Wednesday’s are generally reserved for a bit of wackiness and a healthy dose of randomness around here. It’s a bit too early for me to start seriously looking at the major headline races of the week, and it’s too late to look back at the highlights from yester-week. What follows are non-related random thoughts/wishes/concerns slightly related to horse racing. I promise, there are no references to the Chinese women’s gymnastics team in this post.
- I’m desperately looking for a “baby picture” of Curlin. I’ll take anything that shows him as a foal or a yearling. So far all I’ve encountered is some grainy youtube video showing him being sold for $50,000, and that video seems to no longer exist unfortunately. I’ve heard rumor of a picture of him with his mother a few days after birth, but alas have not uncovered this treasure. I think it would make a smashing addition to my “Curlin mural”, or as I also refer to it “the wall o’ Curlin.”
- Speaking of “baby Curlin” – who else saw Square Eddie in the Lane’s End Breeder’s Futurity? They call this guy “baby Curlin” since they are both sons of Smart Strike, and judging from the photo in this Thoroughbred Times article, he looks a bit like him as well. He’s headed to the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile.
- I’m convinced the government should bail out my losing horse bets each year. Why not? Seems anyone else’s ill-advised or ill-concocted financial ventures are worthy of government bailouts. How’s about Uncle Sam refunding my Belmont losses, or the absolute teeth-kicking I receive whenever I try to bet Keeneland? Screw these obscenely rich financial institution CEOs – it’s time to bailout the horseplayer.
- I keep getting the feeling that while we all focus on Curlin vs. Big Brown in the Classic, that someone else is going to stamp their place in history. I’m just not convinced the synthetics are best for either of these horses. I love Santa Anita, but I’d feel a lot better as a Curlin fan if this were 2010 and we were headed to Churchill.
- Speaking of the classic, has Rick Dutrow been abducted by aliens? I’ve heard no comparisons from him suggesting Big Brown is indeed the second coming of the messiah, or that he wouldn’t claim Curlin for $10,000. Obviously he’s never said any of those things, but he might as well have. I’ve heard he also credits Big Brown with conquering Gaul at the battle of Alesia and defeating Vercingetorix. There you go – it ain’t everyday you get a Vercingetorix reference in a horse racing blog, is it?
- Is it just me or does the pick 6 for Ladies day of the Breeder’s Cup weekend look infinitely more hittable than the pick 6 sequence with the boys on Saturday? I know, I know, there’s no such thing as a “sure thing” (Ron keeps reminding me of that), but we’re talking Zenyatta in her home territory and Stardom Bound with that crushing late kick that also seems to do well over synthetic surfaces. Looking at the boys on BC Saturday, I’m not sure (as mentioned above) you can even take a stand on Curlin or Big Brown in the Classic! Add to that the fact that my likely single in the sprint, Street Boss, went down in defeat the other day and suddenly those races look a bit more wide open. My advice – go all out on the Pick 4/Pick 6 on the Friday card with the fillies and mares.
- It looks like Steven Crist was successful in getting $.10 superfecta wagering back on the table for the Breeder’s Cup. I’m usually more of a trifecta player, but it’ll be hard to imagine not taking some serious shots for $.10 a combination. Especially with those inflated pools on BC weekend.
- In case you missed it, there are those who have accused me of being a recreational drug user over in the comments section of Alex Waldrup’s “Straight Up” blog post about the bright future he sees after having met with our NTRA online marketing task force (the one that went to Vegas). For some reason I get a lot of enjoyment out of this. The issue at hand seems to be a defeatist response to my “Take Back Saturday” proposal – the one that “tells a continuous story from the Triple Crown to the Breeder’s Cup” and is modeled to a certain extent off of the NFL’s domination of Sundays. It seems someone thinks the plan is folly because of College Football’s domination of Saturdays. I guess I live in an alternate world where College Football doesn’t dominate the airways during the Triple Crown prep races (March-April), the Triple Crown races themselves (May-June), or during the bulk of our marquee summer racing (July-August). True, we would butt heads come September and October, but I guess in some people’s minds that means we shouldn’t even try and should just resign ourselves to defeat. I refuse to accept that. I think what bothers me the most is the armchair-quarterbacking. You can mock my proposals all you want, but where in that “one who does not use drugs” is their a tangible alternate idea rather than just the bashing of mine/ours? This, my friends, is the single greatest hurdle we must overcome – and I was happy to hear Alex speak on it. It’s a culture of complaint and defeatism. To all those who think I may be on drugs, I’d just like to ask one thing: “Is that Freedom Rock, man? Well turn it up!!!”
- On a lighter note, I’m getting a healthy dose of enjoyment out of all the horse-racing related terms that are being tossed around in this election year. The other day I heard one pundit say the race had “reached the quarter pole.” Obviously we’ve heard references to a “two horse race” (or a multi horse race throughout the primaries). Candidates are encouraged to go out and grab an issue by the reigns. You’ll hear references to the campaigns “coming into the stretch.” I always wonder if folks realize how much of a roll horse racing plays in the terminology we use to describe such events.
That’s really it for now. Curlin is settling in and galloping all over the Santa Anita track. I can’t help but feel a bit like William Faulkner here in Intruder in the Dust. Years ago, when Ken Burns put out his ultra-impressive documentary “The Civil War”, there was a poignant section with historian Shelby Foote that talked about the moment just before Pickett’s Charge was going to be made at Gettysburg; the moment just before the war was going to be lost (essentially, in as much as Lee’s offensive capabilities were never the same).
I’m a southerner by birth (Alabama – roll tide!) despite the fact that I now reside in the Keystone state. As such, that quote from Foote always touched me in a special way. The exact quote from Shelby Foote (paraphrased from memory) would be:
“William Faulkner, in Intruder in the Dust, says that for every southern boy it’s within his reach to imagine it being 3 o’clock on an early July day in 1863. The troops are formed waiting to be moved. The guns are placed. The flags are out of their cases and ready to be unfurled – but it hasn’t happened yet. And he can go back to that time before the war was going to be lost and he can always have that moment for himself.”
I wonder here…is this how I’ll feel after the running of this year’s Breeders Cup Classic? Will I go back to that moment before the race was going to be lost – the jockey is atop his mount, the call to post has begun to sound. The intricate grooming of Curlin’s mane is already being undone – but it hasn’t happened yet.
Hopefully I’m just being a typical “lost cause” southerner here and worrying, but I’ve got to level with ya – I’m not expecting his best race over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita. If we were talking 1 1/4 miles over a true dirt track, I’d say “anytime/anywhere” to anybody. I’m just really worried about this one. This horse is too good to go out on a down note. Folks only seem to remember what you’ve done lately, and I’d hate for his brilliance to be tarnished by a less than stellar effort in his final race.
I guess that leaves him with only one choice: Go out and blow away the field.