Wednesday, October 31, 2007

2007 Breeders' Cup: Lots of Losers and Some Final Thoughts

Review of my 2007 Breeders’ Cup selections proved that it was not one of the most profitable days for me at the track with only one winner – Curlin ($10.80). The Magic Beer Bottle fared only slightly better, with Kip Deville ($18.40) as its only winner. But the interesting fact of these two winners is that there is a Texas connection: Curlin is trained by Arlington-a-city-located-between-Dallas-and-Fort-Worth’s, Steve Asmussen, who by the way, has won Lone Star Park’s Training Title 965 times, and Kip Deville embarked on his racing career at Lone Star Park before being squired away to the bright lights of fame and fortune in the Dutrow barn. It was a good day to be a homer.

And as the horse racing world is ready to crown Curlin as Horse of the Year, I would like to remind everybody that you read it here first,

Gary West: How do you get Curlin to be Horse of the Year?
Steve Asmussen: Win the Classic. [PP, June 26, 2007]

Although it was a tough day at the windows for many (read: me), there were a number of events that should be recognized:

Nicest Score: Stuart-the-Newlywed’s tout of Lahudood ($25.40), insisting that jockey Alan Garcia is one of the best kept secrets in racing. Also noteworthy is the fact that Cecil, Frank, and Leroy disregarded this highly informative tout because no way and no how was nobody going to beat Nashoba's Key.

Best Excuse(s) for Holding a Fistful of Losing Tickets: Superfecta provided a detailed explanation that her selections “did not think much of the track” and “struggled with the track” and “wanted no part of the track” and “may not found the track to his liking” and required a “more honest track.”

Profound Tragedy, Part I: George Washington

Profound Tragedy, Part II: Post Breeders’ Cup Ultimate Retirement Party that includes the departures of Street Sense, Hard Spun, Corinthian, English Channel, Honey Ryder, et. al.

Profound Tragedy, Part III: Soggy weather. Although true champions emerge regardless of track conditions, it would have been a whole lot nicer if Mother Nature cooperated for Monmouth Park’s big moment.

Storybook Ending: Maryfield, the claimer that went on to find stardom in the Breeders' Cup.

Special Recognition for Being a Negative Nancy: Genius Alan’s anonymous commenter on his Breeders’ Cup Live Blog. I finally got around to reading Alan's multitude of prose during his exceptional Breeders’ Cup blogging endeavor. Anonymous commenter has a lot to say and I probably will not vote for him in the upcoming primaries.

Pay Attention to History, You Nit-Wit!: No Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe winner has gone on to win the Breeders Cup Turf. And I was positive that Dylan Thomas was the exception. Hah!

And finally,

Am I the Only Person Who Feels This Way? I would be disappointed to see Breeders' Cup restricted to a Churchill Downs - Santa Anita - Belmont rotation as some have suggested. It's supposedly the World Thoroughbred Championship and a world class champion wins on any track, whether it be Churchill Downs, Nad Al Sheba, or Sam Houston.

Friday, October 26, 2007

2007 Breeders' Cup Selections

Over the past few days, professional bloggers such as superfecta and Michael have intensely scrutinized each of the Breeders’ Cup races, handicapping with expertise and offering up their insights and selections. Rest assured, you will have none of that here. However, I would consider myself to be a derelict horseplayer if I did not provide my own Breeders’ Cup picks.

And as an added bonus this year, I am presenting the First Annual Magic Beer Bottle Breeder’s Cup Selections. These clearly defined selections are obtained by a highly controlled procedure: I peruse through our recycle bin and retrieve an empty beer bottle save for two pieces of lime and a cigarette butt. The bottle is then strategically placed sideways on a scrap piece of paper that I have hastily scribbled the post numbers 1 through 14 in a pie chart. Then “the spinner”, who in this case was my 6-year-old daughter, spins the bottle and whatever post number the bottle is pointing to, that is the selection. In cases of less than 14 entries, multiple spins are required until an active post number is achieved or “the spinner” gets bored and wanders off to watch SpongeBob SquarePants and Post 1 becomes the automatic default.

Have a great Breeders’ Cup Day tomorrow and good luck!

2007 Breeders’ Cup Selections


Magic Beer Bottle

Juvenile Fillies

Irish Smoke

Smarty Deb



Old Man Buck

Filly and Mare Turf

Nashoba’s Key

All My Loving


Smokey Stover

Kellys Landing



Kip Deville


Unbridled Belle

Bear Now


Dylan Thomas

Dylan Thomas



Lawyer Ron

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Breeders' Cup on a Dime

I know that I’m supposed to be regaling all of you with hardcore analysis of the Breeders’ Cup races, but really, what could I offer that smarter, far more well-informed writers aren’t already offering? I’m going to leave the race analysis to the professionals.

I could have written that. Instead, brand new TBA member, Teresa, who writes Brooklyn Backstretch, saved me the trouble and wrote it. I simply lifted it off her blog and put it on mine. There are some very informed individuals that are pouring over the Breeders' Cup program, crunching out a variety of scenarios, and providing top-notch analysis. I would not be one of those individuals.

Besides, nobody really visits this blog because they want serious racing information and expert handicapping.

However, it is Breeders' Cup. New venue. New races. New trainer listed for Patrick Biancone entries. And a new addition to the wagering menu: The Dime Superfecta.

Superblogger and DRF columnist, Steven Crist, recently wrote an article regarding the dime superfecta and even included a couple helpful tables with the costs. One strategy would be a superfecta box. Box 4 horses and it costs only $2.40. A 5 horse box is $12.00. Hit the ALL button for the NetJets Mile and the 14 horse box will cost you a mere $2,402.40.

The other strategy illustrated is that of a part wheel where one horse is selected to win over 3 to 13 others. The dime part wheel cost of 3 horses is only $0.60; 4 horses only $1.20; 5 horses for $6.00. The NetJets Mile with Excellent Art keyed to win over ALL will only cost $171.60.

For cheap bettors such as myself, the part wheel works well. However, I prefer not to limit myself to single winner. And I refuse to hit the ALL button because what fun is that?

So, how do I bet the dime superfecta?

I start with two horses for the Win. Basically, my exacta. I key my exacta into all 4 positions on my superfecta wheel. For Place, I add one more horse, usually a horse that has a good price because if they actually hit, it makes for a nice return, even if the favorite wins. In the third and fourth positions, I add 2 more horses so there will be a total of 5. Cost of my 5 horse part wheel is $2.40. And I get to keep the fun of handicapping the race.

For example, let's take a look at one of my favorite races, Emirates Airline Filly & Mare Turf:

PostHorseTrainerML Odds
1All My Loving (IRE)Aidan O'Brien15-1
2Honey RyderTodd Pletcher 9-2
3Nashoba's KeyCarla Gaines3-1
4Passage of Time (GB)Henry Cecil7-2
5Wait a WhileTodd Pletcher4-1
6Lahudood (GB)Kiaran McLaughlin10-1
7Argentina (IRE)Bobby Frankel12-1
8Timarwa (IRE)John Oxx20-1
9DanzonPatrick Biancone12-1
10ArravaleMacDonald Benson30-1
11Simply Perfect (GB)Jeremy Noseda 15-1
12Precious KittenBobby Frankel30-1

I like Nashoba's Key and Honey Rider for the win, and I'll key them throughout the superfecta because if I think that they can win, then I'm confident that one or both will hit the board. However, odds will be a little short. Therefore I shop around, looking for a little value for the Place position: Argentina, morning line of 12-1. She's run some nice races, although she has not won since March 2005, but she's proven at the distance and has been on the board in a number of G1 and G2 races, and she should be a good price. The last two horses that I'll include on the bottom of my dime superfecta are Lahudood and Passage of Time.

This is how my $2.40 dime superfecta ticket will look:

    2 3
    2 3 7
    2 3 4 6 7
    2 3 4 6 7

All of the Breeders' Cup races will offer dime superfecta wagering. And a few of the superfectas that have been paid out over the past few years have been remarkable, such as the 2004 BC Mile at Lone Star Park. Singletary, Antonius Pius, et. al. paid a whopping $107,388 on a $2 superfecta wager. On a dime wager, that would have been $5,369.40. Not too bad for 10-cents.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Oprah and the Breeders' Cup

There has been much concern over the national television rating that the Breeders' Cup receives. For example, the 2006 Breeders' Cup broadcasted on ESPN had one of the lowest ratings in history: 462 people including the 3 guys living in Stanley, Idaho, that broke their satellite dish the day before while rolling empty beer kegs off the roof while performing "some kind of experiment involving gravity", and subsequently, ESPN was the only channel that would work. And even that, the reception was fuzzy.

But there is good news.

Oprah Winney - winner of the Barbara Fritchie Handicap, the Regret Stakes, the Schenectady Handicap, as well as being a live longshot in the inaugural Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint – is being profiled on Oprah Winfrey today. It is my understanding that Oprah Winney (horse) is being featured on Oprah Winfrey (billionaire talk show host) because, surprisingly, they have similar names, not because Oprah (most influential woman in the world) has developed a sudden interest in thoroughbred racing and is looking to purchase a few MEC racetracks with the loose change she has found under her sofa cushions.

I previewed the story. It’s nice. Nice horse. Nice story.

So how does this nice little story about Oprah Winney on Oprah Winfrey translate to a ratings bonanza on Breeders' Cup day?

According to The Independent, her television show has 8.4 million viewers daily and her website has 2.3 million unique viewers per month. 8.4 million people will watch a nice little story about Oprah Winney, and maybe 7.2 millions of them were actually paying attention to the feature while they were folding clothes or talking to their broker, and maybe 6.1 million of them will actually recognize that the feature involved "a horse", and maybe 4.9 million of them will make a mental note to watch the Breeders Cup just to see how Oprah Winney does, and maybe 2.6 million of them will actually be watching the Breeders Cup. And of that 2.6 million Oprah Winfrey viewers that tuned into ESPN to watch the Breeders' Cup, they will have contacted their family, friends, co-workers, and neighbors to watch the event as well because they "saw it on Oprah." That translates to 946.1 million viewers. That’s how Oprah works.

Randy Moss better make sure that he has his hair combed.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

John Henry's Irish Wake

This morning, my husband informed me "it’s been awhile" since my last blog entry. He also informed me that we are "out of coffee" and the dog "left a little present" in the living room.

Coffee and doggie gift notwithstanding, I actually have a somewhat legitimate excuse for not publishing since October 9th. And I’m sure that my loyal readers, both of you, will be completely understanding of the circumstances.

Recently, the passing of John Henry from the Earthly Paddock to the Eternal Winner's Circle provided a source of inspiration to write my own thoughts regarding the famous racehorse.

So last week Thursday, I poured a glass of cabernet savignon, sat down at the computer, and embarked on researching my eulogy for John Henry.

And this is what I wrote:
Frankly, I knew very little about John Henry. My thoughts of John Henry was that of the old folklore: the big, hulky, African-American man who challenges a steam hammer to build the railroad. Of course, John Henry defeats the steam machine but dies of cardiac arrest. Or has an aneuryreusm and survives, depending on the version of the tale. Or, according to my husband, changes his name and sells the candy, "Good n' Plenty," and as one can clearly see, my husband, although very prolific regarding pop-culture trivia, is confused about the "Good n’ Plenty" jingle, as it is "Choo-choo Charlie was an engineer" and not "John Henry was an engineer,"

Not a bad introduction, I thought to myself. I poured another glass of wine.

I continued to write,
Anyway, I'm useless with my personal experiences with John Henry. Our good friends at the Daily Racing Form were kind enough to provide his entire past performances. This was great. I downloaded the file and sure enough, all 83 lifetime starts were crammed onto one sheet of papper. What makes this so interesting is the fact that, (1) I needed a microscope to actually read 83 starts on one page and (2) in 1977, the year he won his first race, I knew nothing about thoroughtbred horse racing. Frankly, you could have run a bunch Lipizzaner Stallions around a track and I wouldn't have known the idffference. Not that the Lipizzaners are related to John Henry other than they are hhorses, And to my knowledge, poeple don’t actually wager on the Lippizaneures.

Hah! This was turning into some good stuff! I celebrated by having another glass of wine.

The words flowed easily,
B ut fron every thing that I have read amnongst my breathren ... Alana, Patrick, John, andh whomever I misssed unless you are Dan Illman bcause, quite frankly, I don’t weant to the link to your blog because you are really reallu really smart and intinimijdate me,. I could have seen John Henrry in his glory days, and he had many. I also hope that I too, like good ol’ JH, have at least 22 happy years of retirement being an ornery old cuss and living off of an income that reflects almost $7 million in winnnings. I could do that. Or at least let me try.

This was Pulitzer Prize winning material! I decided to have another glass of wine and continued to write,
Ansd in other recent news, the TbA has acquired another individual ... and she is very smart and has many many many many link s on her blo0g. So much so thast not onlhy is she list3ed on the TBA roll, IO ghave given her aN INDIVIDUAL; HORSE RACIBNG LINK BECAUSE IT IS VWERY apprent that sher know t6hs differebnce b etween a LIppenzer and a Throughbfred. She professes t5ro be green biu t I doin;t beli9eve her. Welcome Dana of Gamblign Green or Green and Gambling or Gamgbling gGGeldings ... whatever ...

I poured another glass of wine and toasted my creative prose. I planned to proofread and publish my masterpiece in the morning ....

Anyway, may John Henry rest in peace. And a big TBA welcome to Dana, who writes the fine horse racing blog, Green but Game.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Not Necessarily News

Recently, there are a number of important current events that are not getting well-deserved recognition. Therefore, I will momentarily divert my energies from reviewing the recent races at Belmont, Keeneland, Oak Tree at Santa Anita, and the action at the Quarter Pole – Louisiana’s last bush track, to provide pertinent information that you may have [intentionally] overlooked.

Make Plans Now to Attend Great Horse Racing Action at Nad Al Sheba. Emirates airline recently announced that it is adding nonstop flights from Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport to Dubai. Fares range from $1,400 to $11,000 roundtrip. According to the Star-Telegram,

Here's a look at what to expect on the [Boeing] 777:

First class: Eight suites [made of honey-walnut wood with gold trim], each with one or two seats, private storage closets, power sliding doors for privacy, gray English leather seats that fully recline and offer massages, 23-inch HDTV, touch-screen remote that controls everything in the suite through Wi-Fi signal, personal minibar, constant supply of snacks, vanity mirror, writing pad and pen.

Business class: Champagne and fruit juice before departure, six-course meal, 17-inch HDTV in the headrest.

Economy: A telephone at each seat that can be used to call other passengers for free or call out for $5 per minute, five-course meal, 10.6-inch HDTV with choice of 1,000 programs, a reclining seat back and a seat cushion that moves forward for greater comfort, power ports in each row for charging up portable electronic devices.

AGSC Receive ePetition from Irritated Horse Racing Fans. Last month, good friend, Patrick, and his [former?] rival, I-have-a-better-point-system-than-you-Patrick-but-in-reality-we-really-think-a-lot-alike Kennedy, composed a letter to the American Graded Stakes Committee suggesting that they have the power to "do something" other than sit around, sipping martinis and eating brie. They implore,
AGSC should rework the graded stakes to foster competition

This letter is supported by numerous individuals, including Fort Worth’s premier turfwriter and good friend to Post Parade, Gary West. The Professor reiterates a number of points that he has made in the past, and once again peppers his writings with Latin, such as petitio principii, a priori, ad nauseum, salva veritate, gloria in excelsis deo, omnes lagani pistrineae gelate male spiunt, etc., demonstrating that not only does he convey his opinions and observations with resounding intellect, but that he also was a popular student with the nuns at St. Eligius’ Catholic School because he was well-versed in Latin and he provided reliable picks.

(And speaking of Latin, that reminds me of a funny story that has absolutely nothing to do with horse racing: A number of years ago, my husband and I took a cruise, and our dining companions were retired Latin professors from Emory University. My husband, in an attempt to make intelligent small talk, remarked, "Latin - how interesting. So, I suppose that you read literature in its original language, like The Iliad."

They both looked at him and replied in unison, "That’s Greek.")

And finally,

Drilling for Gas Will Not Disrupt Horse Racing at Lone Star Park. Last Tuesday, Dale Resources paid a one-time $1.14 million signing bonus to the Grand Prairie Sports Facilities Development Corp. that owns Lone Star Park for the rights to drill for natural gas in 317 acres, most of which is under the racetrack. They will also be receiving 25 percent of the royalties for gas production, 2 first class tickets to Dubai, and a copy of The Iliad. No word yet as to whether Lone Star Park plans to rename the Texas Mile to the Dale Resources Mile.