|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Saturday, May 06, 2006
The Blogger Trifecta
In the win column:
Barbaro, Point Determined, Lawyer Ron, Bob and John, Sweetnorthernsaint, Sinister Minister
In the place/show columns:
The above plus - Brother Derek, AP Warrior, Cause to Believe, Keyed Entry
That's 432 out of a possible 6840 outcomes covered. We can't lose.
Kentucky Derby Picks
Since CJ tossed up his opinions, I thought I'd reprint them and add my thoughts tagged on the end of each...
# 1 Jazil: He's never had a win against a field of this class and is not likely to replicate his Wood Memorial performance. He's also never had a speed figure in the triple digits.
Yes, but not only is he seemingly on the steady improve to push into the triple digit Beyers, he's the type of closer that could have a strong push towards the wire if the super hot pace scenario shapes up like some are predicting. Toss out of your trifectas at your own risk.
# 2 Steppenwolfer: I suppose if you like Lawyer Ron you should like this horse, since they're generally close at the end, but there's a reason Lawyer Ron wins and Steppenwolfer doesn't. Also has never shown the big speed figure this race might require.
Another closer, but we've seen a little less out of him than we have out of Jazil. Hasn't ever gotten past Lawyer Ron either. I'm prepared to eliminate him from the mix.
# 3 Keyed Entry: A speed horse that needs to hold back and avoid getting mixed up with Sinister Minister early. Showed an ability to make a late move in the Gotham but failed to show that same ability in the Wood Memorial. Worth a look in the exotics.
I think you can make a case for tossing what looks like a slight regression in the Wood due to the off track. Even so, he finished third, and not that far off the leader. I worry about pace horses in this race, especially with known speed fiend Patrick Valenzuela aboard. I will pass on this horse as the winner too, but only begrudgingly.
# 4 Sinister Minister: Boasts the best single speed figure in the field after a dominant performance last race out in the Bluegrass Stakes. Also must avoid burning too much speed early if Keyed Entry also gets out early.
Here's your wild card... Hung a 116 Beyer, best of this field, on a glib Keeneland track in the Bluegrass and looked unbeatable in the process. What I worry about in this case is one of two things. Either the pace scenario follows conventional wisdom and ends up burning the front runners out, or the jock and trainer overthink this situation and ask the Minister to lay off the pace for the first time ever. If he wants the pace, he can have the pace. Is he going to get pushed for it?
# 5 Point Determined: Stalked and closed each of last two races out putting up triple-digit speed figures both times. Has the potential to improve on those numbers, too and has a good post position from which to run his kind of race.
Another horse that's showing improvement, seemingly peaking at the right time, and can rate from off the pace. I'm also hot on the angle CJ mentions of two triple-digit Beyers in a row coming in, and he's hung two solid bullets over the last three weeks. I think this pace scenario does this horse a ton of favors, and I'm thinking this is your first solid contender for the roses here.
# 6 Showing Up: Won all three career starts, but not against top class and is clearly the lightest raced of the field. Has a triple digit speed figure and has shown a bit of an ability to close. Distance has to be a concern.
Agreed. No thanks.
# 7 Bob and John: Good horse that stalks the pace and has the ability to close even on Derby class horses as he did in the Wood Memorial.
I think I like this horse more than most. He's proven he can run with a flexible style, has been working out with a passion, and has Garret Gomez - one of the hottest jockeys out there right now - aboard. Very capable.
# 8 Barbaro: Another horse that has never lost, but first three of 5 career races were on turf. Coming off best speed figure in a strong Florida Derby performance.
I want so badly to either love this horse or to dismiss him as overrated, but can do neither. Everything about him says he'll have a great shot here, with his undefeated record, solid Beyers and great workout tabs coming into this race. Why am I frightened? He's coming off one of the longest layoffs in the field, and only raced twice as a two-year-old. I'm nitpicking... Barbaro belongs in consideration for any sensible exotics ticket's win column.
# 9 Sharp Humor: Only one race close to the 1m 1/4 he'll face here and couldn't hold a lead against the class he'll face here.
If you're looking for a pace horse to throw in the mix, think Keyed Entry or Sinister Minister instead. Pass.
# 10 A. P. Warrior: Has the speed needed to win this race with triple digit speed figures last two times out. He's beaten other Derby horses in the past and has good breeding for this distance.
Lots to love here, but there's no chance you're getting the 15-1 you see on the morning line. Hell, I'm not going to be shocked to see 6-1 at post. He's seemingly come out of nowhere with his last two performances, and is a fashionable pick for pundits avoiding the favorites in this race. His breeding is perfect for this distance, he's peaking right now, and he can rate from off the pace. Think hard about leaving this horse out of the win pool.
# 11 Sweetnorthernsaint: Impressive result last time out, but was the race as strong as it appears? He failed to catch the other Derby contenders in the Gotham. However, the four consecutive triple-digit speed figures are eye-catching.
Another fashionable pick, and I like this horse a bit better than CJ I think. I think the Gotham is part of the whole story of this horse's steady and explainable improvement since January, and I'm not concerned he didn't win. He did catch the pack, he just didn't pass them. He's got a perfect post, and every opportunity to settle towards the rail behind the pace. His speed is right, his workouts are right, his improvements are right. I won't turn in a ticket without this horse listed as a possible winner.
# 12 Private Vow: Highest career speed figure is just 96 and has never shown the ability to compete with this class.
# 13 Bluegrass Cat: This horse was supposed to be a favorite by now, but he's shown more regression than progression. Expected to have more wins and a triple-digit speed figure by now.
This is one of those high-risks picks that could really pay off. I don't think he's an auto-toss, but I'm leaving him out of the mix anyway. He's got a shot to win, and you'll get a nice price for taking a shot. It's not going to happen, so try not to blow your whole bankroll chasing unicorns here, alright?
# 14 Deputy Glitters: Topped Bluegrass Cat in a strong Tampa Derby performance but then turned around and failed to show up for the Wood Memorial. Hard to see this horse getting the improvement he needs.
Oh come on. No, no, no.
# 15 Seaside Retreat: Hard to believe this horse is in the race with the weak speed figures and the inability to compete with fields of this class.
I can't toss him though. He's a closer, and if the pace scenario shakes out, something weird is going to come up late and grab a piece. This weird enough for you? Still, I can be talked into tossing him out.
# 16 Cause to Believe: Coming off of two good looking wins, but didn't really show up for Illinois Derby that seemed to be a weaker field. Hasn't shown the speed that will be needed here.
Here's your 50-1 shot with the best chance to win. He's beaten Sinister Minister. Do you need more than that as a reason? Still, good luck chasing this guy, but I think he's legit for a share if he gets a good trip.
# 17 Lawyer Ron: Most experienced horse in the field and that should count for something. Should have the speed and style needed to win this race although in recent races, he hasn't needed to chase down any speed horses.
CJ's right, but here's exactly how professional this horse is. In between his five straight stakes wins coming into this race he's worked out six times, hanging bullets in five of them. He's very, very legit here and cannot be ignored.
# 18 Brother Derek: Four strong triple-digit speed figures in four consecutive wins but the quailty of the fields in thos races has been questioned. The outside post position could hurt as well, especially if Lawyer Ron has an easier time finding a spot to settle in.
The knocks on Derek also include the fact that he's faced small fields and has been "loose on the lead, unchallenged" in a couple of those. So what? He's still very, very good. I do think you might see some value here too, as bettors and pundits seem to be jumping off the Brother Derek bandwagon. You must play this horse to win at 6-1, and I really think you might see that.
# 19 Storm Treasure: He has never posted a triple-digit speed figure and the close he showed in his last race may be less impressive than it looks. If you're really going to close, then it's better to finsih less than 12 lengths behind.
Heh heh... Yeah, get rid of him.
# 20 Flashy Bull: As if the 20th post position isn't bad enough, this horse simply does not have the speed to make a difference.
Alright, so here are your categories: Contenders, Possibilities, and Pretenders.
PRETENDERS: Flashy Bull, Storm Treasure, Seaside Retreat, Deputy Glitters, Bluegrass Cat, Private Vow, Sharp Humor, Showing Up, Steppenwolfer
POSSIBILITIES: Cause to Believe, A.P. Warrior, Barbaro, Sinister Minister, Keyed Entry, Jazil
CONTENDERS: Brother Derek, Lawyer Ron, Sweetnorthernsaint, Bob and John, Point Determined
I'm prepared to bet against Brother Derek, so I'm going to move him into the "Possibilities" column, excluding him from the win pool. That leaves four horses on top. Of those, I like Lawyer Ron and Bob and John best, and if you're looking for a single pick from me, I'm going with BOB AND JOHN to hold off Lawyer Ron and Barbaro at the wire.
We'll post our trifecta pick later so you can root for us. We've got Drizz, Otis, CJ and myself each with $108 chasing a trifecta. Horses TBD...
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
Stock up on canned goods
Proof the world is coming off its axis.
From Page Six:
May 2, 2006 -- DENISE Richards is turning her formidable wrath on "The Showbiz Show" host David Spade after he called her a backstabber for romancing Richie Sambora, the estranged hubby of Richards' ex-best friend, Heather Locklear.
Richards - who recently kicked off a custody battle with husband Charlie Sheen by accusing him of threatening to kill her and being addicted to drugs, gambling and teen porn - has seen an erosion of public sympathy since pictures of her smooching Locklear's husband surfaced last week.
Spade is now said to be seeing Locklear.
Catch that last line? He's also apparently porked Krista Allen.
I shake my head.
And if that's not bad enough, underwhelming/underachieving blogger favorite pony TOO DRUNK TO CALL is apparently planning on summering up at Saratoga, where the level of competition isn't exactly "creampuff." Good luck to those wishing to find karma with a win bet on this nag.
More proof? My company heard my griping about the Extended Stay America and negotiated a rate at a Staybridge Suites that, by all accounts, is a huge improvement. It even has the high-speed Internet I cannot live without. I wouldn't even know how to use a fucking telephone dataport at this point.
Then again, I was in the Lehigh University bookstore tonight and saw Matt Maroon's book on the shelf. Multiple copies, deep discount. EVERYTHING MUST GO.
All is right with the world.
Anyway, I've got a lot of driving ahead of me, and if anyone has any suggestions for audio books I can pull to my iPod (via Audible.com, where I'm a member), I'd love to hear it. My last few books purchased, just to give you an idea of my audio book taste, include The Partly Cloudy Patriot by Sarah Vowell, Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, and Don't Get Too Comfortable by David Rakoff.
I'm leaning towards Freakonomics unabridged as a possibility. Is that going to be too dry? I'd also take as a suggestion radio programs (besides This American Life and Le Show) that Audible has. One hour bite-sized chunks work for me.
So this week is turning quickly into Long Lost Motherfucker week in my world. First, The Doc and I talk on the phone for the first time in years, and now a high school friend who was one of my best men at my wedding is trying to get in touch. These things happen in threes, so I'm assuming I'm going to be browsing books at an Allentown Barnes and Noble only to run into someone I knew in third grade. We'll catch up, ask each other if we still play kickball - no, you still eat paste? - and that will be that.
The power of three.
Anyway, audio books. Hit me.
Monday, May 01, 2006
Logistically, I'm miserable.
I got the job offer I was expecting on Friday, with (what for my company is) a nice little bump in pay. Now, even though I was clued in awhile ago about all this, it hadn't sunk in as reality until we started talking about the mechanics of from-this-point-forward.
Basically, they're asking me to come down here for "some part of" May and all of June in temporary housing. Then, when our contract gets renewed (as we all fully expect), they'll move me down here fully. If it doesn't get renewed, I'll be working out of my home anyway, so why jump the gun on moving me?
All this makes perfect sense. Except for the part where I'm supposed to find time to pack.
I'm in Pennsylvania now, and will be until Thursday night. I'm thinking I'll likely start getting boxes and stuff this weekend, but it's Kentucky Derby Saturday, along with opening night at the local track. God knows I'm not packing Saturday. Then, I fly back here on Sunday, back home on Wednesday, drive to Indy on Thursday to hang with Matty, and then back home to Michigan after that.
So, realistically, I have one weekend day before we hit the 20th of the month, and I'm not giving up a day of Kentucky Derby/Opening Night gambling just to put books in boxes.
Add in the fact that they're having me drive out here instead of flying, and my worst-case scenario will look something like this:
- Drive from Indy to Allentown on the 15th after having thrown a whole mess of clothes into a couple of suitcases. Shit's still unpacked all through my apartment.
- Get hung out to until late June by the client on the renewal, don't get notified it's a "go" until end of June.
- Company gives me until July 5th to have housing lined up and all my stuff on a truck and on its way down. They ask me to drive and not fly to get that done.
Yeah, sounds a little nightmarish, but it's completely plausible.
What sucks almost as much is having to stay in one of those Extended Stay America hotels. Doing so saves my company over $30 a night, so I'm guessing they're going to take their $900+ in savings and stuff me into this joint for a month.
They've got studio suites! This means I can smoke cigarettes and watch TV in the same room in which I sleep! They're close to the airport! I love the sound of a twin prop commuter plane buzzing my roof at four in the morning. And don't even get me started on the selling point of "a two-line phone with a computer dataport."
Jesus, don't count on me blogging for a month or more in that event.
As I've been shopping around I've noticed some amenities that I could, however, live without. Top of the list? "The Manager's Nightly Reception." Okay, so I'm supposed to be impressed that some Hospitality School C-student running a Residence Inn is going to be throwing a nightly "reception" with pigs-in-a-blanket and diet pop? Come on. It's one thing to try and add value, it's another to pretend you're trying with something like this. You know what I'd do? I'd totally make a show of it. Dress the manager up like a cruise ship captain with epaulets on the shoulders of his dress whites. He'd have to refer to everyone as "Old Bean" and know how to guffaw like a professional. Plus, he'd have to have a story about a time he had pigs-in-a-blanket while traversing the Khyber Pass or some such shit. I'd even have him smoking a pipe.
Maybe then I'll come to your bullshit reception.
I'm a little astonished there's not a middle tier of hotels out there that pick up the slack between ESA's cut-rate pricing and the $100/night I'm seeing elsewhere. Maybe though the $100/night places are counting on companies to suck it up and deal with the premium rather than being competitive and working to get my personal spend. I know if I were someone with some cache in his company I'd do every fucking thing I could think of to get out of one of these ESAs and into a nicer joint, $50/night be damned.
Since I'm not important, ESA and your dataports of wonder, here I come.
My friend the Doc shocked me today with an assumption she's held for ten years that I was doing heroin. Jesusgod no. First of all, I didn't ever stray too far outside the box of what was socially acceptable during my college years, and secondly, I can't imagine jabbing a needle INTO MY OWN VEINS. Yes, I suppose there are other ways to get your horse, but I certainly wouldn't know about that. I have to avert my eyes and breathe deep when I get blood drawn for chrissakes - about a year ago I nearly passed out in the midst.
I am a big ol wuss, let's never forget this.
So, apparently I was just shy of full-fledged fucking crazy or something ten years ago, if the naturally accepted assumption was that I was "on drugs" (plural). There's no denying I wasn't exactly the most emotionally adept person you've ever met, but I don't know about this just-shy-of-nodding-off perception. I'd like to think whatever it was that lived in my eyes that gave off that impression has been replaced with a natural you've-got-to-be-kidding-me stare.
On drugs... No wonder we didn't talk for nearly ten years. I had to kick the smack first apparently.
No harm, no foul... I was obviously an idiot back then, and what really has changed?
Speaking of being an idiot, I'm not going to get deep into an explanation or the circumstances surrounding what happened when, but I did pull a post and a follow-up apology Saturday night. Don't think for a minute I'm rescinding the apology though. What happened originally is that I was asked to read something by a friend, read it fast and knee-jerked a response via email, then re-read it and got the point. Then I had a good thing going in my post until I decided (stupidly) to include some of the knee-jerked email, which I then re-qualified with a disclaimer, which made it sound like a backhanded accusation. It's not that anyone read me wrong, it's that I screwed up the train of thought I should have stayed on and put text in there from that email that I didn't even agree with upon my second and third time through the post in reference. That's why it came out sounding pointed in one direction in particular (because the words did directly point, which I regret), and that's why I apologized. It was a dumb asshole move, which I admitted directly and personally to the person affected in a phone call, and apologized personally and publicly. Everything else that happened from the apology forward is water under the bridge, and shouldn't be made fodder for discussion.
By the way, I hope by the time I post this I've heard something positive back, but best wishes to one of my friends and readers whose afternoon has the potential to suck very very much. I'd pray for you, but the atheist thing always gets in the way.
So anyway, back to Allentown this week and the first stop I made on the way from the airport to hotel was at Wegman's. For those of you not on the east coast, Wegman's is kind of like Whole Foods Market, particularly with their deli/takeout choices readily available. Would it surprise you to know that my discovery of Wegman's last week (it had been here awhile, I just didn't know) is now my silver lining on the move to Allentown? Last night I grabbed sushi (nigiri, six fish sampler), Singapore rice noodles, gyoza dumplings, a baguette, hummus, chips and a salami/asiago combo package. I made it through the noodles and dumplings along with half the sushi (which I'm dreading touching tonight, it's got to be less good now, right?), and left the rest for snacks throughout the week.
Oh, and they sell The Daily Racing Form. Double fucking bonus points on that one.
Speaking of horses, Kentucky Derby this weekend, and CJ and I are going to take a shot at putting a big trifecta together. I figure if we each go in for a hundredish ($105, actually), we can throw seven horses together in a box and hope for the best. I'd probably spend $100 on the race alone anyway, why not take a shot at a bigger score? Frankly, so long as the chalk doesn't finish in order, any hit trifecta should pay back the outlay.
Reading what I am around the web, I'm slowly getting talked into Barbaro and Sweetnorthernsaint. Both will be a decent price (likely in the 6/1 or higher neighborhood), and Barbaro's work on Saturday was said to be amazing. The Derby is kind of like an eighth-grade boy's track meet. The horses are maturing at different rates and rounding into form on their own pace, so realistically you're wanting to find a horse that is physically the most prepared and advanced out of the field.
That really goes for any race at any age, but there's a lot of adversity for horses to overcome in the Derby. High expectations, high competition, the longest distance and the biggest field they'll have ever (and will ever) seen means the face-value best horse doesn't always win. Sometimes it's the horse that's mature enough and prepared enough to be put into a position to succeed. And maybe I'm putting too much stock into a workout, but a good and sensical work is a definite sign of a horse that's being prepared to succeed.
CJ and I will give you more later this week after the post draw. For now? Down to the Boathouse to meet Al and the Puncher of Donks...
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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