Monthly Archives: April 2009

Now THAT’s a Bias!

Rachel Alexandra, thoughtfully not screwing it up for the stallions (Sarah K. Andrew)

Just a few short days ago there was an excellent discussion going on here at GbG regarding the Oaks, the Derby and ultimately the biases that exist here in the good ole U S of A that generally preclude talented fillies from running in open company.

I believe all in attendance were somewhat in agreement that yes, Americans do have their biases about running fillies with colts, but just in case anyone is still in denial that fillies don’t get the chance because of the beliefs of their connections vs. their ability, I offer Exhibit A.

Dolphus Morrison, Rachel Alexandra’s breeder and co-owner, had this to say about running her in the Derby:

I think the Derby is a colts’ race and it’s there to showcase the horses that are the top potential stallions. It’s kind of stupid for some jerk with a filly to screw that up.

I guess this answers the question posed in the aforementioned discussion “Which guy stopped her from entering the Derby?” One Mr. Dolphus Morrison, who politely doesn’t want to “screw it up” for the potential stallions. How thoughtful!

Do you think you’d ever, EVER hear that kind of attitude in Europe if an owner had a filly as talented at Rachel Alexandra? No, you’d see them at the l’Arc collecting their whopping check and smiling for the cameras. Can we please stop pretending that it’s a matter of talent that keeps top notch fillies in restricted company and acknowledge that these types of attitudes exist?

Stay tuned for Oaks card picks either tonight or tomorrow morning and Stallion Kentucky Derby picks probably Saturday morning. But since I have a decent amount of handicapping to do, no doubt I’ll be doing some procrastination posting!

Kentucky Oaks, Just Another Pretty Race?

As Jessica points out, the Oaks is always overshadowed by the Derby and this year is no exception. I make a bit of a joke about in my Oaks Dating post (the opening paragraph) but the disparity between the Derby and Oaks coverage is SO great, it’s as if the Oaks just any other graded race for 3yo fillies. Is it?

I had the pleasure of having just this discussion, via the Horseplayers Teen Party Chat Line (twitter), with Ed DeRosa (who now blogs!). I sort of stupidly took his bait about why there was no outrage re: filly races on Friday compared to the Breeders’ Cup and the party began there. The point I was trying to make is that it’s frustrating to see such a huge disparity between how the races are covered. He freely admits that, in his opinion, not only is the Oaks just another G1 race but that it gets a “tremendous amount of publicity for what it is“.

In trying to make my point, a quick twirl around the mainstream media racing sites at approximately 11am-ish this morning showed the following:, all derby above the fold,, no Oaks above the fold, DRF (from phone), no Oaks headlines.

As of now (roughly 8pm-ish Monday night of Derby week), Bloodhorse is (and will continue to be) all Derby above the fold as their prime section is Triple Crown Mania), Thoroughbred Times is all Derby above the fold (no special Derby layout) and DRF has a new Derby homepage that actually has no news above the fold but 1 of 12 news items are on the Oaks and 10 of 12 are on the Derby (the other was on the tragic accident at Churchill). So, out of the top 3 media outlets, nothing on the Oaks above the fold.

There are currently 50 headlines about racing news, 35 of them are on the Derby while 4 of them are on the Oaks. That’s 70% of all racing coverage devoted to the Derby with 8% of all racing coverage being devoted to the Oaks.

Put aside for the moment the very valid point made by Val that this year’s Oaks is not all that interesting given how much Rachel Alexandra is overshadowing her entry mates. Did that situation slow down the Derby coverage last year when Big Brown was perceived to be a few cuts above the rest? Was last year’s deeper Oaks field covered at a reasonably higher percentage than this year’s? Without having taken the same sample at this time last year I can’t say for sure, but what are the odds that the coverage was noticeably different… 15-1, 30-1, 50-1?.

Publicity and news coverage are (sometimes) different. Just because the Oaks isn’t being well covered (har har) from a racing perspective doesn’t mean it’s not being promoted, as DeRosa points out. Not too long ago when I first started following racing I thought the Oaks was the filly equivalent of the Derby. Churchill, for the most part, promotes it as such. The Derby and Oaks both have a site with similar structure and content. The Oaks is also well attended but as one GbG commenter points out, the stellar attendance and handle might be more of a function of how Churchill structures it’s tickets and perhaps that the locals love their Oaks.

A quick visit to the Oaks Wikipedia page uncovers this:

The Oaks and the Derby are the oldest continuously contested sporting events in history and the only horse races to be held at its original site since its conception.


The Kentucky Oaks is considered by some to be the second most popular horse race in the American horse racing society due to its attendance. It attracts about 100,000 people in attendance a year since 2001’s 127th running of the Kentucky Oaks.[3] In 1980 it was about 50,000 people and by 1989 it had reached about 67,000 people.[1] The attendance at the Kentucky Oaks usually surpassed the attendance at the Preakness Stakes, the Belmont Stakes, as well as the Breeders’ Cup.

It’s worth noting that the cites are from books on the history of Louisville. I think it might be fair to say that the Oaks is the second most popular horse race in Louisville, but by using the yardstick of news coverage it doesn’t seem to ring true elsewhere.

So, Churchill promotes the Oaks as if it’s the filly equivalent of the Derby but the media either doesn’t treat it as such because it does agree OR thinks the filly equivalent of the Derby only merits 8% of coverage vs. 70% for the Derby. Either way, I stand by my original point… annoying!

Oaks Dating 2009, Forbidden Love

The boys aren’t the only thing worth paying attention to in May (Team Queen)

Dear 3yo Fillies,

I know it’s tough to get any attention this time year. Your big dance, The Oaks, isn’t anchored to any cohesive racing series and there’s no well promoted grueling prep season… what’s a girl to do? Suck it, pretty much. And seriously, just how much can one obsess over ONE race with a bunch of boys? Jeez.

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that you’re all beautiful, fierce, tough and awesome… and I’m looking forward to your big day. While it may seem like I’m busy checking out the guys in the hallway, it’s because that’s what’s “normal” and “expected”. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I even started a spreadsheet!

Seriously though, I really love you with all my heart no matter how much I talk about those stupid boys… don’t forget that, ok?

Like, as in Like Like:

Rachel Alexandra:

You’ve got it all… class, style, speed and grace. The only thing that could make you more hot is if you had to battle it out for a win. Maybe then your silly jock will have to pay attention and give you a real ride!


Perhaps if any 3yo filly can give Miss Rachel Alexandra a reason to work, it’s this stunner. She went wide for the first half of the Bonnie Miss and spotted the front running speedster enough distance to make it seem like she might actually run away with it. But Dixie poured it on, coming wide (again) to put the field away, again. She’s won 5 in a row with 4 of them stakes. Call me crazy but I think I could really fall for this one.

Like with a small “l”:

Flying Spur:

Flying Spur’s mom has got it going on! With a mom like Lakeway one has to take notice of this young lady. In 1994 Lakeway won the Las Virgenes, SA Oaks, Hollywood Oaks and Mother Goose, placed in the Oaks and Alabama and STILL holds the record for the Las Virgenes and Mother Goose! (Rachel holds that record now) Of course times were different way back then. Back in the pasture I bet Mother Lakeway used to say “we had to race a LOT more than you’ll ever have to, AND we had to put on our own bridles… AND walk ourselves to cool down!”. “Whatever Mom, can’t you see I’m on the phone? Yeah, is this Rachel Alexdadra? I think I saw your jockey talking to Nan. Hello?”.

Gabby’s Golden Gal:

13 lengths? Nice! I mean I know it’s Sunland Park and all but 13 lengths is what you’d expect a top notch contender to win by under those circumstances. You’re trainer isn’t exactly a slouch either. I also hear you’ve looked impressive in the morning. Being prepared is totally hot!


With a name like Tweeter I’m already crushing. Did she just move here? I think I’ve only seen her once, and she totally won. I like a mystery, especially a mystery with an awesome name!

Not Sure About:

Be Fair:

To be fair, I’d have to say that I don’t know enough about you to decide if I think you’re a stone fox or just a another pretty face.

Want to Like But:


Sometimes parents want to make you in to something you’re just not, and that’s not your fault! I’m not sure if dirt is really your thing, but hey, I’ve been wrong before. I’ve just been around the block enough to know that I’d rather wait and see before saying yes to a girl like you.

Broken Up With:

Stardom Bound:

Can it really be considered a break up when your parents take you out of school to go on a fancy vacation? No one can ever replace you, my dreamy beloved, but I’m still here and the dance is still happening. I hope you won’t hold that against me when you get back!

ZOMG, I can’t believe it. ZENYATTA is going to be there!!! No offense girls but older = hotter (you’ll see soon enough). Keep your eyes on her if you wanna learn a thing to two, she’s the most wicked coolest EVER. Yay!

Reminder, HANA Weekend Pool Party!

(Simon Bak)

Today marks the first weekend installment of the HANA pool party, which is the 6th at Hawthorne. The Pretty Jenny is $100k 6F stakes race for state bred 3yo fillies.

Today has been all about errand running and attending to things around GbG manor, so I’ve only done the quickest of looks. That being said this is an interesting race, even though sprints are not generally my favorite types of races to handicap.

There’s plenty of speed of in this race and plenty of horses coming off a decent break. A quick glance at yesterday’s HAW races reveals that in all but one instance, horses who sat off the pace in 6F races won.

With that in mind, Lose None, Miss Fontana, Bow Tie Pasta, Cart’s Zenforus and Happy Henrietta all look plausible. B N Graced N Glory also jumps out on paper with 2 consecutive wins at HAW at 6F, but in the slop.

I’ll wait to take a look at them before I make any decisions but I’m most curious to see B N Graced N Glory, Lose None, Bow Tie Pasta and Happy Henrietta, who has won off a break equivalent to the one she’s returning from today.

As usual, you can pick up free PPs, Thoroughgraph data and picks from Hawthorn’s GM and resident handicapper Jim Miller at HANA. Good luck and have fun!

Update: Bow Tie Pasta took the race by several lengths, followed up by Cart’s Linda, Lose None and Tessie’s Tilbury. Yours truly is now 0-4 in HANA pool party having gone with B N Graced N Glory to win and tri box of B N Graced N Glory, Lose None and Happy Henrietta. There was a touch of drama as #9 Cumulonimble dumped her rider out of the gate was loose on the track. After the race the announcer mentioned she was still loose and now going in the wrong direction, although she was never on camera. An outrider safely grabbed her not too long after the race ended.

Another note, the dumped rider was the tall Brandon Meier that appeared briefly on Jockeys, Win or Die Trying. No word on his condition.

Wait a While, No Kidding

Wait a While and Vacare in the 2008 Diana (Sarah K. Andrew)

Quietly posted on Friday afternoon, the news of Wait a While’s positive test for Procaine after the Breeders’ Cup broke. The Breeders’ Cup… as in October. Wait a While is an understatement!

Apparently the ruling was issued Thursday APRIL 23rd, hence the recent reporting. Wait a While, who has since been retired, was disqualified and placed last. The trainer of said positive tested horse is Todd Pletcher, who happens to have at least 2 probably Derby starters in Dunkirk and Advice.

The item broke mid-afternoon and I have yet to see an outraged post or commentary. What happened? Is every body too busy obsessing over their spreadsheets to muster some outrage over the Toddster? What a let down! And how about some well deserved commentary about timing and why did the whole thing take some damn long? Or that no hearing has been set for Pletcher? C’mon people!

Canary in the Coal Mine


Tonight I had an appointment with my chiropractor. It’s been at least 6 or 7 months since I’ve been in to see him. This time last year I was going weekly and every week we’d discuss Big Brown, IEAH, or something Triple Crown related. And he always started the conversation “I saw something about a horse racing hedge fund” or “what do you think of Big Brown?” or “what’s up with Big Brown’s trainer?”. Obviously horse racing was out there in front of general public.

At some point this afternoon I remembered this and wondered if what, if anything, he had been seeing about horse racing. Would he ask me who I liked for the Derby or what I make of Dunkirk or I Want Revenge? How about Mullins or Paragallo? I decided not to bring it up and see what happened, to let him be the canary in the coal mine of racing’s current mainstream awareness.

Mind you, we had a lot of catching to do re: the various knots in my neck and back, but I did bring up that I had been working on a horse racing related project, in addition to my day job (as an excuse for why I had let things get a little out of hand in the health maintenance department). He did respond with an enthusiastic “nice” but no follow-up mention of anything Derby or horse related…. not even the tragedy of the polo ponies.

The whole appointment was a little devoid of “small talk” so perhaps the fact that he didn’t bring up anything is not really a good indicator that racing’s current awareness level in the mainstream. My next appointment is the Monday after the Derby, let’s see if the canary is still singing then.

Sheer Folly

Churchill in the morning (Katford)

Have I mentioned recently how much I love Steve Davidowitz? He was the first handicapper I ever read and his commentary, found at DRF+ or Trackmaster, never disappoints. In his monthly installment at Trackmaster he breaks down the facts about the contenders and generally points out that there’s still plenty to keep an eye on before any meaningful Derby rankings happen. I have to agree with this. While I continue to be super flattered to be included in the PDI, my “rankings” are really more like a watch list than anything else. If I can even pick just one horse this year, it won’t be until very close to May 2nd, if not ON May 2nd.

And speaking of reasons why one shouldn’t make any decisions just yet, DRF’s clocker-in-chief Mike Welsch is on the ground at Churchill and filing daily somewhat lo-fi “Blair Witch”-esque (lol… good one Kevin!) video reports on the morning works. While I’d like to see a variety of interpretations, I’ll take what I can get. Kennedy has a nice wish list of what he’d like to see out of the contenders that you might want to keep in mind as you check-in with the Blair Witch reports.

In a rare diversion away from the Derby for a moment, Welsch mentions Rachel Alexandra’s gallop as if a space ship landed and out walked the perfect embodiment of horse prepping for a big a race. Ok, maybe I’m a little bitter because my dreamy beloved is not the 3yo filly of the moment (I actually think giving her some time off is the right thing to do!) or perhaps it’s that a filly has to be a super freak to get any media play at this time of the year.

Hello, how are the other fillies prepping? There are other fillies in the race, aren’t there? I gave Churchill’s official tweeter a little razzing today (although I think it’s just a RSS feed) about this daily report that mentions all the fillies that galloped but only gives details on Rachel Alexandra, it’s a paltry trickle of information compared to what’s out there for the boys. How about a little detail about ALL of the fillies, not just the favorite? Grrrrr.

In other news GbG was recently honored by Case the Race as #9 of of the top 10 independent blogs for the Derby! This is somewhat shocking news because I’ve barely mentioned the Derby, although they did make that caveat… however, I don’t equate frequency with rigor, just frequency. If anyone did manage to make it all the way down to #9 in search of some Derby content, I can recommend the following:

Railbird, for kick ass historical data. LATG for continued and appropriate snarking at the Times (I totally agree), That’s Amore, who’s managed to finally catch a bit of the Derby fever and the already mentioned Kennedy who continually adds rigor to frequency when it comes to the Derby! All of this and more should help you make sense of what do with those Kentucky Derby odds… have fun!

Papi Chullo, Caribbean Stud

Papi Chullo

Papi Chullo in his return at the Big A in November (Ernie Munick)

Google has been indicating to me that people want to know what happened to GbG fav Papi Chullo. I even got an email from a concerned fan over the weekend wondering if I knew anything about what happened to him. Rest assured Papi fans, he seems to be doing well.

Some of you may remember that Papi Chullo made a return in the fall at the Big A in a starter handicap. It was all downhill from there from there as he ended up dropping through the claiming ranks ultimately to be sold to stud. Until now the details were a bit murky but as it turns out Papi landed in Jamaica in Mammee Ridge Farms.

Prior to his retirement there was a valiant effort at Ernie Munick’s Thoroughbred Racing in New York (TRNY) group at Facebook to raise the money to claim him. Ernie posted a shot of Papi and people started chiming in and spontaneously offering to kick in some money to claim him. We figured if every member was willing to donate $32 we could raise the money.

We were well on our way to having the funds raised and member Maggi Moss stepped up and offered to contact the current owner and try to buy him. She didn’t haven’t any luck with the owners but they did agree to sell him to stud, although it was never announced where. His profile on Pedigree Query was only recently updated with the farm location, so the mystery is now over!

As fellow Papi fan Jessica commented to me in an email:

Papi’s in Jamaica? What a life he’s had … Derby contender, claimer, Caribbean stud. Think they’re welcoming visitors?

If you’re planning a Jamaica trip any time in the near future you may want to contact to his new home to arrange for visit!

Here’s a shot of him chillaxin at his new job.

Papi Chullo

No doubt they’ll be little Papi’s running around here in a few years! Hopefully he’s doing well.

Fun With Derby Names

Whether you geek out or not, here’s hoping you cash a ticket or two (KumamotoMark)

It’s that time of year… time to geek out! There are a million angles and data points to obsess over and consider when selecting your Derby date, and the fun is just beginning!

Over at DRF Crist puts together a couple of interesting Google docs comparing last year’s crop to this years in terms of number of repeat wins and BSFs. Kennedy has been looking at speed and home court advantage. DRF has compiled a fantastic resource for all things Derby Prep (thanks Kevin!), and these are just a few instances of stuff to geek out on!

No time to obsess over data or compile that giant spreadsheet? I think I can help.

I made a smart ass tweet about my inner 12yo wanting Parade Clown to win the Derby, which elicited this reply from Miss Railbird.

The inner 12YO trifecta: Parade Clown, Desert Party, Chocolate Candy. All that’s needed is a hot dog to make day complete.

Naturally, this took me down the rabbit hole of silly name combos:

Spiteful Diva Exacta Box:

Big Drama / I Want Revenge

(ok, Big Drama is pointed to the Preakness, you may have to hold that one for a few weeks)

Military Heritage Exacta Box:

Musket Man / General Quarters

Booty Call Exacta Box (NSFW):

Mr. Hot Stuff / Giant Oak

Air Force One Exacta Box:

Flying Private / General Quarters

Too Hot to Handle Exacta Box:

Friesan Fire / Mr. Hotstuff

Daddy was a Landscaper Exacta Box:

Papa Clem / Giant Oak

Neighborhoodies Exacta Box:

Quality Road / West Side Bernie

WWII Exacta Box:

General Quarters / Dunkirk

Oompa-Loompa Exacta Box:

Win Willy / Chocolate Candy

Royal Bondage Exacta Box:

Regal Ransom / Hold Me Back

Vegas Frat Boy Exacta Box:

Desert Party / General Quarters

Around the Way Degenerates Exacta Box:

Papa Clem / West Side Bernie

No doubt there are plenty of other possibilities, especially as the field of 2009 Kentucky Derby contenders comes into focus!