Monthly Archives: March 2009

Midnight Train to Jonesville

Larry Jones horse whispering to Buy the Barrel (wendyu)

Get ready to hop aboard the midnight train to Jonesville, Larry Jones-ville that is! Not only are the Hennegans following Jones around with with their cameras this weekend (and hopefully twittering soon! hint, hint), Joe Drape’s feature in the NY Times is currently the lead story on the Times’ sports page. I don’t know about you, but I’m already liking this year’s Derby hype coverage waaaay more than last year’s!

No doubt you’re waiting to see how everyone does tomorrow before you place your futures wagers for both the Derby and the Oaks. Don’t forget, this year’s wagering menu introduces the futuracta!

Speaking of the Oaks, this year’s TV coverage is being dropped by ESPN. However, it’s being picked by Bravo, who had already planned to do a one hour Oaks day special, geared towards the ladies.

Churchill spokesman John Asher said Bravo’s Oaks coverage has the potential to reach new fans.

“While ESPN did cover a considerable chunk of Oaks Day, we’re very excited that we’ll be able to reach a new audience for the Kentucky Oaks on the Bravo telecast of activities surrounding the Kentucky Oaks and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. We think that presents wonderful opportunities.

While ESPN gets a big thumbs down for this move, bravo to Bravo. Plenty of racing fans of the female variety, myself included, have mentioned that making the game more accessible to women would be a great thing, so cheers for that. On the other hand, part of me thinks this has the potential to be similar to the new insipid positioning of menswear inspired women’s wear as “boyfriend”wear.

It’s times like this I try to remind myself that not everyone has to experience racing in the same way to find it enjoyable. I’ll be watching the simulcast signal, but if Bravo can attract some new folks to the game or at the very least broaden it’s appeal, that’s probably not a bad thing. Particularly compared to no coverage at all.

And finally, this fan of racing and technology is very happy to see Jessica blogging again at the newly upgraded Railbird v2. Newly expanded focus, same smart observations. Other recent smart observations include Pull the Pocket on thinking like a marketer and the Wind Gatherer with an appeal.

I’m off to do a bit of handicapping, best of luck this weekend!

That Was Fast

The Derby party is over for Stardom Bound as her connections decide to point her to the Ashland and then the Oaks. I’m no trainer but doesn’t that seem like a quick decision? I’m also a little sad that they seem to have lost confidence in her. Plenty of folks have pointed out that her colleagues are just now catching up to her, she certainly didn’t take a step backwards but it seems like they’ve interpreted it that way.

Not that I want to turn in to the Gawker of racing but the internets uncovered some interesting speculation this afternoon… “look for Gomez to replace Smith” on Stardom Bound. But if we’re gonna speculate, you would think that any switch would be to Prado as Dutrow’s go to rider, although Iavarone was vague about when the transfer would happen. This just feels a little bit too much like the Hard Spun/Pino knee jerk reaction moment, that is, if it happens!

And because you knew it wouldn’t be long before this argument got trotted out:

Stardom Bound doing right thing staying w/ fillies. After Eight Belles, why would any owner consider taking the boys on? What’s the point?

The tweet-o-sphere immediately responded with:

It worked for Zarkava in the Arc and Goldikova in the BC Mile… both races less than 6 months after Eight Belles

And Ventura just finished a nose behind Gio Ponti in the Kilroe Mile. Sex isn’t a safety issue.

PETA has a worse rep than horse racing. Fs beat colts at ALL levels of the game. A filly won a classic not 2 years ago. There is no argument

R2R beat what people call ‘the greatest horse of this generation’. That’s ‘game over’ right there. Educate the peeps, don’t let PETA do it.

Educate is right + keep pressure on industry re: horse safety, welfare. Pandering to ignorance, anthropomorphism not the answer.

Fingers crossed that we can move on quickly from that argument, and I’m ready for the “Sex is not a Safety Issue” T-shirt!

In light of Einstein’s Big Cap win, Jessica and o_crunk have been trying to come up with a list of horses to win graded stakes on all three surfaces. So far they have Lava Man and Panty Raid. I just noticed Monterey Jazz has also has the 3 surface sweep. That’s a pretty short list, but then again it’s not an easy accomplishment. There have to be at least a few more, no?

Update: yes, there are quite a few more in fact. And doesn’t that sentiment re: “staying with the fillies” seem laughable now.

Another Jeer and some Cheers


4 minutes to post, time for a commercial!

Has anyone else watching Santa Anita via simulcast found the commercials during the parade maddening? I can’t figure it out. Besides the race, the parade is the only other thing I want to see. NYRA, who’s been tearing it up over on Twitter, does faaaaabulous parade camera work on the simulcast.

I’ve had a private little boycott of SA going since the inception of the parade commercials that I broke to play the excellent Big Cap card. I should have stuck with it as I had a rotten day at the virtual windows. At least I kept my wagers light, thanks to the commercials.

Meanwhile, back on the east coast Kiaran McLaughlin summed it up by joking:

They’ve got good races out on the West Coast. Why didn’t (I Want Revenge) stay out there?

I’ll move I Want Revenge in to my top 10 list and look forward to seeing him in the Wood. I was never a Haynesfield believer, at least not for the Derby, so no surprise there. I like Val’s read on Imperial Council. I liked the way he closed as and will keep an eye on him, although he might be improving just a hair too late for the Derby.

I’m not sure I put any stock into the idea that I Want Revenge’s win validates Pioneer of The Nile. I like PoN but I Want Revenge’s performance in Robert B. Lewis was just so-so, not the strong performance of yesterday plus there’s that pesky synth/dirt question for PoN. GbG commenter and all around smart guy o_crunk probably has PoN’s number as a turfer.

As impressive as I Want Revenge was, even more impressive is Mr. Ernie Munick’s video of Gotham day at the Big A! Sights include a walk down wind tunnel memory lane, race caller smack down, Brooklyn Backstretch with Derby fever, local fans supporting their local jockey colony (as long as they’re winning) and a little holiday ballet on the fence. Fun stuff… it even made me wanna go to the Big A!

And how about Einstein? Kate of Keiblog shares this sentiment:

Einstein should inspire more horse owners to race their champs beyond 3 and 4. Japan does it. And obviously a champ is a champ! Go Einstein!

I won’t disagree, it’s great to have such a versatile talent around to show the rotten kids how it’s done!

New Poll, Stardom Bound in SA Derby?

I’m a little perturbed with all the spin about Stardom Bound being “barely best” beating an “unheralded” field and that her connections should face the “sobering reality”.

I couldn’t sum it up any better than Alan at LATG when he says:

Expecting to read the praises of the gritty win by Stardom Bound in the SA Oaks, I was surprised, and rather disappointed, to instead see it being framed in disappointment.

As Frankel put it, “She only ran 10 lengths farther than anybody else in the race”. Call me crazy, but I think having to overcome a wide, hideous, bumpy trip and still gutting it out to win is a plus, not a minus. But when one gets away on an easy lead with no challenge and wins by several lengths, well that’s impressive.

She’s staying put in my top 10 list for the PDI Index, I liked what I saw. (update: I removed her from my list after they announced she was off the trail. If she were still on the trail she would have remained at #2). Would I rather she had an effortless 6 length win? Sure, but what would she get out of that? The Oaks was probably the kind of race she needed if she wants to step up in to open company, and I hope she does!

But what do you think? Do you agree with Iavarone’s oversimplified (whoops, sorry!) assessment that she could “barely beat the girls” or do think she’s shown she can still get the job done even under adverse circumstances?

As for the last poll, it should come as no surprise that Chantal Sutherland was your favorite jock on Jockeys, Win or Die Trying. But, just like Stardom Bound in the Oaks, it wasn’t a runaway and she had to gut it out for the win! In the beginning it was a battle between Talamo & Gryder, but it didn’t take long for Sutherland & Smith to take over and battle for the lead. All the while Kayla Stra was in the mix and for several days she was on top!

There were a whopping 191 votes, that’s almost double the last most voted on poll (your biggest issue with the Breeders’ Cup) and I didn’t even promote this one! The final tally was 45 for Sutherland, 43 for Smith, 42 for Stra, 27 for Talamo, 26 for Gryder and 8 for Court.

As always, thanks for voting, even if you did you show up from a Google search for “pictures of Chantal Sutherland”!

Why You Won’t See Ads for Racing During Jockeys


And it’s not the NTRA’s fault!

On the long flight back from the NTRA Marketing Summit in the fall, I caught an episode of Law & Order that I hadn’t seen (Jet Blue, darling). This is a rarity. The episode centered around a racially motived killing of a black man. The DA’s office didn’t have enough evidence to the make a solid case against the suspect so they were holding off on an arrest until they could make a proper case. The media was roasting them for not making an arrest and to make matters worse, the family of the victim assumed the worst and was going to every media outlet to rant about how the DA’s office didn’t care about them because they were black.

Meanwhile, back at the DA’s office, they were working overtime to try to get enough evidence to make a solid case… sure, they could have arrested the suspect right away but they didn’t want to risk going to trial without proper evidence and a solid case. They wanted to nail the suspect as much as anyone else. In short, they were doing the right thing. Only the media didn’t know it and the family of the victim didn’t believe it, so they forced the DA’s hand to make an arrest before they had all the evidence and guess what happened. It didn’t hold up in court.

Oh, the irony that the DA’s good intentions and hard work were unknown to the public. Admittedly, the DA’s office could have done more to let the people know they were working their tushes off and doing the right thing, but that would take valuable time and effort from them working their tushes off and doing the right thing.

By all accounts “Jockeys, Win or Die Trying” seems to be doing well, I’ve even heard a rumor that there will be a second season. If my traffic growth from searches for all things “Jockeys” is any indication, there’s a lot of potential to generate new fans.

Right after it became clear that the series was not going to only be the breakdown packed jamboree that was the promotion, I started muttering how it would be great to do some promotion for Derby preps during Jockeys.

Last week the Derby prep schedule was announced. Here’s what happened on Twitter 2 seconds after seeing it…

Me: “sure hope they plan to advertise these races during Jockeys, Win or Die Trying”

Others immediately chimed in with:

“I think that would make entirely too much sense to be allowed.”

“No chance anyone gets that bright idea.”

“ESPN has the money to advertise on Animal Planet, right?”

“If not ESPN, then how about the NTRA? Isn’t their mission to promote the game?”

“NTRA pretty much pays to have the shows on ESPN in the first place.”

Tough crowd! This time last year I would have immediately rattled off a post about the missed opportunity assuming that everyone involved was asleep at the wheel. This year I decided I would just send my thoughts directly to Alex Waldrop, subject “You probably already thought of this…”.

As it turns out, indeed they had thought of it AND looked into it. Sure money and available slots for advertising are always issues, and to add insult to injury the preps start airing the week AFTER the series ends. But let’s say there is a second season, and that second season even overlaps with actual racing. Then we certainly could and should plan to do some strategic advertisements on Friday night to “Take Back Saturday“, right? How perfect!

Not so fast, according to Waldrop:

The issue is one of network limitation. Animal Planet will not tolerate an ad that sends the viewer to another network. While exclusivity is a dirty work in the horse racing TV world, it is alive and well in the major network world.

How do you like them apples… something stupid not in racing!

Who knows when the alleged second season would be. Perhaps if there’s overlap with the Derby or the Breeders Cup there could be general, not driving viewers to another network, promotion sending viewers to or where they could find out when and where they could watch.

Waldrop assures me that they will be exploring all of their options. And I believe him, even though I’m sure there plenty of you out there won’t. And I can’t say that I blame you, sometimes it seems like no one is paying attention to the obvious stuff.

In one of his replies, after answering a question he wrote “Running into an NTRA Board meeting for final approval of the Alliance Code of Standards”. After meeting Waldrop et al and seeing them in action, I now assume that they’re doing the right thing… even if they’re too busy doing the right thing to always let us know everything that’s going on.

DIY Equicizer, the Equipillow!

Has the show Jockeys, Win or Die Trying got you thinking about becoming a Jockey? You’re not alone. But how does one go about getting in shape to become a jockey? Where can one practice?

You may have noticed one piece of equipment in particular in the jockey’s room, the Equicizer. It’s basically a mechanical horse. Here Chantal Sutherland and Mike Smith demo one:

Looks like Mike was winning!

Here’s a young man’s first time on the Equicizer, with some help from his coach and plenty of practice he’ll be ready for morning work outs quicker than you can say 4am!

Definitely not as easy as jockeys make it look.

Some aspiring jockeys like to watch classic race replays to get in the mood. Here a young jock puts in a light workout while watching the intro to what sounds like the 2000 Distaff:

Too bad she didn’t do a flying dismount!

Some people have a treadmill in their house, jockeys have Equicizers. Here’s a guy working out in the living room. He’s eventually joined by his roommate who settles in to watch TV:

It looks to me like his roommate interrupted him.

But what if you don’t have an Equicizer or even know where to find one? You’re in luck! This crafty aspiring jockey has assembled a makeshift home version, also known as the Equipillow! And like all good DIY-ers she’s kind enough to show her build process:

Don’t let your lack of access to horses or an Equicizer keep you from your dream… you’ve got pillows, don’t you? You’re gonna need this kind of determination if you’re gonna make it as a jockey!