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Saturday, May 19, 2012

I'll Have Another ... Win?

I'm watching the Preakness pre-race coverage right now, and getting caught up with the goings-on in MD. I, like everyone else, am not sure of what will happen, but I have a few thoughts.

Can I'll Have Another do it again? Maybe. He's been training well and seems fit and happy. I wish him and Mario all the best and certainly HOPE they can do it, because US horseracing could really use the shot in the arm that a Triple Crown contender would bring. I'm just afraid the horse will run out of track in the shorter Preakness. Then we have Bodemeister. He led almost wire-to-wire in the Derby, and is clearly a special horse. He's got speed, that's for sure, and today he's got a shorter distance to go. But, the track is completely different shape-wise, and everyone else is going to be determined not to let him get away from them. Will his jockey try to rate him, or will they charge to the front and stay there? We shall see. Furthermore, this colt's schedule has been really tough this year. Nothing that race horses didn't do in the past, for sure - they used to be raced MUCH more and more often - but not what most horses do these days. Will the strategy pay off? Or will the horse already have peaked/be too tired?

Went The Day Well, my awardee for Best Name in this group, is one I really have my eye on today. He was closing like a freight train the Derby and looks better all the time. You know I love his trainer Graham Motion, and I will be thrilled if he wins another Triple Crown race. I have a feeling this horse is better suited to the Belmont, though.

The above three are EVERYONE'S favorites, and not hard to pick. However, if I was at Pimlico right now, who do you think I'd actually be betting on?

Cozzetti and Creative Cause.

Sorry, I'd give you a photo of Cozzetti, who I just found out about today, but I'm typing this on my new iPad and I can't figure out to do that yet. Since you're probably all going to watch the race I won't worry about it! You will also know why I like him... On the off chance you haven't seen Cozzetti, he's a breathtakingly beautiful rose grey. Big surprise, right? :-) I can't find out much about him, but he's certainly considered a long shot in this race. All the more reason for me to like him! And no, I haven't given up on the other gorgeous grey, Creative Cause. He could come on up and surprise everyone, too. What a treat for me, the grey TB lover, to have two such lovely animals to look at. Just watched the expert analysis/computerized race mockup. He says Bode all the way, and my greys nowhere. Post time is very soon and I think I'll set this aside for now. I'll be back after the race for a wrap-up!

YES!!! This is just great - I am so excited! WHAT A RACE, too, like an instant replay of the Derby! I really didn't think IHA had a chance to catch Bode. What a nice ride by Mario, too; I love to see a newcomer/underdog do well in a sporting event of any kind. I am waiting anxiously for word on Went The Day Well. 10th out of 11... Not good and certainly not what anyone expected. Sure hope he's okay... And what do you know, my grey CC came third! He ran a super race and I'm proud of him. I would have made a little dough on him (it would have been a WPS bet). I'll be interested to see if he tries the Belmont. I think he has the pedigree to get a mile and a half. One thing's for sure - if IHA comes out of this race well, HE has the pedigree! Triple Crown hope lives!

P.S. I'm sorry if this posts all in one paragraph, which is what the preview is showing. Another iPad glitch, maybe? At least it's better than losing the whole thing like my phone did!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Horse of a Different Color

Forgive me for using such a hackneyed phrase, but that is the first thing that popped into my head when I saw this fellow:
(A BRINDLE horse!)

Edited to add: Okay, thank you to Anon for pointing out to me that this guy is, in fact, Rabicano. I'm afraid my poor knowledge of fancy horse coloration is showing! :-) I actually have heard of Rabicano and seen photos/read about it online, and the white hairs on top of the horse's tail tweaked something in my memory, but no, I didn't figure out that's what I was seeing. In fact, I don't even know why I said "brindle." I guess it was because I know that's what they call dogs like Great Danes, Pit Bulls and Boxers who have that coloring and my mind leapt ahead to pinning that label on the horse.

Anyway, I knew Rabicanos existed, but until today I had never laid eyes on one in person. This one is a two-year-old QH, in training and/or being shown in Western Pleasure. I had no idea he was a stud until I happened to see his dangly bits as I was walking away. He was extremely well-mannered and pleasant to be around, and his "mom" was justifiably proud of him.
I asked the handler if his parents were Rabicano as well, and she said yes, his mother is except she is black and white. That would be a nifty coat pattern as well! I thought the white patch at the very top of his tail was really cool, and he had some white on the back of his left fore that I thought maybe was the result of an injury but that turned out to be coat pattern as well.
So what was I doing at a QH show, given my general distaste for the genre? A friend of mine from work (now the only other horseperson in a 350-person+ office*) is showing at this one, which is the biggest of the year for her chosen (local) QH organization. The show facility happens to be five minutes from our office so I zipped down there on my lunch hour today to say hello to Janet and meet her mare. I know I did not fit in at the show venue in my khakis, sneakers and brightly-colored cotton sweater, but I didn't care, even when Maggie the Mare greeted me by snorting snot all over me. Here's a cute photo of the two of them:
Maggie is a really pretty girl, isn't she? I think flea-bitten greys are fairly uncommon in QHs so a nice one with a lovely head must really stand out. She's also going white more slowly than many greys, so Janet is enjoying her "greyness" for some extra time. Maggie is 15, and they show in both disciplines. Today they had trail class and something else Western, and tomorrow night I will go watch them compete in Hunter Under Saddle. Usually that's akin to torture but since it's my friend I will show up and root for them!

* We had one more lady here who's ridden her whole life and even used to stand a Trakehner stallion, but she retired a month ago. So it's up to Janet and I to represent the horse world. She's got a bunch of gorgeous championship ribbons and win photos in her cube. This display stopped me dead in my tracks when I first saw it, of course, or I wouldn't have known about her "real life." I'm still settling in to my new office/cube, but I have my treasured original TIME magazine Secretariat cover, the same photo as my avatar of me on the Paintaloosa pony, some brochures from horsey events such as the WEG, and several stuffed horses, but nobody has asked me about these items. Oh, well, it makes me happy to look at them all day!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Blood Will Tell

I certainly bombed out as a handicapper this year: none of my three Derby favorites even hit the board, much less won the race. Instead, we had this guy taking the roses.
Congratulations to I'll Have Another! It's okay, I will eat humble pie and just be happy that the race was run fairly uneventfully. The lovely colt Take Charge Indy was injured, but not severely (ankle chip, should be back in training in 6 mos.), and a few other horses had some cuts and bruises, but nothing disastrous, thank God.

I'll Have Another was not really in the spotlight before the race, and obviously wasn't terribly popular with bettors as he went off at 15-1, but his name did come up pre-race as a contender. A lot of that was due to his absolutely sterling pedigree. The main reason this got my attention (most Derby horses sport pedigrees laden with Big Names) was my favorite turf writer Steve Haskin said IHA's was the finest he could recall. Here's the whole quote:

"You never know what tools someone uses to pick their Derby horse, but if you go by pedigree, although there are a number of classy, stamina-laden pedigrees, our favorite is I’ll Have Another. Just look at the Who’s Who of names, both American and European, in his pedigree. From Europe: Nijinsky, Sea Bird, Roberto, Sadler’s Wells, Le Fabuleux, Ribot, and Lyphard. From America: Pleasant Colony, His Majesty, Stage Door Johnny, Hail to Reason, Alydar, Tom Rolfe, Princequillo, Arch, Kris S, Caucasus, Mr. Prospector, Northern Dancer, and Danzig. And how about top-class fillies such as Althea, Quill, Bramalea, and Patelin? There is more stamina and class in this pedigree than any we can ever recall." - Steve Haskin,, 4-May-2012

That is a pretty ringing endorsement, my friends. Too bad I saw it after I wrote my blog, haha! The only stallion I have not heard of on that entire list is Caucasus, but I'm afraid the fillies are all unfamiliar. Might have to look into them just out of curiousity.

Despite the fact that I'll Have Another was able to catch him in the stretch, Bodemeister also ran a terrific race. I really thought he was going to win it wire-to-wire. Before the race I was not on board with him, despite the hype, for the simple reason that no horse has won the Derby who didn't run as a two-year-old since something like 1887. I was skeptical at best. However, as this article says, he set a blistering pace and was still right there at the end. He is definitely one to keep an eye on in the future. Those quotes from Andrew Beyer are rather a bummer, though; I had kept reading about the quality and depth of the field this year, there as 10 horses who could win, how great they were, blah blah blah, and here he says they're (not in so many words) a bunch of junk except for Bodemeister. I'm sorry he feels that way, as I was feeling a bit more upbeat about the state of the American TB.

[Random aside: I was poking around and found this little gem: Beyer did a workup of Secretariat's stats using an updated methodology, in 2011, and arrived at a 139 rating. In comparison, IHA earned a 101 for this Derby (a very mediocre score). Yup, no doubt that Big Red would smoke every horse living today! :-)]

As I said, before the race I'll Have Another was pretty much off my radar screen so I hadn't looked into his connections. I thought his young jockey's  - a Derby rookie, of all things! - tears of joy post-race were just delightful and I continue to be glad of his success.
On the other hand, I wasn't sure about the vibe I was getting from the trainer, Doug O'Neill... and come to find out, I had reason to feel uneasy. The guy does not exactly have an unblemished past. There have been allegations of misconduct (dumping of broken-down horses in cheap claiming races) and fines for illegal medications (nickname: Drug O'Neill). Yes, I know, that sort of thing is rampant especially in the lower ranks of TB racing, and you're hard-pressed to find even top-ranking trainers who haven't been outed for something, but it doesn't mean it's ever okay and it's especially disappointing in yet another a Derby-winning trainer (koff, Big Brown's?, koff koff). Enough said. I hope the horse continues to do well, and stays healthy, but I'm certainly not going to root for him on behalf of the trainer.

I'm sorry if I've bored anybody silly who's not into TB racing, but this time of year I do start to pay attention. Fair-weather fan, I guess! :-) Sort of like the baseball team here in STL. Unless the Cardinals are actually in the playoffs, my family and I have not got a clue. "Oh, there was a game last night?" is a phrase I have learned not to utter around many, in response to some agitated comment, lest they glare at me like I am the stupidest person on planet St. Louis. Now just for fun, when I was at a sailing club event early Saturday afternoon, I couldn't resist asking one of my buddies if she was watching "the race" later. Blank look. The Derby may reel in many who never ever watch any other horse event, but even that isn't enough for some folks, LOL!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

You Wil Want 2 Scream

Once again, I feel obligated to share a Craig's List gem, courtesy of the Fugly blog. As usual, this is about 200 kinds of wrong, beginning with the baffling text-speak punctuation-less stream of thought description of the fine equine and ending with the fact that the guy holding the being ridden, not-yet-two-year-old filly is the child's grandfather. Whoo-eee... pardon me if I'm supercilious, but I'm smelling "breeding error" here and I don't mean the horse. :-/

Here you go...

Don't know how long that will stay up, so here's the text and photos:
hi i have a kids saddle and a mare horse i would like 2 trade blaz is goin 2 be 2 in may she has had a saddle on her and started workin with the bite in her mouth she dont kick she loves 2 be brushed she will come 2 u in the pasture im lookin for for a pony that is rideable i already have one that is rideable just lookin for another one that is rideable blaze is a great horse just need somethin for kids 2 ride that they aint fightin over one horse lol she hasnt had her shots like i said we just started workin with her she is a good horse she will be a big horse she is easy 2 work with but she dont like the bridal at all that is my dad in the pic helpin us work with her and the only person been on her back is my son as u can seei will let her saddle bridal go with her 2 i just want another minnie for my kids 2 ride a good deal

Talk about contradictions: "She will be a big horse." Really? She's almost two and looks to be well under 15hh., but what do I know...
Also, "She is easy to work with but she dont like the bridal at all." Hmm. Yep, sounds easy to me. Of course, the size of this poor girl may well have something to do with lack of care, given the wormy-looking belly and mile-long hooves.

Here's something I want to know: how come people are always wanting to trade their unbroken horse for one that is already trained in their chosen discipline? Do they really think other owners are that stupid? "Hey, I got it - let's swap Bombproof Reliable Trail Pony who we paid someone lots of money to train for a stunted 2-year-old that's barely halter-broke and a saddle from Craptackistan! Hella deal, right?"

I think I will hav to rite an intire blog post in the same way as this person as Im just dying to try it out and see how the other haf lives in a wurld free of speling and pereids and exclamatin marks and all that other stoopid stuf that som ppl think u need 2 use when u r riting sumthin 4 others 2 read

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Wait - What, It's SATURDAY!?!?!

Oh, dear. It has recently come to my attention that there's a major equine event taking place in KY this Saturday... might be in Looiville... (that's how you say it, for the unititiated)... might have something to do with red roses, I think? ACK!!!
  Yeah, THAT'S IT!

I am so buried right now in my new job, summer plans including getting DD to college orientation 8 hours away (she's going to Ohio State, following in my footsteps!) and trying to squeeze in a few vacation days, scholarship applications, watching lacrosse games, organizing a Boy Scout troop-wide event, etc. ETC. that I have scarcely found time to breathe, much less think about the Derby. It's not even on my phone calendar yet which is truly disgraceful - but lately I've been lucky to stay one day ahead of anything, much less a week. My family would be grateful if maybe once in the next five days they got an actual home-cooked meal, but hope they're not holding their breath!

So, there's not going to be many hours of contemplation and website-researching to compile the Official RiderWriter Guide to Derby Day this year.* Nope, all you're gonna get is my down-and-dirty, half-formed, "I like these horses" because of XYZ kind of opinions. Sorry if you were counting on me for betting advice! Not to mention, I am also a fan of the current favorites, so I'm not being very original. Oh, well!

Raise your hand if you're surprised I like the really grey horse. Hahaha, of freaking course I do. I've liked him ever since last year, along with much of the horseracing world. I think he's just a super-cool horse. I actually don't think Hansen is particularly handsome, but I do see intelligence there, and from what I've heard that is a key component to a really good racer.

Here's a bit of information I gleaned that makes me like his connections, too, especially the doctor for whom he's named:

Dr. Kendall Hansen & Sky Chai Racing

Dr. Hansen has owned racehorses for 30 years. His introduction to horse racing began while working at a Ford Plant where a coworker gave him tips on wagering. He earned enough money playing the ponies to pay for his first year of medical school. He calls champion Hansen his “horse of a lifetime” & donated $12,000 of Hansen’s Breeders Cup Juvenile earnings to New Vocations Racehorse Adoption.

Now, I'm sure that was pocket change to Dr. Hansen but to the good people at New Vocations it was a nice windfall. Yay for him! If more racehorse owners would step up and bring attention to the retraining/retirement operations, encourage people to think about their own TBs retirement, and donate towards that cause, many more former racers could be found new homes.

Union Rags
Lots of sentimental reasons to like this horse, and lots of practical ones, too. The latter include the fact that he's a real bruiser and just looks like he means business on the track. If I saw him barrelling down on me I'd probably think twice about staying in his way. That's important in a bumper-car race like the Derby.
 Yep, he's The Man alright and he knows it. Not to mention, dude has a pretty good turn of foot:  I am willing to overlook the third in the Florida Derby last time out, as he still had plenty in the tank and might just need that little bit of extra track he'll get at Churchill to really show us what he's made of. I sure hope he gets a good post position (draw going on virtually as I write this).

As far as the mushy reasons to like "Rags," (once again I'm assuming an obvious barn name, but who knows, it could be "Bozo" for all I know), they are pretty hard to miss. A big, strapping bay with a white blaze, trained by Michael Matz, a two-year old wunderkind? It just kills me that he has to be a bay and so much like Barbaro. Why couldn't MM have any other color horse who's a front-runner on the Derby trail.... *sigh* It's really rather spooky. Well, I just hope Big B is smiling down upon his "brother" here and will keep him safe. I'm sure the media is going to be all over this on Saturday, and Michael is going to be a bit sick and tired of the comparisons, but they are purely unavoidable.

Another neat thing about Union Rags is his owner, Phyllis Wyeth. She comes from an extremely illustrious TB breeding/racing family – her father owned Gone West, Union Rags’ grandsire – but is “small-time” herself. As she said in this article, “I have four foals. And one makes the Kentucky Derby.” She actually sold the horse as a youngster and then one night, woke up from a dream knowing she just had to buy him back. Just goes to show you that we should pay attention to our subconscious, because on Saturday she will most likely be saddling the  favorite!

Creative Cause
 Yep, can't ignore another grey. It really is just a coincidence that Creative Cause is also highly favored! :-) This guy is actually more to my taste color-wise than the strangely pale Hansen. CC is a beautifully-bred son of a gun and the hope is blood will tell; any great-great-great grandson of Secretariat gets extra points from me, of course.
I read some very interesting background material on this fellow, courtesy of my favorite source, turfwriter Steve Haskin. What a cool story! I like trainers like this Harrington guy; men/women of few words, not legendary or famous, trying to stay out of the spotlight despite their moment of fame but certainly enjoying the incomparable Derby experience in their own way. You just have to root for these folks over someone like Baffert or Lukas who has already won so much.

*  *  *

That about wraps up my pre-Derby coverage. Once again on the first Saturday in May I will be glued to the TV and saying to the family, "One day I'm gonna to be there." The sad thing is I really could have gone this year, in some style, as a friend of a friend offered me a grandstand ticket. The catch, of course, was the price (around $250). That didn't include meals or lodging (though I have a line on another friend of a friend upon whose L'ville couch I might be able to crash) so it was out of reach. In Missouri I shall be, screaming them home!

P.S. My pick for classiest name in the bunch: Went The Day Well. TB naming perfection.

* I said that, and now of course I have spent a couple hours looking at stuff online. Still, nothing like last year!