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Ting ding ding a ling ding

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My mommy inadvertently added to the Fred Stone art gallery I have going on in my room away at school. Barbaro, Zenyatta, and a medley of champions like John Henry and Secretariat. My wall is full of pony.

Ehmmm… I’ve toppled off the wagon a bit with the start of spring semester. Forgivies. I still have a crapload of things to unpack from Christmas and a new schedule to adjust to, which I am trying to change around today. GOOD CLASSES. GIVE IT ME! I also gotta pick up a magical grant application that will hopefully give me $500 toward financing my pony documentary.

I haven’t forgotten about the video. In fact it is much of what I’ve been thinking about, but I’ve been lazy. I have decided to wait until after Eblouissante's second start today to comment further because that makes the most sense. Laziness + freakish control over how I want things + too many things going on + Netflix = delays. I'm a delay fish.

Better news? After class Friday (tomorrow) I’ll be announcing the Derby Handicap Contest process/guidelines/rest of info this year. For those who did it last year the Holy Bull is shaping up to be much, much deeper than the two-horse race between Hansen and Algorithms. DUN DUN DUN! Prepare thyself!

Instead of a typical stakes analysis, I’ll be doing the late pick 4 at Gulfstream Saturday, which has a very decadent card for the Sunshine Millions. Palace Malice is running in the first race, yeehaw! So… yes… like I said, late pick 4… hopefully done by later today as soon as I get my grown-up stuff done.

High hoof!

Dawna

What are your thoughts on Doug O'Neill? Mike Maker?

Asked by horseracingchick-deactivated201

I’m cool with O’Neill. He seems to care a lot about his horses, and he brings a light, humorous tone to the otherwise serious and traditional scene of horse racing. I like the way he conditions his horses— breezing them 6-7 furlongs instead of 4 or 5 panels— and I think he’s a great role model for others who want to strengthen the sport. I don’t think anyone else updates their fans half as much as he does. On the negative side, I do tend to question where he puts his horses; why run Know More again in an allowance when he burned out of the Delta Jackpot? Why run Basmati in a G1 sprint right after he comes back in an allowance? Not my decision, but still…

I like Maker more or less the same as O’Neill. He did some nice work on one of my favorite underdogs, Headache, as well as with a lot of the Ramsey horses. I feel bad about the way Hansen turned out for him as a three-year-old, but I think if and when he gets that next big horse he’ll put his lessons to work.

My Eleven Months of Union Rags

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Remembering favorites from 2012. The toxins and the endorphins had to be released from my system…

While I was still sans-betting account, I would typically only watch a little bit of racing on TVG (when you live with four other people who are habitual TV mongers, it is a rare occurrence to be able to watch horse racing for an afternoon). It was August the 15th, a day after I turned 22, and I was tuning into the Saratoga races which is one of my favorite tracks. The track was soupy and the field was small for the historic Saratoga Special (II). I had scant knowledge of the competition, although obviously the Todd Pletcher trained son of Unbridled’s Song, Stat, was the favorite. Going over the field on Equibase, I immediately favored the horse with the Michael Matz connections named Union Rags because to me, if Michael thinks a young two-year-old is ready for a stakes, rain or shine, he’s going to be the one to beat regardless of the tote. I remembered Barbaro for an instance, and how slowly that star gained his power transitioning into a three-year-old. Rags was a respectable 3-1 at post time.

I was going against my aversion to rail horses in picking Union Rags for the win, and sight unseen, I was naturally pleased to see on TV that he was this big, hulking bay colt with a shock of white on his face. He went to challenge the lead and won big by 7 lengths, all despite the off track and a terrible case of swerving in the stretch. It was in that instant I knew I found my Derby horse for 2012.

Rags duplicated that awesome wide win margin in the Champagne Stakes (I), showing his ability on a fast track while coming from behind a wall of horses at the top of the stretch. If he wasn’t a favorite for the best juvenile already, his 5-length beat-up of Alpha sealed the deal.

The buildup to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I) was slow and personally painful. Apart from the Classic and the Turf Mile, there was no greater anticipation mounting than that for the Juvenile race. Despite the non-graded status and rankness, the one I was watching out for was Hansen, another colt I was able to catch blitzing his challengers on TVG one afternoon. It felt too ironic to be true, being able to catch my two favorites on TVG without having heard or seen them before. Could Hansen keep that speed burning for another sixteenth? Between Union Rags and Hansen, I could scarcely pick which one I liked more. With Hansen, you had sheer brilliance and mythical beauty. With Union Rags, the build of a champion with the modesty typical of his Pennsylvania roots. Because of a freakish Halloween blizzard, my power was knocked out for the entire Breeders’ Cup week, but by far the Juvenile Colts had the most electrifying race. Rags swerved again and again, looking like a duck on dry land trying to catch Hansen. Failing at the wire, I was shocked soon again when Hansen won the Eclipse Award by a landslide. How? Why? Did no voter see the raw potential in Rags had he just had a better trip, or a longer distance? Had I been asked in January to rank my top three, it would have gone Union Rags, Hansen, Alpha in that order.

2012 reeked of redemption, and originally, I thought it was going to be all Union Rags to take back his top spot without dispute. Hansen endured a tough beginning to take second in the Holy Bull (II), setting up early doubt for Rags’ comeback in the Fountain of Youth (II). Between the long layoff, his infamous swerving, and an unexpected jockey change to Julien Leparoux, he would receive a brickload of scrutiny. Sure enough, he was sent off a relatively soft 6-5 at Gulfstream Park. With $20 of my own on his nose to win, favored Discreet Dancer folded early as Rags took his patented loop around the wall at the top of the stretch. Never asked, he won by 4 lengths and unofficially vindicated himself post-Eclipse awards.

After that winning ride, it seemed the patient Leparoux was perfect for Rags. An unhurried, top rider on the grass in Kentucky, he didn’t seem to feel too concerned about any of Rags’ opposition, taking to Twitter that the horse was incredible and that he would make everyone proud on the road to the Kentucky Derby. Seated in Stella Artois-sponsored pants, Leparoux would spoil Rags’ second chance at a $1 million first prize in the Florida Derby (I), getting caught immediately behind a wall of horses while making little to no effort from there to get away. Ex-rider Castellano pinned them inside the entire time in a move Leparoux should have anticipated— Castellano knew Rags and was on the second-choice El Padrino. Making up ground late, he was unable to catch front-runner Take Charge Indy and a modest stretch run from Reveron kept him in third. His reputation was soiled, and not a single person in the Rags trench loved Leparoux that day. It was a greenhorn incident that should have never happened.

Despite the loss and the rise of new stakes winners— Dullahan, Bodemeister, I’ll Have Another— Union Rags was named the second-choice betting favorite for the Kentucky Derby, just behind Arkansas Derby winner Bodemeister. His conquerors in the field were sent off at surprisingly lesser odds; Hansen was 10-1 on the morning line while Take Charge Indy took in 15-1 odds. The reasoning behind the odds wasn’t just fan-inspired mania, for a Union Rags nod seemed to have its appeal to even the most discriminating gambler: He had never been passed in the stretch, had never shown his full measure, and physically looked the part of a Derby winner. The drawbacks, however, were just as obvious: he’s been too frequently plagued by bad luck and jockey error (while retaining Leparoux) and wasn’t fast enough at the break to be safe from the #3 post. The odds bounced around from a few dollars for a five to 6-1 on and off Derby day, settling on 5-1 at post time. I was uneasy the most at the sight of the #3 spot— no matter what the connections said at the time, I hated hated hated his chances that close to the inside despite being a leisurely runner at the break. Sure enough, Rags was shoved out of contention early at the break. It was difficult to watch the rest of the race, but impossible to dismiss the top 3 runners with winner I’ll Have Another biting down hard in the stretch once again to overpower Bodemeister. The California invader would do it again in the Preakness, and perhaps out of blind infatuation, I was unable to fully appreciate IHA because I was so distracted by Union Rags.

Come June, I was ready to admit that I’ll Have Another was a fine horse. He had won two classics over a very good horse in Bodemeister, all after having an excellent California campaign over tough competition. Considering how much I liked a similar underdog in Funny Cide after he defeated my favored Empire Maker, I’m still not sure why I didn’t replicate that love for I’ll Have Another, who always ran with his heart on his shoulder and his ears forward. Plans were made to go to the Belmont Stakes for the first time, and while I felt guilty about it, there was no question that I was going to be rooting for Union Rags, who once again, wore the unlucky #3.

Was he a blind favorite? Yes, considering my history. But was he was a valid favorite? I certainly thought so. He had the correct build of a distance-seeking Belmont horse and made his best moves late. Plus, he was getting one of the smartest jockeys around with John Velazquez. Dullahan was scary coming into the race fresh as well, and I admit now that I dismissed Paynter as a “too much, too soon” entry. I thought Street Life had a good chance as well… the rest of the field had something to prove. I swore if I’ll Have Another won, there would be no more senseless personal grudges. There would be no longshot winner this year, of that much I was certain.

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Optimizer balked before jetting to what would become his new favorite spot in a race— the lead!— in the Belmont Stakes.

The surplus that was guaranteed to fill Belmont to the rafters vanished on Saturday, as I’ll Have Another was scratched two days prior to his magnum opus. A modest 85,000 came to the race, and those wise enough to bring rain gear were rewarded, as it drizzled on and off all day. My winners for the day were few and far between, and as the race drew near I began to get a little nervous. Am I going to jinx him by being here? Or worse yet, telling everyone that asks that he’s going to win? Unstoppable U was the wise guy pick, Dullahan the favorite alongside Union Rags. A family friend who frequently hit the Belmont trifecta every year was going with Paynter. How much nervous energy was I wasting on all this, possibly to pan out to disappointment? I hadn’t slept the night before, and was already exhausted from the elements, the excitement, and the arduous ride over the Throgs Neck to Long Island. I reminded myself again: Never passed in the stretch.

The post parade began after what felt like an eternity. Street Life, the apple of my eye for the latter half of the Triple Crown trail, was adorable in person, as was my dearest underdog of the trail, Atigun. Optimizer was being a brute and refused to go into the gate. Five Sixteen was docile under Rosie Napravnik. Guyana Star Dweej was placid and homely. Unstoppable U shined, his gray coat matching the overcast skies. Ravelo’s Boy was long in body and low to the ground. My Adonis, the smallish chestnut, was last to go in to his outside post. A breath later, they were off and the long wait began for the horses to come back around again.

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Photo ops of Rags were few and far between in the post parade, but he looked ready!

Disheartened to see Street Life get away poorly, my attention shifted nervous to Union Rags who yet again was behind horses on the inside, but was optimistically farther up than usual. Paynter setting the pace… Optimizer’s up front? That’s weird… Dullahan is far back… Not a whole lot changed during the race, but as they approached the far turn, Rags began crawling closer to the leaders. I readied my camera as they moved towards the homestretch, taking my eyes off the monitor as I settled in for a good clean shot. As they came nearer, the crowd began to rumble and I zoomed in as far as my focal length would allow. Through my viewfinder, I could see the blue-and-yellow silks of Paynter… Atigun was trying hard to keep up on the outside… and THE BLAZE FACE OF UNION RAGS WAS COMING THROUGH ON THE INSIDE!

The excitement was too much of a rush to handle. It felt like the entire grandstand was standing behind me, shouting for one or the other to prevail, the vibration humming through the fabric of my clothes. Rags drew even with Paynter within leaps of the wire and I dropped the camera.

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The moment I lost my mind when I saw that blaze pop through…

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Aaaaaand there goes my camera…

So I didn’t get a very good, clear shot of Union Rags. But I did get to cash a win bet that day, and experience one of the most amazing moments ever as a fan. Getting to go to Belmont Park was an experience in itself, but I felt all my work and faith was validated that day. Using your heartstrings isn’t a viable betting strategy in the long term, but betting the horse with the most heart often is.

While there was no chance I was ever going to miss going to that race, the memento of it became doubly important after what happened next. In July, Union Rags was injured and off for the rest of the year, and then retired permanently shortly after that announcement was made. I can count on one hand the number of moments that caused me to need to take a day away from the sport, and that instance cost me a day of seclusion. I had only known him for 11 months though I got to see his final and greatest moment. The way it ended so abruptly all felt extremely unjust.

Unfortunately, like many sports, horse racing is a business and its athletes are exposed to serious injury even in the simplest of warmups. Just as I expected, the 2012 Triple Crown trail was memorable, though not in the same way I expected. I missed seeing Rags quite a bit for the rest of the year, but if I was to be honest with myself, I don’t think he could have won the Breeders’ Cup Classic this year. He went out on a high note, and I trust he will have a successful future as a sire. Not too many are going to be able to creep by Paynter at his best!

In the meantime, I’m still watching the Matz barn like a hawk.

Racing Beat: December 15

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Debating whether I want to make some kind of post on new sires for next year. Stay Thirsty looks to be the weakest link in my opinion… Maclean’s Music is better than I anticipated… I’ll be intrigued by future Hansens and of course Union Rags has the most to lose as well as Bodemeister.

I hope I’m not the only one who does this… sometimes, I play guess the headline while I’m handicapping races. For the CashCall: Violence is the Answer in CashCall! He’s Had Enough More Than Enough in CashCall! Saturday night edit: I’m waiting for it…

I hope someone names one of the first Sea The Stars foals Seasick.

Heartbroken about one of my all-time favorite fillies Awesome Feather retiring. Chad Brown, Stanley Gold, and Jeffrey Sanchez all deserve huge props and lest we forget Adena Springs for keeping her racing. I was half-expecting the news since she’s a rather finicky filly when it comes to her conditioning.

Another feared retirement come true: my dear beloved “Turby” aka Turbulent Descent has predictably been retired after a few rounds under Todd Pletcher. Such a gifted sprinter, and one of my favorite Florida-breds that was racing. She’ll be visiting her boyfriend War Front in the new year.

I have an odd habit of thinking horses older than 4 must be geldings (until yesterday for instance, I thought heart favorite Grassy was a gelding). I wonder why that is…

Oxbow gave me tons of hope in his super-wide 4th place finish yesterday in the CashCall (I). If he’s going to keep doing well I have to stop spelling his name “Oxbox”… this is Rattlesnack Bridge in the place of Rattlesnake Bridge all over again…

As long as I keep my emotions at bay, at this rate I should be able to pick the Kentucky Derby winner. AHAHAHAHA LAUGH AT ME AND MY FUNNY JOKES! I’m not hardcore in love with anypony yet though, so I’m still safe.

Perhaps Eblouissante was copying Royal Delta with the butt dent before her race.

Saginaw for New York Horse of the Year?

I will voluntarily retract my summer bomber statement that Stopderpingmaria wasn’t up to running. Stopshoppingmaria's back to winning. Maybe it was the curse of Saratoga that killed her chances.

Really digging my Christmas cards I had made this year for followers. Could very well be ego, though.

Tweet o’ the Week: I was going to reply “No, Last Gunfighter is” but then I thought better of the situation! #toosoon

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When Show Bets Work Best

Il Villano (Photo by Optimal Time Photography)

Universally ignored by the experienced handicappers who have grown out of straight win wagers in exchange for the exotic, the show bet is an investment without a distinct purpose, an investment rarely worth the $2 you’ll wind up spending and possibly losing. In betting, a show bet means the chosen horse will pay out as long as he finishes first, second, or third, and the lower the placing, the lower the payout. The payout is very scant, paying much less than a place, which is significantly lower than win wagers. Or should I say usually.

Big stakes races are constantly the best place to perform the show wager. The pools are bigger than your weekday allowance that might give you ten cents for the $2 show. The undercard of these big stakes races are also often great opportunities as the betting crowd is already there and trying to land those pesky Pick 3 and Pick 4 plays.

One of the biggest rules behind betting and handicapping is to watch the toteboard and attack the value. Betting favorites have a 40-50% chance statistically of winning, with a smaller percentage of second-choices winning, and so on. If you were told you had a 50% chance of losing that $5 you bet on a 1-5 favorite (paying out a profit of $1 if you won), would you still bet? If you were wise, probably not; even on a horse that is leaps and bounds better than the competition it’s still not going to reward you much. I’ll give you two real-world examples where I personally used a show bet to my advantage:

On Belmont Stakes Day, one of the undercard stakes race was the Woody Stephens at 7 furlongs for three-year-olds. While I knew a few horses would be strongly favored to win— namely Trinniberg and Currency Swap— I had taken a liking to the gray horse Il Villano, who had won a stakes last out on Preakness Day opening up on the field at 6 furlongs while never finishing worse than 3rd in his life. Crazy enough, despite these facts he was the second-longest shot on the board in a field of 10. I placed a $2 show bet on him and he wound up finishing not too far behind and was up for the show, paying $7.30 while winner/favorite Trinniberg won with a return of $7.70. Not a bad risk whatsoever, and it paid off.

If $7.30 fails to impress you, continue searching for a vulnerable favorite. I don’t think there was a better situation than the West Virginia Derby (II) this year, which I bet on while on-track at Saratoga. Hansen was the deserving, yet overwhelming, favorite in the race which was made up of a lot of lower-class and unproven colts. As brilliant as he is, Hansen was humming off a streak of poor showings and had a tendency to be rank— and with speedster Hero of Order also in the race, he was a very vulnerable 1-9 favorite. When such a heavy favorite occurs where there’s not much difference in the win and show payoffs, bettors will take the “safe” route of dumping money into the show pool. Why bet $100 to win when you’d get the same return on a $100 show? Unfortunately, if the heavy favorite fails to make the top 3, you just lost it all. “Bridgejumping” is an ill-conceived but popular practice, and in this instance, those who looked for value against Hansen were overjoyed.

I had heard good things about the shipper Called to Serve, and really he was the only one I had any interest in for this race. I seriously doubted he could beat Hansen talent-wise— at least at this stage— but at long odds he was worth a shot in the show pool. While winner and second-favorite Macho Macho won after Hansen faded badly dueling Hero of Order, it was Called to Serve’s third placing that paid out the most money. His $23 for a $2 show bet was twice the $11.60 win wager those who supported Macho Macho received. Needless to say, I was super ecstatic to be a show bettor that day.

Show bets can be extremely useful on occasion, but it takes a good eye to separate the “live” longshots from the out-of-their-league longshots to take advantage of what could be a handsome payoff. Don’t use them every day, but use them when the time (and odds) are right!

Racing Beat: November 11

Hope the hearsay isn’t true, but if it is, rest in peace Five Sixteen.

I feel a bit guilty for having a busy day before the Melbourne Cup, which is a tremendously popular event in Australia. Congrats Green Moon, and wow to 3rd place Jakkalberry the new “Great Traveler” of the racing world.

You know you like horse racing too much when you gush over Saratoga with the HR rep at a job interview. Had the follow-up interview gone the same way I’d have been golden.

Hansen will start his stud career at Ashford in 2013 along with Stay Thirsty who joins his old stablemate Uncle Mo. I wonder how much attention the other two will get with Hansen joining in along with basically every other good retired three-year-old as well as other recent retirees.

Another reason why this Breeders’ Cup was successful despite a lack of “superstar power”: so many of the winners are coming back next year, including Fort Larned and Groupie Doll.

Happy retirement to California Flag, To Honor and Serve, Musical Romance, Switch, Up [IRE], Zagora, Brilliant Speed, and Tu Endei Wei! And Mission Impazible and Tapizar… *sobs* Didn’t really expect the last two so much.

Kathmanblu RNA’d at Fasig-Tipton because she’s worth more than $475k! Humph!

Deeply disappointed to see one of my favorite firecrackers of the year Contested to also be retired and shipped off to Japan. I guess I should perceive it to be a compliment upon our dirt horses for the Japanese to be buying so many and to the tune of $2.3 million.

*Reads amazing broodmare prospect(s) for sale’s pedigree and stats, scrolls to the bottom and sees ‘in foal to Uncle Mo,’ closes browser and sighs* It’s like he’s the new Bernardini or something, only this is a worse case. He was a super champion juvenile yes but he hardly faced anyone he was able to beat as a three-year-old!

I came in 64th place in the WinStar Breeders’ Cup contest out of 1071 entries. So close, yet so far… damn you, Game On Dude among others!

I’m okay with the 2013 Preakness logo.

One delightful thing to keep in perspective: imagine how many blaze faces we’ll have in the coming years from Union Rags, Cape Blanco [IRE], Shackleford, and others.

Get well soon, Speightstown. I’m gonna need you to help me get some more winners.

I wish I made more money; I’d [possibly] be going to see Shackleford’s [possible] last start and the Equine Affaire if I did.

I expected big bucks for our fair lady Havre de Grace, but $10 million? Yikes. I suppose her first foal will fetch a couple million by default, and even more later if she turns out to be an exalted producer.

Thinking more about the track bias and the end result, while I was never really on his team, I think I’ll Have Another could have won this year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic, in addition to possibly the Triple Crown as well.

Remember Kentucky Oaks longshot Colonial Empress? She just broke her maiden. Yup.

Tweet o’ the Week: Featuring Mandy Pope’s expensive [good] tastes

Derby Watch: A Violent Solution

Bluegrass Cat, who ran second to Barbaro in the 2006 Kentucky Derby, was the winner of the 2005 Nashua Stakes in 1:38.02. This year’s champion Violence broke the stakes record, running the mile race in 1:35.32 (a difference of some 14 lengths).

I think post-Breeders’ Cup opinions on two-year-olds are no longer considered “early bird,” so it’s that time again to kickstart the Derby Watch series once again. Last year at this time I recall liking the looks of Street Sense's first crop, Union Rags was my unparalleled Derby favorite from the get-go, and Hansen was humming with early speed. I also liked Alpha fresh off his maiden score and a few horses photographed at the Breeders’ Cup (Sabercat, Majestic City, Optimizer but only as a turf horse!), and that’s about it from there. Who do I like this year so far?

I only discussed a handful of horses in “Early Bird Watch,” and admit I forgot about a couple of them (Sign, Evolutionary) that I know I would have otherwise included. However to start things off, I have to highlight one of the weekend’s best juvie efforts from colt Violence, who I did cover in my Early Bird Watch after a bumpy, but winning debut effort in August.

Stalking pacesetter and favorite big-bucks stablemate Darwin, the Medaglia d’Oro colt trained by Todd Pletcher swerved and wavered in the Aqueduct stretch but managed to snatch the win away from Vegas No Show by 2 lengths while setting a new stakes record. The colt showed remarkable ability early by sitting off the fast pace and coming in wide before showing his inexperience by cutting into his competitor. While he’s got a while to go before he is as good as his Breeders’ Cup winning stablemate Shanghai Bobby, he has long-term potential should he avoid future stewards’ inquiries.

I think Hard Spun colt Vegas No Show could have some ability next year as his older siblings have shown me, starting off somewhat slowly then bursting with talent after the spring. The Nashua (II), despite being a mere mile in distance, has a way of showcasing some good early Derby talent.

Racing Beat: September 22

Tomorrow’s Weekend Stake Tip is going to feature me strangling myself in utter frustration… once again I sit on the sidelines and both of my longshot picks win (Well Spelled at 14-1 and Dust and Diamonds at 12-1).

Imagine a world where Unbridled’s Song was sterile while Cigar wasn’t. Now, imagine that world where Barbaro never got hurt and Bernardini never got a chance to win the Preakness. Whoa, right?

I’m starting to accept that America’s Best Racing won’t ever welcome mention of this blog (or any other “little guys”) in their notebook despite some attempts. Maybe they remember me from the Belmont Stakes when their booth people didn’t know who the horses were on my shirt (Union Rags and Hansen *facepalm*).

If Trevor Denman really isn’t calling the Breeders’ Cup (a rumor), I want Vic Stauffer to do it. He gets so into it.

How freakin’ ironic is it to think that Optimizer was once a dirt runner who made his mark as a closer, but is now a graded winner on grass wiring fields?

I will admit, Handsome Mike is pretty handsome.

I wasn’t favoring Rolling Fog to be anything special just yet, but I’m also kind of glad to see him sidelined from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (I). Barclay Tagg’s wisdom about that race “ruining” good juveniles came into light with this year’s Triple Crown if you think back on it.

The more research I do on pedigree/trainer-biased injuries in racehorses, the more likely I feel I’m going to be gruff on how I make my early picks for the Kentucky Derby.

I haven’t seen the rest of the Beldame possibles yet, but I can only hope for good odds on Royal Delta.

Happy retirement to a deserving Calder pony, Mad Flatter. (With that said, how many more retirements did we have this week… 5? Mad Flatter, Boys at Tosconova, Redeemed, Awesome Gem, The Factor… agh!)

I’m okay with the 2013 Oaks logo, but that Derby one needs to go back to the drawing board.

Rest in peace, Spurious Precision. You had a cool name and moved something special.

I scare myself to death wearing headphones and having a live track video minimized that is silent until… *loudly* “TWO MINUTES.” I can’t be the only one that jumps…

Racing Beat: August 26

Swear to god… if I stay with a full-time benefitted (or at least am able to save up enough money) job, I want to take a 3-day vacation next year for Travers weekend because ponies.

The Travers this year was a huge letdown in more ways than one… Street Life injured, Nonios never in sight, Neck ‘N Neck went wide early, Alpha needed Fast Falcon flying up his tail to dead heat with Golden Ticket— likely Atigun's rabbit! All after Hansen and Paynter cancel their appearances with a no-show from Teeth of the Dog. An historic and exciting race, but eh… I’m not impressed. Golden Ticket the deserving winner if I had to pick one coming off those sexy works and a long layoff.

Larry Jones has JC’s Pride's half sister Smitten, a gray Tapit filly, training well at Ellis Park. Already love.

I wish I could take Mike’s retiring TB gelding Lights of Broadway. He could have Scoobers’ old stall here, plenty of room! ;) No but really… aghhhh I would love to have had him.

With Bodemeister and Union Rags out of the picture, the only horse with a glimmer of a chance of beating out I’ll Have Another for the three-year-old male Eclipse is Paynter if he can recover in time and run HUGE. But for karmic purposes, I’d like to see Questing [GB] beat the snot out of all the three-year-olds. I’d just really like to see IHA beaten out for the Eclipse.

Maryland has some good ideas about bringing more fans out more often!

You know you’re a horse racing fan when… your racing shirts get hung up in the closet, but your “nice” shirts are left to wrinkle in your drawers. #noregrets

I wonder how the New York Racing and Wagering Board is going to act after ex-claimer Willy Beamin’ turned into a huge, impressive G1 winner just days after running an impressive stakes race. You mad?

Somepony lucky hit the Del Mar Pick 6— JUST ONE PERSON— for $482,526.60. Meanwhile I am angry that Ramen is 3 for $1.

That awkward moment when you take a colt sired by a stallion with the gallant named of Lion Heart and name him Purple Egg. And he wins.

Ortensia needs to brawl with Frankel. Or kiss him.

I hope Hansen’s future breeders name their mare’s offspring in tribute to his unicorn traits… a filly named Twilight Sparkle would be just too perfect for me to pass up.

Under-informed anti-Japan fans can take a damn chill pill after they do their research on buyback clauses and take a looksy at pensioned Forty Niner, currently 27, alive and chilling on Hokkaido.

Tweet o’ the Week:

Is Moreno On Your Watch List?

The I’ll Have Another diehards were rewarded yesterday if they decided to bet on Know More— another Reddam/O’Neill colt named after cookies— who won in great closing fashion in his debut. It was the sort of performance that encouraged one of two thoughts: he got lucky from Scherer Magic's bottle-up, and or, he's a special horse. I'll reserve my thoughts for now. I did not bet that race, but if I did, I would have gone after Miss Empire ($13.40 show). By the looks of the program, every horse in the field had issues, so as with most two-year-old races, no one was safe from racing luck.

As far as Derby prospects go, while I wouldn’t have bet him at 6 1/2 furlongs, I do like the sounds of Moreno, an Eric Guillot trainee ridden by Victor Espinoza. He is a chestnut son of Ghostzapper, who you all may know by now is on fire as a sire with multiple stakes winners popping up the past few months and known for throwing plenty of speed. I’d rather have speed on top than on the bottom, and Moreno’s dam has great distance influence. Danceinthesunlight is an unraced daughter of Belmont winner/prolific champion sire A.P. Indy and is out of the Mr. Prospector daughter Dancethruthedawn, an earner of more than $1 million.

Eric Guillot has trained winners like Champagne d’Oro, and looks to have more left in the tank for owner Southern Equine, LLC— who also have Better Than Honour's newest two-year-old to hit the track, Better Not Cry by Street Cry [IRE].

It should also be noted that the head honcho at Southern Equine is Michael Moreno… hmm, think he might believe his horse Moreno could follow the trend of Kendall Hansen’s Hansen?

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