Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Keeneland has got it right

Interesting reading all of the negativity surrounding horse racing since the Preakness. While not burying my head in the sand, I find that I much more enjoy the sport by looking for the positive stories. If you check out the Keeneland website, I believe you will find a great example of what a good business does to keep customers satisified and sure to return. Once again, in the break between meets not only are they installing polytrack but they are widening the entire dirt track and changing the angle of the turns, all well thought out and planned in advance (not in a knee jerk reaction) to the Preakness. Now if that wouldn't be enough they are installing a new tote board complete with a new HD Ginormous video panel (not that the old one was in need of replacement) and expanding fan areas down at trackside and adding fan areas in grassy areas in the paddock side of the track. The photos are really cool but just the overall approach is very refreshing and continually improves the fans experience, while taking utmost care to protect the horses and jockeys.

Friday, May 26, 2006

California mandates synthetic surfaces

"No racing association that operates four weeks of continuous thoroughbred racing in a calendar year shall be licensed to conduct a horse racing meeting at a facility that has not installed a polymer synthetic type racing surface" by Jan. 1, 2008, the CHRB said in a statement issued Friday.

I think this combined with Barbaro's breakdown in front of a national audience will add a lot of pressure to the major tracks around the country to follow suit.

More info on Polytrack here

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

What Now? Life Goes on.....

Well, I took advantage of a perfect May evening to throw a saddle on our retired OTTB and hack around the pasture. The funniest thing was when I first went out to catch our horses for a good grooming I really wasn't going to ride but here is what happened. Sometimes they walk right up to us and we can toss a halter on them and lead them to the barn and sometimes it takes a little sweet feed. But today they were feeling frisky and decided to toy with me. Now our pasture is just 3 acres fenced but still plenty of room for two horses to elude capture by a 40 something fella with a bucket of sweet feed and a pitiful attempt to hide the halter and lead rope. I thought I almost heard them laughing as they galloped from one end of the field to the other. Ah, but what they didn't count on is they were being chased by a stubborn, hard-headed irishman bent on getting them to the grooming stall. Well, 30 minutes later I was finally able to catch Finn and Quinn followed. After grooming Finn and turning him out I decided Quinn needed some excercise carrying this overweight jockey so off we went. As I scan the horse racing news of the day and still keep one eye on Barbaro and my fingers firmly crossed, I am starting to think about horse racing again but I find myself missing that superstar. It's weird, the american sports fan. We like to see our stars rise and fall and comeback, maybe because that mimics the ebb and flow of our own lives, who knows? But I know I long for a champion Thoroughbred that I can tell my future Grandkids about. Smarty and Alex and poor Barbaro, all great stories but their careers too short and the elusive Triple Crown potential unfulfilled. Maybe I should be combing the nearby horse farms for the yearling with perfect conformation and "that far off look" of a champion and scrawl down their name in hopes that maybe they might be the one that breaks the Triple Crown drought.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Nifty Knitting has Barbaro on the mend

I find this xray completely amazing and a tribute to the equine surgeons.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Barbaro makes it thru surgery!

Absolutely great updates on the Tim Woolley Fair Hill Racing site from Alex. It is hard to concentrate on any other aspect of racing right now, that's for sure. Let's hope Barbaro is spared and makes a recovery for a nice stud career here in the bluegrass!
Just saw post-surgery comments from his surgeon and Michael Matz. And despite the early success of the surgery the surgeon's sobering quote was "His chances are still a coin toss".

Amazing post-op recovery room photo

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Thoughts and Prayers to Barbaro and his surgeons

The sight of him did something to me I've never quite been able to explain. He was more than tremendous strength and speed and beauty of motion. He set me dreaming.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Preakness Picks

Barbaro on top no doubt,
6-7-5-1 Superfecta
6-1-9-7 Sillyfecta
6-2-7-5 Only if snow falls during the race fecta

Probably my contribution to the Preakness take if nothing else but you never know. Even when you know, you never know. Hope everyone has fun Saturday and here's hoping for a clean trip and continuing the pursuit for 2006 Triple Crown winner Barbaro!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Preakness update or the unofficial Barbaro fan site!

I can't wait to see what John over at Not to the Swift thinks about Like Now's post position, I know he likes those odds! Also, had some great sites drop by and leave some links so if you want more info on where Barbaro is hanging out, namely at the beautiful Fair Hill training center in Maryland, you should check out Tim Woolley Racing and the Fair Hill site. Anyway, here is the post draw and current pre-race odds. The question is how far down will Barbaro get bet and I am really going to be scouring this field to nail a trifecta ticket!

Purse: $1,000,000 added - 1 3/16 miles
Post Horse Jockey Trainer M/L Odds
1 Like Now Garrett GomezKiaran McLaughlin12-1
2 Platinum Couple Jose EspinozaJoseph Lostritto50-1
3 Hemingway's Key Jeremy RoseNick Zito30-1
4 Greeley's Legacy Richard MiglioreGeorge Weaver20-1
5 Brother Derek Alex SolisDan Hendricks3-1
6 Barbaro Edgar PradoMichael MatzEven
7 Sweetnorthernsaint Kent DesormeauxMichael Trombetta4-1
8 Bernardini Javier CastellanoTom Albertrani8-1
9 Diabolical Ramon DominguezSteve Klesaris30-1

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Who is Peter Brette? Barbaro knows!

Peter Brette, 40, excercise rider and assistant trainer for Derby winning trainer Michael Matz is a former English jockey who had a long riding career in Dubai. Here are some excerpts from various articles around the web. I think that Barbaro is lucky to be teamed with such a great pair of horsemen like Matz and Brette.Brette was born and raised in the northeastern part of England in Stockton-on-Tees. The town dates to 1138 and is set on high ground close to the northern bank of the River Tees. His uncle worked as the "head lad" for trainer Tony Hyde at the famed Newmarket racecourse. At age 14, during an Easter vacation, Brette paid a visit and his uncle gave him a leg up on one of his horses and told him to ride. Two years later, Brette left school to begin a jockey apprenticeship in which he would ride four or five sets a day. Then he launched his professional career.
"When you enjoy what you’re doing, you learn quickly," Brette said. "It’s a natural progression. You want to be the best." After a couple of years, Brette moved over to the stable of one of England’s leading trainers - Michael Stout. "He had good horses and you learn so much from talented horses," Brette said. "It’s sort of like going from driving a Honda to a Ferrari."
Brette rode for five years in England before following a Tony Hyde associate to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, to work for trainer Bill Mather. Arriving in 1986, he was offered a winter contract to ride for Godolphin Stable, which races some of the best-bred 2-year-olds in the world. Based in both Dubai and Newmarket, Godolphin was set up by Dubai’s ruling family, the Maktoums, with Sheik Mohammed the driving force behind the operation. Dubai is the most populous of the emirates and the second largest in terms of size. "I went over there with an open mind and found them to be superb people to work for," Brette said. "It’s a beautiful place to work and live, a bit like living in Disneyland. The people were brilliant and very good to me."
Sitting aboard top stock, Brette thrived on his wits and smart game plans. The leading jockey on the Dubai circuit in 1990 and runner-up in 1994-95, he spent his final four years in Dubai also working as an assistant trainer. His wife Kim, who is from Zimbabwe, was an assistant trainer and rider in England. They met again in Dubai and married. They have a 2-½ year old son, Nicholas. While Brette rode lots of top-quality horses in Dubai, none compare to Barbaro.
"Without a doubt, he’s heads-and-shoulders above them," Brette said. "When Sheik Mohammed heard about Barbaro, he said, Wow.’ The last time he said that was over Dubai Millenium."
Dubai Millenium was considered a superhorse in Europe on the grass, a kind of Secretariat.Brette believes Barbaro is going to be as good or better. "When he runs on grass he has those amazing gears," he said. "But because he was talented on the turf, I wondered about him handling the dirt. It’s very hard to repeat that on the dirt. But the way he ran in the Florida Derby, we knew he was something very special. He went in as a boy and came out a man.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Shrinking away from Barbaro

Wow, first it looked like a field of 14 but now I am reading there will be only 5-6 challengers to Barbaro taking the second leg of the triple crown next Saturday.

Horses pointing for the 131st Preakness at Pimlico on May 20.
Barbaro M. Matz E. Prado 1st, Ky. Derby
Bernardini T. Albertrani J. Castellano 1st, Withers
Brother Derek D. Hendricks A. Solis 4th*, Ky. Derby
Hemingway's Key N. Zito J. Rose 8th, Lexington
Like Now K. McLaughlin G. Gomez 2nd, Lexington
Sweetnorthernsaint M. Trombetta K. Desormeaux 7th, Ky. Derby
Possible entrants
Ah Day K. Leatherbury R. Fogelsonger 1st, Tesio

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital

Lawyer Ron will be undergoing surgery in Lexington at Rood and Riddle Equine Hospital. In a previous career I was a respiratory therapist and some fellow therapists would be employed each spring during foaling season to set up Bennett MA-1 mechanical ventilators on newborn foals that needed some help breathing. Rood & Riddle has an interesting web site that provides a glimpse into the world of equine veterinary medicine.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Preakness Possibilities or who is running for 2nd?

Horses pointing for the 131st Preakness at Pimlico on May 20. The field will be limited to 14

BarbaroM. Matz E. Prado 1st, Ky. Derby
BernardiniT. Albertrani J. Castellano 1st, Withers
Brother Derek D. Hendricks A. Solis 4th-dh, Ky. Derby
Hemingway's Key N. Zito J. Rose 8th, Lexington
Like Now K. McLaughlin undecided 2nd, Lexington
SweetnorthernsaintM. TrombettaK. Desormeaux 7th, Ky. Derby
Possible entrants
Bob and John B. Baffert G. Gomez 17th, Ky. Derby
Lewis MichaelW. Catalano M. Guidry 4th, Ill. Derby
Point DeterminedB. Baffert R. Bejarano 9th, Ky. Derby

It sounds like a small field so traffic shouldn't be a problem and it doesn't look like it is going to set-up with a lot of speed. Considering this is Barbaro's backyard, I am not really going out on a limb here by saying he should take this race easily. I think the handicapping trick in the Preakness will be picking who will place and show.

Monday, May 08, 2006

Preakness field changing?

I just heard a report on Lexington Fox affiliate 10pm news announcing that Bluegrass Cat, Steppenwolfer and Jazil will all skip the Preakness and point to Belmont. Think Barbaro has scared them off? I hope he can prove he has the stamina as I think the sport needs a Triple Crown Winner. It would be a nice shot in the arm and the trainer has enough good karma to help polish up the sports reputation. I also heard Lawyer Ron had xrays and complete exam (maybe that is standard after a big race....I just don't know) but he sure started going backwards early and it didn't look like he had all that bad of a trip. I wonder if his racing schedule has caught up with him or if he is injured? He did not run like the same horse I saw at Oaklawn.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Barbaro destroys the field....on to the Preakness?

Get the hat, get the!
My Wife cashes our only ticket, Win-Place on Barbaro although I had him in many exotics, my choice Lawyer Ron was clearly outclassed.
With that stride and that performance, the next question appears how will Barbaro do with a very short couple of weeks to the Preakness?
Let the wild specualtion begin but what a convincing horse! WOW!

My Derby Tickets

Looks like this:
Win Tickets on 2, 12, 16
Trifecta 16,11,10
Superfecta Box 2,5,8,17
Superfecta 17,8,5,18
Exacta Box 2,8,17

$45 total

Friday, May 05, 2006

Derby Selections

There goes Lawyer Ron digging in down the stretch, passing horses like they are standing still, many fading fast due to the fierce pace and who's that high stepping colt coming along for an exciting finish, none other than the well-rested Barbaro, a horse that may well hurt Triple Crown chances for my boy Ron!
I will of course be obliged to play some insane exotics to spark the dream of big money and as unlikely as I think it is now, my Derby Future on Point Determined might have some life.
Otherwise I will be busy at the DRF Triple Crown Challenge picking the order of finish...for all 20 horses! Now that is funny! I hope everyone has a great Derby Day and may all your wagers payoff so long as they don't conflict with mine!

KY Oaks: the good, the bad, the ugly

Well partly because I only cashed 2 meager tickets all day and mostly because I could kick myself in the tail for not putting a few bucks on Lemons Forever, my excursion to the mecca of horseracing left me understanding clearly that the Derby Party scene has clearly displaced the horse racing as the attraction. In one of the more familly unfriendly environments, we enjoyed the beautiful day but our seats were less than optimal, we could glimpse the horses as they came through the final turn, otherwise we were forced to watch on a large screen that apparenly was left over from some high school's yard sale. I never did clearly hear one call of a race as the sound system would not pass muster for a local garage band and if that wasn't discouraging enough, the constant drone of "Get your Mint Julep"($8) and "Get your cold Beer"($6) really made hearing the race impossible. Also, the lines at the windows were unbelievable, the lack of automated betting machines was appalling and overall I would not go back to those seats, ever again. I have been at Churchill before but sat way up high and it is like being at a different track from the bleacher bum seats we were in today. My daughter did squeeze down to the rail for a couple of races and also in the paddock for the Oaks, but otherwise we see more horse racing in our own backyard! Well, what did I expect? I knew the crowd would be large and I knew the partying would be the focus of many racegoers and for the most part, the behavior was mild. I blame the track management who let the garbage cans overflow, basically held you up to place an armband on you to get you to your bleacher seat but then sold mint juleps in glass glasses....not the most briliant plan. Oh well, I will be having a small Derby party and watching on tv and placing bets on Bodog from the comfort of my home tomorrow and I now know that unless you are in a real seat, the bleachers are not where you want to be if you want to see a race

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Kentucky OAKS Selections

Race 10--OAKS 1 1/8 mi 3 y/o Fillies $500,000

#10 Bushfire 5-1 (if no rain) on top
#4 Balance 2-1
#12 Ermine 12-1
#7 Wonder Lady Anne L 8-1

I may wind up playing some kind of ticket with #13 Last Romance only on gut instinct and Bejarano's knack for hitting the board....
Needless to say, if it stays dry, I like Bushfire.

Hopefully the racing gods will smile on my old kentucky home and the sun will shine bright and I will cash tickets all day long. I will post as many pics as are worthwhile in my first journey into the heart
of Churchill Downs for the Oaks, live, up close and personal!!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Post Positions are set, am I?

Oh boy, here we go, Brother Derek and Lawyer Ron way outside in the 132nd Stampede for the Roses. 20 horses with about a 1/4 mile before they hit the first turn. The early speed being inside figures to help clear the way a bit for the outside horses to settle in a stalking position but the blazing speed in this race figures to wear some of the speed horses out for the stretch run for sure. The only injury being reported so far this week is a small hoof bruise for speedster and BlueGrass Stakes winner Sinister Minister (post 4). So, things are starting to fall into place a bit and then, watching TVG reports on the morning workouts and schooling in the starting gate from this morning and damned if Gary Stevens doesn't start talking about how Sweetnorthernsaint's hind legs look "stiff".....ouch...a horse I was really starting to cozy up to in at least a nice exacta wager with my buddy Lawyer Ron and at 10-1, a nice price too, but now how can I ignore a respected jockey like Stevens? Wow, just when you thought you had this race figured out....
One thing is for sure, this just being Wednesday and this field shaping up as having at least 6 really quality horses, the wagering selections just got tougher and it will surely take me until Saturday morning to make a firm...okay shakey...decision! Now I gotta start looking hard at the Oaks!!!!

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Oaks Picks (maybe.....)

Last Romance--strong finisher, good mudder family line, Bejarano up, Post 13, early line 15-1
Bushfire--capable of gate to wire, holds off late chargers and can go head to head, Post 10, 8-1
Balance--favorite but I think this horse has been moving backwards since peaking in mid-March at Santa Anita, maybe a piece of the action but no better than 3rd

The more races I review, I am still influenced and impressed by Bushfire and I like Last Romance. Probably a Win ticket on Bushfire and Exacta Box with Last Romance.

(of course this just being Tuesday, and with my infamous skill at betting to win and the horse placing or my ability to ignore obvious tips, I probably get to the track on Friday and bet Lemons Forever!)

Monday, May 01, 2006

Derby Post Positions Live Wed. 5pm ESPN

And for yet another factor to consider when making those wagering plans: take notice of who gets the 1, 4, 5, 10 slots!
(1900 - 2005)
Position Wins
1 12
2 9
3 8
4 10
5 12
6 6
7 7
8 8
9 4
10 10
11 3
12 3
13 4
14 2
15 3
16 3
17 0
18 1
19 0
20 1