Monthly Archives: May 2009

In The Meantime

Rachel Alexandra & Scott Blasi tooling around the grounds (wendyu)

Yours truly has been too busy to join in on the speculation and fun of the impending events. I’m hoping to spend tomorrow night obsessing handicapping, in the meantime go check out Wendy’s photos from Pimlico.

She took some great stuff last year and lucky for us she’s back in action! I’m sure she’ll keep those photos coming too, so check back often!

Reminder, HANA Pool Party Tonight!

It was hard to find a good pool pic for Iowa (What Makes The Pie Shops Tick?)

Tonight’s Pool Party is the 6th at Prairie Meadow, a wide open 1 mile claiming race for fillies and mares 3 & up.

It’s so wide open in fact that I’m gonna wait until I see the parade to make my picks, although I’m leaning towards #4 Mercy Came Arunnin and #5 Fuhr the Stars.

Regardless of how the race turns out, I sincerely hope QQ has a fabulous first date!

Thanks Tale of Ekati

Tale of Ekati discussing his retirement with Funny Cide (Capitol149)

I thought I might take a moment amidst all the excitement and speculation about the Preakness field to thank Tale of Ekati. I had a suspicion that he might be retired after the Carter.

Tale of Ekati was one of those oddly inconsistent horses that had many stumped and no doubt burned a lot of money. Just when everyone (except me) had written him off, he won the Wood. Just when even everyone (except me) thought he couldn’t be competitive cutting back, he won the Jerome. I cashed very nicely both times both and for that, I thank him!

His retirement got a tiny little mention during what has been a crazy news week, so I wanted to make sure he didn’t go unnoticed. He was as versatile as he was inconsistent, and I for one (or is that won?), will miss him. Have a great retirement!

2008 Wood Memorial:

New Poll, Mine That Bird in the Preakness

Next stop, Baltimore! (brykmantra)

Now that Mine That Bird is officially in the Preakness, what do you think his chances are? No chance? Depends on the weather? He’s better than we’re giving him credit for? Gulp… Triple Crown potential??

Imagine THAT outcome for a moment… and we thought Saturday was wild. In fact, if he won the Triple Crown I think we’d be sitting on the feel good story that could seriously turn racing around from a popularity stand point (ahem).

A dear friend referred to the outcome of the Derby as:

A shining moment for undistinguished individuals everywhere.


There are those who are nitpicking though. Blah, blah, blah shady owners who probably made the purchase with illegally obtained proceeds. Did we love Curlin any less?

Additionally, grousing about Chip Woolley, the trainer, not giving good media abounds. I’m not going to begrudge the guy a little surliness directed at the inanity of asking him some stupid, pointless questions on what had to be the most shocking moment of his life. I love that he’s not some insincere slickster with the ready made “feel good” response that the media craves. Let him have his moment, I’m sure his head was about to explode… after all, he did drive 21 hours to get there!

I’m also not ready to concede that this year’s crop of 3yo colts are sub-par. For all of those folks making fun of Friesan Fire, I look forward to taking your money sometime in the near future. In fact, that holds true for any number of previously well regarded starters who, for whatever reason, had an off day.

Dunkirk? Stumbled, twice. Hello 8-1 next out! Regal Ransom, did exactly what I expected, here’s to 10-1 in a more suitable spot. Desert Party? I still think he’s a better horse than he showed, let’s go 20-1!! And here’s hoping Quality Road, I Want Revenge, Friesan Fire, Dunkirk, Pioneerof the Nile, Musket Man, Papa Clem and Chocolate Candy have a rematch in the Travers.

With 3 weeks out I asked if you had a Derby horse yet. At the time the field wasn’t clear so I didn’t include everyone by name. Naturally 47 of you said that you liked a horse that I didn’t mention by name (I really should have listed more of them, next year!). 35 of you said Friesan Fire was your horse, 32 of you liked I Want Revenge, 23 of you (myself included) said that you hadn’t made your selection yet, 21 of you liked PotN, 14 of you liked Quality Road and 4 of you liked Papa Clem. As always, thanks!

Take That, Stallion Derby

Mine That Bird, pulling away from the stallions (Jamie Newell)

I’m not a big believer in the “racing gods”. However, if there are racing gods, I have to think they had something special in mind for the likes of the Dolphus Morrisons of the game when a gelding who fetched a mere $9,500 at Keeneland’s yearling auction won the Stallion Derby.

To make it even better, one of Mine That Bird’s owners Mark Allen, was quoted on the purchase of their unlikely winner:

We wanted a racehorse, not a stallion.

Take that, Stallion Derby!

Who Knew?

Gelding Mine That Bird, winner of 2009 Derby, ruining it for all the Stallions! (Sarah K. Andrew)

To quote excellent handicapper and GbG pal Derek Simon:

Ha! Ha! I quit handicapping. Are you kidding me? Mine that Bird? Anybody who had that — you need a statue erected in your honor!


Isolation of Mine That Bird replay (that I can’t embed).

Congrats to the connections, see you in a couple of weeks!

(new GbG Derby policy: $2 to win on everyone over 30-1.)

Derby Day Picks 2009

Happy First Saturday in May! To be honest, I’m a having a little trouble getting jazzed about today with the late scratch of I Want Revenge after all the other defections and breathtaking splendor of Rachel Alexandra being wasted on connections that see the Triple Crown only as a function of showcasing stallions. Talk about a bring down, at least they’re out and proud about it and not trying to pretend that it determines the best 3yo in training… I’ll give them that.

Moving on, another reason why I’m having a hard time getting jazzed is that I felt there was more value apparent in the Oaks card, such as my picks of Miss Isella and Bullsbay, than I can find today. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try!

Kodiak Kowboy looks tough to beat in the Churchill Down, this is his distance and if the track is still sloppy or off I might single him in any multi-race wagers. An acception to that would be Accredit who should benefit from the added distance… leave him off at your own risk. The Roundhouse is an interesting long shot to me as he’s improving and has placed to Kodiak Kowboy in the past (although he was the fav in the race).

Update: Accredit for the win! Still alive in the Pick 6 and Pick 3. The Roundhouse got up for the 3rd, was really hoping he could get place as I had a little exacta box of the two. Kodiak Kowboy was hard ridden half way through, not his day.

The Eight Belles (nee La Troienne) is a little tough. I’ll go with Just Jenda here but will throw in Warrior Maid and Lady’s Laughter for some fun. Warrior Maid is cutting back to a distance that suits her and has done well on the second off and Lady’s Laughter is more of hunch play than anything. She’s won at a mile on the dirt and placed by a neck to Stone Legacy, who was only 20 or so lengths behind the 2009 Triple Crown winner yesterday. I’m having trouble getting jazzed about Four Gifts as the favorite but the distance should suit her and she’s reunited with her winning jockey, Shaun Bridgmohan, which is always something to take note of.

Update: Ugh, Four Gifts beats Just Jenda and leaves me playing for 5 of 6 in the Pick 6. Warrior Maid gets third. Oh, I’m also out of the Pick 3 now too, damn. Time to order pizza!

I really liked Ballymore Lady in the Distaff Turf Mile (look, a race that’s still called Distaff!! ok, maybe my mood is lifting) but I’ll use Elusive Lady, Visit and Lemon Chiffon. I do like Tizaquenna but wonder if she needs to sets the slow pace to win on the turf? I’m not sure that’s going to happen with Rasierra in the race so I’ll stick with my other 3.

Update: Guess that answers that question about Tizaqueena, she can sit off the pace and win! Dawn After Dawn, who looked ready to rock in the parade, hung tough for second while Lemon Chiffon was third. It looked to me like Smith struck Elusive Lady with his whip in the stretch when as he passed with Lemon Chiffon. Elusive Lady, my pick, definitely stopped.

I’m looking forward to betting against Informed Decision in the Humana Distaff, but will not leave her off any multi-race tickets. She hasn’t fared as well switching from synthetic to dirt and Secret Gypsy and Game Face look tough.

Update: I only played a small exacta of Royal Michelle over a few horses because she looked really good in the parade but Informed Decision blew by the rest of the field in the stretch. Naturally I left her off my desperation Pick 3. I think my frat boy neighbors are having a Derby party, maybe I should ask them who they like, ugh!

Before I handicapped the Woodford Reserve I thought I might single Einstein, but regardless of the fact that that Einstein loves the distance and surface combo, Proudinsky and Zambezi Sun are interesting and should do well on the softer turf. Proudinsky is on a roll and training well for Bobby Frankel while Zambezi Sun should finally show what European turf class is about after running on concrete turf and then poly out in Cali. This one should be interesting. After just watching the first turf race of the day, the outside post should also be helpful to Zambezi Sun and Einstein.

Update: As it turns out, I could have singled Einstein. What a race! Very thrilling stretch battle with Einstein getting up in time to beat a very game Cowboy Cal. At least I’m alive in the double. It’s now confirmed that my neighbors are having a Derby party, they’re all dressed up and when their door opened I heard someone explaining what Quinella is.

And now for the big one, the breeding showcase, the Stallion Derby! Like many a player my pick to win is Friesan Fire. I took me until now to really settle on that as my official pick. I almost, ALMOST went with Desert Party.

My A-Team, top 3 are: Friesan Fire / Desert Party / Papa Clem. I would not be surprised to see any of those three win. I will definitely have tri and exact boxes of those three + win bets on Desert Party and Papa Clem (Friesan Fire’s odds will probably be too low for me for a win bet… but if he looks good, who knows!).

I’ll also use Musket Man and Summer Bird. I may do a $1 3/5/all ticket ($204) but am not entirely sure yet. I also ready have some interesting live futuracta tickets with Friesan Fire on top so I’ll wait to see the parade and spend the rest of the afternoon trying to figure out how to construct my tickets.

Good luck, let’s get them all home safe and may the best stallion win!

Update: I had a brutal day at the windows but as it turns out, the only gelding in the field won… take that “Stallion Derby”!

Oaks Day Picks

Insert obligatory sentiment about being bummed yet relieved that Zenyatta was scratched. Follow-up with note about looking forward to seeing her debut.

Now that that’s out of the way… I didn’t handicap the Aegan Turf Sprint so let’s start with Zenyatta-less Louisville Handicap.

One Caroline will probably win, but it’s worth noting that her smallest winning margin aside from her maiden win was with Swift Temper right behind her pressing the pace. So far the track has been speed favoring so it also wouldn’t be a surprise to see Swift Temper steal it but I’m gonna take a shot with Miss Isella. Unlike Swift Temper who has run 5 times at Churchill and only showed once, Miss Isella has won 3 and placed once for the same amount of races. She’s also won 2nd off and with the switch from synthetics to dirt. I think she’ll sit off the pace on the outside (the money spot so far) and with any luck she can get it done. Unbridled Belle is always a wild card for me, I like her a little bit here as she does well off a break but she doesn’t seem to like the slop. No doubt she’ll be short a price as well. I might even box Miss Isella and Swift Temper depending on how the look in the parade. I will definitely use One Caroline in Pick 3s but am looking elsewhere in the race.

Update: Miss Isella scores and pays $19.40, the day is off to a great start!

In the Edgewood Laragh looks to be very short price. I’ll single her in Pick a 3 & Pick 4 but am looking at Magical Affair and Abbott Hall for value.

Update: Laragh won impressively with a quick closing Magical Affair getting up for second, I’ve still got one Pick 4 ticket alive but am out of the Pick 3.

Dr. Pleasure looks like he could wire the field in the Alysheba. Macho Again and Mambo in Seattle will probably take most of the money and perhaps Macho Again can make it 2 back to back on a sloppy track, but I’ll be looking to the better priced Bullsbay, and long shot Shift in Power, who both love Churchill and the distance. I don’t think Cool Coal Man will press the pace too much so both Bullsbay and Shift in Power might get the moderate that suits them. Off course, Macho Again might ruin my long shot fun, but so be it!

Update: Bullsbay gets by an impressive looking Cool Coal Man, I didn’t play the race right but have 2 live Pick 3 tickets.

I’m not going too wild with long shots in the American Turf as I think Stormalory and Julien Leparoux will get the job done. I also like Battle of Hastings but I do think Bruce N Autumn is interesting as he’ll be back on the turf at Churchill, the site of his only win which was exactly at the distance. I might throw him into a tri with the other 2 for fun but am unlikely to use him in a Pick 4.

Update: Sadly, Stormalory broke down after taking a bad step during the break and had to by euthanized. Condolences to his connections, Orthodox pulled a major upset over Battle of Hastings. If there’s any upside to be had in these situations, it was nice to see Jon Court of Animal Planet’s Jockeys show get some vindication and nice pay day on Orthodox.

And for the Oaks, it’s hard to see Rachel Alexandra losing, but if she does I definitely don’t want to miss out on the fun! It’s not like she’s undefeated and anyone can have an off day. Obviously I’ll single her in a Pick 4 but I think Justwhistledixie, Gabby’s Golden Gal and Flying Spur all look very interesting. I’ll have one crazy Pick 4 ticket including those 3 and wait to see how the look in the parade before I decide how to play it.

Update: Feast your eyes on the incredible greatness of Rachel Alexandra, the 2009 Triple Crown winner… oh, wait. Dammit!

Good luck, and let’s get everyone home safe!