Monthly Archives: March 2009

Weekend This and That

Channing Hill at Santa Anita (yausser)

Since I was smart enough to DVR the Florida Derby this week I have now have added a screen capture of the DRF Formulator ad showing two women with the text overlay “for every skill level”, you know, in case you didn’t believe me or thought I might be exaggerating (who, me?).

I’m finding it a touch odd that folks have waited until now to make the many & valid points being raised re: the new British automatic berth. All of these issues were apparent when it was announced, right? As a friend pointed out, “no one complained last week when it knocked Beethoven off the list”. Indeed.

Reminder, the first HANA Pool Party is tomorrow, WRD R6. Check out the HANA blog for free PPs and more. I’ll be playing a $1 exacta box of 1,2,3,6,10,11 with a couple of bucks of on 2 & 6 to win.

After this weekend Quality Road has moved on to my “like like” list, and how! Over at PDI I rated him #2 behind Freisan Fire but in all reality I can’t make a strong case of why one should be over the other so I’m just leaving Freisan Fire in #1 for now. I’m not really buying the LA Derby as non-legit path to winning the Derby. Sure the numbers are daunting but that didn’t stop Street Sense from proving the numbers wrong about Juvenile winners.

Guess I really oughta come up with a new poll now that it’s official that IEAH bought 50% of I Want Revenge. Way to go, those who voted for “Buy Another Derby Prospect”, perhaps you should apply to work at IEAH!

And speaking of that poll, as much as I’d love to see Stardom Bound in the Derby, the more I see the depth in the 3yo filly division the more I want them all to run in the Oaks against each other. Rachel Alexandra vs. Stardom Bound could be the rivalry of the year. And when War Echo comes back later in the year, look out! Check out this eyewitness account of Stardom Bound working at Keeneland.

It should also be noted that several fillies ran with colts this weekend on dirt and they didn’t break down! Please people, let’s move on from fear-based assumption that fillies and colts don’t mix. Just ask Indian Blessing, who picked a very nice check for solid effort against her male colleagues!

Pool Party!

This public service announcement is brought to you by “break in handicapping” or “I’m procrastinating”.

As a fan of wildcat strikes, bossnappings, pencil drops and civil disobedience, in general I was very happy to see HANA taking the next steps on their inspired to plan to make a point about horseplayers driving the whole machine via capital. I’ve always found it a bit disheartening that it’s hard to rally fans and players around issues to help make a positive impact, but I’m an optimist so I’m all in with this plan!

Basically the plan is to pick particular races and get as many folks as possible to bet a pre-determined amount via any platform (any ADW, OTB, local track, etc) into any pool in that race.

We simply and quietly bet our money each week at the selected track. We do this for several months and follow the results each week. This is easy to do. As our block of dollars grow, track management will certainly start to notice and wonder where this is coming from. What is going on here? At that point we then lay out our plan to track management and other industry leaders. We will then have the data and information to prove the impact we are making.

The original wagering amount be bandied around was $50-$100, but if you don’t want to wager that much I would still urge you wager whatever you felt comfortable with as the goal is to get as much money as possible in the pools of a particular race. I’ll probably wager $10 or $20… or more if I have a good weekend!


Tues March, 31, 2009


Will Rogers Downs (WRD)

Race Number: Race 6

Update: From an email sent to HANA members (join!):

I’d like to clear up some misconceptions about what we are doing and why.

This (hopefully) will be horseplayers showing the ability to act cohesively as one.

This is NOT a donation.

We ask that Each player handicap and bet the race just as you normally would in your routine betting.

Initially wagering amounts were talked about and it was suggested that a range of somewhere between $25-$75 would be optimal. However no one should feel obligated to bet outside of their comfort zone. Handicap and bet the race as you normally would.

A wager of any type and amount on this race will be appreciated.

Sign up for free membership at HANA to keep up to date on this project. See you around the pool!

Smack Downs Abound

(Sarah K. Andrew)

Before we gear up for an excellent weekend of racing it’s worth noting a few interesting smack downs, some smackier than others.

Alex Waldrop turned in the most web savvy move seen by racing executive to date with his timely reply to Joe Drape’s recent NY Times article “Derby Nears, but Safety Rules Don’t“. It seems as though the message that Web 2.0 isn’t just a collection of platforms but an overall approach has been has been signed, sealed and delivered!

Waldrop quickly and directly speaks to the points raised in Drape’s article (with extra points for the title “Five Facts You Won’t Read in the New York Times”), which is what all that crazy enabling technology is meant to do… you know, enable timely, appropriate responses. But the most savvy move might have been the 1-2 punch of promotion & call to action, asking people to directly communicate with Drape while providing his email and twitter stream. That’s a move anyone could be proud of, well done sir!

Regardless of where you come down on this family feud, it’s execution was noteworthy. Sure, Drape is taking a stand to make a point and good for him… he has a forum and some good points. However, this sentiment:

Gosden, Mafaaz’s trainer, insists that a healthy 3-year-old should not need medication to race. He should know; he worked in California in the early 1980s when he trained two Eclipse champions. In October he brought Raven’s Pass to Santa Anita and upset the United States’ two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

conveniently leaves out that Raven’s Pass ran on Lasix & Bute in Classic, which might not have made his point so air tight. Also interesting to note that it looks like Waldrop’s letter to the editor hasn’t been published (or I just can’t find it, which is entirely possible given that I couldn’t find Davidowitz’s without someone giving me the link).

Speaking of Steve Davidowitz, our next match-up features the stunning akido moves of Davidowitz in reply to racing’s “biggest fan”, William C. Rhoden. While Rhoden’s current article, Horse Racing Begins Reform, but Legal Drugs Are Still an Issue, is somewhat toned down compared previous articles, it still not without it’s moments.

Racing enthusiasts seem to feel that the general public, rather than being horrified, should view these breakdowns the way boxing fans and pro football fans look at catastrophic injuries: as unfortunate but inevitable consequences of difficult sports.

While I would have liked to have seen Davidowitz (or anyone) call out Rhoden’s inference that racing enthusiasts are not sufficiently horrified by breakdowns as an inappropriate siren song for the ill informed Stepford-esque racing haters, Davidowitz chooses instead to deftly point out that “enthusiasts” and the dwindling racing press are not only horrified but have also been saying the same things as Rhoden for quite some time.

But I hate drugs in racing. I hate them in racing as much as I despise them in baseball, Olympic track and field, world-class cycling and in the locker rooms of our high school and college athletes. At their core, drugs in athletic forums pose dangers to athletes, and they corrupt the idea of a level playing field for fans who root for their favorites or have the legal license to wager on a fair and square outcome.

I am not the only member of the so-called racing press who feels this way and has expressed it in hundreds of forums. But we are a dying breed, with minimal influence, thanks to newspapers’ general abdication of the journalistic imperative to cover this megabillion-dollar sport/game in favor of using wire service summaries and public-relations releases written by racing officials who remain blind to the No. 1 cause of breakdowns and to the collateral loss of public confidence that has eroded the sport’s standing in America.

I applaud you for putting a clear focus on the issue in The New York Times in a nonsensationalistic manner. Your column ably sent a message to racing officials to examine how the sport is failing to see the need to go beyond its improved safety practices.

Any rational human has to know that nothing less than an end to legalized drugs for racing purposes will save the sport for the future. Analgesic drugs like phenylbutazone (bute) and powerful diuretics like furosemide (Lasix) may be beneficial as part of a curative medical regimen. But they do not belong in the competitive arena.

Turning the tables and applauding him while simultaneously pointing out that his assertion is inaccurate without coming right out and saying it deserves another big “well done sir”!

And speaking of alleged drug-free racing, check out Pat Cummings’ Dubai Race Night, great coverage of preparations afoot in the desert.

At Every Skill Level

While others have already done a great job discussing yesterday’s coverage of the Lane’s End, I noticed something interesting during the show. And by interesting I mean annoying.

At some point in the show there was an ad for DRF’s Formulator. The ad was funny and stylistically riffed on advertising of yore. An exaggerated vaudeville barker voice-over narrated all of the great qualities of Formulator while retro images intended to be charming, light hearted and funny illustrated the points.

I particularly got a chuckle out of the pig racing shot. Sadly though, there was one visual sentiment that not only hearkened back to the days of yore, but looks as though it’s still firmly entrenched in the days of now. To drive home that Formulator was easy to use “at every skill level”, they flashed an image of two women. Now there’s a selling point, even a woman can use it!

Did they think it was funny or not even think about it? Was it the same sentiment Kenny Mayne espoused during the bazillion hour BC coverage last year, “men wager, women vote” or was it just a light hearted yet unconsciously telling choice? We’ll never know.

Much has been pointed out recently about racing’s reliance on “antiquated stereotypes and frivolity to appeal to women“. Ditto the speculation that airing the Oaks on Bravo could marginalize the Oaks as a “chick race”. How nice to have this bothersome trifecta rounded out by subtly being reminded that we’re also not perceived as being as skillful as our male colleagues… thanks guys!

Don’t get me wrong, I think Formulator is a fine product, after all they did make it easy enough for me to use!

Kayla Stra in the Winner’s Circle

Kayla Stra & Jennie C. Green in the winner’s circle with Lucius Antonius (yausser)

I was making my usual rounds this morning when I happened upon this excellent photo set over at flickr of Kayla Stra scoring a win, over Chantal Sutherland no less, Friday at Santa Anita. It was the 4th race, a $25k maiden claimer at 1 mile on the fake stuff.

Lucius Antonius, trained by the also lovely Jennie C. Green (in the white shirt) and owned by Gary Broad (no comment), “stepped to a slim advantage and set pace outside rival, roused and shook free in upper stretch, came in some later and just lasted under urging”, according to the chart.

But you can see it all here, Kyla mentally preparing outside the Jockey’s room, the team approaching the paddock, the pep talk, trying to psych out the opponents, breaking well, and holding off Chantal Sutherland in the stretch. Great stuff! And at least as interesting, if not more so, than anything else that went on in racing this weekend, no?

Speaking of which, check out Geno’s foray into “complaining”, well done and the more the merrier!

It also appears as though Channing Hill gets his first couple of mounts at Santa Anita on this Wednesday in the 5th & 7th.

Derby Dating 2009, I Saw You in the Hallway

It isn’t easy finding the right date for the big dance. (ronstarr64)

Sure, winging it every week over at the Paulick Derby Index is fun, but I don’t have any fancy system or giant homegrown matrix to evaluate this year’s Derby hopefuls. The analytic part of me has been berating myself for not putting together some slick way to arrive at my rankings while the overwhelmed with work side of me says “f you” to the analytic side. Nice!

But back to the Derby hopefuls for a moment, rather than try to pretend like I have any kind of justification or process for my rankings, I’ll just stick to what’s worked for me in the past.

Let’s face it, we know just enough about our Derby suitors to start some serious speculation. Have you been writing The Pamplemousse over and over again in your notebook? Did your mom totally yell at your for doodling I Want Revenge on your new sneakers? Join the club… and welcome to the first installment of Derby Dating 2009, I Saw You in the Hallway!

And because I can’t improve on last year’s intro twirl…

Bandwagon jumpers, believers, non-believers, and hype haters… we’re all looking for the same thing, right? To fall in love. But we’re skeptics… hurt so many times in the past, afraid to open our hearts again and be made a fool of. So we’re cautious, asking our intendeds to jump through hoop after hoop after hoop before we’ll say with certainty “I love [horse name]!”.

Maybe I don’t believe in monogamy… I believe it’s ok to love one and bet on another, or even multiple others! I like to have an open relationship with a horse. I may love you with all of my heart, but if your odds are too low I’m probably not going to bet on you. Sorry honey!

It’s close enough to the big dance now that I can start to evaluate my Derby suitors. For the most part I’ve seen enough to know who’s just a fleeting interest and who’s got some real potential.

Just a crush? Let’s be friends? Or I really think we could be something special… only time will tell! Until then, here’s how they’re stacking for me.

Like, as in Like Like:

Stardom Bound:

It’s no secret that I prefer the ladies and with lookers like this roaming the halls is it any wonder? She’s got it all… strength, class, heart and beauty! But like all smart kids who rocket to the top of their class early, she’s gonna have to buckle down now that others are catching up with her. And then there’s that small question of dirt. I know she can do it, she’s dreamy!

Freisan Fire

But then there’s this guy, over shadowed by his more popular stable mate, minding his own business and clearly not napping in study hall. He certainly has been looking hot lately, Old Fashioned who? Is he summa cum laude this year? Perhaps…

Interested in, if all goes well, next stop Like:

Old Fashioned:

Maybe now that his perfect reputation is tarnished he can relax a bit… he’s been chasing some wicked paces lately! I guess he hasn’t seen the after school special about keeping up with the fast kids only causing trouble in the end. If he sticks to his game plan and runs his own race, he’ll be fine. Good thing he’s got a good coach!

I Want Revenge

Moving in the middle of the school worked out great for this guy! He can go the distance, sitting off a hot pace while throwing in a little duel to boot. Sweet! Hopefully he can do the same thing as kids the bigger and more tough too. But what about that green rider with a lot to prove? There was some speculation at the parent/teacher conference about whether this could be his undoing.

Quality Road

It’s hard not to like like this guy after his last performance, rating beautifully off a hot pace and putting away a somewhat accomplished field. But I want to see if he can go the distance before I start sending signals that I’m really interested.

Desert Party

It’s always a bummer when a hottie gets shipped to boarding school. We keep hearing that he’s doing well and he definitely looked great the last time we all saw him. Do those fancy boarding schools really prepare students for the real world? I hope so!

Imperial Council

I only caught a glimpse of this fine looking fellow’s last performance but he sure did look promising darting in front of Mr. Fantasy in the last moment to catch second. Needless to say, I want to see more!

Want to Like but:

Pioneerof The Nile:

Here’s a guy that’s hard not to like but call me old fashioned, I want to make sure they like the dirt before I can give my heart away. Obviously I’ve made an exception for my beloved, Stardom Bound… she’s dreamy!

The Pamplemousse:

There’s always a hot guy at a neighboring school that everyone is crazy about, and I can see why. But the big dance isn’t at his school and he’s not going to have the home court advantage. How good will he look then?

Like with a small “l”:


His name is fun to say and he’s always near by but not quite when you want him to be. I don’t know, I think he could turn out to be big dance material.


Is he putting it all together or falling apart? I can’t tell. I think he’s probably got it going on but only time will tell. I hope time tells soon!

Not Sure about:


Dunkirk, Dunkirk, Dunkirk… why do I keep hearing this name? I haven’t really seen him yet but so many people are totally saving a seat in the cafeteria for him. Whatever, I’ll wait and see what the deal is when he actually shows up, it’s not like there’s no one else to be interested in.

Rachel Alexandra:

I’m pretty sure I’m not giving this gorgeous thing a fair shot out of loyalty to my dreamy beloved. But quite frankly Rachel, I’m a little afraid who know who might kick my you know what if she found out I thought you were hot! Let’s put this way, I’ve got my eye on you… did you get that note I left in your locker?

Papa Clem:

I’m glad to see your parents had the sense to switch schools but I still can’t tell if you fit in or not. I’ll just give you a chance to get settled in and see what you’ve got next time out.

West Side Bernie:

I like this guy’s style, he knows he’s already got a spot at the big dance if he wants it so he doesn’t have to sweat it like the others. The only thing he has to do is stay focused on himself… and that kind of cool confidence is mighty attractive! The only problem is since he never comes to class we can’t really get a good look at him. Is he just another pretty face or could he be the real deal? We should know more Saturday… and by the way, thumbs up on the jockey change!

Chocolate Candy:

Mmmm, candy. Yes, please! Wait, it’s a horse? Ok, I guess I’ll wait and see what his deal is. I had no idea. I hope he’s hot!

Mr. Hotstuff & Mr. Fantasy:

Is that really your name? Yeah right!


Accents are totally hot. Is he cute?

Broken Up With:

Hello Broadway:

Hello, turf? Maybe he should follow in his half-brothers footsteps and try the turf. Even though I don’t want to go to the dance with him, I’d definitely be seen in the hallway with him, you know, later in the year.

Flying Pegasus:

He would so totally be on my “Next Stop, Like” list if his connections hadn’t taken him off the trail. I was willing to give him one more shot given the slop last out. Oh well, I’ll see you over the summer hot stuff!

I caught a little flack last year, and rightfully so, for not also doing an Oaks Dating counterpart. So this year I’ll be channeling my inner-tween puppy love style of evaluation towards the fillies… look for “Oaks Dating 2009, I’m Coming Out” soon!

Breeders’ Cup Wants Your Opinion!

Filly & Mare Turf 2007, colored saddle clothes would help here, no? (Charles Pravata)

Not only is it a gorgeous spring morning here in GbG land, my day started with an interesting note from the Breeders’ Cup in my Facebook inbox asking me (and every other member of the Breeders’ Cup official fan page) to take part in a little survey.

As you would imagine, we’re in planning mode for the 2009 Breeders’ Cup World Championships. As part of the process, we would like you to participate in a quick survey on your website. So, please click the link below to participate!

Imagine my delight when I noticed this question:

Do you think the Breeders’ Cup should adopt colored saddle towels for this year’s running of the Breeders’ Cup World Championships?

Regardless of how you answer this question, the sheer fact that the question is being posed to fans by the Breeders’ Cup gives this optimist a reason to be cheerful! The note goes on to state that there will more polls moving forward.

If there’s one thing I can tell you about the Breeders’ Cup, it’s that they need numbers to justify any change. That was the overarching message of our meeting with them after the Breeders’ Cup last year.

So what are you waiting for, get over there and tell them what you think!

We Know Drama


Dan Liebman’s post today on Bravo brings up (and over looks) some interesting points. He correctly points out that ESPN “decides for us what is sport and what is not, and what we will be able to watch”, although admittedly this is a construct of media in general.

He puts the icing on the cake by saying:

Apparently, it is more important to find out who is the world’s strongest man than who is the world’s best Thoroughbred.

However, the real missed opportunity in this discussion is main stream marketing or lack of it.

Lower interest in racing can be attributed to several things, among them more choices today for viewers and the fact many core fans are watching on HRTV or TVG, or at a simulcast or off-track betting facility. While HRTV and TVG serve racing’s core, they do little to help cultivate new racing fans. It’s doubtful other, smaller cable networks will either.

I don’t think it matters what channel racing is on as long as it’s marketed, after all, people can’t get interested in what they don’t know about. Look at the success of Jockeys on Animal Planet of all places. Remember how concerned we were with their crazy breakdown-a-palooza promotion? It didn’t matter, the show was success… and it couldn’t have been a success if they had just hoped people would find it. Sound like a familiar approach?

In regards to Bravo, Patrick at Handride argues that positioning racing as cultural phenomenon will be racing’s undoing as far as growth goes. An interesting comment thread ensues that explores the oft debated sport vs. gambling angle. Additionally, the tweetosphere disagreed with him on the cultural phenomenon part. I don’t think it matters one way or another with no mainstream marketing.

Prior to Liebman’s post today, Jason Moran pointed out the World Wide Sports angle here at GbG over the weekend. He makes some great points and in fact he has shared other interesting thoughts about sports coverage here at GbG in the past. The Wide World of Sports idea is particularly interesting because, as several commenters at Bloodhorse point out, racing telecasts that go on for hours are pretty boring. The other side of that coin is what Moran has pointed out before, that NBC knew how to tell stories and fill the seemingly long space between races with interesting, well told stories.

I’m no sports maven, in fact I can emphatically say that I don’t give a shit about sports, but look at the NBA & TNT. Is TNT a sports channel? No, it’s the home of Drama. That’s actually a pretty brilliant hook for any kind of sport or game if you ask me. And guess what, they market it!

I think the bottom line is that, regardless of whether it’s locally or nationally, if we’re really concerned about growth then racing ought to start marketing itself to more than the existing fan base.

Go West Young Man

Channing Hill at Belmont (raymond)

Best of luck to Channing Hill as he leaves us New Yorkers behind and ventures out west to ride at Santa Anita and then Hollywood.

Here he is on First Defence in the G1 Forego last summer at the Spa. It looks like someone put Vaseline on the lens but you get the picture.

We hope to see you around every now and again, don’t forget to visit!

New Poll, IEAH’s Next Move

Stardom Bound and Mike Smith in the parade prior to the SA Oaks (Charles Pravata)

During the conversation last week regarding Stardom Bound, I asked “I wonder if Patena turns out to be a stinker if they’ll get reinvested in SB in the Derby?”…. Val wonders the same thing.

Moments after the LA Derby I asked the tweet-o-sphere:

Who thinks IEAH will start making noise about SB on the Derby trail now that Patena doesn’t look like a contender? I do.

The results were mixed…

I thought they should have kept up the SB noise in the first place. That last race impressed, rather than disappointed, me.

either that or they’ll buy their way in with some other horse.

I don’t

Regardless of whether you think Stardom Bound should be on the Kentucky Derby trail or not (I do), what do you think IEAH will do? Will they lay low and then announce that Stardom Bound is back on the Derby Trail if she performs well in the Ashland? Will they give Patena another shot given the slop or will they just buy another Derby hopeful (Win Willy?? Musket Man?)?

Apologies to the 8 of you who voted in my Bravo poll, it wasn’t the most well crafted poll… if the person who thinks there’s not a single good about the Oaks being on Bravo concedes that any coverage is better than no coverage then I suppose there really isn’t much use in asking!