Monthly Archives: February 2009

Google Knows What Racing Needs

Winter racing at Aqueduct (Walter Kobbe)

Those of you on Facebook have no doubt already seen this fine little meme floating around and perhaps even done it yourself. You do a Google search with your name and needs, e.g., “dana needs” and then write down the first 10 results.

As of yesterday mine were… dana needs:

1. some breathing room

2. three imaginary girls

3. help

4. a self-embedding of a U-Box

5. some advice about her old girlfriend

6. a lot of comforting

7. a dose of transarency, accountablitilty (sic)

8. emergency prayers

9. to slay the beast

10. to eat some breakfast

So why not ask Google what racing needs? It did a pretty good job on my list. I’d say 1, 3, possibly 4 (if I knew what that was), 6, 7, 9 and 10 are definitely true. Not sure I’d limit 2 to only three and I’m happy to report that at this time 5 is not valid, but if it were then I think 8 would also be in order.

According to Google, horse racing needs:

1. an authority figure

2. Big Brown vs. Curlin

3. a revolution

4. a permanent fix

5. to get jockeys into position

6. more than a slogan

7. to change

8. to look at it’s future

9. U

10. to change it’s approach

Go Google! All but 2 & 5 seem right on to me. Forget committees and reports and studies… that takes time and money, Google can identify and prioritize issues in 0.24 seconds! But why stop with just racing in general, I’m sure Google can be of more assistance.

NTRA needs:

1. to show it supports it’s stars

2. to address this

3. to do everything in its power to prevent the closure of any more racetracks

4. the AQHAs money for lobbying efforts

5. to elaborate and defines what is

6. needs to talk

7. to go unless they become an all encompassing regulatory body that enforces across the US

8. to get a load of this too

9. to embrace the obvious

10. to be more democratic, more open

Breeders’ Cup needs:

1. to change conditions if it is to compete with international rivals

2. Some Fine-Tuning

3. to put a plan in place, like NASCAR did

4. to find a new announcer

5. Another Race

6. to name a race in honor of Wayne Lukas

7. to focus less on hustling a quick buck at the expense of the fans

8. to plan well in advance

9. to get the color-coded saddle towels

10. a star

NYRA needs:

1. to stop the temper tantrum and realize that they screwed up

2. to rethink its focus

3. a bailout

4. to review how it provides passes and boxes to public officers

5. your help to continue moving forward

6. dramatic reform

7. to do is create a Belmont week that features live racing and family-friendly festivities through the Belmont Stakes

8. a response blog

9. your help

10. new – not just new, but better – direction

And there you have it. Racing, 99% more efficient thanks to Google! Too bad Google doesn’t have a “how to implement” algorithm.


Hello Broadway, up close and personal at Saratoga (Jason Moran)

I’m currently having the blogging equivalent of a turn out… minus the grazing and relaxation.

In the meantime I thought you might enjoy this stunning shot of Derby contender Hello Broadway. Speaking of the Derby, smart people noticed an interesting allowance winner today at Gulfstream.

From recent Derby seasons gone by, Atoned is set to make his turf debut this Saturday, Georgie Boy stretches out a bit, King of the Roxy comes out of retirement, Song of Navarone sets a track record, Elysium Field wins his 4yo debut in the 7th at Santa Anita, Trust N Dustan is entered in the Attijari Al Islami Trophy at Nad Al Sheba and Curlin might be busier than ever (comments not safe for work, kind of). Program note for Nad Al Sheba, there’s also a race named Al Dana Wealth Management, I’m not the sponsor.

From Derby seasons yet to come, it’s never to early to start making those lists!

One of my favorite content features from the 2007 Derby that was mysteriously missing in 2008 is back! Podcasts. Generally I’m not a podcast person, but I love race replays as podcasts, and if you do too you’re in luck! Of course they have all their of video content there if you’re interested, or you can just pick and choose as you like.

And finally for Sutherland and Stra watch. Today at Santa Anita Kyla Stra didn’t have any mounts while Chantal Sutherland had 2 mounts. Sutherland got 4th on Dailies in the first race and won on on White Lace Jimmy in the 8th. Congrats to her and better luck to Stra on picking up mounts!

Oh, Hystericalady!

Hystericalady in the paddock prior to the 2008 Breeders’ Cup (Drew42e)

My friend Google tells me that, in addition to pictures of Chantal Sutherland, that the internets wants to know more about Hysterical Lady, aka Hystericalady. What the internets wants the internets gets!

Hystericalady, featured as Zenyatta’s main and only competition in the Lady’s Secret on “Jockey’s, Win or Die Trying” is no slouch. Of her 23 lifetime races she had 11 wins, 4 places and 2 shows, that’s 74% in the money and a win percentage of 48%. In both 2007 and 2008 she was only out of the money in one race, she turned in solid performances on both dirt and synthetic surfaces and won at both sprints and routes (races longer than a mile).

She’s knocked heads with almost all of the tough filly & mares of her time including champion Ginger Punch, Nashoba’s Key, Tough Tiz’s Sis, Lemon Drop Mom, Octave, Intangaroo and, of course, Zenyatta.

Here’s her Wikipedia entry, Pedigree Query entry and Bloodhorse Profile. While I don’t recall it being announced, I believe she was retired. She was purchased at auction for $3 Million this fall after the Breeders’ Cup by Sheik Mo.

John Ferguson purchased Hystericalady, the most expensive horse of the day as of 5:30 p.m., on behalf of Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum. Taylor Made, agent, consigned the mare, one of 11 horses to bring $1 million or more by that point in an atmosphere middle-market consignors ruefully described as more famine than feast.

Hystericalady, a 5-year-old Distorted Humor mare, went through the ring as an exceptional racing or broodmare prospect, leaving her buyer an option to race. But Ferguson said it was “unlikely” Maktoum would elect to run her again, even though trainer Hollendorfer assured him after the hammer fell that the mare is entirely sound. The chestnut daughter of Chilean champion Sacramentada came to the sale off a fifth-place finish in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic and hit a rare home run in the market.

Enjoy these replays, it’s too bad there aren’t more as she put in a lot of really game efforts.

2007 Humana Distaff (worst audio ever!):

2007 Breeders’ Cup Distaff:

2008 Humana Distaff:

2008 Delaware Handicap:

2008 Lady’s Secret (featured in Jockeys, Win or Die Trying):

2008 Breeders’ Cup Distaff (her last race, and only off the board effort in 2008):

Sutherland and Stra, In the Money

Kayla Stra with her mount prior to a race (yausser)

Hello Googlers! It’s come to my attention (by way of Google) that you might interested in learning more about Chantal Sutherland and Kayla Stra. While you won’t find any sexy, naked or bikini pictures here, I do have some good news!

Both lovely and talented jocks were in the money this weekend and Stra even brought home a 8-1 shot in the 5th on Sunday! What does that mean? It means at least a few of the horses they were riding finished 1st, 2nd or 3rd, also known as win, place and show or “in the money”.

When the jock is riding the winning horse, they share a percentage of the winnings, known as the purse. In show “Jockeys, Win or Die Trying” they make it seem as though the Jockeys take the whole purse, not the case. The jockeys, along with the trainers, take a percentage of the winnings. Of course, jockeys then have to pay their agents a percentage. And in some cases the purse is split up among the finishers.

Thanks to commenter Bob Lee for providing this reference from Chris McCarron’s North American Racing Academy (jockey school!):

Jockeys are paid on a per mount (race) basis. The fees are between $30 per mount and $100 per mount depending on the purse structure at each particular track. Those are the fees jockeys receive if they do not finish first, second or third. The jockey of the winning horse receives an amount equal to 10% of the winning owner’ s share of the total purse. (The winning owner in most states receives 60% of the total purse.) The second place jockey receives 5% of the owner’ s share of the second place purse money. (The second place owner receives 20% of the total purse in most states.) The third place jockey receives 5% of the owner’ s share of the third place purse money. (The third place owner receives 15% of the total purse in most states.) The most successful jockeys can earn over a million dollars a year. The least successful will make less the $20,000 per year. The record for purse earnings in one year by a jockey is $23,354,960.00* set by Jerry Bailey in 2003. *These are the earnings of the horses, not the jockey. As a rule of thumb, a jockey’ s real earnings are approximately 7% of the horses’ earnings.

For example, in the the aforementioned 5th on Sunday, Ju Ju Baby ($18.40) won a $16,300 maiden claimer in which $9,000 went to the winner, $3,000 went to the 2nd place finisher, $1,800 to the third, $900 to the fourth and $400 to 5th-8th (there were 8 horses running in this race). Figure 10% for Stra of Ju Ju Baby’s winnings and some percentage of that for her agent (15-25% maybe?). Worst case scenario she made $675 and best she made $765.

On Saturday Stra also placed (came in second) with long shot Goodlookindude in the 10th, a maiden claimer with a purse of $17,000. She got 5% of $3,000 less the agent’s fee for somewhere between $112.50 to $127.50. While obviously not fabulous money, ya gotta start somewhere and she’s starting to 1) build relationships and 2) get a rep for bringing home long shots . . . both are good.

Sutherland hit the board for 3rd with long shot Victory Pete ($17.40) in the Strub, a Grade II with a $250,000 purse. The winner took home $150,000, second took $50,000, third took $30,000, fourth took $15,000 and fifth took $5,000. So Sutherland’s take was $1,500 less her agent’s fee for somewhere in the range of $1,125 to $1,275.

If you want to keep an eye on how Sutherland, Stra, Mike Smith, Joe Talamo, Jon Court or Aaron Gryder are doing, you can always go to the Daily Racing Form to see the results. Scroll down to Santa Anita and click on a date (or if you don’t see Santa Anita, look for Hollywood Park or Fairplex… these are the southern Cali racing circuit tracks). Here are the results for this past Saturday and Sunday. If you want to find out when they’re racing, check out the entries!

In other Lady Jock news, I noticed over the weekend that there’s another new racing film called The Boys Club about hall of fame jockey Julie Krone. There’s not a ton of detail about the production but it says that it will be filming on location in 2009… does this mean we’ll the cast and crew at Belmont and Saratoga? I hope so!

There’s also Jock, the Movie in production, or perhaps even post-production, about the first generation of women jockeys. And let’s not forget Female on the Horse, a site that features hundreds of interviews with female jockeys.

But if you just wanted to look at pictures of Sutherland and Stra, you can do that too!

Is it Just Me

Stardom Bound & Mike Smith waltz home in the Las Virgenes (Charles Pravata)

Or are things looking up? “Jockeys, Win or Die Trying”, much to the relief of this viewer, turned out to be more substantive than the breakdown packed promotion. This year’s 3yo crop is looking deeper and more consistent than last years and, at least for the moment, there doesn’t seem to be much of anything to bitch about (I know, give it time).

Not that I’m a traffic whore (total lie) but Chantal Sutherland and Zenyatta have been the two most frequent searches to make their way to GbG post-“Jockeys”. Sutherland was already my biggest traffic driver from search results but I’m happy to see that the show not only gave Zenyatta decent coverage, but that it’s resulting in people wanting to know more. The racing camera work is downright stunning and does a lot to promote the game… it’s already exciting enough from the grandstand, but seeing like that should certainly peak some interest.

I do have a few small gripes. I thought they did a touch too much cutting back and forth during the Lady’s Secret stretch drive. The drama of the stretch drive could have stood more on it’s own with just a few cut away shots. I also didn’t like the music at all. For example, I would have preferred the Daft Punk original version of the theme song as opposed to that faux hip hop business (which is Stronger by Kanye West for all you googlers, but check out Daft Punk’s Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger too).

I’m still waiting to hear from one of my non-racing friends to find out what she thought. My mom had this to say in an email “I went past and saw someone get hurt, so I didn’t linger long.” Swifty had the same gripe about the music and, in addition to the theme song, specifically mentioned the music while Sutherland was crying (which I don’t remember). But he and I both agreed that overall the show seems likely to get people interested in racing, which is great! Maybe they’ll shoot the second season at Saratoga?

I’m not sure when Derby preps start to air but I hope media buyers for ESPN, NBC, etc. think to place some ads during the show. Seems like the perfect opportunity to generate some new fans. Perhaps the NTRA has already of thought of this and is on the case, I hope so!

Ask and you shall be given, it was a good day of racing indeed! I only handicapped the Risen Star and managed to hit the exacta. I boxed Friesan Fire, Flying Pegasus and Indygo Mountain. I wasn’t entirely sure how the pace scenario was going to play out as there was no clear speed but I thought it might have ended up a little faster.

Friesan Fire and Flying Pegasus are both on my list but I’m interested to see what Indygo Mountain will do in a faster pace scenario. He definitely improved from the Lecomte and got caught in a bit a traffic just when he had some run so I’m not discounting him just yet. Uno Mas also improved from the Lecomte and had I watched the replay a little more closely I might have caught that he was closing at the end and was probably likely to improve. And, needless to say, Giant Oak’s trip was pretty rough, again! I’ll be keeping an eye on both of them as well.

War Echo looked great in the Silverbulletday. I threw a little money away in that race combining her with Just Jenda and Southern Yankee based on the parade. War Echo was the visual stand out in the parade and I can’t wait to see her again.

On the west coast I don’t really need to wax poetic about Stardom Bound too much. Although, does this mean I’ll end up liking Iavarone and Babe this year? I thought Pioneerof the Nile’s stretch drive was pretty eye popping and can’t believe that I’m interested in California horses this year. I guess anything is possible!

Crist has a good post about the “brave new world” of synthetic racing particularly as it pertains to Beyer Speed Figures. I don’t really use BSFs because they don’t take pace into account, and as Crist points out, Stardom Bound’s low BSF doesn’t tell the whole tale. I noticed last week the top two finishers of the Holy Bull had the lowest BSFs of the field, both at 76.

One similarity to last year’s crop is that, with the exception of the Spectacular Bid, the pace has been pretty moderate in almost every race. Is Notonthesamepage the only front running speed horse in the group or am I forgetting someone? I’d love to see what Indygo Mountain, and Flying Pegasus for that matter, would do in that kind of pace scenario!

And finally, Sarah and Charles were both in action yesterday at Aqueduct and Santa Anita respectively. Apparently Charles was in a couple of shots of the second episode of Jockeys, I think Sarah’s on to something with the drinking game idea. Cheers!

One Step Up From a Test Pattern


Not old enough to know what a test pattern is? look it up, rotten kids!

Things have been a little busy around GbG manor lately. So, until I’m able to resume my somewhat regular posting habits, I offer a few tidbits, random brief thoughts and suggestions. Basically, an enhanced test pattern.

Mirroring current events, but worse! Racing offers the opposite of stimulus package.

In mainstream media madness, I’m not sure I agree but I hope he’s right!

On the Derby trail, or perhaps off… I think Saratoga Sinner’s injury will give him a better chance to turn into a nice horse… thanks universe!

And thanks for pointing this out, now I can’t not notice!

Wanna help some horses? Put your money where your pie hole is, go make a donation!

HANA has been releasing their handy and helpful top 20 track rating… currently on #9 working towards #1, think of them as the Consumer Reports for horseplayers. Bloodhorse is also helpfully posting numbers 1-10.

Rock On! GbG pal & regular photog Sarah K. Andrew has a fun series running on her blog featuring racing folks and their top ten album series. So far there’s GbG regular photog Bud, the excellent Bill Finely and in what has to be the best racing photo ever, Barbara Livingston doubling as a member of the Sleaze Sisters from the movie Times Square (oh, if she only had that sound track in her list). Full disclosure, my top 10 list will be published over there once I find a sufficiently embarrassing photo.

Need more proof that working in an office sucks? Watch minutes 2:44 to the end. Note: if you already hate working in an office, don’t watch this part. When it’s 2:30 and you’re stuck in a meeting, you’ll really be kicking yourself. The sound of jets in the background when Zenyatta is running is also pretty appropriate, even if it’s only a jog:

And finally, a Public Service Announcement: Let’s just keep this in mind if Stardom Bound does not devour her competition this weekend in the Las Virgenes: