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Psst… guess what day it is?

A year ago, Tumblr erupted with posts about the greatest Triple Crown winner who ever lived.

Today is his day. Appreciate and reblog ‘Slew.

It’s Back Again!: The 3rd Annual Derby Handicap Contest


Back by popular demand, the fun and free-to-play Derby Handicap Contest returns for a third running with some changes, but the overall goal stays the same: with a little luck and perception, be the best at selecting the top contenders on the road to the first Saturday in May!

How to Play:

Each week, select ONE horse from the field on which to play a fictional $2 Win/Place/Show bet, with accrued earnings being collectively added up with the top three highest earners capturing a prize at the end of the eleven week stretch. All picks are due via Jotform 20 minutes before the scheduled post time of the race. You may edit your pick up until that deadline. You do not have to play every week to win, but it’s a lot easier to win if you do!

You may also select a backup horse in the event your first choice is scratched for whatever reason; if you do not, your pick automatically becomes the post-time favorite. Example:

You select Cairo Prince to win the Holy Bull. He finishes 2nd, which cashes your place and show bet for the week. He returns $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show, giving you $5.60 for the week.

If you submit nothing for the week, you will forfeit any earnings i.e. I do not automatically make your choice the post-time favorite. All earnings from all players will be tracked via a leaderboard published on the Contest tab.

Handicapping Contest Schedule (all Saturdays):

  • Week 1: January 25 - Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park
  • Week 2: February 1 - Withers Stakes at Aqueduct
  • Week 3: February 8 - Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita
  • Week 4: February 15 - El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate
  • Week 5: February 22 - Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds
  • "Away" gap of one week
  • Week 6: March 8 - Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs
  • Week 7: March 15 - Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park
  • Week 8: March 22 - Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park
  • Week 9: March 29 - Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park
  • Week 10: April 5 - Wood Memorial at Aqueduct
  • Tiebreaker race: April 12 - Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland

I’m afraid I’ll forget to send in picks/what is Jotform?

Mark your calendar! Write on your hand! Or, track the tag #derby handicap on Tumblr to see updates and reminders to submit your picks!

Jotform is an easy-to-use online submission form that is much more reliable than sending asks on Tumblr or emails, and all submissions are time-stamped to prevent funny business. I will provide a link every week when post positions for the contest race are announced where you can submit your picks.

Official Rules

  1. Contest participation is restricted to Tumblr accounts who are following this blog. No alternate accounts may be used and only one weekly submission is allowed per individual. Participants and winners will be checked.
  2. Open to international players! Penguins in Antarctica with computers are welcome!
  3. Submissions are due 20 minutes before post time, late entries accepted at my discretion (i.e. if I’m at my computer at the time). Try not to be late though. Rawr.
  4. I retain the right to ban/cancel any participants and or weekly submissions if I suspect foul play, cheating, etc. It will ultimately be at my discretion to not award prizes to any individuals on this basis or any other unsportsmanlike activity including but not limited to outlandish braggery, privately messaging others regarding picks, etc. In short, this is my damn contest and my damn money going into it, like hell I’m giving it to a butthead.

What can I win?

Prizes are not 100% set in stone at this stage, but are always worth your while and consist of horse racing memorabilia and related items. This year we’ll be trying something different with the top 3 earners taking home themed “prize boxes,” with first place getting first choice, second place getting second choice, etc. Stay tuned for an update when I have all prizes confirmed.

How do I win?

Luck, a bit of study, and some strategy couldn’t hurt. Past contest winners often got the victory by way of nabbing just one— maybe two— longshots, so don’t feel like you have to play it safe! Check out the morning line odds before submitting to see what the likely odds will be for a given horse. Also, read up on some handicapping analyses! Tumblr is home to several handicappers who enjoy sharing their picks, including this blog which will post an analysis every week before the contest race.

Checking out Equibase.com past performances and reading the thoughts of hardened handicappers might give you some ideas too. (Though I will say, the pros are rarely right every week of the Kentucky Derby trail).


Funny Cide being a ham for me at Saratoga (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Funny Cide being a ham for me at Saratoga (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Funny Cide (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

Funny Cide (Photo by Dawna Wood/The Galloping Hat Rack)

See that red white and blue pole? I was right next to that on the fence for this. Waaaaa Palace Malice? I must be his lucky charm because the last time he won for fun (or at all) was when I was there for his Saratoga maiden win. I guess he and I are buddies now.

See that red white and blue pole? I was right next to that on the fence for this. Waaaaa Palace Malice? I must be his lucky charm because the last time he won for fun (or at all) was when I was there for his Saratoga maiden win. I guess he and I are buddies now.

Orb and Oxbow Meet Again for Belmont Stakes


Here it is: the final jewel of the Triple Crown. By now you know these horses, and Todd Pletcher leads the fray with 5 entries. Will Derby winner Orb bounce back? Will Oxbow stick it out once more and live up to his classic pedigrees for another 2 furlongs? Will new guns like Midnight Taboo and Freedom Child make an impact? Anything can happen in this race, and often does. I will be at the race, so look out for me around the finish line (picture of me and what I’ll be wearing incoming).

Weather has been a big question, but I am handicapping for a good to fast main with most of the rainfall occurring Friday into Saturday morning. This is one of my longest analyses yet with 14 horses and a setup analysis along with picks, so do click to read on.

Continue reading…

Back to Belmont: Gearing Up… Literally!


For the next couple of weeks, you all get to deal with my excitement about attending the Belmont Stakes (I) through a series of warlgarbl’d text posts. Aw yeah.

As the ponies are one of my favorite subjects to photograph— be they Thoroughbreds, Saddlebreds, Morgans, Friesians, and others— one of the main draws for me personally at the races is getting some good snapshots of the horses in action. As a spectator, it’s tough to find your shots from mostly one vantage point, and last year I had just gotten another DSLR after having to sell the first one I had. Bringing home mostly “meh” pictures of some really outstanding photo opportunities was kind of a letdown, so I made it my goal for this year to get some better stuff to bring to the races this summer.

Incoming photo nerd stuff!

Last year, I had only just gotten my new Nikon d5000 (which many call “outdated trash” but I say otherwise… the camera model you have should be the third most important thing AND NO HIGHER on your priorities), which came with the stock automatic lens, which is pretty good, but I could only zoom out to 55mm maximum. 55mm is like what you see with your own eyes and doesn’t let you get up close, which is what I prefer to get.


This is about as good as I could get to getting a close-up of sprinter Hamazing Destiny last year. It drove me nuts just having the stock Nikkor lens on hand.

Because autofocus lenses are very expensive and only get pricer as they increase in focal length, I opted for a tried-and-true manual option. The greatest thing in the world about DSLR cameras is the backwards-compatibility they have with many old film camera lens. You can go on eBay, buy a beast piece of glass from 1991, and as long as you’ve done your homework about the mount type/buy an adapter to work with both, it works! The only reason why more people don’t buy manual lenses is because they’re a) optics whores… honestly, images don’t need to be National Geographic sharp to be beautiful! and or b) too reliant on the autofocus feature, which can be as harmful as it is helpful!

While you have a good deal of control over what the autofocus chooses to bring into focus, its results are often spotty. And honestly, if I can shift the autofocus ring myself as opposed to pushing a button, is that really worth several hundred dollars’ more? Nope. Enter my new favorite lens, the Sears 100-200mm (pictured above).

I absolutely love this thing, and even though it’s my cheapest lens ($30 on eBay), it’s my favorite one out of the 4 I currently own, which include 2 top-of-the-line Nikon pieces. It’s not super sharp, but that’s part of the draw as it gives this dreamy, soft, filmic look to all my pictures while letting me get close to my subjects:



Both images were only edited a little bit (a feature called “Leveling” which adjust the darks, middles, and highlights of the picture) and were shot in the camera’s RAW mode— an advanced shooting mode that captures very high quality picture files. This was my first time ever using this particular lens inside a dingy-dark indoor arena, so this is pretty good!

For the aspiring photo nerd: get a DSLR. Doesn’t matter what kind, though I prefer Nikon or Canon (Canon is allegedly more user friendly with richer colors, but I wouldn’t know since I’ve been Nikon all these years). Learn a little bit about photography, do some homework online about what mount type your camera accepts, and go manual on the cheap. It’s honestly getting so cheap with used DSLRs and lenses on eBay that you don’t have a good excuse to NOT want to venture outside of your smartphone and point-and-shoots. Especially if you’re like me and like going to the track and getting some spicy shots.

So yeah, I’ll have my bag o’ stuff with me at Belmont in railbird position, but I will no doubt be picking up better pictures this time around. Getting a really good picture at the track is like hitting a 20-1!

Preakness Reflections

I participated in a web chat on Preakness Saturday hosted by Emily. It was a fun, hope-filled type of experience, and unless I’m daft, I don’t think anyone picked someone other than Orb as the likely eventual winner. Now that the race is over and done with, I can “unload”:

  • I knew Itsmyluckyday was going to have a big shot to bounce back and win after that workout, but Pimlico played toward early speed all day which gave Oxbow the big advantage in the end to keep on going. Yes, I admitted in the Derby Dozen that after running a race every single month, Oxbow was likely off his top form. I still maintain that belief, but with his pedigree and favorable placement in the field, he managed to hang in there strong enough to win. Great job to all those who had him on top.
  • Orb didn’t look likely to win from the word go. He was moved into relaxing position far back early, which looked fine given the solid pace of just under :24 for the opening quarter. But he didn’t move up. Then horses began cutting around him to the inside. I was honestly shocked to see he finished 4th with that dull a performance. Maybe it was the dead rail zone, maybe not.
  • Now that Orb has lost the 2nd jewel, we can start looking forward to a free-for-all in the Belmont. We actually have an amazing lineup this year for the race by the sounds of it, and both Orb and Oxbow are listed as possibles. I don’t like either one to win the race, and I’m probably going to wind up favoring a fresh horse. But alas, that race is 3 weeks away so we shall see…

You have a right to your opinion and anything can happen in any race. I just dont see anyone beating Orb in the next 2. He looks the part physically and has been working out better. Reminds me of how much better I thought (and still think) Animal Kingdom was than the rest of his fields. That said though, it didn't work out for AK. I think Orb is the best horse no matter what post or track conditions are. But the best horse doesn't always win.

Asked by behindthecounterinasmalltown

Orb is the one to beat today. At Belmont, he’s advantaged to be at his home track, but he’s got some legit new shooters coming back for that race. Orb is at a much better position than Animal Kingdom was as a horse who doesn’t care where he is during the race, so with that said I think he does have a solid chance to win all three. He’s the best three-year-old right now, but then again, that’s not saying much… our hottest three-year-olds in the country (except Orb) fizzled in the Derby so badly it’s not even funny.

They’ll all be after him today, and again in June should he win today. ORB SHOULD BE ABLE TO WIN AND WIN EASILY TODAY, but I reserve any mention of the Triple Crown until later on tonight.

I'm not even rooting for Orb to win the triple crown. He's been a firm favourite of mine since the Fountain of Youth. I'm just rooting for him to have a good race and come home to the finish line safe. Win or lose, Orb will still be my favourite American horse, hell even if he didn't win the Kentucky Derby he would be. You just click with some horses like you do boyfriends haha

Asked by nicoledowland-deactivated201404

That… is one hell of an excellent way to put it. Orb never gave me the same romantic vibe some other horses in the past gave me, and no one this year has really enthralled me in the Triple Crown preps.

Thanks for your input, Nicole, no really… :) I’d like to witness a Triple Crown winner myself, BUT I WANT TO SEE HIM WORK FOR IT NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS. If it doesn’t happen today, it’ll happen in June.

The best Thoroughbred horse racing blog on Tumblr! Updated daily with handicapping analysis, photos, editorials, and things gathered 'round the web.

Tracks visited: Calder, Saratoga, Belmont, Suffolk, Aqueduct.

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