Friday, May 22, 2009

A lesson learned from the Preakness Stakes... ...


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It's really hard to write about the Preakness
Pre-Race: A lesson learned
I turn outs the Preakness Stake, the second jewel of North America's Horse Racing Triple Crown is a really tough thing to write about.
First of all the Preakness, which is run on the third Saturday in May over the Pimlico Downs racecourse in Baltimore, Maryland proceed the grand daddy of them all the Kentucky Derby.
If the Kentucky Derby is your grandfather classic waltz complete with mint julep and the official singing of my old Kentucky home? Then the Preakness is a kegger complete with rock-bands and jell-o shooters not exactly a family outing or a mainstream historical attraction.
The Belmont Stake, which is the third leg of Horse Racings Triple Crown also hold a distinct advantage over it predecessor the Preakness. The Belmont is the final leg of the elusive triple-crown and therefor almost always inherits a story line, a Triple Crown attempt (Big Brown 2008), a fresh face (Rags to Riches 2008) or a hotly anticipated homecoming (Funny Cide 2003)
So what is there to write about this years Preakness Stake?
Kentucky Derby winning jockey Calvin Borel will jump-off Derby winner Mine That Bird in favour of Kentucky Oaks winner Rachel Alexandra. Rachel Alexandra from all accounts is truely the class of this years three year old crop however former trainer Hal Wiggins refused to race Rachel agaisnt the boys citing a long held beleif that female horse (Fillies) don't belong racing against the boys (colts). Rachel has since been sold to the connections of Stonestreet Stables, Harold T. McCormick and trainer Steve Asmussen (a scrupulous Texan who occasionaly wears a large hat and no objection to racing a filly against the boys)

Post Race: Moses take Zipporah to the top of the mountain
As expected super filly Rachel Alexandra dominated this years Preakness Stakes in an alomst effortless romp. The win certainly was not as spectacular as Alexandra`s 20 lenghts victory in the Kentucky Oaks but the filly was racing boys for the first time in her carrer on Saturday, which may explain why she was less then her spectacular self well fending off a hard charging Mine That Bird at the wire to snap a 85 year filly-Preakness drought.
The eighty-five year drought wasn`t the really story to come out of the Preakness and neither was the good as gold status Jockey Calvin Borel had claimed over the past two week. No the real story on Preakness Day was the increadibale effort trotted out by Kentucky Derby winning long-shot Mine That Bird. Many belived that the Bird`s victory on Derby Day was a fluke, a one hit wonder, a stastical anomally but the Bird proved them all wrong baring down on the previously unchallenged super filly and subsequent Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra. Many of those experts who belived the Bird to be a one hit wonder also firmly belived that Rachel Alexandra was by far the cream of this years three-year old crop, filly staus or not. Imagine the crush when those same "wisguys" had to hold on for dear life as the Bird lauched his bid for the lead on the far outside (nearest the grandstand) baring down on their super-filly and almost doing away with her super status.
Friendly Wagering Advice
In three week time it off to Elmont, New York for the third and fianl leg of the Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes.
Trust me when I say no matter how impressed you've been thus far with Rachel Alexandra (Zipporah) and Calvin Borel (Moses) there is no way this amazing filly tackles a mile and a half and still comes out ahead of the boys.
Zoltan Black      

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Friday, May 8, 2009

Rachel Alexandra headed to Preakness - Horse Racing -

May 8th, 2009
Rachel Alexandra headed to Preakness - Horse Racing -
Will Graves

Moses and The Bird , 2009 Kentucky Derby Afterthoughts


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Known commonly by the working folks along the Churchill Downs back-stretch as Calvin Bo-Rail and routinely referred to as simply "Moses" amongst my own inner circle Calvin Borel became a two time Kentucky Derby winner on Saturday afternoon.
The nickname "Moses" arrived on Derby Day 2007 when Calvin Borel aboard Derby winner Street Sense parted a wall of horses ("the red sea") at the top of the stretch and carried Street Sense to the finish line ahead of a 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin in what would amount to a mild upset.
Yesterday Calvin shocked the world winning the Derby for the second time in three years aboard 50/1 long-shot Mine That Bird. The Bird began the race about twenty length in the rears of race leader Join The Dance but Borel was patient, the veteran Jockey who makes his home-base at Churchill Downs knew where he needed to be and he knew when he need to get there.
Before the final turn for home Mine That Bird and Calvin Borel found themselves on the heals of the leaders but buried behind a wall of horses. Borel shook the diminutive Bird cutting toward the inside rail in an attempt to find a place to run. The combo literally disappeared behind a flat of equine flesh only to re-appear with the rail position and nothing but clear sailing ahead.
At my local OTB the results had many scratching their heads. How could this unproven, under-classed pocket sized version of a race horse have capture horse-racings most prestigious crown? 
The answer simply put is "Moses"'
Race Handicappers are quick to capitalize on a tracks racing condition. If only front runners are winning we eliminate the closers, if closers are strong we eliminate the speed. Jockey's are even more capable of exploiting the same track biases and on Saturday afternoon at Churchill the rail was hot and Calvin Borel knew it. Unfortunately in the fury to handicap the massive twenty horse field most gamblers were not open minded enough to have give the Bird a chance.
A friend said to me after the race "they could run the race over again and I still wouldn't bet on him"
So how is it that a horse that was so obviously outclassed managed to capture North America's most elusive Horse Racing Crown? Jockey Calvin Borel said after the race that the credit goes to the magnificent beast (Mine That Bird) however I must disagree. It's clear that Mine That Bird is not the class of this years three-year old crop, in-fact I can guarantee he will never win another race as big as the one he claimed this Saturday (if for no other reason then there is no bigger race then the Kentucky Derby) for me. The thing that sets the Bird apart from the eighteen other horses that contested this years Derby was the fact that his jockey Calvin Borel found the lightning hot rail position just in time to boggy down the home stretch. 
"Moses" is hot
On Friday at Churchill Downs the filly (female horse) equivalent to the Kentucky Derby, the Kentucky Oaks was run with perhaps only a fraction of the fan fair that would accompany the boys race just twenty-four hours latter. The Oaks featured super-filly Rachel Alexandra a horses that many felt belonged in the big race against the boys on Saturday (a filly has not won the Kentucky Derby since Winning Colors 1988) rather then racing an outclassed group of her peers. Calvin Borel had the mount aboard Rachel Alexandra who won the Oaks by over 20 lengths well under an ice cold ride from jockey Borel. Borel barley moved a muscle the entire race only asking his filly to move past the race leader before blowing through the stretch run.
After Rachel Alexandra's runaway performance on Friday afternoon noon it was clear that Calvin Borel would need a miracle to complete the Oaks/Derby double aboard 50/1 long-shot Mine That Bird but really whats another miracle when your nickname is "Moses"
A $2.00 all "Moses" Oak/Derby Double (to win this wager the better must select both the winner of the Kentucky Oak and Kentucky Derby) paid $831.60

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

The 135th Kentucky Deby, The Talamo Incident, Twitter


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Imagine the thrill!
Just twenty-four hours away from the 135'th running of America's greatest race, the Kentucky Derby and I've already been to the winners circle.
On Filly Friday before the scent of fry-ed bacon even had a chance to pierce the morning air I received a email forwarded from my Twitter account.
Now I must admit I'm not much for Twitter (I like the idea of posting my thought-gasims but hate competing with the likes of Barack Obama and CNN's own Rick Sanchez for air space) [These guys, Obama and Sanchez specifically already have a bully pulpit to exploit, don't they get enough air time already?]{I must admit here in print that despite my sour grapes Sanchez was the reason I signed up for Twitter in the first place. Obama however has, at least to this point managed to stay off my "following" list} 
The message in my in-box on Friday morning wasn't a hot tip, late scratch or even a piece of the official barrage. No, instead it was a message from Twitter notifying me that wonder-kid Jockey Joe Talamo was now following me on Twitter.
Under normal circumstances I would have tipped my hat to the young mister Talamo and tried to finesse a little more conversation out of the usually quite Cajun superstar.
These however were hardly normal circumstances... ...19 year-old Joe Talamo a native of Marrero, Louisiana will be aboard likely co-favourite I Want Revenge when the Jeff Mullins trainee pulls into the starting gate for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. Talamo a soft spoken veteran of just two season will be poised to become one of (if not the) youngest Jockey ever to capture the elusive run for the roses.
It's common place for every beat writer, derby blogger and play at home handicapper to pin their bragging right on the silks of some derby hopeful just hours before the big race in an attempt to stoke our mass ego. For me however the thrill of picking this years winner will be overshadowed by my personal brush with greatness (Now known as the Talamo incident) No matter who wins and more specifically weather I picked them will be wholly irrelevant.
2009 Kentucky Derby...Thank You Joe Talamo for a memory that will last a life time... and oh yeah, by the way break a leg kid
Zoltan Black
It would not be right if I didn't at least nibble
Thanks to Jockey Joe Talamo I'm not looking to pick a winner, just cash a cheque. With that being said her are a few long-shot the might just make it to the winners circle.
Summer Bird -- Stellar pedigree -- Tim Ice may be a rookie trainer but he's been in the game for over ten years don't count this guy out -- Summer Bird benefits from the defections of speed-balls Quality Road and The Pamplemousse who were expected to contest the Derby's early fractions, instead look for Summer Bird and Regal Ransom to do battle on the front end -- Look for Summer Bird at odds of 50/1 or higher
Regal Ransom -- I like this ones chances for the same reasons as the above mentioned competitor (Summer Bird) Speed is Ransom's game and he will relish viaing for the early lead -- Unlike Summer Bird , Regal Ransom need not worry about his trainers level of experience, he is trained by the entirely competent Saeed bin Suroor -- Because Regal Ransom will be amongst the Derby's early leaders his odds are likely to slip as we get closer to post time -- Look for Regal Ransom at odds of 15/1 or better 
Desert Party -- From the same connections as Regal Ransom, Desert Party has gotten the better of his stablemate on two occasions but failed to pass his fellow Godolphin acquisition in thier most recent outing the U.A.E. Derby -- Desert Party has displayed an ability to stay close to the lead and strike when the iron was hottest (in the stretch) -- Although the distance may be a question mark for the son of Street Cry a game effort following a less then stellar performance as the odds on choice in the U.A.E. Derby should be expected -- The way this ones looked track-side this week it a surprise to see such generous odds play -- Look for Desert Party at odds of 15/1 or higher
Go ahead nibble, just a little bit, but make sure your save enough cookies for the rest of this years Churchill meet

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