Somebody Does Care

That would be Cheryl (Lady Horseplayer) and a few others.  After reading her interesting story about the "killer buyer" and feeling shame about being part of the "game", I guess I would say cut yourself a break.  You have worked tirelessly against horse slaughter, and sooner or later it will probably cease to exist in this country.  The degree to which you and I contribute to the success of the business aspect of racing- which is the part that allows this to go on - is miniscule.  You can probably do more good being a credible active participant than a sideline whiner or Monday morning quarterback.  While I am personally skeptical that every thoroughbred can be adopted, if they have to be disposed of, then veterinarian administered euthanasia is far more humane and sensible than allowing these animals to be slaughtered.     

So keep up your good fight, and hopefully in time the changes will come. 


What A Difference A Year Makes

Last year at this time a lynching party was looking for Desormeaux, who by their estimation cost Big Brown the Triple Crown.  I wrote a defense of Kent with the premise that the letting a rank horse go will get you nothing and that Big Brown simply wasn't going to win that day.  I took the heat, and we all survived.  Now a year later, Kent wins with a well-timed off the pace ride and lovable Calvin is getting a few barbs for having moved MTB too soon.  And as much as we love Calvin, he did screw up.  In his own defense he said the horse was getting a little rankish and wanted to go.  Same dilemma as Kent had.  Let them have their head or not.  The answer in the vast majority of cases is NO.  Calvin should have held tight on MTB and risk his reaction, because to let him go at that point meant defeat, and nearly always does.  Ironically, Kent made the right decision and got excoriated for it.  Calvin probably won't take the heat Kent did because no one gives much of a sh-t.  There wasn't anything at risk in the Belmont except the bizarre human Triple Crown for Calvin, which most people outside his family and friends didn't care about either way. 

 I'm not sure MTB was the best in the Belmont- Rave makes a good case for Dunkirk, and of course another horse did win it.  Still, MTB, who is clearly a legitimate racehorse would have done better.  I'm glad Calvin won't be raked over the coals for his mistake.  Humans in pressure situations make judgment errors.  They assume things they otherwise might not.  I can think of no better example than Kent's (again) ride on Real Quiet in the Belmont where he arrogantly and unnecessarily went about 5 wide on the last turn and then lost the Triple Crown by a whisker. 

So I hope they leave Calvin alone on this one.  Hopefully, a lesson learned for him as well as for all the armchair jockeys out there who are ready to crucify someone for mistakes that are made as well as those that aren't.   


Back to Handicapping 101

All I can say is wow.  What a filly, and the little runt isn't so bad either.  I actually had Mine the Bird in the Pick-4, but not Rachel Alexandra just because of her odds.  That was not an easy race for either one of them, and they showed they are the best of this otherwise sorry lot.  I would love to see a rematch in the Belmont, but I can see that not happening since there isn't a triple crown at stake. 

I still think taking a stand against the filly was sound in concept just because of her odds, history and so many questions.  It was hard to know how good she was beating up on weak fillies with golden trips.  Well, she's pretty damn good.  And now I have to hear it from my daughter, wife and all my lady friends who I expertly told she wasn't a good bet, although she might win.  I'm going to be buying some dinners and drinks to assuage the mild outrage.  It's clear to all of them that if I wasn't such an old school sexist I would clearly have seen what a lock she was.  And I thought losing the race cost me some money.  You won't be hearing from me next time this or any other filly takes on the colts in a big race. 

Have to go- my wife wants to go to dinner. 


Alexandra the Great?

I have been jacked-up all week about how I'm going to make a big score in the Preakness by beating Rachel Alexandra.  A filly, and favorite no less, going against faster boys in a big, rough-and-tumble field where she won't have the garden trips she always gets.  Then I looked at the past performances this morning and the air went out of my balloon.  She can and well may win this race.  The reason?  No quality speed to speak of, and not that much cheap speed either. 

I watched all of her races since Nov 1st where she got squeezed in the stretch and ran 2nd.  While the squeeze cost her, I'm not sure she would have won.  Every other race has been a beautiful trip where she either led or was right there on a modest pace.  She consistently gets to run her first half mile in 47 and something.  My initial thinking is that to have position in the Preakness she would either have to go a good bit faster or give up that position.  Now I'm not so sure.  The #1 horse Big Drama has the best early speed and will go a long way I think (even without the blinkers), but Calvin cannot and most likely will not, engage that horse.  Other than that and maybe the #11 Take the Points, there don't figure to be too many or any in front of her at a 47+ half mile.  If she can get close-up stalking position without using too much, then she will stay away from traffic troubles and going wide, and has a great chance to win the race. 

I think the only other real contenders here are the horses who ran well in the Derby, i.e., Musket Man, Papa Clem, Pioneer of the Nile, Mine the Bird, plus Friesan Fire, who is surely better than his last.  Any of these horses could run a big race and win, but they don't appear any better than Rachel Alexandra.  A word on Mine the Bird: his Derby victory has brought him nothing in the way of praise or admiration.  Scorn would more closely resemble everyone's reaction, including mine.  Everyone thinks it was a fluke because of the mud and the rail trip.  I still basically think that, but it this horse may be much better than we thought.  His victory margin is pretty compelling for a 19 horse field. And by the way, it rained here over an inch last night and is supposed to continue today with a good chance of thunderstorms about Preakness time tomorrow, so watch out. 


Mine the Who?

When is the last time (ever?) that the jockey of the Kentucky Derby winner willingly gave up his mount in the Preakness?  That appears to be the scenario unfolding as Calvin Borel has committed to Rachel Alexandra who seems set for the Preakness.  Not that I fault Calvin or think he took the wrong horse, it's just such an unlikely, bizarre scenario when you stand back from it.  Calvin gives up his chance to ride a triple-crown winner.  Why would he do that?  Obviously because he and/or his agent think there is no chance of that happening.  I don't either, and I bet you couldn't find anyone this side of Albuquerque who does.  But crazy, improbable things do happen, especially when you seem to fly in the face of potential destiny.  Just ask Wicked Style.  (When is that concert again?)

I wish Calvin the best, as I have no love for the little mud freak.  But if he's best, Calvin may be reduced to tears once again. 

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