. Couldn’t take him at 9-2. I definitely thought he was the one to beat, but how can you really take 9-2 in a field of 20 three year olds?

Street Sense’s victory and Curlin’s third place finish sets up another interesting run for the Triple Crown. If my selection couldn’t come through for me yesterday, I’m glad it was a quality horse with the potential for making the next 5 weeks an amazing, fan inducing experience. I’ll be at the Belmont (as a fan), it would be cool if the 7 others I will be “hosting” that day got to be a part of “Triple Crown Fever”!

Friday, May 04, 2007

Avg Selections and Predictions

I love this town.

Despite the less than stellar weather, it still is one of my favorites - Derby or not.

Just in case your keeping score at home, I like Circular Quay to win, hooking him up with Znajero, Street Sense and maybe someone else in exactas.

Look for CQ to be somewhere in the 14-1 range while Street Sense takes the post time favorite spot around 9-2. For the Tiago backers, I'm thinking he winds up overbet somewhere in the mid-high single digits.

My feet hurt and I'm spent. Not too much time for relaxing. Pretty much just working all day....someone's gotta do it!

Hope everyone has a great KD Day, no matter what happens, it is one of the top 5 greatest days on the planet.

Good Luck!

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I'll be heading to Louisville in about 24 hrs.

If I run into this guy, what witty comment should I send his way?

I'll have my Derby picks up on Friday. I know, you're all just dying.

Great big announcement coming tomorrow morning from my current employer that I am pretty sure will be big news in the industry (Bigger than this? Well I should hope so!) I'm not holding my breath, however.

Regular blogging from me will commence after I return from my inaugural Derby experience.

Friday, March 30, 2007

Business for Sale

Great opportunity for wannabe small business owner in Great American Western Desert...

Do you want to own your own shop in the glorious underbellied shadow of the nation's gambling capital? (h/t to Ted at Derby Digest).

Upset of the day in the REAL DESERT:

Miesque's Approval from the 12 hole in the "Duty Free".

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Title-less Post

Before Equidaily or even The Racing Dispatch picks it up, I wanted to share this nice little horse story that was on ESPN's front page today. I am sure Alan has already read this - his horse Highland Cat, though not mentioned by name, is mentioned by "group":

"Introspect is one of five horses Turner trains for Castle Village Farm, a racing stable that distributes its horses to trainers in the New York area. Stephen Zorn, managing partner of Castle Village Farm, says Turner is "very, very patient."

Interesting to note that the writing credited is as follows:
Elizabeth McGarr is a student at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be reached at enm2107@columbia.edu

Usually these types of stories are "generated" with some sort of pr value behind it. I'm having trouble finding it here, though. Could it be that Ms. McGarr is a (gasp!) FAN of the sport and pitched the idea to ESPN? Is she connected to Turner, the subject? Maybe there's a connection to Castle Village Farm? It could be worth a quick email to give Ms. McGarr a little shout out/kudos on her efforts here. Also, nice to see a grad student get a lengthy, prominently placed piece in a major world-wide media outlet.

On another note, I found this interesting little bit over on BG's blog. I think it's worth a little perusal. I don't think I've ever looked at wagering in this manner:

"+$35 yesterday playing horses at Santa Anita and Turf Paradise. I hit the early Pick Four at SA, only to find out that there was a $400k carryover in the late Pick Four. Dammit. Anyway, that was a nice little pickup ($125 pay-out on a $1 ticket - I had played it eight ways), and my handicapping at Santa Anita was on-point all day long, having one of my top two win six of nine races.

But one situation in particular illustrates how far I've come as a horseplayer.

In race two there were six horses running, ranging in price from 2-1 to 7-1. On my oddsline, my favorite was the betting favorite, but as I had the horse at 2-1 on my line, she wasn't playable at the same 2-1 on the oddsline. My co-second choice was 3-1 in my book, but 7-1 on the board.

Now, sometimes you should just play the second choice at 7-1 on a win ticket and be content that you made a good choice regardless of the outcome. That's an absolutely valid approach.

Instead, I saw the fairly even spread on the oddsline and thought I'd look to the Place pool to see what odds I was being offered on that same 7-1 horse there. If I was willing to play that horse at 7-2 to win, I'd be thrilled to get 2-1 on the place, right?

Sure enough, I did the math and because the money was spread out amongst the six horses (as opposed to concentrated on the favorite), there was an opportunity to get a minimum of 2-1, and a maximum of 4-1 on my horse if I chose the much safer Place pool.

She won, and paid 3-1 in the place pool. Granted, 7-1 is nice, but it was riskier. It was a grinder's bet, and an opportunity I don't think I would have recognized a couple years ago. I felt really good about that play, despite "missing" a 7-1 win bet.

(editor's note: I copied the whole bit, b/c it actually shows up way down at the bottom of a larger, unrelated post.)

Interesting, me thinks.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

It's funny how, "Great minds think alike."

Ok, so maybe it's more like, "Like minds think alike".

It was only a few short days ago that I was thinking this:

"The race has come up strong this year; it seems as if the preps are more competitive this year, doesn't it?"

Yes, I would agree... to a large extent.

I remember the last time I was this intrigued with the "Road to the Roses" I never got caught up in the prep races too much, though. This year, however, has been very different.

Maybe it's because of what I'm working on. And maybe it's just a natural progression. I'm sure being a "voter" for the Racing Dispatch Poll has contributed no small part. (BTW, I am not sure who still has Ravel in the Top 10, much less in FIRST!! But it isn't me!)

Overall, I am so jazzed about the coming weeks. Between the Derby Preps and the Dubai Classic, it's a grand time for the sport.

Beyond the races themselves, however, I have a strong feeling that this year will be a monumental one in terms of our sport's progression into the mainstream.

We've hit a plateau and I'm telling you all right now: We will reach our Tipping Point in the very near future. There are too many talented, caring people investing both time and money for this thing NOT to succeed.

I'm proud to be a part of the ongoing resurgence. I know a lot of you are too.

It' a great time to be a caring member of the thoroughbred community.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Thursday, March 01, 2007

UPDATED: 2007 Kentucky Derby Contender Video

UPDATE: PART 2 was FINALLY accepted by YouTube. See below for Part 2 of the Palm Meadows/Birdbirdistheword video.

This footage was taken earlier this month. It is two parts, so watch the first, then check out the second for the full effect. Special thanks to John McGuire, Brad Edwards, Ken McPeek and all of the Birdbirdistheword connections, and everyone who we came across at Palm Meadows for their hospitality and friendliness.

Part 1: Hope this one is enjoyable!!

Part 2:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

ANOTHER Blogger Opinion on Recent Events

There's clearly not that much to say here about Barbaro. The world has covered the story about as thoroughly as possible.

If you click on this link, you can see the 500+ YouTube "projects" there are on the popular equine - some better than others. I watched the Derby win and the Preakness breakdown. I'm actually not sure which one elicited more emotion for me. The sheer beauty and sport of a HUGE Derby win, or the drama and confusion surrounding the events of the Preakness. Either way it is sad and for me, of all the stories, hyperbole and mourning that's gone on over the past 36 hours, this line, penned by Andy Beyer, highlighted at Equidaily.com sums up the situation perfectly for me:
But even for the most hardened racetrackers, the death of Barbaro yesterday was a painful and depressing loss.
One final note here. It was great to see Jane Smiley's take, originally published in the Washington Post get front page action over at HuffingtonPost. I appreciate the mainstream placement and attention Arianna and her staff gave the story.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Gulfstream Park: A little Super Bowl PR piggy-back

From ESPN.com's special travel section:

For entertainment, it's tough to beat a beautiful afternoon at the races, and nearby Gulfstream Park (901 S. Federal Highway, Hallandale, Web site) is open and ready to take your hard-earned gambling cash.

Gulfstream is offering four stakes on Feb. 3, including the Grade I $500,000 Donn Handicap, plus the Swale and Holy Bull Stakes — each of which are stepping stones toward the Kentucky Derby.

So come to the track and say you saw the Derby winner way back in February.
Unfortunately, I won't be down in South Beach for the "Super Big Game", the Donn, the Swale or the Holy Bull. I will however be making my maiden voyage to the gem of MEC's track empire sometime (and more than likely multiple times) between Feb. 14th-18th.

Stakes races for Saturday the 17th are the Grade III Hurricane Bertie (for Fillies And Mares Four Year Olds and Upward going Six And One Half Furlongs) and the Grade III Sabin (for Fillies And Mares Four Year Olds and Upward going One Mile)
Reason #48 why I love calling myself an "Oregonian":

Reason #48

Reason #4 why I'm glad not to call myself "Georgian":

Reason #4

Monday, January 15, 2007

Why I love the new Breeders' Cup races.

It was brought to my attention by reader Octave the Rave , that I had not really put any meat behind my stance that, "I loved the new BC races". Thank you sir for bringing me to task. Here is why I "love" the idea(r).

In the past, I think I've been a harsh, but fair critic of the NTRA, Breeders' Cup Unlimited and some of the others in the industry for their old school, blue-blood, slow to react mentality regarding innovation and marketing.

In this instance, however, those that currently control the thoroughbred racing "product" (i.e. brand) have taken a great leap of faith that should be noted as positive. Implementing something fresh and unique; something that only helps the sport expand and grow, will always ring true for me and should be applauded by fans at large.

The fact is, these added races were not created with the "avid fan" in mind. If you are debating whether or not these races are a good or a bad thing removes you from the targeted market. The end result of adding a second day will be an increase in particpation by non-horse racing fans, only adding to what is already a widely popular event. What's wrong with that?

I attended my first BC this past year, and was able to see first hand how amazing the day can be as a live sporting event. Why NOT add a second day? Why can't we create more excitement and rooting possibilities? Why shouldn't we create more opporunities for great days?

I'd love to know of any current racing fan who is going to be disappointed with another day of championship races, huge fields and an increased national TV audience.

Perhaps some of the technical aspects of the new race formats and distance choices is a subject for debate. However, I know how excited I'll be for Friday's races and that won't even compare to the anticipation I'll have Friday afternoon come 5pm.

I may not get much sleep Friday October 6th!!

The fact remains, our sport needs a boost in popularity, energy, excitement and promotion- and FYI....that's NOT A BAD THING!

The Breeders' Cup is the biggest day in racing on the US racing calendar. But ask a casual sports fan what the difference between the Kentucky Derby and the BC is and see what you get. Look at the handle numbers over the past few years: F-L-A-T.

As I said in my presentation in Arizona last month, the fan base is literally dying off. We're losing the marketing game BADLY and action needs to be taken. I don't think my friend, Joe Vineman, who spends hundreds of dollars a year on sports betting, but may not be the biggest horse fan, cares if the BC sprint is 6 or 7 furlongs. He also could care less if one or two foreign horses don't show up for any of Friday's races. All he cares about is having a great day.

All we can do as an industry is continue to come up with ways to get sports fans and sports bettors to the racetrack and interested in our sport.

In my opinion, one of the best ways to get people interested is to have them hit the infamous BC 4-digit $1 exacta box.

Ask yourself, "do Friday's races increase or diminish those opportunities"? Will there be 10, 12, 14 horse fields on Friday? Does this provide an extra opportunity to attract new faces to the track?

These are the most important questions that we should be analyzing.

We are not the NFL, MLB, NBA or even.... Poker!! We can't afford to continue to shut out potential new players and fans by shortsighted, confined thought processes.

Let's enjoy and help promote this latest creative strategy, and worry about minor technical glitches and fixes later on. I think we can have our fair share of debates over the details of these new races, but from a marketing and fan perspective, we need MORE creative ideas like this.

The industry should be applauded and we should be the first to stand up and cheer.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I love the new BC setup....

-I think it's a great little twist to an already amazing day. I def. see parallels to the Oaks/Derby thing that Churchill has in place. More, quality racing on a national stage can only be good for the game. Let's continue to move away from some of the older traditions and thought processes that only seem to hamper the sports progression forward.

-I finally got back out to live racing today and man does/did it feel good. Once again, thanks to Patrick for taking the time to show me some sites and sounds that I've never seen or heard before at the ol' Portland Meadows It was also great to finally meet this guy and check out his view for the race meet just off of I-5 here in Portland.

-Although I didn't cash any winners, I did have the winner in this race in the opening leg of a pick-3 that I ended up missing by about 2 lengths in the final race. It would have paid about $100 which would have certainly put me up on the day. Congrats to the breeders of the winner in the 4th, Cascade Express. I know the Loudon's check in often over at this site, and we all know Jolene who keeps us up to date over here.

-Another perk (or curse, depending on your point of view) of attending my first live races in some time, was being able to get re-jazzed to get back to blogging. It really is amazing how certain interaction and life events can really inspire. I've been stuck away from greater society for some time (don't ask!) and it is so great to feel refreshed about being active and live on this blog.

-Tomorrow caps off an amazing six-day AvgHorsePlayer run that included birthday dinners, birthday drinks, a trip to Seattle for an EPIC playoff game against the much hated Dallas Cowboys, a night to recover (8 pm to bed last night ;-) ) and finally, I get to see my favorite band play once again. I m so pumped for Tuesday evening at the Crystal Ballroom!!

I'm glad to be back. It feels great to be contributing once again. I think a semi-hiatus like this is always a positive thing once you get through it....