Thursday, December 28, 2006

Yoohoo, Suebroux, Oh Where Are You??

Many of my loyal readers, such as Chuck and Dave and Rodney, just to name them all, are wondering what I've been up to the month of December. Well, as many of you know, I am not a card carrying member of the National Turf Writers Association (motto: Will write for Guiness Stout when Todd Pletcher is suspended), so it's not that I'm a busy gal casting my all too important votes for the 2006 Eclipse Awards. Instead, the holidays have befallen me and I am busy with all the festivities, i.e., decorating Christmas cookies, writing Christmas cards, having the family gather at my house for 6 days where they consume more beer and wine and assorted liquors than the infield crowd consumes at Chuchill Downs on Derby Day. I need to make a note to myself: Before I host the next family reunion, it is imperitive that I hit a Pick 6 or a nice superfecta so that I do not have to take out a home equity loan.

Anyway, as my loved ones all continue to enjoy the Homestead Cabernet Savignon and sing Abba's Fernando, my thoughts drift towards the great sport of horse racing and the meaningful question: Why haven't I been to the track in the past three weeks?

I have decided to rectify the situation immediately. Tomorrow we have tickets to the exhibition, Body Worlds, or better known as People in Plastic, I shall take these festive relatives to Lone Star Park where I shall conduct a short handicapping seminar in the Post Time Pavillion. However, since the seminar is being planned on the fly (okay, I just now thought of it and it may be the wine that is prompting this idea anyway), it will be doubtful if I can obtain Gary West and/or Rick Lee as a "trusty sidekick".

At least I will have some kind of material to write about tomorrow. Good.

I only have one bottle of wine left in the wine rack. Bad.

Friday, December 01, 2006

Oh, The Places You Go

Last week, our little family loaded up the car and headed north to Chicago to celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday with "family", i.e., sister, brother-in-law, nieces, nephews-in-law, assorted pets that jump up on kitchen tables to lick the up the pumpkin pie filling that small children spill in an effort to help their aunt in the preparation of festivities, etc. And as I relaxed with a glass of Pinot Grigio along the placid lakeshore, my husband, Mr. Technology Gadget, whipped open his cell phone and spent a few moments fiddling with it.

Husband: Hey! You haven't written in your blog for a month!
Me: (sips Pinot Grigio) I haven't had anything to write about lately. The last time I was at the track was for Breeders' Cup. And I didn't think that my gloating over my nice wins would make for very interesting reading. Nor funny, for that matter.
Husband: Finish your wine. We're leaving the kids with Auntie Barb. You need a Barney Adventure!

Thus, I shall take a break from decking the halls and yuling the log to share with you my first experience at an OTB.

OTB, or Off-Track Betting, is a foreign concept in Texas. There's no OTBs here. By the way, there is also no casinos, nor internet gambling, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a bookie named "Sal" or "Nick The Fish" lurking around as well.

I always imagined that an OTB would be some small dark bar with a couple monitors and one grizzled old pari-mutuel clerk who is hard of hearing thus requiring me to yell at him, "Hawthorne 7! $1 exacta box on 4 and 6! $2 Win on 6!" And the Old-Man Pari-Mutuel Clerk would look up at me like I had 3 heads and ask me, "You only bettin' 4 paltry bucks?" Then he would mutter, "Sissy girl," and give me my ticket. And then I would turn around, and the four middle-aged guys behind me, all smoking cigars with wads of cash in hand to place their $50 wagers, would sadly nod their heads in agreement of Old-Man Pari-Mutuel Clerk's assessment of me.

But it wasn't like that at all! I went to Trackside in Waukegan, As close as you can get to the real thing without getting turf in your face, as touted on the front of their brochure. Trackside is operated by the good folks of Arlington Park and/or Churchill Downs, Inc. It was clean. It was neat. I had the option of sitting in a non-smoking lounge with a wall full of television screens, a smoking section that included a full-service bar with affordable beer, or a racebook with individual monitors for $3 per seat. There also was a nice restaurant and if the next day was not Thanksgiving where I knew that I would consume a couple pounds of turkey and green bean casserole, I would have encouraged my husband to take me out to dinner there.

There wasn't any particular race that caught my attention, I mainly dabbled in dime superfectas at Hawthorne, as it seemed the appropriate activity being in Chicagoland and all.

So the OTB was a great discovery for me. And speaking of great discovery, the colt Great Discovery (Maria's Mon - Expresso Cat, by Storm Cat) won a 2 y/o MSW at Chuchill Downs that evening. Trained by Dallas Stewart, he debuted back at the Spa in August and had run wide, finishing in 7th place, 5+ lengths back. He won this race by a substantial margin. Okay, granted it was against a bunch of horses that never raced before. Okay, granted again, I can no longer access a free chart from Equibase to factual support my observations. But whenever I run across a $17 winner, he usually goes on my watch. As a matter of fact, I just may have to make him one of my selections in the first Derby Future Pool.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Breeders' Cup Hoopla

If you are a horse racing enthusiast, this Saturday is the event that you have been anticipating all year long: The 2006 Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. If you are, however, like my brother, Chuck, who pays little attention to horse racing, let me be the first to inform you that neither Funny Cide nor Barbaro will be racing. And by the way, Chuck, happy birthday. I shall wager a cheap Pick 4 in your honor and any winnings on that Pick 4 will be split in some kind of pseudo-equitable way according to the laws of sibling rivalry (read: If I win $1,340, I'll send you a couple of bucks).

Anyway, every card-carrying member of the NTWA and all of their drinking buddies have descended on Churchill Downs for the weeklong preparations leading up to the biggest day in horse racing. Handicappers are looking at every potential angle from post selection to the color of Mike Bataglia's tie. Even the TBA's average horseplayer, David Ruben Jerry Ringling Brothers Barnum And Bailey, is mixing it up with movers and shakers, making sound observations such as "I should have brought a coat! It's cold out here!" The media swarms around top trainers, hoping to get a scoop:

MediaGuy: "Hey Claude McGaughey! Or can I call you Shug?"
Trainer: "Most people call me Nick Zito."
MediaGuy: "Oh. Would you still like to comment on Pine Island anyway?"
Trainer: "No."
MediaGuy: "Well, then can you tell me what exactly are NetJets?"

And that reminds me that I, as a horse racing fan, have a few concerns that I feel should be brought up to the Breeders' Cup BrainTrust. And since I am not a member of the media nor a potential member of the NTWA nor genetically related to any member of the Breeders' Cup Committee, I shall have to express these views here, in this blog, where I know they shall remain unread except by maybe a handful of faithful readers, and perhaps, maybe one alert reader who knows the second cousin of the cleaning lady of the nanny for the children of one of the members of the Breeders' Cup committee, will pass my concerns along where they will be addressed appropriately or ignored completely.

1. The $2 Million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies appears to lack a corporate sponsor. All the other races are brought to you by Bessemer Trust, Emirates Airlines, TVG, NetJets (whatever those are), John Deere, and of course Dodge. Recently, the Kentucky Derby was brought to us by Yum! Brands thus I'm under the impression that obtaining a corporate sponsor and their corresponding check book should not be a difficult task.

2. Purple. It's pretty. It's uniform. And I'm sure that someone had a good reason to make all of the saddle clothes a uniform color for the Breeders' Cup. However, it makes it difficult to discern how the race is unfolding. And I think of this now especially with the development of the Trakus. Watching 14 purple chicklets on the simulcast screen would be somewhat unnerving.

3. Rumors are abounding that Chuchill Downs, Belmont, and Santa Anita will be rotating sites for the Breeders' Cup. Okay. This is where I hoist the Texas flag and cry out, "Remember the Alamo! Remember the 2004 Breeders' Cup!" ... if I actually had audio on my blog you would be listening to "The Eyes of Texas" in the background...

And to wrap-up all the hoopla surrounding the Breeders' Cup Preview, a member of the TBA has thrown down the gauntelet and challenged us to list our winners. So here's my simple winners. (Follow along, Chuck. It includes our cheap Pick 4!)

Juvenile Fillies brought to you by Home Depot*: Dreaming of Anna

Bessemer Trust Juvenile: Great Hunter

Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf: Ouija Board

TVG Sprint: Pomeroy

NetJets Mile: Gorella

Emirate Airlines Distaff: Pine Island

John Deere Turf: Scorpion

Classic - Powered by Dodge: Invasor

*Not really a corporate sponsor but it sounds pretty good

Thursday, October 12, 2006

OTOBA is Not Some Kind of Musical Instrument

Last Saturday I missed the highly touted handicapping seminar of the Breeders' Cup prep races featuring The Great Horse Racing Professor, Gary West of the Fort Worth/Not Dallas Star-Telegram, and his jovial sidekick, Rick Lee. Of course, I am kidding when I refer to Rick Lee as Gary West's "jovial sidekick" because if you are a regular at Lone Star Park, you would know that (a) he is the track's handicapping genius and morning line guru, and (b) I'm not sure if the guy actually laughs. Anyway, unfortunately I was unable to attend the seminar due to a much more pressing engagement: I had to take my 4-year-old daughter to a birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese's.

However, I soon discovered that the place to be last weekend was not at Lone Star Park nor Chuck E. Cheese's, but rather Portland Meadows. As it turns out, a number of members or the TBA were there. Everyone's favorite filly owner, Toteboard Brad, was there. Breeders' Cup media mogul, David Ruben Jerry George John Paul and Ringo Bailey, was there. Just Jolene ... who of course is rumored to reside "somewhere in Oregon". And the new announcer extraordinaire, Jason Beem, was there. So whilst my child scurried around an arcade with 2,678 other pre-schoolers and danced with a giant varmint, horse racing enthusiasts somewhere in the Pacific Northwest were enjoying the opening day's festivites at a racetrack that is not in California, Kentucky, Florida, nor New York.

Their adventures of opening weekend at Portland Meadows got me to pondering a little bit about horse racing in the state of Oregon. I have only been to Oregon once in my entire life: the desolate Southeastern corner of the state, on my way to California. I vaguely recall being unimpressed. I also recall that I was kind of hungover for which I will blame my brother, Paul, because whenever I visit him in Idaho, there never appears to be a shortage of beer. Oregon conjures up images of wilderness, forests, and Trailblazers. I also thought it was home to Mount St. Helens, however I was corrected by Mr. Geography (husband) who informed me that Mount St. Helens is in Washington, Miss Know-It-All, however, one can see Mount St. Helens from Oregon. And I'm sure that there is plenty of Mount St. Helens laying around Oregon from its eruption in 1980.

Truthfully, I cannot name one Oregon-bred horse. I find this very disconcerting, considering there appears to be a multitude of people flocking to Portland to watch horse racing. I was not under the impression that Lewis and Clark discovered a racetrack there during their expedition a few years back. Thus, I have decided to perform a little scientific research regarding "Oregon thoroughbreds". And I have discovered that the anagram of "Oregon thoroughbreds" is "Horse trod grunge hobo" or "Gore honored grub host." Further research using my Google toolbar yielded a website, Oregon Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (OTOBA). So let me share a few fascinating Oregon horse facts:

2005 Horse of the Year: Tom Two

2005 Sire of the Year: Cascadian

Average price of $1,445 for 74 horses sold recently sold in the OTOBA mixed sale

With my research completed, I now have the ability to name at least two Oregon-bred horses and I can afford to purchase myself a thoroughbred at the next OTOBA sale, if I so desire. I feel somewhat informed and I look forward to my own pilgrimage to Portland Meadows in the near future, providing I don't have to take my daughter to Chuck E. Cheese's.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Live! From the Breeders' Cup! It's a Blog!

A couple of weeks ago, our favorite Average Horseplayer, David Ruben Jerry George Franklin Delano Bailey, announced to his fan club that he had secured himself media credentials for the Breeders' Cup on November 4th. He commented that he would be providing some good scoops and factual interviews with the integrity of a journalist. He then proceeded to to misquote an individual, Ray Paulick, who, in turn, pointed out this journalistic faux pas. Now I'm sure many of you are wondering, "Ray Paulick? Isn't he the dude who developed the Hepatitis A vaccine?" No, he is not the dude that developed the Hepatitis A vaccine, although that cannot be verified at this writing. Ray Paulick, is in fact, the editor-in-chief of the reputable The Blood-Horse magazine and I believe, as the editor, that does make him a journalist and also empowers him to correct misquotes and mistakes. And it is apparent that Mr. Paulick has not visited this blog because, as an editor, he would have pointed out the glaring error in my previous entry: The lyrics to the song is Funny Fish, not Friendly Fish. To all the pre-schoolers and pre-school teachers across our great nation, please accept my deepest apologies.

Anyway, back to my good friend Bailey and his coup. One thing I would love to see on his blog during the Breeders' Cup is some type of live blog. A few months back, he had encouraged me to do live blogging from Lone Star Park and admittedly, it sounded intriguing. So, one Saturday afternoon, I opted to try live blogging. However, I did not possess the most important tool for this endeavour: a laptop computer. Thus, I brought with me a spiral bound memo pad that I would use to document important events as the day unfolded at the track. And once I flipped through all the scribbled pages courtesy of some child that lives with me, I wrote down meticulous notes, which at this time, I shall share with you.

Saturday, July 8, 2006
Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie

2:47 p.m. Park car in section C2. Walk to grandstand. As I cross the parking lot, I observe my contractor's pick-up truck parked illegally in a fire lane. I make a mental note to myself that I am definitely paying this guy too much. And I hope that he gets a ticket.

3:17 p.m. Post time for the 5th race is in approximately 10 minutes. It is the Valor Farm Stakes. I'm very keen on the 3-year-old filly, Open Meadows. So is everyone else. I place an exacta box with Open Meadows and the Bret Calhoun trained Final Trick.

3:35 p.m. Open Meadows is the real deal and looks promising. Longshot second time filly, Stormy Light, had a late kick in the stretch and comes in second. I shred my exacta ticket and order a vodka tonic.

3:38 p.m. The doofus sitting next to me spills his beer on the floor. I am wearing new sandals. My feet and my sandals now smell like a brewery.

3:45 p.m. The doofus is very apologetic and purchases my vodka tonic. Nice gesture.

3:55 p.m. Post time for the 5th running of the Harold V. Goodman Memorial, a stakes race for Texas-bred 3-year-olds. I have bet on the Steve Assmussen exacta, Rain On Monday and Groovy Luck.

5:02 p.m. Wheee! I have been on a roll! Who in the heck cares about this live blogging stuff! I believe that I should get myself another vodka tonic. I should mention that this will be my third vodka tonic. And I also think that Vodka Tonic is a good name for a horse. When I get home I shall make some kind of effort to investigate if there is actually a horse named Vodka Tonic.

5:19 p.m. Texas Stallion Stakes. Watch out for the 2-year-old, Be a Resident. Very talented. Vodka tonic is quite tastey.

5:25 p.m. Be a Resident is in the winner's circle. I locate my cell phone and inform my husband that he needs to secure a babysitter because we are going out to dinner tonight. I also inquire if we have any vodka on-hand at the house.

5:27 p.m. Read over my so-called "live blog" and determine that it is not very interesting or insightful. I conclude that this is an activity that I should discontinue.

Thus, I was disappointed in my attempt at the live blog. However, I shall look forward to the Breeders' Cup as I know that David Ruben Jerry Janis Joplin Bailey will provide us with some great blogs from Churchill Downs, just as long as he plugs in his laptop and stays away from vodka tonics.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sweet Dreams, eh

My 4-year-old daughter, Alice, is learning about the letter f in her pre-school. She has been singing a little ditty, sung to the tune of Jingle Bells, that goes like this:

Friendly Fish,
Friendly Fish,
Swimming right and left,
Tell me all the things you see that start with letter f,
Fast firetrucks,
Flashing lights,
Firemen on the run,
Friendly frogs and firecrackers and fairies having fun!

Now what does that song have to do with horse racing? Absolutely nothing. I just thought it might put a little smile on your face.

However, it does bring to light other things that start with the letter f. F is for Foggy - may his equine soul rest in peace. Also, f is for filly, an especially promising and exciting filly that caught my attention in a big way this past Sunday. That filly is Dreaming of Anna.

Once a year, I hear the call of the Great White North and have a natural instinct to sojourn to Lone Star Park and follow the races at Woodbine, most notably the Woodbine Mile (gr. I). But this year, it was not the Woodbine Mile that attracted me, but instead the Summer Stakes (gr. III). I had recently marveled over a Mott-trained 2-year-old, Marcavelly (Johannesburg), the word "marvel" meaning "won a lot of money on him when he won the Continental Mile at Monmouth on August 19th". I had gone to the track on Sunday with a solid intent to marvel over that colt once more.

But what I found intriguing about the Summer Stakes was, in fact, the filly Dreaming of Anna (Rahy), racing against the boys. Her connections, Mr. Catalano and Mr. Calabrese, know their way around the winner's circle. She had previously won the Tippett at Colonial Downs, setting a course record. Dreaming of Anna soundly beat the male competition by more than 3 lengths at Woodbine, and for her amazing talent, the attractive chestnut filly, or blue chicklet as depicted by Trakus, received the prize of a six-pack of Molson and a pound of back bacon as well as a sizeable portion of the $250,000 purse. Okay, I made up the Molson and back bacon part, but not the money thing. Unknown by this blogger if that would be US or Canadian currency. Today's conversion rate, it should be noted, is 1 Canadian dollar is worth 0.8872 US Dollar.

Those associated with Dreaming of Anna may be dreaming of the BC Juvenile Fillies. And we are hoping that all those dreams are sweet indeed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Competition for Seats on November 4th Increases

Is it September already? No way, it can't possibly be September. Surely, it is still August. No ... I moved into the new house in the middle of June, and by the looks of all the unpacked boxes and misplaced knick-knacks, it actually must be July.

But no, fall is approaching. The romance of Saratoga has passed. The beauty of Del Mar a pleasant memory. On the horizon is the Breeders' Cup, and the next pressing issue is securing tickets for the Breeders' Cup. And I'm not talking about Breeder's Cup tickets at Churchill Downs, I'm talking about tickets in the Post Time Pavillion at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie on Breeders' Cup Day.

Sitting in the Post Time Pavillion is a great place for simulcasting. My favorite waitress, or as they say in more gender-friendly terms, server, or waitperson, or individual-who-shows-up-at-my-elbow-with-a-Miller-Lite-when-I-appear-thirsty, Lea is perky and attentive. My favorite mutuel teller on the whole planet, Warner, does not work at the Post Time Pavillion; ergo, out of extreme loyalty, because we all know Warner is going to be my next husband one day, I have a tenuous relationship with an AmTote machine on the south end of the building. But my favorite individual is Super Manager, John Records (Note to General Manger, Drew Shubeck: John deserves a big bonus. Something better than 20 paltry shares of MEC stock).

Anyway, last week while reading all the horse racing blogs because basically I was too lazy to come up with some kind of idea other than, "How 'bout that Pine Island! And I had the exacta, too! Whoohoo!", I became incredibly distressed over a post by my fellow Texan blogger, Joe "Not To Be Confused With Joe Cocker" Coker. Apparently, somewhere around the 3rd race at Del Mar, some ninny in the Post Time Pavillion switched the channel from TVG to NASCAR! Oh, the humanity! Numerous patrons became incensed! There were fistfights! There was an angry mob! Pitchforks were drawn! Torches were lit! The cry became deafening, "I WANT MY TVG!"

Okay, that's a mild exaggeration. But Joe voiced his displeasure and threatened to do all activities associated with horse racing and gambling on-line. And it should be noted, that here in Texas where the state legislature still communicates via the telegraph, internet wagering on the ponies is illegal. Thus, I could not bear the thought of Joe Coker spending time in The Big House just because he wagered a Pick 4 over the internet. And futhermore, it irritated me that someone who loves the sport and contributes to the handle on track was going to walk away from such a great facility just to sit in his underwear, drink Shiner Bock, watch TVG, and click in a couple of bets. As a proponent of "Let's Bring 'Em to the Track" philosophy, the idea of distancing an individual is not promotional of the sport.

I opted to become an ambassador of sorts, and called Super Manager John Records. I disclosed my information and John personally handled the situation. Joe received resolution. Lone Star kept a few more dollars at the track. And I felt like a prime objective was met: Keep the horseplayers at the track where they are participants of a great sport. And the money stays with the track and doesn't go off-shore. And that is a good thing, by the way. Unless of course, you own/operate Bodog.

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Success at Saratoga is a Nightmare Affair

A very wise and handsome man who drives around in a 1993 Subaru with no air-conditioning and a large quantity of old Big Mac wrappers on the floorboards, recently provided me with some notable facts that I thought was pertinent to one's ability to handicap horse races,
It takes 43 muscles to frown but only 17 to smile. It takes absolutely no muscles to look stupid.

I have been busy over the past week ... Busy kicking myself for being a complete dolt in my wagering strategy for the Travers' weekend. It was easy. I should have just put up the bucks, coughed on the chalk dust, collected my loot, and pretended that I was a genius. But no. In my quest to secure a potentially sizeable portion of the $1M NTRA Pick 4, I got carried away, wheeling in longshots that would provide some value if, in some strange voo-doo kind of way, they actually beat the likes of Henny Hughes or Bernardini. And if you are a wheeling-n-dealing Pick 3, Pick 4, Pick 6 individual, you know that when you get carried away or you are not paying attention to the cost of the ticket or you are busy chasing the 4-year-old giggling child who you had to bring along with you and you hit Print Ticket before you are really ready, the cost of the wager can get out of hand. And eventually, that $1 wager turns into a $16 wager which in turn only pays a paltry $29 for all of the hard work you did and you then begin to question the value of playing the multi-race wagers when your Granny always warned you that they're just sucker bets.

Saturday, one of my ol' reliables is racing: Nightmare Affair. I have been following this big gray horse since his first race and he generally never lets me down, considering that he wins 44% of the time (66% ITM). When he won the Smile Sprint Handicap at Calder last month at odds of 14-1, you better believe that it was a nice payday. I figured that I would never have the opportunity to see odds like that again in his career. However, it seems I have figured wrong. Nightmare Affair is turning up in Saratoga, racing in the Forego Handicap. I'm skeptical of his chances. Oh sure, he's racing against some of the same horses he beat in Calder, such as Pomeroy, but that's because it was at Calder. Nightmare Affair wins at Calder but ship him a few miles across town to Gulfstream, he loses. And now he's shipping to New York ...

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

A Feel-Good Story in the Midst of Tragedy

It's been tough for our equine friends of late. Lost in the Fog is destined to spend the rest of his days, how many they may be, in his stall at Golden Gate, consuming all the feed he wants and nipping at all the veterinarians that stroll by, until he becomes "uncomfortable". I hope if I ever have that kind of prognosis befall me, I'm given the same options; only let me nip at Johnny Depp or Patrick Swayze in my last hours and not some dumb doctor. Then the tragic news of Saint Liam, who merely was "led to his paddock" and broke his tibia in a 1,000,044 places and was euthanized, leaving 115 knocked-up mares with the only progeny of an exceptional horse. And in other Tough-to-Digest horse news (no pun intended, which is unusual for this blog), our nation's crack-precision legislature is scheduled to vote on HR 503 that is aimed to end horse slaughter in America. The Humane Society of the United States and organizations such as Just Say Whoa! are putting out the word. And according to the AP wires, my good friend and Country Legend, Willie Nelson, has given up singing to become a lobbiest.
If you've ever been around horses, you know they are part of the American heritage. I don't think that it's right that we kill them and eat them. [Willie Nelson - AP]

So on my search to find some happy or silly news to share with all of you, I went through my usual cyber hunting grounds. Thus, I eventually visited Dan Illman's FormBlog, only because if Dan doesn't post something ridiculous or silly, usually some other person does. Imagine my surprise this afternoon when I read Dan's entry, extolling praises of a horse named Movement! I'd put in the link but DRF requires registration so I'll provide the quote for you:

Aug 23, 2006 12:25 PM
Congrats to poster, questionable dq

First off, I'd like to congratulate poster Tote Board Brad as his 2-year-old filly Movement ran a good second in her career debut at the Bay Meadows Fair on Saturday. She showed good speed from the get-go, and finished six lengths clear of the third-place finisher. Sorry I couldn't have been there to cheer her on, but here' s hoping she reaches the winner's circle real soon.By the way, Brad has a great blog over at so check it out along with the rest of the folks at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance.

Whoa! The great Dan Illman provides a direct link to good ol' Tote Board Brad! The love affair has begun. Dan will probably propose by the end of the year. And to think I made of fun Dan inferring that he did not know the meaning of restrictive paradigm?

And speaking of the new Wonder-Filly, Movement, apparently I was the only person on the planet who made some money on her last Saturday. I sat around Lone Star Park's Post Time Pavillion for an hour and a half, just waiting for this race. And I will have you know, for that hour and a half, I had to consume two (2) frozen margaritas and have a conversation with some guy named Wally. Was it Wally? Maybe his name was Stanley ... no wait a minute, maybe it was Billy. No matter: it's not like he paid for my margaritas or anything like that (although as we chatted about the 7th race at San Mateo Fair at Bay Meadows, he did agree that "the 9 horse seems to have the best pedigree, and of course, she is Kentucky Bred.")

So congratualtions to my good friend as well as Dan Illman's good friend and everybody's good friend, Tote Board Brad, on an outstanding achievement. And it should be noted that the silks worn by jockey Jorge Bourdieu, were the debut of Brad's silks. Note to Brad: The silks are very attractive but there is some kind of blue note emblem on them (perhaps the St. Louis Blues?) which would be kind of weird; you being a CPA in the Bay Area, which, geographically is nowhere near the city of St. Louis.:
If you were to have and some kind of "emblem" on your signatures silks, I was sure that it would look like this one (hic):

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Pondering Points

If you are a regular reader to this blog, you probably noted that it is affiliated with the horse racing genius collective, the TBA. We all love horse racing. We all love writing about horse racing, except for maybe The Lemon Drop Kid who got so excited that Barbaro won the Florida Derby that he has since forgot how to blog. Regardless, we all have a primary goal: promote horse racing.

There is, however, another objective of the TBA and that is the pursuit of thoroughbred standings by using a point system based on graded races. Patrick of Pulling Hair and Betting Horses and his Harvard-educated sibling developed an algorithm for the standings that are posted on each TBA blog. Patrick and Brother Harvard put serious thought, effort, and logic, and probably consumed a six-pack or two, in the development and implementation of the TBA Standings.

Personally, I believe this mechanism merits thought. We could all just stand around, whining about the decline of attendance or space devoted in the daily newspaper, or we can encourage change. Point system standings are objective. Let’s face it, when we open the sports section, our eyes are drawn to numbers and rankings to assess our teams and athletes. My brother can look at the American League standings and note that his beloved Red Sox are in second place, two games behind the Yankees. My husband can look at the National League standings and see that his beloved Cubs are in fifth place, 11 games out. How many points Jeff Burton has in the Nextel Cup Points Standings (2,879). How many days Terrell Owens sat out of Cowboy’s training camp (14). Yes, in sports, it is natural to look at numbers.

Another positive to the notion of horse rankings is that it enables casual fans to see and recognize names of outstanding horses. My friend, Sheryl, knows of Barbaro and Funny Cide. And her husband thinks that Alysheba was the name of Omar Sharif’s girlfriend in the movie, Doctor Zhivago. It should be noted that I have hauled this couple to the track on more than one occasion, too. Therefore, name recognition would be a real promotion for the sport of horse racing.

So, those are my thoughts, which basically mean nothing. Crowning a champion is not my personal goal. Objectively naming the Horse of the Year is not my ambition. As a horseplayer, my relationship with the horse is connected to how much money a pari-mutuel teller hands to me after I turn in a winning ticket. At this writing, Malibu Mint should be HOTY.

But others in the TBA continue to search for improvements. A few weeks ago there was a deluge of emails, suggesting changes in the point distribution and giving more recognition to the horses that win Grade II races. A couple of members dragged out their soapboxes. I remained silent during the volley of emails because, quite honestly, I’m naïve when it came to the importance of certain races. And if I have something to say, then I better at least have a clue.

I determined that research was required, and when it comes to research I generally try to do as little as possible. So I opted to contact The Horse Racing Professor Gary West of the Star-Telegram.

Gary kindly responded to my request for his thoughts and opinions on the subject. And he did not disappoint me. He used lots of big words. And I’m sure it will be the only email in my lifetime that uses the Latin phrase, petitio principii. At least, I think it is Latin.

Historically, the North American Graded Stakes Committee was originally created with the intention of assisting buyers and sellers at auctions; they identified most of the important races. However, over time, many began to question its usefulness because, as Gary West said, “Nobody goes to a sale and spends significant money buying a son of Thunder Gulch without knowing the Kentucky Derby, Belmont and Travers are important races.”

But somehow, the grading of stakes began to grow in importance, such as determining the illogical process of limiting the size of the Derby field. The committee, which eventually morphed into the American Graded Stakes Committee when the Canadians decided that it would be in their best interest to remove themselves from such silliness, plundered on, passing out grades that perhaps served to their own interests. Thus, the grading of races has become terribly flawed.

But any serious fan … should be able to recognize the nonsense of the grading system. The Kentucky Derby and the Prioress are the same grade, Barbaro and Acey Deucey forever linked as Grade I winners? Nonsense. Which was the better race, the ungraded Colonial Turf Cup or the Grade II Virginia Derby? Well, the winner of the ungraded Colonial Turf Cup, Showing Up, won the Secretariat while the winner of the Grade II Virginia Derby finished 16 lengths back in last. I’d have to say that regardless of the grading, the Colonial Turf Cup was a much better race. And such examples are abundant. The sport overflows with them, because the grading system is inherently flawed.

Gary continued,

Only by waiting until after a race has been run to assign a grade could the grading have any validity ... To begin the year, only the Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown races, along with such stakes as the Travers and the Santa Anita Handicap, would be inalterably and infrangibly Grade I. All other races could be assigned a minimum grade, with the committee having the opportunity to upgrade the race at the end of the year depending on the quality of the field.

Those who support the point system standings, or an a priori thinker as Gary West so lovingly used (I told you he used some big words!), should not make the assumption that the grading of stakes is meaningful. Thus linking the point system to a flawed grading system is basically “something that the government would do.”

Malibu Mint, anyone?

Monday, August 14, 2006

They Race Horses in Iowa, Don't They?

Last week, my girls and I took a little trip to Iowa (state motto: "This is not Idaho or Ohio"). While there, I was presented with an opportunity to visit the facilities of Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino in the hot-spot Iowa vacation destination of Altoona. According to the little pamphlet that I picked up at the Iowa Tourist and Information rest stop on I-35,
Prairie Meadows is the Midwest's only combination full-service casino and live racing venue ... Free Stable Tours ... Complimentary continental breakfast under our apron canopy while you watch the horses during their morning workouts ... Family Day at the Races.
It appeared to be family friendly. Granted, no minors are allowed on the casino floor, but I felt surely, my children and I would have clear access to the racetrack venue. My handy dandy little pamphlet indicated that minors could accompany adults to the track as well as the simulcast parlor.

When we walked into the grandstand ... was it a grandstand? Unsure. It was a casino. But I asked some important looking guy with a walkie talkie and some kind of electronic equipment attached to his ear if an official or marketing representative to speak with me and perhaps give me a tour, alluding that I was some kind of "turf writer" based out of Lone Star Park and that I was just passing through Des Moines. Actually, Mr. Chief Security Guy was rather helpful, saying that if I go to the 4th floor of the grandstand, to the simulcast area, there would be someone there to provide me information. Unfortunately, that is when I discovered that the Prairie Meadows grandstand is phagocytized by the casino. We went up the first set of escalators and found ourselves smack-dab in the middle of the casino with a dozen security officers staring down at my children, ready to pounce if one of them even so much took a breath in the direction of a slot machine. We hurriedly got on the next set of escalators where we reached to the simulcast lounge and had an actual view of the racetrack, winner's circle and finish line, which by the way, is very nice.

Once again, I babbled about being some kind of writer, and one of the friendly pari-mutuel gals offered to give me a tour. Deb Moss showed us the entire facilities, including paddock and jockey room. And as it turned out, Deb Moss is no racing slouch. She has been a breeder and trainer and groom and pari-mutuel clerk and handicapper and just all-around smart horseperson. She also sits on the board of directors for the Iowa Thoroughbred Breeder's and Owner's Association, so when I actually asked her hard hitting questions, such as "What is happenning to the Iowa foal production?" or "How many ears of corn do patrons consume on Cornhusker Day?" she provided me ready answers ("Increasing" and "They eat too much and don't bet enough").

Great tour. Attractive facilities. Very cool chandelier on the 4th floor. However, it is completely family-unfriendly. It was difficult to walk throughout the facility because the casino encompasses so much. Our little tour group was constantly accosted by secruity personnel because my 4-year-old could potentially look at a slot machine or my 7-year-old could breath casino air. True, the casino has provided the opportunity to increase purses which increases Iowa-breds which in turn is good for the equine industry in the state. But the it's-a-crime-to-be-under-21-in-the-casino law has infected the mentality of the racetrack venue of Prairie Meadows. It doesn't matter if they have a Junior Jockey Club every Saturday morning or Family Fun Days scheduled throughout the meet, because Prairie Meadows has made me, as a mother of young children as well as a horse racing enthusiast, unwelcome. So there's a few bucks that won't be showing up in their on-track handle any time soon.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

News and Notes with a Smattering of Gossip

Apparently, our average horseplayer, David Ruben Jerry George Bailey, is not-so-average. He recently competed in a DRF/NTRA Handicapping tournament at Emerald Downs and finished 9th out of something like 4,267 participants! He won prize money! He had a trip to Las Vegas in his back pocket! He planned on changing the name of his blog to YourAboveAverageHorseplayer! He performed a remarkable feat and was highly congratulated by all. But then ... (insert theme from Dragnet) ... Dum-de-Dum-Dum ... Somebody screwed up. Somebody made an accounting mistake. Somebody had to recalculate the standings. Somebody had to fix things. Anyway, abridged version, David Ruben Jerry George Bailey actually finished 11th, gets to keep his prize money, and in lieu of a trip to Las Vegas for the national tournament, he receives a consolation prize of attending another tournament at another location courtesy of Emerald Downs, according to marketing director, Susie Sourwine.

Regardless, David is to be high-fived and as far as I'm concerned, still has the goods to change the name of his blog. And speaking of names, is Susie Sourwine her real name?

Oh, while we're still on names, famous or otherwise, I recently had a visitor to my blog. Imagine my suprise when I saw the Joe Cocker had read my blog as well posted a comment! I love his music! And to think, he likes horse racing. But upon closer inspection, I note that it is actually Joe Coker of Dallas, and not Joe Cocker. Joe Coker writes over at The Paddock about Texas racing and such. And he is just as famous as Joe Cocker because he had his picture taken with both Lafitt Pincay, Jr. and Edgar Prado.

Since horse racing in North Texas has wrapped up, I noted that Joe is writing about Saratoga. I also noted that just about everybody is writing about Saratoga. I also read the one and only piece of horse racing news in today's Fort Worth Star-Telegram:
Saratoga Race Course in New York canceled all of its thoroughbred races Wednesday because of high heat and humidity.

This Texan, who has been enduring more than 20 days over 100 degrees, will refrain from making any comments. However, I did overhear my husband mutter the word pansy.

And finally, for my parent's 51st wedding anniversary, I brought them to Lone Star Park for an afternoon of racing. We didn't win anything that afternoon but we had fun. And they concluded that their daughter wasn't some kind of horse-racing-gambling-addict-type-whacko. There's a good chance I'm not disinherited afterall.

Friday, July 28, 2006

Little Susie Wakes Up to Wrap-Up Lone Star

The moment was magical. The Sleeping Beauty was awakened by the soft kiss of True Love. Her eyes gently fluttered opened and she stared up into the face of True Love, who remarkedly looked a lot like Lava Man ...

I realize that many of you are wondering what happenned to me. There are rumors that perhaps I cashed in the winning 10-cent superfecta on May 12th, which paid a whopping $18,748.29 on the first race at Lone Star Park (I wish). Lester Sippowicz of Gurnee, Illinois, has speculated that perhaps I joined a Buddhist nunnery and am now cloistered praying for world peace (nice thought but doesn't pay too well). And of course, good friend and exceptional Photo Shop guru, John, has been busy composing ditties about my absence.

I may have been moving and unpacking and rearranging my furniture over the past few weeks but horse racing has not gone off without me.

Lone Star Park just wrapped its 10th spring season and once again there are grumblings about "lower attendance" and "lower handles" and "smaller purses" and "Texas horses being shipped to Louisiana" and "Evangeline Downs and Delta Downs squeezing out Texas racing" and "why didn't the frozen maragarita machine work on May 19th" and "what is Chef Jake's recipe for key lime pie, anyway."

Lone Star's average attendance and on-track handle appears steady, although I have not seen the final numbers. General manager, Drew Shubeck, admitted that they made money but there seems to be a little bit of trouble with that pesky state to our east, not to mention the little pesky trouble we have with the Texas legislature that doesn't allow slots nor internet wagering. So purses are smaller and Texas horsemen are sending their animals out of state. Subsequently, being Texas-bred isn't as lucrative anymore either, thus there is a decline in the number of Texas-bred foals. Mr. Shubeck's answer to these problems: Add a bar to the first floor of the grandstand. Good idea. Maybe Budweiser and Jose Cuervo can contribute to the purses.

But Lone Star is a treat. Fine trainers still come here for the meet like Steve Asmussen ... oops, he's suspended these days. Bret Calhoun ... oh yeah, he received a suspension from the stewards a few days ago. Well, that leaves that much improving youngster, Cody Autrey, who hopefully will not get busted for underage drinking. Jockey, Monte Cliff Berry had an outstanding meet, setting a new track record with 103 wins. And when the Cody-Cliff tag team got together they won at an impressive 98.9%. Okay, that might be stretching the truth, but that t/j combo was formidable.

The horse racing bulls-eye in now on Saratoga. Genius Alan has launched the Saratoga Racing Daily and the TBA has added a couple of bloggers with their focus on that venue as well. And I'm sure that Dan Illman is busy crafting his insight on every Spa Baby that trots by.

So, it's that time of year. Time to make contributions to the off-track simulcast handle.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Horse Racing in a Vacuum

The great philosopher, Aristotle, once said,
If a tree falls in the woods, does it make a sound?

Actually, I don't know if that can be attributed to Aristotle, Andy Warhol, or Oogamagook-the-caveman for that matter. If I had my handy dandy Dictionary of Quotes, I would reference it properly. Unfortunately, I am unable to locate my handy dandy Dictionary of Quotes as it was not in any of the boxes marked Books. I suspect that some moron, namely me, placed it into a box labelled Winter Coats or Dining Room/China. Those boxes will probably remain sealed for a substantial amount of time because (1) it's currently 96 degrees here in North Texas, and (2) we do not own any dining room furniture to put in the new dining room nor store the china.

Anyway, the point is that horse racing is extremely difficult to follow without the dissemination of information. Most pertinent racing information is obtained through the internet. The print media, i.e., the daily paper delivered to the doorstep or purchased at 7-Eleven along with a bitter cup of coffee on the way to work, barely covers the day's racing card. There will be 84 pages of the sports section devoted to the Mavericks and reviewing their season with tedious facts as well as repetitive opinions and observations but it requires an electron microscope to read the previous day's race summaries buried on the second to last page, beneath Cycling News and the Bass Fishing Report. Following thoroughbreds, races, tracks, trainers, and the Hollywood Park Pick Six carryover truly requires a daily read through websites like and, and of course all the blogs.

Since moving, obtaining horse racing information is about as fun as a root canal. The time it takes for my dial-up connection to pull up Dan Illman's Formblog is equivalent to an elephant's gestational period. My 7-year-old daughter could graduate from medical school in the amount of time it would take me to pull up and read all the musings, insights, and information that is provided by the TBA geniuses. And as for my little horse watch that I have on the web? That's a real time luxury.

So I'm not the most informed horse player these days. Horse racing goes on whether I read about it or not. People are scoring nice wins at this very moment while others are grumbling and ripping up losing tickets. And it is with this philosophy that I shall approach this sport for the next few weeks - the adventure is in the race, be it a maiden claiming race at Evangeline Downs or a big stakes race at Churchill Downs. Handicapping and preparation for these races will not consist of hours of pouring over statistics and past performances, but a quick lookie in the Form, a sip of cold beer and a couple of bucks for a cheap exotic wager in the hopes that the payoff will be a nice tidy sum that will enable me to buy dining room furniture so I can finish unpacking my boxes.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Racing Not At Its Best

Lone Star Park is a premiere facility. However, last night, the antics and events that occurred during the fourth race are that of a Grade C track. Or perhaps of that at some kind of county fairgrounds in northern Idaho where they race mules, donkeys, and draft animals on Sunday afternoons and the official timing mechanism is the second hand sweep on Bubba McCoy's 1977 Timex wristwatch that has a cracked crystal.

The Sun Microsystems Maiden Mile was not exactly the feature race of the evening. I'm sure that Sun Microsystems probably did not pay very much money to have the $20,000 maiden claiming race named for their business. Quite honestly, I don't even know what Sun Microsystems even does and if their product affects me or horse racing for that matter. Anyway, the field of 12 horses looked like most maiden claiming races: a few horses that actually had the goods and the rest of them longshots.

The drama began at post time. A couple of horses were difficult to load. Others were in dire need of some gate schooling. The 2-horse, Tupperwine reared up in the gate, threw jockey Justin Shepherd hard, something we all hate to witness. As Justin was whisked over to the ambulance for immediate medical attention, the favorite, Groovy Explosion, exploded in the gate in a most un-groovy matter. The jockey was thankfully not injured but the horse hurt himself and resulted in a late scratch which subsequently irritated a myriad of bettors.

At this point, the main concern is for Shepherd, as the ambulance drives off with him. There's an announcement of a jockey change and then there's an announcement of a scratch and then the horses are paraded back to the paddock and an announcement that there will be a delay in the post time and an announcement that the ambulance is transporting Justin Shepherd off-site and an announcement that there is not an ambulance here at the racetrack so the race will be under way once the ambulance is back and an announcement that the ambulance has returned and the horses will be loaded once again and racing will resume.

The Sun Microsystems ballet has now entered Act II.

During the 25 minutes delay, a new favorite is indicated on the tote board: the Danny Pish trainee, Seattle Getback. (Author's note: Once the jockey-injury-multiple-horse-scratches-post-time-delay event occurred, I walked away from all wagering. Bad karma, in my opinion). The horses again load, and they still load like a bunch of wild mustangs that could really really use some schooling at the gate. Bells ring, gates crash open and finally, the Sun Microsystems Maiden Mile is off and running.

But wait! Immediately, Seattle Getback stumbles and unseats his jockey, Roman Chapa. Chapa gets up unharmed but, from my vantage at the rail, he looks pissed off as he walks off the track. And he's not the only one, as you can well imagine. There was a slew of colorful language about me as many hopeful winning tickets became losers before the first turn.

Mercifully, 1:42.07, horses cross the wire. Native Relic had the glory of breaking his maiden and standing in the winner's circles, draped in some kind of software and java script package. A couple of longshots rounded out the exacta and trifecta, but who was left? The race played out like some kind of pseudo-reality-made-for-TV show of "Last Horse Standing" or "Final Jockey Still in the Saddle".

I wish that the Grade C track antics were confined to just the one race, however two races later, jockey Jeremy Collier was unseated from Sunny Experience at the start of race 6. Of course, that affected my wagers. It also affected my perspective on the evening. It was not meant to be. I should return home, unpack some boxes, do a load of laundry, and come back on another day.

Follow-up on Justin Shepherd: According to the Lone Star Park Press Box Blog, x-rays came back negative on his right ankle and he just has a bad bruise. And of further note, on the Information You Just Can't Live Without list, Justin Shepherd was considered one of Sam Houston's most eligible, albeit short, bachelors.

And an additional note: Apparently Roman Chapa got dumped off his mount in the 7th race, too. Oy!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Post Parade Limps Back into the CyberWorld


I think I once bet on that old nag. And if I recall, it wasn't too pretty.

For all of my friends, family, loved ones, not-so-loved ones ... I am officially moved. A little closer to the track and I have the luxury of waking up in bed with Gary West. Okay. More like, my husband reading me Gary West's column in the Fort Worth Star Telegram but at least I can look at Gary West's handsome face in the paper while I'm in some kind of sexy garment. I think I might own a sexy garment. It could be in a box ... somewhere. No, wait ... I'm sure I got rid of my last sexy garment in 1989. Yeah. Gary West and I hang out in the bedroom wearing old flannel jammies. Oh, well ...

I made my first sojourn back to Lone Star Park last Saturday. That would be June 17th. That would be the Stephen Foster Day, not to be confused with the Foster's Lager Day, and I had no preparation whatsoever in handicapping. But I had noted that a few of the "ol' reliables" were running: Happy Ticket at Churchill Downs and Nightmare Affair down in Calder. They were chalk, but when you've been busy unpacking boxes filled with clothes, dishes, placemats, Sponge-Bob-Square-Pants games, gizmos, why-in-the-world-would-we-ever-keep-something-these-useless things, there is a deep seeded need to wager on a horse that you know and love and does not in any way, shape or form require more than 2 minutes to review the race card and all past performances to know that it is a "cinch".

Speaking of the Foster, who the heck was that 91-1 loooooongshot who won? If I could actually access the internet at this writing, I would scribe something wise and profound. However, good-n-smart pal, Alan, probably did a full write-up last weekend, as well as cashed in some kind of winning exacta and/or trifecta and is now actually retired on some South Pacific island where the men serve exotic drinks with umbrellas and the women are scantilly clad. Sheesh. I'm really behind reading all the blogs.

Here's a tout: WheresMyDSL

Friday, June 09, 2006

The Upside to Moving

I am currently in the process of moving into a new home. It’s only a few miles away from our present home, but it thankfully located in Tarrant County where Gary West’s Fort Worth Star-Telegram can be delivered directly to my front doorstep. And as many of you know, moving can be a real headache. It requires energy and boxes and sacrifices and boxes and HVAC inspections and boxes and utility hookups and boxes.

Yesterday, I was lamenting to a co-worker that I was so consumed with this new real estate venture and new home acquisition, that I rarely found time to read the racing form. And what was even more disheartening, I had no time to write. She had a good suggestion: “Why don’t you write about the relationship between moving and horse racing?”


The relationship between moving and horse racing: Moving interferes with horse racing.

The time I usually utilize to read the Daily Racing Form was used instead to fill the many nail holes that grace our now bare walls. The time I require to peruse the Blood-horse is instead allotted to sorting toys and boxing my 7-year-old’s "I-can’t-possibly-live-without-this" treasures. And last Saturday, while my husband and I hauled Christmas decorations, lawn chairs, old crap, etc. out of our 347º F attic, I was unable to go to the track and missed out on my Joint Effort – Ready to Please – Victorina sure thing trifecta in the Dogwood Breeders' Cup. I missed my win with Lord Robyn in the Blazing Sword Stakes at Calder. I just missed period.

Meanwhile, moving day looms ahead tomorrow. My husband has informed me that apparently DSL will take up to six weeks before some yokel can actually find the switch and turn it on in our house. Thus, blogs will be light. (What’s dial-up again?)

Therefore, there will be no Belmont for me tomorrow. If I’m lucky, we might be moved into the new house by post time and maybe I can at least catch it on television, if it is even on television, because we all know how television treats the Belmont when there is no Triple Crown.

Since I have been unable to even glance at Belmont’s PPs, I can’t even toss out my thoughts and picks. But I will share this one tidbit completely unrelated to the Belmont. The 11th race tomorrow at Lone Star Park, a TTA stakes for 2 year-old fillies, there is a gal, Foolish Girl, that track handicapper Rick Lee generously bestowed morning line odds of 20:1. First of all, I love the babies because of the “you just never really know” factor. They can be the most undependable of races and you can usually find a jockey/trainer/pedigree/behavior gimmick that enables some juveniles to outrun their odds. This will be Foolish Girl’s third race. Her first race, she broke very poorly from the gate, but in a short amount of time, she made up some serious distance, passing a full field of rivals and won. The second time she raced, and be assured I took note, I watched her very carefully in the paddock and the post parade. While other fillies were nervous or jittery and behaved like the juveniles that they really are, she was just as calm at Lake Lewisville the day the outboard motor died and stranded us in the middle of the lake. She was that calm. Not a problem in the paddock. Relaxed in the post parade. Once again, she had some nice odds and I made a big win wager. My thoughts were that all she needed was a good clean break from the gate and she could easily win the race. I looked like a genius when she scored! And I’m pretty sure I made enough to pay for my movers. Okay, maybe not that much, but a nice payout nonetheless. Foolish Girl’s trainer, Tommie Morgan , is no slouch. He’s winning at 29% and ITM 55% during the meet. He keeps jockey Omar Rodriguez, who is only winning at 8%, but he’s been on board both times and why screw with a working combination. The competition appears a little tougher this time, but I just recite my mantra: They’re only 2 year-olds.

Lone Star 11: 1. Foolish Girl 2. Miss Mary Pat 3. Lady Be Tru

Estimated post time, 7:01 pm. Conveniently, after U-Haul rental return time of 5:00 pm.

Did I mention that our new house is closer to the track?

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Searching for the Baywatch Star in Troubled Times

The tears for Barbaro have all been shed, and now people around the world anxiously await each daily report on the colt's condition. It's been more than a week since Barbaro's horrific injury in the Preakness Stakes (gr. I), which set off an outpouring of emotion on a national scale never before seen in Thoroughbred racing. []

Geez, that was going to be my opening line for this column but Genius Steve Haskin beat me to it.

It's been on many minds. So much so, that fellow bloggers, Ruben-Jerry-Bailey at Average Horse Player, and good pal, Patrick, required a mourning period of over a week before they were able to post all their usual helpful insights, tips, stories and general B.S. that I rely on so heavily. And happily, we are all recovering okay, even Barbaro, who has been upgraded to a 51% chance of recovery. Okay, not great but at least better.

The posts, stories, tales, equine veterinarian information, haikus, and coffee-house bongo poetry have been in the forefront. Who was it that won the Preakness, anyway? Bernard Somebody???

However, there is one voice that has not been heard. A powerful and forceful voice that is absent at this time. A voice that can be heard above all others when it comes to the treatment of racehorses. A voice that cries out in the wilderness, "I WILL NOT GO TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY BECAUSE IT IS INHUMANE TO ANIMALS!"

That voice is Pamela Anderson.

Surely, over the past ten days, Pamela Anderson would have said something about Barbaro. Something about how inhumane it is to have a horse leave a pasture. Something about how inhumane it is to saddle a horse and place a live human being weighing roughly the amount of her left breast onto its backside. Something about actually making a horse run. Something about the possibility of an injury to a living and breathing being.

Yet, she has remained alarmingly silent.

If you remember, which comprises of roughly 8 people, including Alex who lives across the street and has spent way too much time watching the Pamela Anderson/Tommy Lee video on the internet, Pamela Anderson created a big stir (murmur??) when she announced that she would be boycotting the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! brands because horse racing, in general, is not nice to horses, or something like that. Well, it is definitely apparent that she did not watch the Derby nor does she know the outcome because I'm pretty sure that she has no clue who Barbaro is.

DRF Scoop-Boy: Pam! Pam! What do you think about Barbaro breaking down? And how will this affect PETA's campaign to end horse racing in America?
Pam: Oooh. First of all, I think that we should drive German cars, like Mercedes and BMWs. Much more dependable. Those Italian cars are just too unreliable, unless of course, it's the Pope-mobile. You know, we have to use some kind of gas-guzzling, reliable cars when we drive from Manhattan to Halifax to protest the hunting of baby seals.

I scoured the internet for any information that Pamela Anderson might bestow to us. A quote. A soundbite. Anything. I even went to (type it in folks, I'm not giving you that link!) and all that I could glean from there was protests against KFC. Inhumane treatment of chickens. Set the chickens free. And the coup de grace, a link to a story about some giant disabled "chicken", which may or may not have been a thoroughbred in a chicken suit, protesting in front of a local KFC in Spokane.

Maybe it's just as well that Ms. Anderson knows nothing and says nothing. Edgar Prado said it best about Barbaro,
"He's an intelligent horse. He knew he was hurt and he knew what he wanted -- he wanted to survive. ... He's a very special horse. It goes to show you that in America, everything is possible. The technology here is superior to so many other countries. You have a better chance to survive any kind of injury or illness here than you do anywhere else. I'm glad he's getting ... a chance to survive.

"Of all the tears I have cried, if tears could heal a wound, Barbaro would be healed by now."

Note to Pamela Anderson: Thank you for remaining silent. Therefore, in your honor, tomorrow night I will eat a salad.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Lone Star Million Day: A Lovely Day of Racing

Recently, for my 28th birthday, my husband reserved a dining table at the Silks for Lone Star Million Day. Okay, that's a lie. I didn't turn 28. Nor did my husband reserve the table. Actually, I secured the table and he merely purchased the Form for me. But that matters not. Today had to be one of the finest racing cards that Lone Star Park has offered. Okay, that may not be true either. There was that little event back in October of 2004 called the Breeders' Cup, and if I recall, there was some fine racing that day, too. And apparently, many share that same opinion - there was a rather boisterous young man with colorful verbiage, as well as the ever-handsome Warner, the Greatest Mutuel Clerk On The Planet, and a couple of prominent trainers whose names are not Bubba nor Dallas.

Trainer Patrick Biancone, who once referred to Lone Star Park as a "lovely place", shipped in a six-pack of horses, and promptly won the first stakes race on the card. Stream Cat (Black Minnaloushe by Storm Cat) won the Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes, a 1 1/16 affair on the turf. The 3-year-old colt remains undefeated on turf and undefeated at the distance. Julien Leparoux - who has the sexy-sounding roux at the end of his name that only people in France, Louisiana, and Green Bay pronounce correctly - was in the saddle. My only disappointment with the winning connections was that Monsieur Biancone was not wearing something pink.

The NotSoHonorable Mention of the Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes is bestowed upon our local jockey, Jamie Theriot. Apparently Theriot was in some sort of daze or awe being in the next post to super-jockey Pat Valenzuela. Straight out of the gate, Theriot, aboard 40-1 longshot Aver, interfered with second-favorite, Desert Wheat. Theriot subsequently impressed super-jockey P Val by earning a DQ for his effort.

The well-dressed and well-mannered Englishman, Graham Motion made his second appearance here in North Texas with another talking horse. He won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Turf with Better Talk Now, and today he won the WinStar Distaff Handicap (gr. III) with Sweet Talker. Biancone's Joint Aspiration (GB) was 3 wide in the second turn and closed furiously for second.

And from the It's-never-too-early-to-talk-Breeders-Cup, the highly touted Magnum (Arg) won the Lone Star Park Handicap (gr. III). Trainer Darrell Vienna, who may or may not actually be from Austria, thinks very highly of this horse and feels he is really Breeders' Cup Classic material. However, because he would have to be supplemented to run in the Classic, he has to get there the old-fashioned way: Win. And today, he's off to good start.

I was rather disappointed that my sure thing, the Bob Baffert/Jon Court/Gray Horse selection Preachinatthebar did not fair well (finished 7th). I think the gray fellow was slightly unnerved by one of the ladies in his "connections" crowd in the walking ring. She was wearing a pretty flower dress. However, if one can be part of the "connections" of a horse that has a bankroll of $638,240, one should be able to afford a slip for one's dress, for heaven's sake.

And finally, I wish to offer my most sincere thanks and appreciation to fine people at Lone Star Park. Not only had they assembled a great racing card, they had Umbrella Day giveaway. As you may or may not know, Texas is in the middle of a drought and there is little rain. Apparently, Umbrella Day did the trick because the skies opened up after the 3rd race. Track conditions changed and all those umbrellas came in handy. That is, if anybody could remember how to actually open an umbrella. Perhaps Lone Stark Park should consider Rain Pancho Day or Windshield Wiper Giveaway? My lawn would love it.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Thoughts of Barbaro

A couple of weeks ago, I brought a guy friend to Lone Star Park. Now this particular friend, who loves golf, motorcycles, buxom women, and excessive amounts of beer (and not necessarily in that order), is new to racing. I introduced him to simplified wagering and chart reading, and for his first time at the race track, he cashed in more winning tickets than either me or my husband. He was definitely smitten with the sport. He ventured a query on possibly wagering on the upcoming Preakness: What should he bet?

"Barbaro's going to win. But he's going to be hammered on the tote board so why toss out $10 to make one dollar? I'd bet a $2 Win on the next 5 horses just in case he has an off day and comes in second or something dumb like that."

Or something dumb like that ... turned out to be a horrific and potentially fatal injury to the Derby winner that many of us already had bestowed the Triple Crown. It's a dramatic event like this that makes me want to seal my mouth shut with a metal plate and 23 titanium screws.

It's taken me a couple of days to regroup and actually share my thoughts. So many other writers and bloggers have done a wonderful job posting; thoughts and hopes and updates and equine veterinarian education for the general populous. Maybe I'm feeling a bit like our friend, Patrick, who wrote:
I'm not going to say racing goes on because I really don't think it does after something like this, nor should it.
I stopped watching the Preakness the instant I heard that Barbaro had pulled up. I did not even know who crossed the wire first for at least a couple of minutes. All I could hear was the deafening sounds of shock and silence from thousands of people, followed by hearts breaking.

The veterinarians and staff of the New Bolton Center are top notch. As horse racing fans, players, trainers, owners, jockeys, and the guys who muck the stalls know, the outcome to an injury like Barbaro's are generally not positive, nor does an injury like this one receive so much Herculean effort. We are all hoping for the best. We are all hoping for recovery. We are all hoping for the 'Happy Ending' which would be more valuable than any winning wager.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Bob Baffert Speaks

Bob Baffert on Wanna Runner:

"We're just having fun with him. It's fun to go to different tracks."

"I've always thought he was a nice horse, but he's just getting better ... We're going to take our time with him and make some money with him." [DRF]

Wanna Runner had previously won the $600,000 WinStar Derby at Sunland. Saturday, he won the $300,000 Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III). His earnings are $566,950. Yes, fun. Yes, he's making money. Making money for Mr. Baffert and Mr. Pegram.

Meanwhile ...

Wanna Runner, the odds-on 1-2 favorite, ridden by Victor Espinoza and carrying 122 pounds, covered 1 1/16 miles on a fast main track in 1:43.71 and paid $3, $2.60 and $2.10. [LSP press release]

Yes, fun. No, I made little money.

So folks, sing praise for the glory of the undercard! A nice little turf starter handicap which was fun to dabble in cheap exactas and dime superfectas, subsequently lined the inside of my knock-off Louis Vuitton handbag nicely. It also demonstrated to my husband, who was with me at the time and it should be noted that he is not a frequent track visitor because it requires him to wear something other than boxer shorts and his free 93.3 The Bone t-shirt as well as he has to pay more than $2.50 for beer, that I can actually successfully handicap and wager wisely.

Oops. My humble apologies. This is not about me. It's about Bob.

Another notable quote from Bob Baffert,

"It was delicious." [Dallas Morning News]

He would be referring to the Whataburger cheeseburger that he consumed the previous evening. One would think that if you have a horse with a half-million dollar bank roll, Whataburger would not be involved in your dinner plans, unless of course it would be breakfast because they do make excellent breakfast taquitos.

Regardless of whatever amount of money I won or whatever dinner fare Bob Baffert had, it was fun to have him in town. I had even hoped to conduct a short interview, as it is thoroughly documented that I am an expert at obtaining hard-hitting and factual information from those involved in the sport of horse racing. Unfortunately, this was not to be. But I know that he'll be back! Yes, I know this because he sweeps into town and wins the all stakes races! And when he comes back I shall be waiting for him where I know I shall find him. Whataburger.

And hopefully, I won't have picante sauce from my sausage and egg breakfast taquito dribbling down my chin.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Baffert Attempts to Win a Derby This Weekend

Before I begin my musings and anecdotes regarding the various aspects of horse racing, I need to take care of a little business.

Note to Stan: Yes, I realize that I have not taken any time over the past week to sit down and write my racing diatribe. You must remember that I have two small children, two jobs, and I am now in the midst of a real estate venture. I know that you have accused me of "just sitting on the back patio, slurping down frozen margaritas" but rest assured, this is not the case; I'm not shirking my responsibilities as a serious blogger. And yes, I realize that I should have listened to you as well as Patrick and put Barbaro on top. And yes, I should have listened to you that Steppenwolfer should have been taken a little bit more seriously when wheeling out my trifecta. And yes, I shall now pay just a little bit more attention to you when you casually mention your racing selections and complain less when you use my printer. By the way, you swiped my favorite pen. Please return it.

This weekend, Bob Baffert has the opportunity to win the Derby. That would be the Walmac Lone Star Derby (gr. III). He's sending out Wanna Runner. They will make quite a pair: Baffert in his cool shades and Wanna Runner in his cool blinkers. Wanna Runner won the WinStar Derby, however, he'll be facing a tougher field here. Bob Holthus has Lawyer Ron's stablemate, Red Raymond, here in North Texas, and somehow he doesn't get the respect that he deserves on the tote board. Which, in my opinion, is fine with me because I take this colt seriously and he, in turn, as provided me, the bettor, with serious returns. And then, of course, there is always Lone-Star-Park's-Most-Dangerous-Trainer Steve "Whoohoo" Asmussen. He will be saddling Admiral's Arch as well as Rain On Monday. Never estimate him here in his backyard.

Speaking of backyard's, the EDS Byron Nelson Championship (that would be the PGA for all you NYRA, NTRA, TTA, AABB, and PTA folks) is in town this weekend. And then, of course, there are the Mavericks and the Spurs. Quite the Mother's Day weekend!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Pass Me That Mint Julep

Date: Friday, May 5, 2006
Time: Lunch Hour
Objective: Kentucky Derby Advance Wagers

For the past couple of days, I scribbled notations of my wagering strategy for the Derby. I encouraged fellow science-type people to get involved by making a little wager or perhaps contributing to a group superfecta wheel. I reviewed past performances just in case I missed something - an angle or a gimmick. I read the perspectives of other individuals who are a lot more in the know more than me. I conferred with my dog ("Okay, Dutchess, bark once for Brother Derek, bark twice for Bob and John"). I asked my husband ("Ghostzapper"). And I finally decided that I had a real plan and today was the day to implement that plan.

Sweetnorthernsaint still remains on top, however I surely doubt that we will see odds of 10-1 tomorrow. Point Determined also remains in the mix, with the possibility to win. However, after reading Alan at LATG, Bob and John got a play into the group superfecta wheel. Bob and John does not seem to have the touts in his corner, gate ... and there's a good possibility that he'll have some good value.

Suprisingly, I'm not hearing a lot about Lawyer Ron; his bandwagon has gotten seemingly quiet. I still like him, so there. I still bet on him, so there. He's still wheeled from top to bottom on the superfecta, so there. And wouldn't be nice if the silence of touts is indicative of producing bigger odds??

So tomorrow, I will have a pocketful of wagers, and I can just sit back and relax and enjoy the races and the mint juleps. No, strike that. It is noisy and crowded with few seats available at Lone Star Park on Derby Day. And besides, it's Cinco de Mayo around these parts so I believe a frozen margarita would be more in order. I'm thinking that mint is green and margaritas are green so there must be some kind of direct relationship. Anyway, pass me some sort of cool liquid refreshment. I'm ready!

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Kentucky Derby Handicapping, Simplified

Weekends around this here are usually boisterous. Between the Saturday morning cartoons and the yardwork and the kids constantly rummaging through the kitchen pantry and the phone ringing and the washing machine rumbling, I truly look forward to an escape. I mean, who wouldn't?

Last weekend's escape was most productive:

(1) I successfully located and purchased a pair of Dora the Explorer sandals that light up for my 4-year-old daughter, Alice. I'm still pondering her affinity to a lemon-shaped head kid who's best friend is a goofy monkey that lacks a sense of shoe fashion. I'm sure if there were a horse named DoraTheExplorer running in the Kentucky Derby, I would be required to make some kind of wager on Alice's behalf.

(2) I found a new house and made an offer.

(3) I had a good afternoon at the track. The Texas Mile, the Beaugay Handicap, and Calder's Ponche Handicap were all nice scores, as was a claiming race at Churchill Downs - I couldn't even tell you the names of the horses in the exacta.

Normally, I would take the time to sit here, drink my coffee, attempt to pass myself off as some hot-shot handicapping genius, and gloat. However, that is not to be. Just in case you are not in front of a calendar, it should be stressed that today is Wednesday. Not any Wednesday, but the Wednesday before the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands. Post positions will be drawn. Time to get down to business. Unless, of course, you are Steve Haskin or Mike Watchmaker, whose Kentucky Derby analysis, handicapping, and musings are on the brain since they staggered home from their respective New Year's Eve celebrations.

Last year I fell into that trap. I hovered over every statistic, read every review, ingested a variety of perspectives, in my effort to put together the ultimate winning ticket. Pffft. I should have just followed my girlfriend, Laura's, handicapping technique, and just "bet on the gray."

The previous year's derby had so been easy. I had watched and wagered on Smarty Jones since his performance in the Count Fleet; he was a no-brainer. I based my entire handicapping simply on personal observation.

So this year, I'm not reading Steve Haskin. I'm ignoring Jim Mazur. My ingenuity and intuition will be completely comprised of observation. Plus I'm going to make a little offering to my Lucky Buddha.

So where does personal observation lead me?

Lawyer Ron. Very versatile. He's run in full fields and in races where the crowds have swelled over 70,000, which will come in handy because he may have the ability to ignore the raucous infield crowd and focus on the race. He also wants to win, whether he's off the pace or in front. Maybe his Beyer figures are light, however, in my possible scenario, Sinister Minister and Sharp Humor will want to control a fast pace and get caught up in a speed duel, with Brother Derek potentially getting involved as well. Their tanks will empty and Lawyer Ron would have the ability to pass his tiring rivals.

Sweetnorthernsaint. I actually like him best. He ran a nice Illinois Derby. He could also benefit with the Sinister Minister/Sharp Humor/Brother Derek pace-race. And secretly, I would also like to see a gelding win because it irritates me to see great young horses (read: Smarty Jones and Afleet Alex) cease racing because the family jewels are worth skillions of dollars.

Point Determined. I have to use a Baffert horse because if I don't, I'll get screwed. He ran a good second to Brother Derek in the Santa Anita Derby. A little more real estate and a good kick in the stretch might be satisfactory. I also like Rafael Bejarano on board. Not only is he a good jockey, I like to say his name. It sounds so sexy.

So Saturday's plans are coming together, although if I were to dabble in a superfecta, it would require a little more visualization and creative handicapping, even research. Or an extra offering to Lucky Buddha.

Friday, April 28, 2006

A DRF-like Handicapper's Analysis of the Texas Mile

Tomorrow is the Texas Mile (gr. III); a lovely little one mile race around the Lone Star Park dirt. Ergo, that is why it would be aptly named "Texas Mile". There is a collection of excellent competition from coast to coast. Everyone who is everyone who is not at Churchill Downs will be there. Hottie Yes He's a Pistol with his hottie jockey Garrett Gomez are part of the crowd. Bob Baffert has Preachinatthebar here, along with Mr. Court who has a tendency to win a race every time he sits atop a horse at Lone Star Park. Let me refresh your memory of last year:

Court rode three winners at Lone Star Park on Memorial Day, including Supah Blitz in the $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. He also rode Mad Adam to victory in the $200,000 Pin Oak Stud USA Stakes and R Fast Lady in the $150,000 Stonerside Stakes.

Earlier in May at the Grand Prairie track, Court won the Lone Star Derby aboard Southern Africa [Houston Chronicle]

It is also Dollar Days, which also means that everybody who is everybody who is not at Churchill Downs and their mother, father, sisters, brothers, neighbors, second cousins twice removed, and cheapskate boyfriends will also be there. Get in the mutuel lines early! Get in the beer line earlier!

The morning line favorite is Doug O'Neill's Yes He's a Pistol. However, the race offers some good value plays. Last year I won some decent money with High Strike Zone (Smart Strike), a 6-year-old gelding that has enjoyed success here in the South. He won last year at 7-1, beating Supah Blitz by more than a length. His morning line is at 12-1, and although I'm skeptical that he can repeat, he could hit the board with good odds. He runs well at Lone Star (11-2-4-3) and he's suited for the mile. And because he's "local", if one can call Louisiana "local", he gets an extra Smiley-Face Sticker because he didn't travel far and was able to avoid having to remove his shoes, belt and pocket change when going through airport security.

Preachinatthebar, morning line 3-1, should not be disregarded for three (3) reasons:
1. Bob Baffert
2. Jon Court
3. Gray Horse

Okay, he's also good, winning the Tokyo City (gr. III) earlier this month. However, he may prefer a little bit more real estate.

My choice for the win is Stockholder. Once again, there is some strange kind of cosmic Steve Asmussen/second time with trainer/Lone Star Park mystique, very similar to the Premiere Stakes when Senor Amigo thumped the competition on opening day. Stockholder won his last race at Oaklawn by more than 4 1/2 lengths, with a Beyer Speed Figure of 99 for that effort. It's a step up for him, but if anyone can muscle into a Grade 3 race, Mr. Asmussen can. And there is always the possibility, that if Stockholder wins, I can score a follow-up interview with Steve.

So, now I must break open the kitchen piggy bank and pilfer all the dollar bills in anticipation of tomorrow's big race. And when I get to the track, I'll be sure to get in line early for the bathroom.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Searching for the Chain-smoking Easter Bunny

Yesterday, 12-year-old Proven Cure soundly thumped a field of younger horses in the $40,000 Littlebitlively Stakes at Lone Star Park. Proven Cure apparently loves to race and loves to win, and continues to do so. Yesterday was his 21st win in 85 races. Quite an accomplishment for a 12-year-old. When I was 12, I wore braces and glasses and I was trying to learn Fur Elise on the piano. Oh, but I guess it should be noted that I'm not a racehorse. Poor comparison.

Anyway, plenty has been written about the amazing Proven Cure for the past few days, so I see no reason to rehash the wonders of this horse. I'll just pocket my winnings and let you read all the attached links. Instead I shall focus my attention to something with utmost importance: Easter Egg Hunts.

Today there was a letter to the Dallas Morning News from Tanya Cruz of Dallas. Ms. Cruz declared that the Lone Star Park Easter Egg Hunt last weekend was an "utter disaster." Personally, I am ambivalent about Easter Egg Hunts at public venues, such as a racetrack or the White House. My husband and I generally hide roughly 263 eggs in the backyard for our kids. They generally find roughly 244 eggs and the lawnmower generally finds the other 19 eggs over the following week.

As a parent, I certainly had empathy for the mother. However, she concluded her letter with
Had I known I would have had to deal with this terror and chain-smoking old gamblers, I would have stuck to [the Dallas Arboretum].

I found Ms. Cruz's statement very disconcerting. To think that the racetrack is being overrun and terrorized by old, chain-smoking gambling individuals, on Easter Sunday to boot!

Thus, it became a personal mission for me to see if, indeed, Lone Star Park was being run over by old, chain-smoking gamblers. So I made an investigative "visit" to Lone Star Park.

Once again, it was a beautiful day, much like last Sunday. Families with youngsters were spread out on blankets in the grassy areas, soaking up the sunshine. I noted that these families did not appear to be old. Nor was there any smoking, chain or otherwise, going on. Apparently, I was not in the correct location of the track as described by Ms. Cruz.

I wandered over to the grandstand. The lines seemed thick as usual. "Aaaah," I thought. "These must be the gamblers that Ms. Cruz indicated in her letter." Upon further inspection, they did not appear all that old nor infirmed, and I counted two people smoking. As to whether these two individuals were actual chain-smokers, there was simply not enough evidence to support that conclusion.

After I made a small wager, I opted to go to the Post Time Pavilion, as yes, there is a collection of older, chain-smoking, serious horseplayers (seats 18 and higher). But surely, Ms. Cruz would not even think of bringing her young child into this facility to search for Easter Eggs? It is a very serious wagering parlor. I, myself, only have the gall to bring one of my daughters inside for no more than 30 seconds, if at all possible. I looked around for my usual group of cronies, who by the way, are neither old nor smokers. I asked Kemper, "Was there a larger than normal group of chain-smoking old gamblers here last weekend?"

"No, but I did hit a superfecta for $28,000!"

I gave my obligatory congratulations and continued on my mission. I went back to the mutuels for final assessment. After I cashed in a winning wager, I noted that there were at least 8 gentlemen in the lines that could have passed themselves off as old gamblers but alas, I was unable to deduce that they were smokers.

Okay. So maybe the Lone Star Park Easter Egg Hunt was chaotic. But just because it was held at a racetrack - a gambling establishment - to state that horseplayers are nothing more than chain-smoking old gamblers is quite frankly, an irritating stereotype. A negative caricature. An exaggeration. A distortion.

I would continue with my rant, however my hen-pecked husband just informed me that he discovered 3 more eggs with his lawnmower.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

"Hey, Mommy! Can we go to the track?"

Fellow blogger, kentucky joe, has been known to take his young daughter out to the races at Keeneland. He writes of how she enjoys the afternoon just as much as he does; bonding over past performances, discussing trainers statistics, observing tote board action, and pooling together their respective allowances to make the best possible wager. Okay, I made some of that up. But they go to the track together and have fun.

I see kids all the time at Lone Star Park. There's usually a group of boys playing touch football on the grassy area along the top of the stretch. Little girls play Duck, Duck, Goose while Mom and Dad study racing forms or place wagers. Even Steve Asmussen brings his 27 kids to the track on a regular basis.

I've brought my own daughter, Sophie, to the track a couple of times. Live racing usually holds her interest for ...oooh, about :45.34 seconds. We'll then progress into meaningful discussions about the movie, Racing Stripes, and how great it would be if a zebra ran against horses, and oh, weren't the flies, Scuzz and Buzz really funny, especially when they fell into the horse poop and cried, "We died and went to heaven!"

However, Sophie is older and wiser now at 7-years-old. It's a little adventure and provides her a wonderful opportunity to escape the clutches of her younger sister. She'll look over a race card, and now that she can actually read, she'll make insightful selections: "I like the names Cat a Cold Eye and Campinout." Observing horses at the walking ring, she'll remark, "I think that gray horse is pretty. Can we bet on him?" It's somewhat premature at this juncture as to whether she'll have a career as a public selector.

Besides wagering on pretty horses and consuming Blue Bell ice cream, we regularly assume the position around the winner's circle with the prime objective of being that "one lucky fan" that receives the Magical, Mystical, Autographed Souvenir Jockey Goggles.

After pictures, handshakes, and weights in the winner's circle, some serious-looking Race Official Sort hands a set of goggles of unknown origin, perhaps the real deal or perhaps a facsimile purchased in bulk from the Oriental Trading Company, to the winning jockey, who then scribbles his name and passes them to a kid. The "one lucky fan" selection process consists of a competition of manic hand-waving and Mexican Jumping Bean imitations to get the jockey's attention. And Sophie was having no success.

So as we were hanging around the winner's circle prior to the Irving Distaff, Gary West, turf writing genius of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram as well as recent fame as the guest interview on, sauntered over to our direction. I introduced him to my daughter and explained our lack of goggles success. "Don't worry, " he said. "We'll be sure to get her a set of goggles." Then the conversation evolved into more important issues, such as the Arkansas Derby and Blue Grass Stakes recap. I made some feeble attempt to sound like a true handicapping intellectual by informing him that my wagering strategy with Sinister Minister was rather profitable but somehow I still felt like a dolt.

After the Irving Distaff presented by Steve! Asmussen (Paz Ciudadana and My Misty Princess finished 1-2), I observed West chatting with jockey Cliff Berry, and subsequently, Cliff took off his race goggles and gave them to Sophie! My daughter's toothless grin was huge! Even I was giddy. Just think! I now have a pretty solid connection to the Who's Who in the Thoroughbred Racing: My daughter now has racing goggles worn by Cliff Berry who rode Elisa's Energy who is trained by Bobby Frankel.

Gary West was incredibly kind to ensure that Sophie was a big winner. I need to find some appropriate way to thank him, like some kind of humanitarian award, or maybe something like a giant Easter Egg filled with Guinness Stout.

Sophie's excited with her new horse racing paraphernalia. And like most 7-year-olds, she has now proclaimed, "When I grow up, I'm going to be a jockey!" Sure, this mother thinks. With her genes, she'll probably grow to be 6 feet tall. Jockey career? Maybe for a Draft animal.