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 347ยบ 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?