Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Rachel Alexandra A Welcome Guest at Thanksgiving

Yesterday, Rachel Alexandra arrived at my home.

Of course, I'm referring to the delivery of Kendall-Jackson's limited bottling of wine that "commemorates the 2009 racing campaign of Rachel Alexandra, the extraordinary horse who inspired millions."

The Pinot Noir, Vintage 2007, has the following flavor profile,
Dark ruby in color with crisp minerality. The wine explodes with flavors of black cherry, fresh strawberry and cola. Oak aging imparts notes of smoke and spice along with earth in the nose. The soft, sensuous tannins round out the velvety finish. Enjoy now or cellar for five years.

Aaah, a delightful compliment for my Roasted Rosemary Turkey Pumpkin Pie ... what the heck goes with Pinot Noir anyway?

Filet mignon with peppercorn, seared ahi, roasted tomatoes, crème brulée ... none of which is on the Thanksgiving menu. Anyway, I probably wouldn't share it with my husband - he wouldn't know Pinot Noir from Presto Wine.

Of historical significance, I once wrote that I thought Rachel Alexandra would be a good name for a wine, although I think I used the technical jargon '"special label" wine-vintage-thingie.' Now it would be presumptuous to believe that my blithe comment influenced Mr. Jackson and Kendall-Jackson Winery, however I once remarked to my husband that there should be a new updated version of Star Trek ... maybe that too, will happen one day.

And an additional bit of information, especially to a Railbird commenter, regarding Mr. Jackson's Curlin wine: According to an email I received from Carolyn Coryelle, Direct Sales Manager, "The Curlin wine label was used only for the Breeder's Cup and we don't sell that."

Regardless of whether I enjoy Rachel Alexandra tomorrow or I cellar it for five years, I am thankful for all the blessings in my life. And may you all have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Coming Soon to a Casino Near You - The Kentucky Derby!

Last week, Churchill Downs Inc. and their new buddies, Aristocrat Technologies entered into a licensing agreement to create the world’s first Kentucky Derby slot machine because the Two Greatest Minutes in Sports isn’t long enough. And it’s only run once each year. And it’s in Kentucky, of all places!

So now the Kentucky Derby brand is considered “a new compelling entertainment product”, just in case you were finding the Kentucky Derby to be an old drudgery.

Of interest, the press release wove in some of the Derby's rich history,
Ever since Oliver Lewis rode Aristides to victory in the Kentucky Derby's first run in 1875, the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs has been the most prestigious and thrilling horse racing event in the world, and now its excitement and tradition will be captured in Aristocrat's new Kentucky Derby™ RFX™ stepper slot game.

Frankly, I'm sure there are numerous slot players out there who find that historical tidbit fascinating and significant.

Slot Player 1: What's Aristides?
Slot Player 2: Cheap bourbon. Now quit bothering me, I need to concentrate.

The new Kentucky Derby™ slot machine is currently making its premiere at the Global Gaming Expo in Las Vegas. It is to be launched prior to the 136th Kentucky Derby in May 2010.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Dark Day

    The time you won your town the race
    We chaired you through the market-place;
    Man and boy stood cheering by,
    And home we brought you shoulder-high.
    -To An Athlete Dying Young, by A.E. Housman

This morning, trainer Bobby Frankel died from "complications of lymphoma" or "complications of leukemia", depending on the source. In the real world (read: not horse racing), I deal with them both on a daily basis. And I'm sad.

I didn't know Bobby Frankel. I never met Bobby Frankel. The closest I ever got to Bobby Frankel was when Ghostzapper won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Classic in my backyard, at Lone Star Park in 2004. He was probably meandering somewhere around the Winner's Circle while I was busy trying to cash in my winning trifecta and get one last beer before I would have to stand in line for another "potty break" before driving home.

His horses would win for me. How many times would I see, 'Frankel, Robert' listed as the trainer and say to myself, "That's good enough for me!"

There has been numerous tributes to Bobby Frankel throughout the internet. Amidst all the condolences on his Facebook Wall, Beverly Kenney indicates,

Bobby Frankel requested that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to Old Friends Retirement Home, the Grayson Foundation, and CANTER, an organization to find homes for retired horses.

It should be noted that Beverly Kenney "only shares certain information with everyone" (read: I cannot verify Bobby Frankel final wishes ... but it's a GREAT idea anyway, so if you want to do something to honor Bobby Frankel's memory, that's a pretty good start: Old Friends, Grayson Foundation, and CANTER. And while I'm am it, I'll toss in my personal favorite organization, Remember Me Rescue).

Rest in peace, Bobby Frankel; 68 was too young ... my good ol' Irish grandma lived to be 100 ... you were too young, Bobby ....


Ghostzapper photo credit: Paul Thompson, Flikr ... Fantastic photo!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Zenyatta Wins the Classic: A Tale of Swoons, Votes, and a Turf Writer's Really Full Email Inbox


The shouts. The cheers. The thrills she provided when she won the Breeders' Cup Classic were immeasurable amidst the sea of horse racing humanity where I was enjoying the races. She brought a rousing finale to the day's festivities and a remarkable conclusion to her perfect career. Euphoria and adulation were freely available to the faithful as she stood in the Winner's Circle at Santa Anita.

So imagine my surprise when I cracked open the Sunday edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and right next to Tony Romo (so you know it's important), I read,
Zenyatta ... winner of the Breeders' Cup Classic, but the debate over Horse of the Year isn't settled

Uh oh.

Gary West is gonna get a lot of mail.

Sure enough, his Sunday column, "It was Zenyatta's Day, Not Her Year", prompted some mail. Apparently, so much so that he had to respond via his blog, West Points. Now the Professor doesn't seem to be much of a rabble rouser, but he sure stirred up a bit of ire regarding Horse of the Year because of his astute and unwavering support of Rachel Alexandra's campaign, and opining that Zenyatta's win in the Classic, although "scintillating", it was "not a strong Classic field."

Talk about deflating.

Okay, I'm not a person with strong opinions. And I certainly don't have a vote for Horse of the Year. But somehow, to shrug off a perfect - perfect! 14 wins in 14 starts! - deserves something a little more special than just the Eclipse for Champion Older Female and a bale of hay. But as I said, I don't get to vote, just swoon.

As fellow swooner Tom Goncharoff commented on Gary's blog,
What Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both accomplished this year was amazing and provided a much needed shot in the arm for a sport I love and make my living at. It's refreshing after such a great Breeders Cup to not have to make excuses for horse racing.

Let's give Horse of the Year to the both of them - they deserve it.

At this swooning moment, that idea sounds mighty good.

Regardless, Zenyatta's win - and her career - provided a much needed reminder how exciting and captivating horse racing can be. Is there an Eclipse Award for that?

Thursday, November 05, 2009

2009 Breeders' Cup Selections

Live! From the beautiful patio of Rio Mambo Mexican Restaurant - home of the World Class Quesadillas and the Margarita Stimulus Package - it's Post Parade's Third Annual Magic Beer Bottle Breeders' Cup Selection. This year's featured Breeders' Cup Magic Beer Bottle is Dos Equis, the official beer of the Breeders' Cup.

"Good luck, and Stay Thirsty, my friends."
-the Most Interesting Man in the World

Once again, I will post my selections for each of the Breeders' Cup races; selections that utilized extensive handicapping and research and a couple Dos Equis. Additionally, Magic Beer Bottle selections are also posted. Last year proved to be a tough one for both me and the Magic Beer Bottle. Hopes are higher this year to cash in a few more winners.

    2009 Breeders’ Cup Selections


    Magic Beer Bottle



    Cloudy's Knight

    Juvenile Fillies Turf

    Lillie Langtry

    Lisa's Kitten

    Juvenile Fillies


    Always a Princess

    Filly & Mare Turf


    Forever Together

    Filly & Mare Sprint


    Sara Louise

    Ladies Classic

    Careless Jewel

    Rainbow View

    Juvenile Turf



    Turf Sprint

    Gotta Have Her




    Capt. Candyman Can



    Noble's Promise




    Dirt Mile





    Presious Passion




    *Sentimental selection. There's nothing more I'd like than to see her in the Winner's Circle. Of note: Twice Over (ML 20-1) is very appealing and will be included in exactas.

Be sure to stop by the TBA homepage as TBA members and various Twitter-folk have posted their selections for the 2009 Breeders' Cup. Good luck, and Stay Thirsty!

Monday, November 02, 2009

2009 Breeders' Cup: Not Just a Plain Ol' Doughnut

'Twas a fortnight ago that the pedantic Valerie - respected member of academia, author of blogs Foolish Pleasure, Fillies First, NTRA's BC Fillies & Mare Turf Sprint, and in her spare time is Martha Stewart - swiftly scribed a brief list of horses that would not be participating in the 2009 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, all the while hot-gluing birdseed and acorns onto festive fall napkin rings that are sure to add a touch of glamour to any Thanksgiving table.

Of course, I jest. As everyone knows, birdseed decorum on the Thanksgiving table would be highly inappropriate. What if the birdseed came off the napkin rings and fell in the gravy?? How gauche!

Anyway, as more and more horses were added to the list of Breeders' Cup no-shows, I became alarmed: Am I even going to recognize any of the horses competing?

Ummm ....

Mine That Bird
Summer Bird
Indian Blessing

Ummm ....


Oh, I already said her ...

Mercifully, Lone Star Park hosted their annual Breeders' Cup Preview Party on Saturday morning, which featured the Star-Telegram's turf writer Gary West, and track announcer John Lies. Now it's no secret that a consecutive Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita has been a burr under the Professor's saddle, but he still drummed up enthusiasm and declared it still looked like "two excellent days of racing." Or something to that effect - there was also a free continental breakfast and I was intimately involved with a couple of delicious pastries which momentarily impeded my ability to take adequate notes.

But let me share a few highlights of the seminar:

  1. Breeders' Cup Marathon is "made for the Europeans", according to the Professor. I'm introduced to Mastery and Father Time.

  2. Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: Another introduction to the Europeans, most notably Lillie Langtry and Junia Tepzia. At this point I'm a little concerned as I have not heard of any of these favorites, as European races - especially Italian races - are not exactly readily available on any of my local cable channels. I consider a return visit to the continental breakfast.

  3. Filly & Mare Sprint has a couple of names I recognize, Ventura and Informed Decision. The Professor tosses out an interesting longshot, Allicansayis Wow, who in her last two starts, ran against the boys.

  4. If Zenyatta goes to the Classic, Music Note will be favored in the Ladies Classic. However, Careless Jewel is "tenacious and dangerous, and certainly ensures a lively pace." Additionally, my second banana muffin is delicious.

  5. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf, Interactif appears to be "one of the best 2-year-olds and might be good enough to beat the Europeans." Meanwhile, European bookies are hot for Viscount Nelson and Pounced. It's at this point that I recall last year's winner, Donativum - whatever happened to him? Maybe I'll just wait and see which horse has jockey Frankie Dettori.

  6. The Turf Sprint elicits this staid piece of handicapping of advice: Swing for the fences and look for bombers. The outside post has an advantage.

  7. Goldikova will win, place, and show the TVG Breeders' Cup Mile. All other entrants should just stay in the barn.

  8. Europeans will sweep the Emirates Airline Breeders' Cup Turf. Conduit, Spanish Moon, Dar Re Mi. Any order.

  9. Breeders' Cup Classic: Rip Can Winkle looks formidable, Colonel John looks interesting, Einstein may be overlooked, Zenyatta will be a sentimental favorite, and Travers winners are 0 for 15.

After listening to the seminar, the Breeders' Cup No-Show list no longer discourages me. It still appears to be two days of exciting horse racing. Either that, or I ate too many muffins.