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.