Friday, January 25, 2008

A Review of Art Appreciation Class for Those of You Who Were Not Paying Attention

The ancient Greek philosopher, Andy Warhol, once said,
Art is what you can get away with.

Well, apparently artist Daniel Edwards, is generating an outpouring of emotions from the Fellowship of Barbaro as well as racing enthusiasts. On April 30th, the controversial sculptor is planning to unveil his artwork of Barbaro in Central Park, provided Mr. Edwards gets around to filling out his application for a special permit or a temporary public art permit. The purpose of this piece of art is to inspire Americans to contact their Representatives and Senators and ask them to help write, sponsor and support legislation that would make it illegal for racetracks to sell beer for more than $2.75. Or something like that.

Currently on the website for the Barbaro “Check It Out – He’s Upside Down!” Memorial, there are over 40 passionate comments posted, and the general consensus seems to be that the artist is a tasteless hack and stupid idiot. Admittedly, I don’t particularly care for the piece, but it’s art, I guess. Well, that’s what Daniel Edwards calls it as well as other art connoisseurs, aficionados, and snobs.

The appreciation of art is intensely subjective and personal. I greatly admire the art displayed Lone Star Park; there are murals by renowned horse artist Fred Stone, and there’s a bronze statue of Alysheba, designed by Lisa Perry, at the East Gate entrance. The artwork exhibits the grandeur and beauty of the horse. I look forward to the day when Barbaro will be memorialized in the same manner, not as some controversial display for political purposes.

Meanwhile, here's some art to appreciate ...

-Lone Star Legacy by Fred Stone

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eclipse Awards

Last night was the highly anticipated Eclipse Awards. Although I made absolutely no effort to watch the award ceremony, I feared that perhaps the gala festival may suffer from a similar fate of other awards ceremonies due to the ongoing writer's strike, which may or may not, have a negative effect on the ratings on TVG or the Santa Anita Pick 6 carryover.

Announcer: Live from Beverly Hills! It’s the 37th Annual Eclipse Awards! Tonight’s presentation on TVG is brought to you by Aussie Polymers. Having trouble with your Cushion Track? Call Aussie Polymers! And by Nicorette. Be sure to bring along a package of Nicorette on your next trip to Churchill Downs. And now, ladies and gentlemen, please welcome our first presenters, Yao Ming and Victor Espinoza!
Yao Ming: (haltingly) I love horse racing. I wanted to be a jockey when I was growing up in China.
Victor Espinoza: But you did not stop growing up, no? Ha-Ha. ¿Huh? ¿QuiĆ©n escribe este slop?
Yao Ming: You very funny for short guy.

However, according to reports, emcee Kenny Rice moved the award ceremony along in swift fractions. Apparently, the banquet ended 45 minutes earlier than expected thus allowing individuals ample time to participate in the Jess Jackson celebratory kegger in his suite.

Congratulations to 2007 Horse of the Year, Curlin, and his connections. It should also be noted that Curlin was also awarded the Eclipse Awards for 3-Year-Old Male, Most Likely to Succeed, Handsomest, and Class Clown. Congratulations also goes to all of the other Eclipse winners. Full coverage of the event can be gleaned from Jennifer at Down The Stretch, who after a 7 week hiatus, rediscovered her keyboard. And we're glad.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Gary Stevens: Up Close and Personal

(Author's note: This column was originally published on January 8, 2006, on another blog. Those were the days when I had serious dreams of writing; running away and living a bohemian lifestyle with a loosely-knit band of turf writer wannabes on the grounds of Pimlico.

In honor of Gary Stevens being part of the Eclipse Award winning broadcast team, I'm posting the column here at Post Parade


My brother, Paul, lives in Idaho. When I first got involved in the world of horse racing, my brother would constantly say, “Bet on Gary Stevens. He’s from Idaho.” Or “You need to bet on any horse that Gary Stevens is riding, because he’s from Idaho. He won his first races at Le Bois.” At the time of my brother’s highly “scientific and informed” handicapping, I didn’t know Gary Stevens from Lee Trevino. Well, needless to say, it didn’t take long to learn that he’s a fantastic Hall-of-Fame jockey with a few Kentucky Derby wins under his belt, or silks, or whatever jockeys use to hold up their pants.

On May 14, 2005, Gary Stevens came to my playground to ride in the Lone Star Derby (Gr III). I couldn’t recall his being here for the 2004 Breeders’ Cup and I was unsure of his previous riding history at Lone Star Park. Maybe I could secure a little chat with him after the race. Get a couple of quotes. Lend a little credibility to my musings. He would be the perfect subject as we have a lot in common. He’s from Idaho. I’ve been to Idaho. He’s in horse racing. I follow horse racing. He was in the movie Seabiscuit. I saw the movie Seabiscuit. He rode the last filly to win the Kentucky Derby (Winning Colors). I’m of the female gender. And on this day, his mount was Magna Graduate. I had won with Magna Graduate tossed into my exotic wager for the Aventura Stakes at Gulfstream earlier this year.

So before the race, I felt it necessary to do a little research on the subject. I Googled “Le Bois Park” and there was one or two items. Google “Gary Stevens”. And he conveniently has his own website, My research on the subject complete, now all I have to do is arrange a meeting without the aid of media credentials and conduct a short interview.

I called my friend, John Records. He’s the director of the Post Time Pavilion at Lone Star Park. Okay, so he’s not like a let’s-get-together-at-Starbucks-for-a-latte friend, but the man has the uncanny ability to remember everybody’s name, how often they come to the track, what simulcast track they like to wager, and what they ordered for lunch last time they were there. He’s the friendliest person on the planet, has the nicest disposition, and can make you feel all warm and fuzzy, even if you just dropped $450 on the day. This gentleman has missed his real calling; he should not be a manager but rather Secretary of State.

John made some queries for me and he just didn’t think that an interview with Gary Stevens would be possible at the time of the Lone Star Derby, but he would put me in touch with the Director of Media Relations later in the week. However, John, being a Can-Do type of person, felt that he could arrange an interview with a jockey at a future time. And I could probably conduct the interview in the jockey room if I so desired. It depended on how I felt about men in towels. Short men in towels.

Meanwhile, there would be no Gary Stevens interview. No opportunity to ask him what his favorite track is, or which race was his most memorable. What did the Hall-of-Fame jockey think about Lone Star Park And did he know that Le Bois Park in Idaho was temporarily shut down because Lariat Productions, that leased the track from Ada County, got busted for allegedly selling alcohol to minors, and now my brother Paul has nowhere to watch and wager.

Well, perhaps I could still find a few tidbits to share with everyone. I went back to and found some insightful information that I’m willing to dispense. His most memorable moment of his racing career was riding Winning Colors in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. Coincidentally, that was his first Triple Crown Win. He also won the Kentucky Derby on Thunder Gulch (1995) and Silver Charm (1997). He won a couple of Preakness Stakes and a couple of Belmont Stakes. He was named to People Magazine’s 50 Most Beautiful People in 2003. That’s an honor to be included with the likes of Halle Berry, Leonardo Di Caprio, and George Clooney. And reaching my own conclusions, I would have to say that riding Storming Home in the Arlington Millions (Gr I) in July 2003 was probably the most frightening moment of his racing career when he was unseated, run over and nearly killed; he suffered a collapsed lung and fractured vertebra. Talk about accidents on the job! He should be included on the 50 Most Resilient People That Resumed Their Careers After A Horrific Accident, if there were such a list.

I paged through the website, signed up for “fan mail”, i.e., spam, and considered purchasing some sort of memorabilia to commemorate my first non-interview with the Hall-of-Fame Jockey. There was his autobiography, The Perfect Ride, or 8 x 10 autographed glossies of the handsome jockey, or a whip used by Gary Stevens, or boots worn by Gary Stevens, or pants worn by Gary Stevens, or goggles worn by Gary Stevens. Even a racing saddle (“In very special instances, Gary may sell a saddle”). I tabulated that full Gary Stevens regalia would be $1,280. Horse not included. California residents add sales tax.

Hopefully, the next time Gary Stevens comes to town, I will have more success conducting an interview. But in the meantime, I look forward to conducting my first jockey interview in the near future. And short men in towels are okay by me.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

What's Happening in the World of Thoroughbreds? Go Ask the Prez

The mundane duties of motherhood has seemingly exploded into a myriad of challenges that are required to be performed within a set amount of time, i.e., a day. 24 hours to be precise, unless of course Congress, in an effort to stimulate the economy and improve productivity, adds and extra hour or two. And personally, that could come in pretty handy.

The juggernaut of daily life includes drop kids off at school, drop off husband at airport, work a part-time job, drink a Slim Fast for lunch, mentally rearrange priorities while driving to a second part-time job all the while attempting to schedule in time to watch a video replay of Indian Blessing's win in the Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. 2) and then realize that the niche of free time carved out will be consumed going to the grocery store because there is no milk at the house, work second part-time job, pick up kids, pick up neighbor's kids, attend a birthday party at the roller rink, schedule rollerskating lessons for 6-year-old because at the birthday party she could not skate and wants to learn to skate now, cook dinner, contemplate a new and intriguing topic for the horse racing blog until interrupted by a telephone call from husband requesting a copy of his passport because his new job will be sending him to the Philippines sometime in the near future and could I also possibly plan a small cocktail party on Friday night comprised of 20 or so people.

I have concluded that if I even want to look at a past performance of any kind, it had better be on my calendar.

Although I lament over this (hopefully) temporary busy lifestyle, I have no excuses. As it turns out, the Commander-in-Chief, who has a much more hectic schedule than I do, or so I'm told, has found time to be involved in the world of Thoroughbred horses. According to the Associated Press, President Bush visited the Saudi's king ranch where King Abdullah stables his 260 Arabian and Thoroughbred horses in air-conditioned comfort, including 1987 Kentucky Derby winner and Preakness winner, Alysheba.

photo from AP

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a race replay to watch. Just as soon as I wash the dinner dishes.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Jessica Simpson to be Barred from Kentucky Derby

The Jessica Simpson - Tony Romo - Superbowl Trifecta is a loser. This blogger recommends she stays away from Churchill Downs this spring!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

An Exciting New Year

Happy New Year! 2008 is a special year indeed. It is a leap year and we all know what that means: An extra day of racing. Get excited!

And a Happy Birthday to my brother. How exciting! (Okay, I never got around to sending you a birthday card but I'm sure you'll be excited about the gift. But you're probably not even reading this because you don't even own a computer. An aside to other brother: Print this blog entry out and send it to him).

But most important, it is opening day of the winter meet at the Perpetually New and Improved Gulfstream Park Racing and Casino (motto: "One of these years you're gonna like what we did to the place or we're gonna go broke"). Regardless of whatever construction, seat rearrangement, menu changes, etc., the racing will be good and the mutuel clerks grumpy. Ya gotta be excited!

And finally ...

My sincere appreciation to all of you who took the time to read (and perhaps enjoy in some strange, twisted way) my holiday creative writing exploits. I actually took a few days to ponder some exciting possible endings to The Racing Reindeer such as (1) Comet races and Tiny Tim Cratchit, who needs a liver transplant, holds the winning trifecta ticket when Comet comes in first at 45-1 thus providing the much-needed funds for the liver transplant so he lives, (2) Comet races and Tiny Tim Cratchit, who needs a liver transplant, holds a potential winning trifecta ticket if Comet comes in first at 45-1 but instead Comet hear's a cry for help somewhere in the backstretch and chooses not to finish the race leaving Tiny Tim with a loosing ticket and he dies because he can't afford a liver transplant, or (3) Comet soundly thumps the competition in the CashCall Futurity by 18 lengths and is immediately purchased by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for a cool $15 million and then is promptly shipped off to the breeding shed. And as for our Reluctant Rider, P Val - we all know what happenned: He got busted for a DUI and got coal in his Christmas stocking (again).

In the spirit of many great authors, I shall leave the ending of The Racing Reindeer to your own devices. It worked well for Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind. She never wrote if Scarlett ever won Rhett Butler back but instead ended her novel with Scarlett proclaiming that she would return to Tara and think about it tomorrow because, "After all, tomorrow is another day." And it is because of the way Margaret Mitchell ended her novel that there is no horse racing in Atlanta.

Anyway, may 2008 bring you many winning wagers and a trip or two to the IRS Mutuel Window. Now that's exciting!