Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Excuse Me, Stormello, But I Think You're Sitting In My Seat

I've been crabby lately. Not that that is unusual for a perimenopausal woman with two small children and whose husband came home last week from work and informed me that I would be hosting a "small cocktail party" for a "few" of his employees and subsequently 67 people show up to this "small cocktail party" and since I am the hostess, I am the last one through the buffet line and there is only 4 green peppers, a handful of onions and something that might have been "beef" left in the fajitas and once I ingest my so-called fajitas I still have to address 16 valentines for my daughter's pre-school Valentine's Day party. No, crabby would not be unusual.

So my husband has determined that I need another Attitude Adjustment Weekend and is sending me off, once again, on the trail that was originally blazened by the likes of Ponce de Leon or Chi Chi Rodriguez or somebody like that, to the Fountain of Youth.

Gulfstream. Prime rib. Nobiz Like Shobiz. John and Pat, if by the grace of God they are still alive. Adore The Gold. Sun. Surf. Bellinis.

So, friends, in the morning I will slap a FedEx shipping label to my backside and head to South Florida.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

TBA Convention at Gulfstream Park Misses Weekend Highlight

This past weekend, a few TBA members, notably John of Not To The Swift fame, Tote Board Brad, and our Average Horseplayer, David Ruben Sandwich Hold The Pickles Bailey, convened in South Florida. In a well-documented video blog by John, one can be greatly impressed with their tour of Palm Meadows training facility; interviews with distinguished trainers and illustrious horses, although the equine individuals were not particularly articulate in their respective interviews. An afternoon of racing action at Gulfstream Park capped off the convention activities. Financial success of this affair is not clearly detailed.

However, I was somewhat dismayed that Superblogger and YouTube shareholder, John, missed the big scoop of the weekend as proclaimed by a press release from Gulfstream Park: Andy Beyer Rides at Gulfstream. Apparently, Mr. Beyer decided to spend a portion of his Sunday taking riding lessons from jockeys Johnny V. and Angel Cordero. The color of Mr. Beyer's jockey silks were not indicated in the press release. Also unknown is whether Mr. Beyer plans to change careers in the near future.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Texas Horse Racing Plays the Role of the Strong Silent Type

Strange things are afoot in the Lone Star State ...

Yesterday, there was a brief paragraph in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
State Rep. Kino Flores, D-Palmview, filed legislation Monday to allow voters to decide whether they want video slot machines at racetracks and on Indian reservations.

Flores said that if the devices are legalized, more than $1.2 billion would be pumped into the state treasury each year and Texans would not have to play the games - and spend their money - in bordering states.

I went on-line to see if there was more to the story. I could not find anything regarding HB 1405 anywhere on the Star-Telegram website. I found this unusual because a couple of years ago, there was a huge movement to legalize video lottery terminals, or VLTs, at racetracks here in Texas. Keep Texas Running defined themselves as a grassroots effort. One could not even walk into Lone Star Park without being handed a piece of paper, which was neither mutuel ticket nor voucher, and strongly encouraged to "sign the petition" or "write your representative" or "if you don't know who your representiative is, we'll find it out for you." And if I can recall, it seems Magna Entertainment turned into Magna Lobbyists.

Needless to say, the measure did not pass. Horsemen left Texas for other lucrative states, where purses were higher. My friend, Myra, and all her gambling cronies, continued to make the weekly trek to WinStar Casino, just over the Red River and into Oklahoma.

So, yesterday, there's a short paragraph. Today, there is nothing in my local paper. I read nothing on the Lone Star Park Press Releases. I found it highly unusual that the racing industry here in Texas, especially here in the DFW area, doesn't seem to have any kind of report or opinion, such as, "It's a great idea and we are involved covertly," or "What kind of name is Kino anyway?"

But would you like to know where I did read somehing about this proposed legislation? The Blood-horse (compiled from the AP). And it appears that the proposal for slots is already being challenged; not by the religious conservative groups but the Texas Gaming Association that wants to super-size the issue.

So where are the voices of Texas horsemen? Racing fans? Texas Media? Drew Shubek? Warner, the Mutuel Clerk? Myra, the WinStar Diva? Is this good? Is this bad? Is this anything? Yea or neigh ...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Sweetheart of a Race

It's Valentine's Day. There are many nice things about today. The first nice thing is chocolate. I routinely receive Hershey Kisses; they are all mine and I don't have to share them with the little girls who roam throughout this house, trolling for snacks. As a matter of fact, there is a myriad of little foil wrappers tossed about haphazardly on my desk as I write this entry. Hershey Kisses are a wonderful invention. My husband doesn't even bother to wrap them up or put them in a gift bag - he just lovingly places them next to my morning coffee on Valentine's Day.

The second nice thing about today is the 2nd race this evening at Delta Downs, which as I have previously stated, is somewhere in Louisiana. It is a 7 furlong allowance race but it looks like a stakes race in disguise with some very talented horses. And it is conveniently during the dinner hour so perhaps a romantic dinner at the simulcast facility should be in order.

There are three horses of note in that race.

Dreamsandvisions won the Assault Stakes last spring at Lone Star Park and then won the Evangeline Mile. One of the horses he defeated in the Evangeline Mile was High Strike Zone (Smart Strike), a multiple stakes winner, including the Texas Mile. Andanight may be a nice longshot. He faired poorly a couple of weeks ago in the Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston, but as Jimbo mentioned, 9 furlongs may have been too much. Don Stevens at Delta Downs says this of Andanight,
This closer has a big late kick and will need some pace to success. But if things fall right he could be FLYING in the lane. He's also droping [sic] from a very tough spot at Houston while making his second start off a brief layoff.

My impressions are similar to that of Don's. Although it is noted that Don could use a dictionary.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Jumping into the Pool

Last year, good buddy, Patrick reprimanded me for trashing the Kentucky Derby Futures Pool. I believe he threw down the gauntlet when he referred to me as "scared". So this year, I have cast all fears aside and have opted to demonstrate that I, too, can be egocentric at the cost of $6.

Admittedly, Patrick demonstrated that he has genius qualities about him; he touted Barbaro since the horse was foaled somewhere in Kentucky. Although Barbaro was bet down to single digits in the first futures pool, Patrick could hold his winning ticket that he had purchased back in February and announce to all of New Jersey and anyone else who would listen, "I'm king of the world!" Which is a common phrase used on the New Jersey turnpikes, so I've heard.

Since it is only mid-February and the Derby is not until  ... March ... April ... May, only horses with double digit odds considered. I had cast aside favorites such as Nobiz Like Shobiz and Street Sense because there was not enough value at this time of year. The first one that caught my eye was Notional (In Excess)... morning line of 15-1 and currently ... 37-1????? There must have been something wrong with the toteboard because I was pretty sure that he had just won the Risen Star (gr. III) at the Fair Grounds yesterday after shipping in from California where he had previously won the San Rafael (gr. II) easily by 4 lengths. Huh. By the way, he's trained by Doug O'Neill who's been successful on the Derby trail before. Not to mention that he had his picture taken with a famous Texan horse racing fan, Joe Coker. (Note to Doug: Don't wear the orange tie on Derby Day).


I've been a fan of Great Hunter (Aptitude) since last year. He already has a solid foundation as a 2-year-old. His morning line of 30-1 was enough to make Steve Haskin and/or James Joyce cough up a fur ball. Jim Mulvihill, a Texas racing handicapper and blogger who claims to have the first Texas racing blog in the history of the internet, touts him as well. And of course there is my "home" bias: he broke is maiden at Lone Star Park. And the future odds were desireable at 25-1. And once again, there's Doug O'Neill, with or without an orange tie.


Ravel (Fusaichi Pegasus) is a serious contender. His win in the Sham Stakes (gr. III) was impressive. I had read in Friday's edition of the Ft. Worth Star-Telegram that Gary West had him winning the Derby. However, genius Alan, made a very astute observation,
You would think that the Sham would be a good early indication of who could get the Derby distance, but the last three winners, Bob and John, Going Wild, and Master David, all fared quite poorly at Churchill.
Future odds at 10-1, I decided that my final two bucks needed to land on something longer.

As I was pondering my final decision, the old-timer next to me chuckled and said, "I like Street Sense. He's trained by Carl Nafzger who used to be associated with a little old lady who owned some horses ... I knew her. She's dead now, but she was a fine lady."

Aaah. The sentimental angle. Of course he was referring to Frances Genter and her Derby horse, Unbridled.

So, the final wager future wager was sentimental:   Swale Stakes (gr. II) winner, Adore the Gold (Formal Gold). Adore the Gold reminds me of one of my favorite horses, Afleet Alex. The humble beginnings of Delaware races - he even broke his maiden with Jeremy Rose on board. The tragic story behind this colt: The death of breeder Dan Mallory in the Comair crash last summer. And as it turns out, Mallory had been on his way to Lone Star Park when he was killed. Spooky. Granted, the Swale has never provided a Derby winner, but at 38-1, I decided to  put a couple of bucks on a first time.

So, I'm in the pool.  Losing tickets may not be used as a flotation device.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Ethel and Esther and Leo and TJ

Last night, I remarked to my husband that I needed to do a little research on Ethel Merman for my next blog entry.

Husband: Ethel Merman? Isn't she a swimmer?
Me: No, you're thinking of Esther Williams. She was the swimmer.
Husband: Ethel Merman wasn't a swimmer?
Me: No.
Husband: So what does swimming have to do with horse racing?
Me: I'm not writing about swimming and horse racing. I'm writing about Ethel Merman. I'm thinking that there must be some kind of humorous angle ... horse racing and Ethel Merman.
Husband: The swimmer?
Me: She's not the swimmer. Ethel Merman sang, "There's No Business Like Show Business." And Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Holy Bull.
Husband: So why don't you write about Leo X?
Me: Leo X?
Husband: He was the pope that issued the Holy Bull. You could write about Catholicism and horse racing.
Me: What does that have to do with Ethel Merman?

It was at that point in our conversation that I deemed that my husband as being clinically useless.

Yes, Nobiz Like Shobiz won the Holy Bull (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday. And he looks to be sitting on top of the leaderboard for Derby contenders. Many horseplayers and handicappers were impressed the first time he ran, breaking his maiden at Belmont and winning by 412 lengths. I'm pretty sure that Professor West had him pegged as a serious Triple Crown threat when Nobiz Like Shobiz was loaded in the gate prior to that race. It's unsure by this writer as to whether the Professor appreciates the talent of Ethel Merman. Or Esther Williams, for that matter.

And speaking of Nobiz, T.J. Simers of the LA Times (registration required) has nobiz calling himself a sports columnist. His column published on January 30th was a less than flattering "tribute" to Barbaro, racing fans, animal lovers, and squirrels. A second column ensued the next day with a wealth of supportive emails; Simers spent an entire column toasting himself as if he were a genius, of which, by the way, he is not. It was not until February 4th that his column included the emails that denounced him as a sports writer and a human being in general. Descriptive words such as "despicable" and "heartless bastard" and "sportswriter hell" were peppered throughout various email responses. John of Not To The Swift fame, who is a bonafide genius, wrote a very thoughtful and eloquent blog entry about Simers' opinions. My personal thoughts regarding Mr. Simers is that upon his death, he can donate his body to plastination and then Gunther von Hagens can create a sculpture that has its head inserted into a particular part of its anatomy, entitled Jerk.

Helpful Links: Esther Williams, Leo X, Plastination, Jerk