Friday, December 31, 2010

Food For Thought

Who Doesn’t Want A Little Good Luck This Year?
Horseplayers seemed to be more aware than most people of how much “luck” can affect the outcome of life in general and a horse race in particular. We talk about blind luck, luck of the draw,out of luck, gettin’ lucky, lookin’ at lucky, can’t get lucky, Lady Luck, bad luck, good luck and no luck at all.

Well did you know there are “lucky” foods? As you usher in the New Year, there are traditional foods that you should eat, and whether it’s based on folklore or history, cultural or religious beliefs, it’s certainly worth taking a shot. Can’t hurt, right?

There are six major categories of “good luck” foods and they include grapes, greens, fish, pork, legumes and cakes. If you want to get an “edge”, the specifics are in this interesting article at Epicurious.

I knew about some of these foods, but what I did not know was that there are some foods that are unlucky! Lobster is a bad idea because they move backwards, and that could lead to setbacks. So thanks but no thanks, I’ll pass on the lobster. Same thing with chicken, because they scratch BACKWARDS, and eating anything with wings could mean that GOOD LUCK could FLY AWAY! So NO hot wings now and maybe ever again.

Plan your New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day dining with care.What’s in the feed tub could make an impact on what’s in your pocket. We all want to be on the winning side of all those inquiries and photo finishes!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Factor is on The Factor

Once again, Horseracing has gained national media attention. Love him, or not, Bill O'Reilly's immensely popular show on Fox ran a replay of The Factor's ( by War Front) record breaking maiden race from  Santa Anita last night in his "Pinhead or Patriot" segment.
Don't be a pinhead, race on over there and vote "patriot" for The Factor. It's another vote for Horseracing.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Blizzard Blues

The blizzard that blew up the East Coast in the last 24 hours, wreaked havoc on at least one horseplayer, and probably a whole lot more. Did it impact the handle for Santa Anita’s Opening Day… doubt it, but who knows?

A good friend, who shall remain nameless, still likes to visit the local gambling venues almost every Saturday and Sunday throughout the year, with the exception of the weeks that he spends at Gulfstream, Keeneland and Saratoga. There are 3 within a 40 mile radius of where he lives. He’s an old fashioned guy who still likes to have the Form in his hands.He has worked on the track, been an owner, breeder and has been betting for 35 + years. He likes to hang with his buddies, and mostly bets New York, or whatever high profile track that’s running. My guess is that he will go for a few hundred on any one day. Not a high roller, but probably around the median level for a lot of people.

With the storm hitting New England late Sunday morning, he decided to lay low and use his ADW account and watch from the couch. Not the way he likes to bet races, but it seemed to be his only option. But he still needed a Form. He ventured out as the storm escalated, to the local newspaper store never giving it a thought that they may be sold out. And they were. No Forms, not a one, not even those silly programs.

So at about 12:30, I get a frantic phone call. He was in a panic! He needed PP’s!!!! I laughed …it was ( I suppose) like a druggie looking for crack. Where do I get them? Could I print them out for him?( Well, I could if my printer was working) …. So I made a few suggestions, one, that he could get them through his account ( duh)… And then in the time it took The Factor to run 6 furlongs, my friend was able to enjoy opening day at Santa Anita. That is, while keeping up with shoveling, of course. What about all his other friends? What did they do?

My guess is that lots of horseplayers, up and down the east coast, who would  normally have been out at their favorite venue, were stuck in the house yesterday, and shut out. But maybe Mother Nature’s intervention is just what was needed to get some of the 50 and over crowd, the typical and  traditional racing fans, (who BTW, I think is STILL  the age that makes up the majority of racing fans ), to get more tech savvy so they can still get their dose of racing even when the weather throws them a curve.

If you are reading blogs, then you are somewhat Internet savvy. But there are still so many people who do not have the time, or don’t want to take the time to taste all that is offered to the racing fan by way of the Internet. And they are missing out on so much.

Believe it or not, I actually know people who still do not use a phone or Internet betting account and that is mind boggling! Nor do they take advantage of all the up-to the-minute information that is free on the net. For those who live too far from live racing, it’s the only way to survive. For those who prefer not to venture out to a “gambling parlor” every weekend, then watching one of the racing networks with phone or computer in hand, is a good alternative. It’s not ideal I know, but I for one, prefer it. Especially for the days when a blizzard blows through, “snowed in” doesn’t have to mean “shut out”.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Santa C and Santa A

You have Santa Claus arriving sometime tonight and you have Santa Anita’s opening day on Sunday. Shhhh….I think I’m a little more excited about opening day!

I love the fact that they are back to dirt at Santa Anita because I enjoy the challenge of handicapping an “off” track once in a while. But Southern Cal has had way more than their share of rain there recently. Let’s all hope that going back to dirt was the right thing to do and that the track is as safe as it can possibly be. There are four  stakes on the opening day card, including the Grade1 Malibu and Grade 1 La Brea (both at 7 furlongs.) plus the Grade 2 Sir Beaufort, which is on the turf ( But will it be?).

In the Malibu, I like Noble’s Promise. He has had one very good race back from a freshening, and that was 7 weeks ago, He has had 4 works in between and he’s seems to be a sturdy little horse that tries every time. I am curious about Setsuko, because I had my eye on him this spring. He was put on the shelf then, but has been working steadily for his return. I think he will prefer the switch to dirt. There are a couple in here coming back from their Breeder’s Cup races. I have to take a pass, as I have fallen for that angle so many times before, yet few perform at their best so soon after a Breeder’s Cup effort. And how good is Alcindor? I will wait and see.

In keeping with the Christmas spirit, this seems like a good time to thank you all for visiting my blog. I appreciate that you have taken the time to give your opinions, make comments and share information. Blogging is even more fun than I thought it would be and I have learned a lot in the 7 short months that I have been part of the blogosphere. I am thrilled to have a format where I can write about anything and everything to do with horses. My goal is to continue to learn, to improve and to evolve, while providing my insight and perspective on our Sport of Kings.

To all my friends, both old and new, I wish you a joyous holiday season!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Free At Last and a Few Airs Above the Ground

Yesterday, December 20th, Zenyatta got her first taste of freedom in her paddock at Lane’s End. She arrived 14 days ago, but the icy, frosty conditions slowed down her transition to farm life. Letting down a horse off the track requires patience and several gradual changes. Horses being “unwound” have different nutritional needs. You want “low energy” not “high energy” feeds. Pulling their shoes is always a good idea too. Being in a new environment, they need careful observation. And attention to every detail is important. It can be a stressful time for some, as the racetrack and its rigorous routine is all they know.

Is Zenyatta’s case, Mother Nature let everyone know she was still in charge. Kentucky has been cold and snowy. It’s not so much the cold, because most horses love the cold, but it is always about the footing. If the ground is icy and rutted, there is always a chance of a trip and a fall, especially for a horse that gets to running just out of sheer excitement and pent up energy. So this is what you want to avoid at all costs. A little low level tranq is always a good idea too, as it takes the edge off. I’m not saying they used it on Zenyatta, but it is usually the prudent thing to do.

Once a horse gets acclimated to their news surroundings, then you can gradually introduce other situations for them to experience. Most likely, what will be next for Zenyatta, in the upcoming days and weeks, will be to gradually introduce her to one or two other mares, until she is comfortable with them.Ultimately, she will be part of the broodmare band. This is the norm.

Pictures taken by photographer Barbara Livingston, show a happy, healthy horse. Zenyatta is now able to do “airs above the ground”… are we surprised? No, this mare can do it all! I think if you set up an oxer, she would just sail right over it, and look around and say “What else do you have for me?” Videos of her should be appearing soon on her Facebook page.

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Tis The Season to Make Some Christmas Dough

Christmas Day is a week away. For some last minute gifts for either horse lovers OR racing fans, check out the online gift shop at Keeneland. They're having a 25% off sale on clothing, with free shipping, if you spend over $75. I must admit, when shopping at Keeneland it’s hard not to say “Merry Christmas to me.”

If you need a little break from the hustle and bustle of the Holiday Season, check out Equibase. They're having a free handicapping contest tomorrow.

Squeezed in between all the shopping, decorating, holiday preparations and of course, partying (!) racing fans are always on the lookout for some interesting racing and betting opportunities. Cashing a bet at this time of year is somehow, always a little sweeter.

The Mc Knight at Calder looks like a good race to bet, at a mile and a half on the Calder turf. There are several horses in here that are coming out of the Breeder’s Cup, are they “throw outs” or what? Could it be Rescue Squad’s day?

Two year old colts run for $750,000 in the Grade I Cash Call Futurity at Hollywood. Dutrow and Ramon ship in with Rustler Hustler off a sharp bullet at Gulfstream and experience on synthetic. Gourmet Dinner has 4 wins from 5 starts, the last with blinkers added, but has only run on dirt. Who’s the best of this bunch?

Turfway has a little $50,000 Stake, the Prarie Bayou, at 1 1/8 on the Polytrack. Stately Victor is the class of the field and gets back to his preferred surface. But it’s a full field and there are some other interesting contenders in here. Timeless Fashion LOVES this track. And Mint Chip has a long shot look in here. He has performed well on the surface and just throw out the last two, where he was over matched.

Fair Grounds has a nice card too, but the race that interests me is the 5th. It is a maiden event on the turf, and I am going to take a shot with Newsdad, by Arch out of a Pulpit mare. The dam’s side has had a few decent turf winners, and I think this colt might like the turf. If he does, he will light up the tote board like a Christmas tree. That’s a way to make some extra “Christmas money”.

Good Luck with all your shopping and wagering!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Your Kodak Moment

Your picture could be worth… praise, notoriety and recognition! Enter the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance 2010 Photo Contest. Photos must be submitted by this Friday, and must be about horseracing!
TBA Photo Contest

2010 Contest Rules:

Submit up to 2 photos taken this year; subject matter horse racing.

Submissions: email the photo to

Submissions due by 12/17/2010 (Friday)

Voting for top ten will be 12/18 through 12/24 (Saturday through Friday)
Only 1 photo from each photographer will go into the final 10
Top 10 photos will be chosen to enter the final round.
Voting on winner will be 12/26 through 12/31

Winner announced 1/1

Prize = The picture will be featured on the photo page, and the photog given the opportunity to link to anything they want and to say whatever they want (provided it abides to civil discourse).

Open to everyone from Amateurs to Professionals

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Farewell to a Class Act, Hello to a Classy Filly

Class can “walk with kings and keep it's virtue, and talk with crowds and keep the common touch”

This is what I thought of when thinking about Mack Miller.

Such a sad, sad day for the Horse Industry to hear about the passing of the “Gentleman Trainer” Mackenzie Miller, at 89. Though I never met Mr. Miller, I was always “starstruck” when I saw him in the paddock, mostly in NY . Not only known as a gentleman and a class act, he was also referred to as a “Master of the Turf” for his successes in the ‘60’s and ‘70’s with champion turf horses, Assagai, Winter’s Tale, Snow Knight and Hawaii. I had forgotten that he trained  Halo too, but he always said his best horse was Java Gold. Most will remember him for his 1993 Derby/Travers winner Sea Hero, who he trained for his main client at that time, Paul Mellon. They do not seem to make them like Mack Miller anymore. A Legend, a  Hall of Fame trainer, but more importantly, a treasure of a man.

To quote Nick Nicholson, President of Keeneland, "he was an old-fashioned gentleman, living in modern times. He was very honorable, and a very, very special person."

A classy two year old filly emerged yesterday at Hollywood Park. Turbulent Decent won her third in a row, with a decisive and somewhat easy win in the Grade I Hollywood Starlit. The plain bay, by top freshman sire Congrats, answered the two turn question, and showed maturity and class while beating some nice fillies. Her style is to rate kindly and explode in the stretch .We will be looking ahead with enthusiasm to her next start as a three year old.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

A Zenyatta Sighting

Just when I was starting to wonder if they had a camera over at Lane's End Farm, I have found out that there are three short videos that have popped up on Zenyatta's Official Facebook page. You can see her in her new stall, and as she takes a short walk outside the barn. It does not show that she has been actually turned out yet. Perhaps if the weather in Lexington warms up a bit, the Big Girl will start getting a little turnout. The Facebook page is here. Then click "video."

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Thank You Zenyatta, for the Ultimate Ride

One chapter in the legendary life of the Queen of Racing is coming to an end tomorrow, as Zenyatta boards a plane for Lexington Kentucky. It’s where she was born, and undoubtedly where she will reside as a broodmare for the rest of her long life.

Turning 7 next month, ( but really not till April 1st), the Big Mare has taken her family, friends and fans on the most awe-inspiring , drama filled, extraordinary ride. For me, it started as I watched her very first race, Thanksgiving 2007. Her breeding caught my eye and when I saw her presence in the paddock, I was even more interested. When she broke from the gate, I immediately thought, “hmm…no speed, well she needs to go long, anyway”, but by the ½ mile pole, I started to see her stride grow longer and stronger, her momentum building, and I thought,” this could turn out better than I thought". At the top of the stretch and in the middle of the racetrack, her big ears flopping, the big filly cruised effortlessly towards the wire, passing all her opponents like it was a walk in the park. I immediately put her in my Virtual Stable, though I knew the cat was out of the bag, for whoever saw this performance would not soon forget it. My ride with Zenyatta had begun.

Then I started to ask myself…Who IS this horse “Zenyatta?" Where has she been all year? How good could she be? When will she run back? All the things that go through your mind when you think you’ve found the next “big horse”. One of the things that is so exciting about the horse business is the anticipation of finding “A Saturday Afternoon Horse.” It’s the hope, the dreams, the optimism that fills you up when you breed one, buy one, claim one, race one, or even bet on one. That day in November 2007, I knew I witnessed something very special. Did I know she was a star in the making? Yes, but I did not know the magnitude of how illuminating that star would be.

And the rest, as they say, is history.What Zenyatta has done for racing is immeasurable. The Zenyatta phenomenon, the excitement and positive energy that has surrounded her has been astonishing. She is a legend and we will never see anything like her again. You can absolutely bet on that.

So this is my heartfelt thanks to her owners, her trainer, her riders, her groom, her hotwalkers and all of her family of caretakers and friends who have allowed us to share this phenomenal journey with the great Zenyatta.

But most of all Thank You, Zenyatta, for taking us on the ultimate ride. It’s been a blessing and a privilege and one we will never, ever forget.