Hello world!

So, yeah. I messed up the original version of site by not keeping WordPress up to date and had to scrap the old version and reinstall everything.

As far as I can tell the site is intact and using the original urls. The only exception is that the original tags/categories are not associated to the posts (despite the categories being imported!). It’s not pretty, but everything is still here (I think!).

Now I blog here.

Whoever Crosses the Line First Wins

Jackson Bend Forego Stakes Remote
Jackson Bend crosses the line first, is that so difficult to understand? (budmeister)

Like a good Friday night news dump, I thought I’d quietly start blogging again. When one doesn’t blog for awhile, the blog comeback starts to feel insurmountable. I’ve certainly made copious notes for multiple posts on “big issues” that have come up, but usually ended up ventilating some of those thoughts on Twitter. After a bout with Twitter crabbiness I’ve decided to bring my chat capital back here, to the land paragraphs. I haven’t abandoned Twitter, I’m just adjusting my outputs to more appropriate channels (or something like that… I miss blogging, OK?).

But back to that insurmountable return, one of the not-published posts was about the McKinsey report (pdf). Well, not so much about the report as some of the reaction, or potential reaction by industry executives. Watching a few minutes of US Open last night reminded me of a point I wanted to make. Page 25 in the McKinsey presentation deck is entitled “Existing fans feel racing is inaccessible to new fans due to its complexity” which included the factoid “19% of fans say they don’t bet because the types of bets you can make are too complicated.”

One of my pet peeves about racing is what I like to call the “can’t do attitude”, everything is a detractor or liability versus a selling point. “Racing is too hard to understand” is one of those fallacies. Whichever horse crosses the line first wins. Could it be more simple? An alien could land and figure out what’s going on. Making a win bet really doesn’t have a learning curve much beyond saying “$2 to win on [insert horse number].” Compare that to figuring out what’s going on in football, baseball or tennis. Those of us who grew up in the U.S. are indoctrinated into football and baseball but let’s talk about tennis. 40-love? Aces? And which lines are actually out of bounds? I have no clue, and it hasn’t hampered my ability to enjoy a little tennis every once and while. What’s more, it doesn’t seem like tennis is scrambling to dumb itself down in order attract more fans (although they do seem to be scrambling to create more players).

So what about racing? Just because a potential fan isn’t going to understand a trifecta part-wheel doesn’t mean all is lost, or worse, that we have to dumb everything down. Focus newbies on simple strategies, and make it easy for them to learn as the go (disclosure: I run a company trying to do just that! You probably knew that). Stop renaming races (I love you Distaff!) and start embracing and building on our strengths, not assuming what we have is “too hard.” Whoever crosses the line first wins. Try and make that more simple. You can’t.

Pride Plays 2011, the I Do Edition

Australian trainer Gai Waterhouse on Pink Stiletto Day (Pink Stiletto)

Darling, it’s that time of year again… pride weekend, and NO ONE is feeling more lucky than the gays! It’s time to make the commitment and say “I Do” to gay pride hunch plays!

I found a lot more than last year, but then again I got my act together a bit earlier. Best of luck, and no matter how it turns out, you look fabulous!

Saturday 25th

Arapahoe Park
R1: Rainbow Eddie (4th), The Buddy Plan (11th)
R2: Looking for Justice (5th)
R3: De Elegant Cartel (scratched)
R8: Quick Meeting (2nd), City Vow (6th)
R9: For Daddy (8th)

Arlington Park
R2: River Bear (2nd)
R4: Cruise (3rd)
R5: Fantastic Madame (7th)
R8: Boom Boom Charlie (11th)

Belmont Park
R6: Trix in the City (scratched)
R7: Viv’s Tiara (8th), Max’s Hotdog (9th)
R8: Midnight Billy (2nd), Sky Blue Pink (3rd) – omni!
R10: Queens or Better (3rd)

R2: Queen Drama (2nd)
R3: Nervous Nell (scratched – probably too nervous!)
R5: Rock with Me (3rd), Boss Lady (6th)
R7: Fabulous Francis (4th)
R8: Lucy’s Secret (scratched)
R12: Living Sassily (8th), Simply Elegant (11th), Princess for a Day (12th), One Proud Girl (winner!) $8.20

R1: Frisky Heaven
R5: Papi Papi

R3: Breaking Barriers (5th)
R4: Yes He’s a Pistol (3rd), Accept the Kiss (5th), Silver Tuxedo (winner!) $4.80
R6: I Am Awesome (5th)
R8: Lookin at Larry (9th), Lady’s Gent (8th)
R9: I Shine Now (2nd)
R10: Chick’s Brief Case (4th)

Charles Town
R2: She’ll Fit (9th0, Klondike Lizzie (scratched), La Koppa Chica (scratched)
R3: Bring it on Sally (scratched)
R4: Lovin Colleen (scratched)
R7: My Snake Docta (7th), He’s a Hobby (4th)
R8: Vote Yes for Love (5th), Jack of Hearts (10th)

Churchill Downs
R1: Six Pack Abs (3rd)
R2: Cherry Included (5th), Dare We Dream (3rd)
R4: Where’s the Beef (6th)
R8: Wendy and Her Cats (10th)
R9: Marvel Gaye (winner!), Lohan (3nd), Afleeting Lady (2nd), Live and Love – Pride Trifecta! $436.80
R11: Proud and Fast (5th)

Colonial Downs
R1: Little Miss Macho (4th), Smilin and Dancin (6th)
R4: Comeback Papa (7th)
R6: Sally Oh Sally (scratched), Stylish Touch (10th)

Delaware Park
R2: Free Country (winner!) – $5
R10: Burnin Rubber (winner!) – $38!

Delta Downs
R1: Hez Tearin It Up (winner!) – $13
R4: Mi Special Lady (10th)
R5: Hesa Trickie Lad (2nd)
R6: Some Pride (3rd)
R9: Bang Bang Bang (winner!) – $25.20, Shazama Rama (scratched)

Emerald Downs
R4: Solex Sisters (9th), Bar Room Gal (winner!) – $13

Evangeline Downs
R5: Little Miss Romeo (8th)
R10: Way too High (3rd), Rebel Queen (7th)

Finger Lakes
R3: It’s Our Turn (2nd), Seekingvindication (5th)
R7: Midnight Chase (4th)
R8: Ruby Flame (4th)

R1: Say Fabulous (winner!) – $10.30
R3: Lady Alex (5th)
R7: Dearest Princess (7th)

Hollywood Park
R2: Queenofcalifornia (2nd), Princess Tizzy (9th)
R7: Offlee Wild Boys (6th)
R9: Turn On the Pumps (4th)

R1: Disco Jenelle (3rd)
R6: Random Zing (4th)
R12: Courage to Be (scratched)
R12 bonus plays:
First timer exacta box: Itouch & Eze Does It (both scratched)
Out & Proud exacta box: Oh So Debonair (2nd) & Bold Intention (scratched)

Prairie Meadows
R3: A Lot of Mon (winner!) – $17.00
R8: Marco’s Fling (5th)

R2: Bell’s First Lad, Stylish Citizen (both scratched)

Sunday June 26th

R4: Wild About Boys (6th)

R2: One Game Dame (6th)

R8: My Topper (6th)

Churchill Downs
R10: Royal Pride (5th)

Delta Downs
R2: Speed Bump Buddy (9th)
R8: Queen Toast

Lone Star
R4: B G Queen Legacy

R3: I Come From Behind (3rd)
R9: Disco Indy
R10: Sissy Pants

R3: Gary’s Got Rhythm (7th)
R6: Fear the Beard (2nd)

R1: The Bear Vow (2nd)

Life At Ten Can’t Catch a Break

Poor Life At Ten. After last year’s disastrous Breeders’ Cup, she gets off to a slow start with two lackluster performances and just when it looks like she’s ready to make some noise Cornelio Velasquez pulls a Garrett Gomez and strangles the daylights out of her down the backstretch.

In the replay you’ll see that she gets off to a great start and then at 29 seconds he gets her in a hammer lock until about 56 seconds. One has to wonder what the stretch would have looked like if she would have been allowed to run more freely.

You may remember about Life At Ten that she does her best running when not restrained. Say for example in last year’s Ogden Phipps.

I think Cornelio is an underrated rider in general but admittedly I haven’t been paying close attention recently. Even if he is off his usual good form (and I’m not saying he is, I’m saying I don’t know if he is or not), I’ve never noticed him to be one to fight a front-runner. This had to be instructions from the barn, right? Right.

Pletcher from the NYRA post-race quotes press release:

She didn’t break well but she was able to recover and find a spot there pretty quickly. After that, she was in pretty good shape. The strategy, on paper we felt that Absinthe Minded and Awesome Maria would be laying one-two and Life At Ten would assume the garden spot. The way it broke, Cornelio [Velasquez] had to grab her [Life At Ten] a little bit to get that spot, and in retrospect it would have been better to go on, but he tried to execute the original game plan.

Well, it’s somewhat reassuring that they’re aware the plan didn’t work, but it must speak to their lack in confidence in Life At Ten as she’s shown the ability to rate behind speed and still win, such as last year’s Beldame.

At least they’re committed to running the rest of the year but if I were Candy DeBartolo, I would have moved her to another barn right after the Breeders’ Cup. On the bright side, we may catch a good price on her if/when things fall into place!

Rapture Hunch Plays

Greetings! No, I have not been neglecting GbG because I’ve been in rapture ready mode, but I did spend a few minutes looking to see if there were any interesting rapture hunch plays for tomorrow. As it turns, there are!

Arlington R11: Lead the Way

Churchill R10: How Far to Heaven

Delaware R4: Rose Away

Hollywood Park R9: Pack Your Bags

Monmouth Park R4: Freedom Express

Monmouth Park R10: Just Say Goodbye

Update: just like the Rapture, the Rapture Hunch Plays under performed. But, a jockey named Jesus did win the Preakness!

Stop by and say hi sometime!

Fun with Names: Random Edition

While perusing the Saturday Santa Anita card I cracked myself up over a few of the names in the 6th race. Funky Soup immediately jumped out as did Mo Cheese. In addition to the fun with food hunch bet angle, there seemed to be some other options.

So, in the spirit of the Fun Derby Names post from years gone by, I offer the field of 6th at SA this Saturday: 6 Furlongs for 4yo & up F&M, claiming ($10,500) purse: $16,000:



Pivotal Queen (IRE)

Chase the Fever

Sign In

Emba U. T. K.

L’Enchanteresse (IRE)

Morning Frost

Mo Cheese

Funky Soup



Off the top my head I see:

Stoner Box:

Funky Soup / Mo Cheese

Dancing Queen Box:

Happyhoofertoo / Pivotal Queen

Online Pron Box (intentional misspelling!):

Sign In / Chase the Fever

Gay Caberet Box:

Pivotal Queen / L’Enchanteresse

Royal Snack Box:

Mo Cheese / Imperaritz

Anything else? Perhaps I’ll bring this format back to this year’s Derby.

And speaking of the Derby, if I didn’t have some stuff to write for the Derby Prep Alert tonight I’d be inclined to blog about how crazy the two 7F prep approach is for a (clearly talented) son of Pomeroy is, not that it’s not crazy in general. I’d probably also mention that it’s even more crazy is that it makes Uncle Mo’s Timely Writer/Wood prep path look solid. No doubt I would have even mentioned something about Pletcher’s astonishing THIRTEEN entries in the Timely Writer, but I’ve gotta preview the Santa Anita Oaks. Good thing it’s a small field!

Santa Anita Head Scratcher

I’m not closely following all the hootin’ and hollerin’ going on about Santa Anita too closely. However, I will say that I’m not a fan of takeout hikes in general, but perusing the weekend cards for the past two weeks has uncovered something odd, at least to me. Both weekends saw very similar races in the same division carded both days of the weekend.

Last weekend in the handicap division:

Saturday 2/5: Strub Stakes – 9F G2 $200,000 (7 entrants)

Sunday 2/6: San Antonio Stakes – 9F G2 $150,00 (6 entrants)

This weekend in the distaff division:

Saturday 2/12: Santa Maria Stakes – 8.5F G2 $150,000 (5 entries)

Sunday 2/13: La Canada Stakes – 9F G2 $150,000 (4 entries)

In each instance both races are carded on the same surface with little or no difference in distance. The handicap division had slightly better turn out but could have easily been one race with 13 entries. This weekend’s distaff races are far more glaring with only five entries in the Santa Maria and four in the La Canada (after scratches).

I suspect that owners and horseman prefer it this way, but is it in the best interest of racing in California with sinking handle? I honestly don’t know, but am guessing some of you might have an opinion or two!

Update: apparently not re: an opinion!

Only Somewhat Good News Friday

One of the many horses in need (Sarah K. Andrew)

This week’s “Good News Friday” over at the Paulick Report does indeed contain some good news, at least for one horse. The post highlights that Mary Lou Whitney does in fact lead through example in the arena of aftercare. And that IS very good news, however a few things struck me as disturbing, to say the least.

A couple of years ago, Daily Racing Form columnist Jay Hovdey told the story of a gelded son of Storm Cat, Storm Legacy, that Penn National trainer Pete Tardy wound up with after the owner said he no longer wanted him. When the horse could no longer race, Tardy checked the Jockey Club foal papers and found something he’d never seen before – a note that read: “If for some reason you are unable to care for this horse please contact us.” With that note was the telephone number of Marylou Whitney’s farm office in Kentucky.

Admittedly it’s hard to draw a conclusion from a sample of one, but it’s downright demoralizing that this sort of behavior might not be the norm. Also not uplifting was this from the operator of Equine Encore Foundation, the horse rescue operation mentioned in the post:

I have been operating Equine Encore Foundation for six years and every time I accept another horse (I have 63 and more waiting in the wings), I contact the breeder, and Mrs. Whitney is the first to ever respond.

This calls to mind something else I read this week over at Blood-Horse. It’s a proposal by Gary Biszantz, an owner who is also board member of Tranquility Farms, a rescue, retraining and adoption operation. He that suggests that money from uncashed tickets and takeout be used to help fund aftercare:

Takeout on wagering handle as extracted by the tracks and uncashed pari-mutuel tickets give us numerous opportunities to take a very small percentage of these funds and place them in escrow accounts. At year’s end these funds could be distributed to accredited retirement and rehabilitation farms all over the U.S. that want to take care of the horse and desperately need funding.

The closest thing to a mention of breeder responsibility or owner responsibility was this:

The gentleman who expressed his opinion that most Thoroughbred owners can’t afford the long-term care for retired horses is correct. Certainly some can, as we have done at Tranquility.

It’s not so much that I have a problem with his suggestion. I actually really like the uncashed ticket idea but I find it disappointing that the only group asked to help are players. I do my small part by donating a percentage of my winnings on days where I cash over $200, but shouldn’t everybody involved in racing bear some responsibility for this issue, particularly breeders and owners? Why not make the Jockey Club Checkoff Program mandatory, for example?

No doubt there are a billion ideas out there that have already been blogged about, posted on forums and written about in the media on the many ways this issue could be addressed. But the lack of responsibility highlighted in this one incident if f-in’ appalling. Hats off to Mary Lou Whitney, and anyone else who steps-up to address thoroughbred aftercare, but those who don’t really ought to be publicly shamed.

Perusing the comments at Paulick elicits different experiences of the issue. One commenter with experience in rescue notes the opposite experience from Equine Encore Foundation:

My experience in rescue, on the contrary, has been with very few exceptions, breeders contacted will help. If they can’t take the horse, they will send money, and/or call around to help find a place for the horse.

Let’s hope that this experience becomes more of the norm for ALL the folks to who work tirelessly to address aftercare, not just occasionally.

06/01/2011 Update: here’s a happy “after” photo of the horse pictured above.

Race Crush?

I love you Las Virgenes!* (Charles Pravata)

Sure, we all have a horse crush (or two!), but do we also have race crushes? I’m pretty sure we do, or at least I do. I validated this concept with a friend who said:

Interesting, I think I have a similar thing for the Alabama. If I’m not already a fan of the winner, I become one. If I am a fan, I become a super fan.

My race crushes? The Las Virgenes and Risen Star. These races sealed my super fandom of Stardom Bound, Blind Luck and Pyro and made me a fan of Friesan Fire and Ron the Greek. So far things are validating this theory as I’m now a big fan of Zazu and should Machen win the Risen Star I’m sure to be a super fan.

And speaking of the Las Virgenes, here’s what I had to say about it in the Derby Prep Alert mailing for Hello Race Fans:

There’s plenty of speed in this race as May Day Rose, California Nectar, Plum Pretty and Tiz the Route all have wire-to-wire wins to their credit. Of these, California Nectar has proven she can sit off the pace and still win, but with this many front-runners, there could very well be a speed duel. This would set the race up well for Turbulent Descent, and it’s certainly her race to lose, but it also sets the race up for Zazu, Bluegrass Chatter and possibly California Nectar if she doesn’t throw down with May Day Rose. On the other hand, Santa Anita has been more than kind to speed horses, so perhaps the advantage goes to whoever gets and keeps the lead.

Zazu or California Nectar looks the most likely to pull the upset if Turbulent Descent doesn’t get the job done. Like favored Dancinginherdreams in the Forward Gal, she might need a race. If Zazu can improve upon her last effort and stay focused in the stretch, I think she can score her first graded win.

And here’s how it unfolded:

The Derby Prep Alert is mailed every Friday.

But back to the question at hand, which are your races crushes?

* Super fan note: I own Stardom Bound’s saddle towel from the Las Virgenes!