Friday, July 06, 2007

Beating a Dead Horse

Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter nixed Barbaro from the August Vanity Fair in favor of Tom Hanks Jr. Shia LeBouef, according to Page Six in today's New York Post. Barbaro still peeks through the upper right hand corner of the current issue.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

My Wait is Nearly Over...

NYRA is switching races to my beloved inner track this weekend, and praying that they can have the main track back in shape for a heavy stakes schedule over Thanksgiving weekend. Many thanks to Alan over at the Left at the Gate for the tip off.

"After discussions with our trainers and jockeys and our director of racing surfaces, it was decided that this was the best course of action to give the main track a chance to recover from the effects of recent adverse weather," said Bill Nader, New York Racing Association Senior Vice-President and COO. "There is a forecast for heavy rain tonight and into the morning, and we want to do all that we can to make sure the main track is ready for next week's HolidayFest program."
NYRA promises races will return to the main track Wednesday, November 22, but we shall see. NYRA's financial cushion isn't the only thing that's deteriorating, according to recent comments from John Passero, NYRA's director of racing surfaces. The main track's clay base has deteriorated, creating problems when the surface gets wet.
Passero said over the years that the clay base has migrated into the cushion, "and it's changed the properties and the way it reacts. It's all in the way it reacts," he said. "I think this is a huge issue. The material has to be the type of material that will hold together when it's wet, and this does not hold together. That's the bottom line."
The actual bottom line is that it would cost $3 million to tear up the main track and put in a limestone-based surface, and $12 million to replace the main track with a synthetic surface, Passero told the Daily Racing Form. NYRA officials say they don't have the money to do anything about it. "Without that (slot) revenue stream here, we are in Chapter 11 protection, and he's talking about overhauling the track," said Bill Nader, NYRA senior vice president. "Right now, it's up to him and his staff to really keep the track in the best possible condition and hope we don't get hit with 3 1/2 inches of rain."
NYRA.COM: Main Track Closed

Saturday, November 11, 2006

A Good Week to Be (a) Democrat

First Congress, then the Senate, and today the sweep extends to the 7th at the Big A . A victorious Democrat (paying $5.40 to win) was closely followed by Building a New Era (for a $12.60 exacta). Democrat "prevailed after a prolonged drive," according to Equibase's footnotes in the race chart. Sometimes these things just write themselves. (And thanks to wifey for pointing this one out.)

NYRA Results: Aqueduct (11/11): Race 7

Equibase chart (direct download from

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Rove was "Outrun" on Election Day

Rove took some beating at Churchill Downs on Election Day. Trainer William Brumley lost with Rove--a 4-year-old gelding (and no relation to Bush political advisor Karl Rove, according to the Wall Street Journal)--in the second race at Churchill Downs on Election Day at 37-1 . He finished dead last in the maiden claiming race.

Unlike the human Rove, the equine version has raced six times and never won. Provoking still more grins among the politically minded horse set is that the winner of the race was none other than a chestnut colt named…Special Interest.

And the Equibase comment line for Rove in the race chart simply says "Outrun." Brilliant race and political commentary wrapped up in one. Congrats to the Churchill chart caller for what has to go down as one of the sharpest chart calls of all time.

WSJ Washington Wire Blog: Rove the Horse Also Loses

Equibase chart: Churchill; Nov. 7; Race 2 (direct download from

Monday, November 06, 2006

Bye, Bye, Bernardini...

Hey, Bernardini, you just finished second in the Breeders Cup' Classic! Where are you going now?

"I'm going to Darley World!"

I guess Sheik Mo is just like any other Thoroughbred owner.

Two days after finishing second in the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic, the 3-year-old colt was retired Monday and will stand at stud at Sheik Mohammed's Darley farm. Darley, one of the world's largest breeding operations, said on its Web site that Bernardini's stud fee is $100,000.
AP: Classic runner-up Bernardini retired

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Invasor (He's the Best!) and Some Thoughts on ESPN's Coverage

Congrats to Invasor and my sincere thanks for recouping at least part of the bankroll on BC Day.

ESPN's handling of the races was generally competent. A show of horses in the post parade would have been nice, but their core team of analysts is strong and a big improvement over NBC. Jerry Bailey has made a seamless move behind the mike and offers sharp, insightful commentary. Bailey's animated pre-race breakdown of what to look out for in the Classic was dead-on apart from Lava Man's misfire. The core on-air ESPN racing crew (Moss, Bailey, Edwards, Goldberg, and Mayne) are racing fans and their enthusiasm and knowledge show and strengthen the broadcast without them seeming too much like homers or hucksters.
Randy Moss could easily anchor the telecast, but kudos to Chris Fowler for setting the scene, keeping things moving, and knowing when to get out of the way. The inclusion of British turf analysts for commentary on the invaders was welcome except for that mutton chops boor. ESPN kept the broadcast on a high level, giving viewers credit as bettors, racing fans, or interested viewers. NBC often seemed to be targeting people who might watch a race once every few years.
The broadcast did well on the Pine Island breakdown. I thought the obit graphic [Pine Island: 2003-2006] and the melancholic background music was a bit over the top (I actually gasped when they showed it), but I applaud them for reporting what was happening quickly, accurately, and not sugarcoating the tragedy.

One weak spot, however, was the call of the races by Trevor Denman. Street Sense's explosive move around the turn and Borel's brilliant scoot up the rail in the Juvenile went without mention until he was well clear of the field and near the finish line.
Denman rightly noted that Bernardini was laboring on the backstretch but then seemed ready to award him the victory when Bernadini took the lead at the top of the stretch. It was clear Bernardnini was in deep at the the top of stretch. Castellano was all over him, still asking for more, and had gone to the whip at the top of the stretch. Bernardini's races from the Preakness on have looked like public workouts and the contrast in the Classic was notable if not noted.