Showing posts with label Horse Racing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Horse Racing. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Why Horse Racing Tells me That Germany Will Beat Spain

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

Horse Racing Lesson #1: Recent Form Means Everything

Why it favors Germany: Germany won their last two games, 4-1 and 4-0. Spain won their last two games 1-0 and 1-0 with David Villa scoring both goals. Hmmm, that looks like a pattern, does it not? Germany scores 4 a game, and Spain 1. 1 David Villa goal to be exact. Who on Spain has PROVEN they can beat you if Villa doesn't? No one. Spain may have better passing, a deeper team, and a Euro 2008 and trophy, but zero people find their last two wins more impressive than Germany's.

Horse Racing Lesson #2: The Fewer Changes for a hot Horse/Team, the Better

Why it Favors Germany: This could be a wash, because Mueller is out for Germany as well, but with Spain benching Torres, we don't know how that will disrupt their (delicate) offensive rhythm. What if this throws off David Villa? Who else will score? What if Germany just loads up on Villa and lets the new guy beat them?

Horse racing taught me to take a pass on a horse trying something new for the first time at a high level. For instance, if Rachel Alexandra (a dirt horse) ran on grass against elite company, I would bet against her. If she started running sprints (she prefers longer distances) against elite company, I would bet against her. The only way I'd bet a horse trying something new is if they did so against far lesser competition.

Spain is making a change and it is against elite competition. I'd bet Rachel Alexandra on the grass in an allowance race, but not in the Arlington Million. Sorry, Spain.

You don't change horses midstream, if there is any current.

Horse Racing Lesson #3: History is a Factor, Even if you are Unsure why or how.

I'm in a relative hurry to get this post published before the soccer match starts, so I can't research this as much as I would have liked. But certain trends in horse racing can be hard to ignore. When I first heard about these trends I was very skeptical of them because I couldn't explain them, nor could anyone else. For instance- European horses do disproportionately well in Breeder's Cup grass races, and the Arlington Million. Other than Street Sense, the winner of the Breeder's Cup Juvenile hadn't went on to win the Kentucky Derby in a very, very long time. In the last decade, The Arkansas Derby has produced significantly better horses than the Wood Memorial.

Can I offer some explanations for those trends? Yeah, kinda. But I can't paint the whole picture, and I don't think anyone can. As I've gotten a bit better at horse playing, I have learned that the question is NOT "WHY is that the trend?" the question really is more simply, "WHAT is the trend?" and follow it.

I don't think Native Americans could explain why three-leaved ankle-high plants resulted in an itchy rash after touching it, but they ignored those poison ivy plants, nonetheless.

The World Cup tie-in here is that Germany has the history here. They have won three World Cups and Spain is in their first ever semi-finals. Do I know why that is? No. Can I profit from that phenomenon, without being able to explain it? Yes. Historically, Germany has found a way to win and Spain hasn't. That is objective and is there for us to observe. I don't know exactly what about capsaicin on our papillae makes chili peppers taste hot, but I know they are. That's really all I need to know.

Horse Racing Lesson #4: Don't Be Afraid to Pick Against the Experts

Spain seems to be the slight betting favorite in this match. It's about a half-notch below a "Pick 'em", but Spain is favored, albeit slightly. Alexi Lalas picked Spain over Germany though and he knows a ton more about soccer than I do. Shouldn't I be concerned?

Not really. He cited his rationale for why he thought Spain would win, but he could have picked them for reasons we don't know. Maybe he has a Spanish wife or girlfriend. Maybe he thinks Germany will win, but Spain is the trendier pick to make, and he doesn't want to go against trendy soccer thinking. Maybe he believes Spain will win, and is simply incorrect.

Horse Racing Lesson #5: Avoid the Results That Would Make you Feel the Most Stupid

This sounds stupid, but has been done me a world of good at the track. Here it is in practice. I think Germany will win. They scored 4 goals against an ok England team, 4 goals against a very strong Argentina team, and more impressively, held Argentina to just one (garbage time) goal. They shut down Messi and Tevez, so why can't they shut down only David Villa? If Germany won this game 4-1, wouldn't you think, "Well, yeah. I shoulda seen that coming, both teams were trending in that direction." and you would feel stupid if you took Spain.

Taking Spain, essentially, represents your thinking that Germany will, for some reason, score 3 or 4 goals LESS than usual and Spain will probably score more than they usually have been. Doesn't that seem like a big departure? A lot of trends have to end for that to happen. If you DID assume that, and it didn't happen, wouldn't you feel like kind of a dumbass? Let's go over the 4 possibilities and how I see it.

Your Guess/Actual Winner.......Thoughts afterward

Spain/Spain.....Hot Damn. Spain scored a lot more/Germany scored a lot less than they have been trending, and I predicted that correctly. I know my soccer.

Spain/Germany....Goddamnit. I got talked into Spain. I mean, of course I knew Germany looked unbeatable. I just assumed some trends would do a 180, Germany would randomly suck and Spain would score more goals against Germany than they could muster against Portugal. Any monkey with eyes could tell you that Germany looked to be playing better. I just incorrectly predicted a major trend reversal.

Germany/Spain.... Goddamnit. Can't blame me for that one. Germany's last two games were against solid opponents and they had an 8-1 goal differential. Spain? 2-0 overall goals versus Paraguay and Portugal. I took a stand, bet the on-the-field trends, and ignored a lot of experts and the betting odds. I guess they knew something I didn't afterall. Next time I will have to weight their arguments more.

Germany/Germany...Hot Damn! I told you! I told you! I told you! Germany has too stout of a defense, too creative and multi-faceted of an offense, too much history and no reason to think that train was going to screech to a halt against its will.

What option makes me feel the stupidest? The first one of four, so I have to avoid that in favor of the last one.

We'll see how I do. The game is about to start.

That's how I roll.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Great Sports This Weekend

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

1. As the English announcer says, Saturday features a soccer match betwixt, "Argenteener and Jaminee." or Argentina and Germany. That will be a doozy. For Germany. The result will forever send the debate between which God likes more: Sausage or Chimichurri. Today's Brazil/Netherlands game taught me that God prefers marijuana and tulips over thongs and tan accelerator.

2. Brock Lesnar vs. Shane Carwin. You aren't going to drop $60 for it on Pay per view? What's that? You're going to go to Twitter and search, "watch ufc116" and going to find an illegal, free feed on the web? No way, me too. I'm picking Carwin to upset Lesnar due to ring rust. He is a long shot, so a safer bet would be to bet that I learned the phrase "ring rust" about two weeks ago. It's true.

3. I Want Revenge makes his long-awaited debut start since his injury that had him scratch on Derby Day in 2009 as the morning-line favorite (only because Quality Road wasn't entered). He is the 7-5 favorite in Belmont Park's Suburban Handicap (Gr.II) on Saturday where he takes on a 2-1 Regal Ransom, among others.

Here he is kicking hiney in the aforementioned Wood Memorial.

That's how I roll.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Looking for a way to Humiliate Your Horse? Have it Race Goldikova

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

Goldikova, the European version of Zenyatta or Rachel Alexandra kicked more male horse hiney today in England in the Group 1 Queen Anne Stakes.

With her being a miler and Zenyatta and Rachel preferring more of a Classic Distance, I wish they could compromise and race in a 1 1/16th or 1 1/8th race, kinda like how Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson raced in that 150 meter race.

I digressed, though. The point is Goldikova is awesome.

That's how I roll.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

ESPN's Horse Racing Coverage Still Subpar

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

First thing is first- I am glad ESPN is broadcasting horse racing and I think Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey are great, as are the little essay readings by Bill Nack. My problem with their coverage is about the direction /scope/focus of the coverage, which I will get to a bit later.

Most of my concerns about horse racing are about the sports as a whole. Specifically, that zero people care about horse racing and the industry has little reason to believe that will change anytime time soon. So what I look for from horse racing events or broadcasts is that it is done in a manner that fosters the participation of new fans. That means less horse racing jargon, a bit more explaining how things work, and so on.

In my opinion the biggest barrier people face in entering horse racing is that they don't know what all the jargon means- place, show, furlong, route, exacta, trifecta, maiden race, etc. Equally obstructive to their participation is the deciphering of the essential bible of horse racing jargon and cryptic symbology- The Daily Racing Form. It's too intimdating for people to want to try to figure out, and, as someone who has explained to scores of people over my life how to read a Form, it would be damn near impossible to figure out what all that stuff means on your own.

It's for that reason that I think ESPN should do a better job of educating the public about how to read the Form and participate in the sport. ESPN should give people the information, which will then lead to the requisite confidence to take their family, friends or girlfriend to a day at their local track.

I'd like to see ESPN's coverage include more racing handicappers (people who try to pick the winners) telling us their selections and why. They could show us the Racing Form on the screen with a telestrator while the handicapper points at the numbers and explains why they factored in his decision. This is the only way to learn how to handicap a race- you have to watch someone do it in front of you while they explain it.

Unfortunately, ESPN's coverage has way too little of this, despite having Randy Moss, who is an excellent and innovative handicapper in his own right. Instead, their modus operandi is to deluge the viewers with human interest stories, biographies of Belmont connections, and Kenny Mayne's questionable hilarity all while trying to shoehorn in the undercard. What they should do is focus on each of the successive races before the Belmont and handicap them, leaving out the human interest stories. When I go to the track with my Racing Form under my arm, I don't know any of the human interest stories. Sure, some are fascinating, but that isn't why I love the sport. Every conceivable aspect of life has human interest stories, so let us focus on what is unique to horse racing- like horses that race eachother and betting on them.

If you like human interest stories, you may not necessarily love horse racing. But if you love horse racing, then you love horse racing. So lets focus on horse racing. You have to aim high- and if someone watching ESPN's broadcast fell in love with everything ESPN was saying, that doesn't make them a fan of actual horse racing, just a fan of horse racing stories. And if you go to the track on any given saturday, you won't know any of the stories. Similarly, if ESPN's broadcast was focused on handicapping and someone fell in love with that coverage, they could visit their local track the next day and help support the sport.

ESPN and the horse racing community need to prepare the populace with the ability to fend for themselves at the track.. Namely arming them handicapping and betting knowledge. That and only that will help bring people back.

Today's broadcast of the Belmont Day is probably the best day of racing in America other than the Breeder's Cup- Four Grade 1 races and two Grade 2s. Sadly, such an exciting concentration of talent is lost on ESPN's coverage. While they should be telling us how exciting the next race is and why, they merely show the odds of the horses in the upcoming race, before going to more human interest stories, debates about the Triple Crown structure and showing the Belmont Stakes odds yet again. The casual viewer at home has no idea what a special DAY of racing this is and how special the horses on their television screen really are. While they could be learning about how important post position or pedigree is to a sprint race, they instead are forcefed another drunken-like stumbling of Hank Goldberg interspersed with Kenny Mayne making sure the focus is on him and not the horses.

I used to wonder why no one follows horse racing.

In Jack Keruouc and William S. Burroughs book, And The Hippos Were Boiled in Their Tanks, there is a scene where the characters are at a port in NYC and are waiting around to be interviewed for the Merchant Marines. They're bored and nearly broke but they can't leave their area for fear they'll miss their interview. In an effort to cure his boredom, one of the characters picks up a Racing Form and gives it a quick look to see if he likes any horses running that day and can maybe make some easy money before he is interviewed and possibly deployed.

In the entire book about NYC's WWII-era Beatnik Boehemia, that scene struck me as the most outdated.

That's how I roll.

Friday, June 4, 2010

2010 Belmont Analysis

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

Update after seeing the Belmont: Whoops.

After looking at the race for the first time I thought that this would be a Belmont that we forget in five years. Ideally, you look at a Grade 1 race and think, "Wow! All of these horses are outstanding, I can't envision a scenario in which any of these 4 favorites lose. I can't believe at least 3 of them will go home a loser." but other times you think the opposite- "Wow. One of these horses gets to exit the track tomorrow as a Grade 1 winner? hmmmm. Well, tt's gotta be somebody I guess, lets see here.....". Saturday's Belmont Stakes falls under the latter heading.

When I see a race like that, I play contrarian and look for a horse that doesn't deserve to win to defeat another horse that doesn't deserve to win, but that has lower odds. Great horses rarely get beat- Curlin, Zenyatta, Rachel, Ghostzapper, Smaryt Jones, Azeri, etc. They are talented, run to form, and their best is nearly always enough to win AND they usually have their best.

Our Belmont has no such horse. It's easy to think Ice Box is THE MAN because he has run two good races. Looking only towards this race, he appears as a looming, scary figure. But a step back reveals that this monster isn't all that scary. This is a Grade 1 race, yet it took him 4 races to break his maiden. After that his handlers said, "whew. thank god he broke his maiden (at the Meadowlands, no less). He can't be that awesome, lets just put him in an Allowance race for his next one." they did and did he go off as the favorite in that modest race? Nope. He went off at 6-1 and to his credit, he won. The victory gave his handlers the confidence to enter him in a Grade 2- where he finished 5th of 10, beaten by 12 lengths.

This is the scary, bully on the block? Really? Despite my Devil's Advocacy there, I think he is the most logical win contender, but he is just the best of what's in front of us. None of these horses are historically good, and none of them have established a history of running to form.

In other words, there are few surprises when AWESOME horses run. Surprises happen in the lesser ranks, and I think this race falls under that heading. I am looking for a surprise. When a huge shocker happens on the track, usually my next thought is not, "I am shocked that unbeatable horse has been vanquished." It's, "I knew that dog horse wouldn't run to his 'form', he's just a two hit wonder."

I am expecting to say that at the end of the Belmont. Now the challenge is to find 1) the good horse(s) that disappointed, 2) the good horses that were legit favorites and finished in the money, and 3) the longshot/dog that was running well at the right time, ran the race of his life, and knocked off an overrated horse. In South America they refer to this kind of horse as "la Sopresa"- "the Suprise". That's not an easy task, but since it pays to try, I'll do just that.


This is the only race all year I handicap for breeding and distance. The first thing I do when I look at the race, my first round of cuts, if you will, is to eliminate the horses who can't get the distance, and note the horses that might love the distance. The race that inspired this modus operandi was of course Birdstone beating Smarty Jones.

First things is first for me: does AP Indy have any progeny in this race? Yes. 3 grandsons- Ice Box, First Dude and Fly Down. The three favorites. If my fat neighbor were the grandson of AP Indy, he'd go off at 25-1 in the Belmont. Point being that they lose value for being related to AP Indy. Sure, it's for good reason, but we're just looking for value here.

After looking at the first horses (numerically in Post Position order I think, respectively): Get out of the race, get out of the race, get out of the race, you're likely a last-out one-hit wonder and you lost on that one hit. That = bad value Thanks for comingout top 4."

Bring us the to 5, Fly Down. That name makes me think it means "zipper down" and I'll be honest, I dislike the mental imagery. Anyway, he seems legit enough- his grandfather is AP Indy who won this race in 1992 and sired Jazil and Rags to Riches, two recent Belmont winners. His dad was awesome, and his connections appeared to have always pointed him to route races. His recent bullet work was noted as well. All positives. We'll come back to him.

6- Ice Box. I think he's the legit favorite, but in a race like today's, that is all relative. He's 3-1, and does appear to the best horse, but he is still highly beatable. If he loses by 14 lengths tomorrow you won't think, "What??? No way! How??" You'll throw up your hands and say, "Yeah, I guess he just strung together two good races and those were his career best. We saw him fall back to Earth today.". I try not to leverage too heavily on those horses, but, conversely, if he does win I'll think. "Wow, good for him. I guess he was legit." We'll come back to him either way and decide if he's worth 3-1.

7- I'll put my cards on the table here- I can't wait to bet against him and I hope he goes off as the 3rd or 4th choice.

8- Game on Dude (I'd call him Gay Mon Dude, if I were trackside with my friends). Not by AP Indy, but as a half-brother to Ghostzapper, his pedigree gets my attention/respect. It looks like his connections have always thought of him as a router. Reading his 4 race history from his first race to his last I'm thinking, "Sucked, won a maiden, got humilated after his owners got excited and thrust him in a Gr. 1." then it takes a turn to, "sold and trained by Baffert ok. Baffert (or his veternarian) worked his magic and he improved by 30 BSF points in his second race. Interesting."He didn't beat the world in his last race, but he beat every horse he faced, won comfortably and at a distance and on dirt. This could be the beginning of a trend.". His works show 2 bullet workouts at Santa Anita over Synthetic which intrigues me before the Belmont, even if he was ridden Handily and wasn't merely Breezing. From what I gather about Poly is that it is a bit more tiring than dirt, so his bulleted works on a tiring surface may make for a verrryyy interrressssssting prep before the longest race of his life. We'll come back to him.

9- Stately Victor. I get that he's a wiseguy's longshot, but I'm betting against him. I think he's a BSF two-hit wonder and won't be in the mix tomorrow. He's had plenty of chances to show us he's a dominant horse, and he only showed that a half of a time, sauntering past horses that were running backward in a questionably-stocked race. If he wins I won't have a seizure, but I can't bet on everyone. next.

10- Stay Put. Steve Haskin is high on this guy, and he does appear to offer good value at the very least. Getting the distance shouldn't be as much of a problem for him as it is for others- his grandfather is Unbridled, and it looks like he's always been a router. He is one of three horses whose last 3 races have all produced an 89 Beyer or higher (Uptowncharlybrown and Drosslemeyer are the other two. That could be an interesting angle for a huge Trifecta box). So I appreciate his consistency in this race of horses who are either two hit wonders, or just starting a really nice stretch of races. While he doesn't win a whole hell of a lot, I do like how he always improves his position from his last call to his finish. My guess is that he won't win or vie for the Exacta, but he's type of horse you leave out in your tri and after getting the exacta you look up and think, "Ohhh, who got third? Was it my horse??? What? it was Stay Put?? How'd he clunk up? *checks Racing Form* Oh. Well, yeah I guess that isn't shocking. I just missed him." But since we're looking for value here, we'll come back to him.

11- is he Da' Tara nouveau? Can he steal this race on the lead? Gotta remember he is by AP Indy, afterall. Those are positives. What else is there to like about him? Oh right, very little. What can you really COUNT on him for? If we average his last 4 Beyers to try to estimate how he might run on Saturday- we see the average is 91.25, great. So we'll pencil him in to run a 91.25 Beyer which should put him.......out of the money. So this horse is 7-2 and has reason to run a 91.25 Beyer is a Grade 1. Where I come from that is called bad value. This is the kind of horse you bet on and think, "Well I can't leave him out, he's the second favorite!" and not, "Sweet, this horse has it locked up.". We aren't betting those kind of horses for this edition of the Belmont. But...he is the only horse we are POSITIVE will have the lead at some point, so we will reluctantly take another look at him.

12- I'm looking for him on VH1's new show, "So your career best BSF is a 94 (and 2nd best is 89) and you think you can win a Triple Crown Race, even though your last 6 races haven't been on dirt?". What was your favorite of his wins in 2010? Well, with all of the zero wins to choose from, that question becomes rather difficult. Not my guy.

Phase 2

So who is left? Fly Down, Ice Box, Gay Mon Dude, Stay Put and First Dude (defensively). We could be wussies and box them all for an exacta or trifecta, but we won't just yet. We'll see how the race should shape up.

Upon further review- Stay Put is sorta hard to like in this spot. What I like most about him is that he is consistent and wins at nearly a 50% clip (he is for 2010). But, his two finishes off the board were 5th place finishes in Grade 2 races whose field had un-awesome horses. He's the weak link of our final 4, but worth including in exotics due to his consistency and his value.

What we do know is that First Dude will get sent to the lead, and then something will happen. He is talented enough to wire the field if he gets loose on the lead, so who will catch him? The three remaining horses we have all seem to know where the wire is and pass horses as they near it- that's a good sign for them, but will anyone duel with First Dude on the lead and loosen him up any for our closers? I kinda think the 2 and 3 horse might. My guess is that their owners/trainers are telling the jockey, "look, we probably can't win. we lack talent and we drew inside. IF we have any chance of winning, it will have to be a ground-saving trip near the lead. Give our horse a chance." And I think that will be enough to make sure that First Dude doesn't get away with his hair combed. He may take the lead down the homestretch for a bit, but eventually this will happen. You'll think: "Holy crap, he's still on the lead! Is he stealing this race? He's had the lead forever down the stretch. I think he did just steal the race!! Holy cow! Wait, where is the wire? Oh right this is Belmont and there is a long ways to g.....HOLY CRAP WHO ARE THESE TWO HORSES SPRINTING DOWN THE MIDDLE OF THE TRACK??!!!! They're going to pass him? Holy crap, I forgot how long the Belmont is!!"

And that's the scenario I think will unfold. It could be 3 horses chasing him and only one passes him, or maybe all three will pass him and a few others. I just don't think he'll wire the field.

Looking at Formulator to determine which horse of the remaining three has the best closing kick was a little inconclusive, but it does look like Game On Dude is the weakest of the three. I'd say that Ice Box has the best, with Fly Down in the middle.


I will use all five of my "we'll come back to" horses in some exotics.

Our 5 horses were:

5 Fly Down
6 Ice Box
8 Game on Dude
10 Stay Put
11 First Dude

I'd do a trifecta that looks like this: 5,6/5,6,8,11/5,6,8,10,11. Since I think that will be how it shapes up.

If the 11 were better value, I'd include him on top. BUT he is the only horse that we are positive will be in the lead. Whenever that is the case I try to key on him in an exacta, so we'll hope to get some value on the back end of our:

11/5,6,8,10 exacta

Then I'd swing for the fences with a 8,10/5,6,8,10,11 exacta.

That's how I roll.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Quality Road Hiney Kicking Chronicles: 2010 Met Mile Edition

(Quality Road photographed above, Vladimir Putin up. Seriously, that's Quality Road. Ok, fine it's not)

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

Quality Road did it again, winning the 2010 Metropolitan Mile at Belmont on Monday.

Now, I'm not a licensed equine Psychologist (though I still practice), but it has been said before that when all you have is a hammer, eventually everything looks like a nail. Now put yourself in Quality Road's horse shoes for a minute: All Quality Road has are 4 hooves, and eventually every other racehorse looks like a hiney and he just kicks them. Every single one, every single time in Chuck Norris-like fashion.
That's my theory anyway. How else could you explain that a horse runs fast?

At the 16th pole Quality Road said, "Oh hi, Musket Man. Say, that musket sure is shiny. Now excusve me while I kick your hiney."
All kidding aside, Musket Man ran very well. He's turned into a really nice horse and one of the best horses ever to come out of the Illinois Derby.

That's how I roll.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

It Looks Like You Just Got Yourself a new Favorite Racehorse

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

Sorry this is in French, but there isn't a whole lot I could do about it.

Above is Goldikova, the Euro equivalent of Rachel Alexandra or Zenyatta, only better*. Her 2010 season got off to a perfect start with a 1/2 victory in the Grade 1- Prix D'ispahan at Longchamp (further reading can be had here). Along with Zenyatta, it's great to see a champion horse racing well into horsey adulthood at age 5. Any European horse that is 2 for 2 in Breeders Cup races, and is still racing automatically cracks my top 5 favorite European horses of all time. Great story any way you slice it.

Oh, but she isn't the horse I was implying will be your new favorite. Our new favorite horse was actually the German horse that finished third in that race. His name is Wiener Walzer.

Here he is winning the 2009 German Galop Derby. Start listening at the 2:02 mark. Stop giggling probably never.

* denotes- it makes for a great horse racing debate, but what is not debatable is that she is a total monster.

That's how I roll.

Monday, May 17, 2010

How T.R. Got His Preak On

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

My Dad's friend has had Preakness seats for a long time and invited us out. So we went. It was my first time at the Preakness and and Pimlico. Leading up to the race all everyone told me, my Dad's friend included, was to not get my hopes up about Pimlico- it's a dump.

We got there Friday on Black-Eyed Susan Day. Here were our seats.

Yes, that is the finish line right in front of us (and that little booth thing on the bottom right that you can't see all that well is the television camera fixed on the wire). So we got there and I couldn't believe how awesome our seats were and how empty the place was. As you can we were inside and we were on the third level. I had never had such good seats for any race ever, much less on the day of a Grade 2 race like the Black Eyed Susan.

I asked my dad's friend how he got those awesome seats and he had a funny story about them. He said that about 20 years ago he asked a higher-up at the company he worked for if he could help him out with some seats for the Preakness and he told him, "I will get right back to you about that." Upon getting back to him he said, "A trainer by the name of XXX canceled his seats. Call Pimlico race track and tell them you would like them and they are yours." So he called them up and they were his. The next year he received a letter asking him if he would like to renew his seats again for that year's Preakness. That is all it took to get seats on the wire for a triple crown race.

This was the section directly across the aisle from our awesome seats. Oh, this was taken on Preakness day. The seats closest to the camera are right on top of the wire and the furthest seats are just past the wire. As you may be able to ascertain, it wasn't all that crowded. When a huge block of some of the best seats in the stadium, your business could probably do better.

Which brings me to my next point about Pimlico: My complaints.

Pimlico wasn't god awful, but it could very easily be twice as good with a few minor tweaks.

1. We couldn't hear the track announcer from our seats. That's a big problem. The sound was piped in, but was hardly audible. It sucked.

2. Not only could we hardly hear the track announcer, but they never told you when the race was about to start (we would have been able to faintly hear an announcement, but there were none). Post Time was posted on a few different tote boards, but when your nose is buried in your Racing Form, it's nice to have an auditory reminder to go bet. It's good business for the track to announce when the race is about to start because when they say, "4 minutes until Post Time" what they mean is, "Hurry up and get your bets in, everyone.". Pimlico didn't do that and of the four people in our party, someone got shut out at the ticket window about 3 times, costing Pimlico precious money that they can't afford to lose.

Saratoga does a much better job of this and I took it for granted. You hear, "5 minutes until post time", then you'll hear, "It is now Post time." or "The horses have reached the starting gate, they're at the post". Which means, "5 minutes to bet", "hurry up and bet, you're lucky the race hasn't gone off yet." and, "you've got about 30 seconds to get your bet in.", respectively.

3. Obstructed views. Not only couldn't we hear the announcer from our seats, but we can't even see the backstretch due to all of the tents and other stuff- and we were on the third level! It's hard to feel like you are watching the race live when you can't hear see the whole race or hear any of it. I watched most of the races on the television monitors.

4. The tote board. No where was I able to see how much money was in the win, place, show or exacta pools- not on the toteboard itself on the infield, or on any tv monitor that I saw at any part of the track. On the off-chance an informed bettor ever went to Pimlico, I bet they would wish they could see that.

Also stinky about their toteboard is how they display the exacta probable payouts. They display it in the usual way: with the horses numbered vertically down the left-hand margin. It might look something like this for a 9 horse field. Then where it says "exacta will pay 2 and" will eventually scroll to "Exacta will pay 3 and", etc. until they show you every combination over the course of maybe 5 minutes of scrolling through all the choices.

win odds: Exacta will pay 2 and
1. 5-2 35
2. 10-1 X
3. scratched scratched
4. 9-5 22
5. 4-1 45
6. 8-1 75
7. scratched scratched
8. scratched scratched
9. 15-1 155

This is where my complaint comes in. It's customary for the scrolling board to simply skip over the scratched horses. For instance, in this example it would go from showing the probably willpays from the 2 directly to the 4. Since the 3 is scratched, he will not be in the exacta and displaying his will pays would be a waste of everyone's time.

Well, at Pimlico they show you anyway.

So it will say
win odds: Exacta will pay 7 and
1. 5-2 scratched
2. 10-1 scratched
3. scratched scratched
4. 9-5 scratched
5. 4-1 scratched
6. 8-1 scratched
7. scratched X
8. scratched scratched
9. 15-1 scratched

then after it finishes cycling through the 7 willpays, it will go on to show the same thing for the scratched 8 horse. For them to show that is unthinkably irrational.

5. There were no restrooms on the third level.

Those 5 things were exceptionally irritating and would be so easy to fix. Let's step it up a bit Pimlico, but otherwise I had an outstanding time.

That's how I roll.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Free Preakness PP's Available

By: T.R. Slyder,, @AndyDisco on Twitter

While the entrants are not yet official for the Preakness, the Past Performances of the likely entrants is available at the Daily Racing Form's website.

That's how I roll.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

I am Afriad of Eskendereya

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

One quotation that has always struck me as being expertly descriptive was one I saw on VH1, actually. It was either I love the 80's or a special about NWA but ?uestlove of the Roots was being asked about what he thought about NWA's in-your-face style and intimidating demeanor demonstrated especially by NWA member Ice Cube. His answer?

"I thought Ice Cube was going to come to my house and fuck me up."

I kept thinking about that quotation after watching Eskendereya's performance in Saturday's Kentucky Derby prep, The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Tom Durkin doing a great job as always with the call.

That wasn't Eskendereya's first time romping in a quality derby prep. It also wasn't the first time I have mentioned Eskendereya. Next stop for Eskendereya? The Kentucky Derby, where he will be the heavy favorite, and for good reason. He looks like a total monster that no horse will look forward to facing in the Derby.

I just hope Eskendereya doesn't come to my house and challenge me to a mile and quarter race and fuck me up.

update: I just read that Eskendereya got a Beyer speed figure of 109 for the Wood Memorial. He may have won the Derby and the Wood in the same day. Wow.

update update: I was wondering what Eskendereya's name meant. This SI article answered it:

"The name is the Arab translation for the Egyptian port city of Alexandria. Eskendereya also is defined as a flirty Alexandrian dance with a heavy veil, according to a bellydance glossary of Middle Eastern dance teminologies."

Now you know.

That's how I roll.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Great Article About Synthetic Horse Racing Surfaces

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

I copied and pasted this article from It's written by Steven Crist, publisher and editor of the Daily Racing Form.

Crist Blog | March 27, 2010

Dubai World Crapshoot

The richest horse race in history was staged in Dubai earlier today, and it was a $10 million advertisement for how synthetic surfaces can make a complete mess of so-called world-class championship racing. For all that it proved about the quality of the contestants either individually or as a group, the results of the Dubai World Cup might as well have been drawn out of a hat.


The winner, front-running Gloria de Campeao, is an admirably durable Brazilian 7-year-old who was beaten 16 1/2 lengths by Curlin in the 2008 World Cup and 14 lengths by Well Armed in the race last year. Those two editions, like the 12 before them, were run on dirt but this year's version at the new Meydan Racecourse was run on Tapeta, a synthetic surface which until this year had never been used for anything more prestigious than a Grade III race at Golden Gate Fields.

The runner-up, Lizard's Desire, came into the $10 million race with a field-low bankroll of $207,442, having finished 10th and 11th in his two prior starts in Group 1 company in his native South Africa. Allybar, who was third, was 0 for 6 in graded or group races of any kind. America's supposed synthetic specialists -- BC Classic runner-up Gio Ponti (who finished 4th), Goodwood winner Gitano Hernando and Pacific Classic winner Richard's Kid -- had no impact on the finish.

Tapeta may well be a lovely training surface, and it has gotten high marks among synthetic tracks, but no one can really explain why anyone needs a third type of horse racing to go along with the dirt and turf racing that has defined the sport and its great horses for centuries. The Maktoums' decision to replace dirt with Tapeta at their gaudy new racing palace was a premature guess that these new surfaces might somehow magically combine dirt and turf racing into one globally-accepted footing. That hasn't happened and isn't going to anytime soon, or probably ever.

Instead, it remains entirely unclear what this World Cup proved other than Bob Baffert's adage that synthetic tracks make good horses look ordinary and ordinary horses look good. (And put down your torches -- this has nothing to with Zenyatta, a transcendently great horse who handles everything and is probably as good or better on dirt than on synthetics.) Sure, plenty of major dirt races end with befuddling finishes (cf. Kentucky Derby, 2005 and 2009) and there were even bigger upsets on grass today than on Tapeta. But in the past, the World Cup was a true showcase for champions, such as Cigar, Silver Charm, Dubai Milennium, Invasor and Curlin. Now? Step right up and spin the wheel.

That's how I roll.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Eskendereya Kickin That Hiney

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

This is 2 year old Eskendereya in Saturday's Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park (this was the race last year where I became enamored with Quality Road). He kicked a lot of hiney and earned himself a 106 Beyer Speed Figure for his effort. The video quality is the opposite of hi-def, but you get the point.

That's how I roll.

Monday, February 8, 2010

I Told you Quality Road was Nothing to F with

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

I plagiarized this from here. Steve Crist can tell it better than I can.

Quality Road's powerful runaway in the Donn Handicap Saturday earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 121, the highest awarded to any race since Midnight Lute's 124 in the 2007 Forego and the highest in a race longer than a mile since the Commentator-Saint Liam Whitney of 2005. (Update: Revised from a preliminary 122 to a final 121 Sunday morning.)

Breaking his own track record of 1:47.72, set winning last year's Florida Derby, Quality Road won by 12 3/4 lengths in 1:47.49 over a track that was not particularly quick in the day's other five dirt races. The only other dirt race on the Saturday card at the nine-furlong distance was the opener, where $6250 older-filly claimers were timed in 1:53.18. Three one-mile races went in 138.04 (older males $25k claimers), 1:38.44 (3yo Alw N1x) and 138.51 (OF N1x) and the day's lone dirt sprint, for 3-year-old maidens, was run in 123.22.

Quality Road's performance looked as good as it comes up on paper. He stalked Past the Point through six furlongs in 1:09.87, shot past and extended his lead from 5 lengths after a mile in 1:34.78 to more than a dozen at the wire. Granted, he was the only Grade 1 winner in the Donn, but the second- and third place finishers had each won four graded stakes including the G2 Suburban (Dry Martini) and G2 Ohio Derby (Delightful Kiss). It was a huge effort against a respectable field, one worth savoring:

That's how I roll.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Quality Road Sets Track Record in the Donn

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

Quality Road humiliated the competition in the 2010 Donn Handicap run today at Gulfstream Park. He is what the Ancient Romans would call a malus puer, or bad boy.

This is why I thought he'd win the KY Derby and the Breeder's Cup Classic. If you have a hiney and you are ever in the vicinity of Quality Road be careful because he might kick it. You have been warned.

That's how I roll.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Ever Wondered What An Impressionist Painting of a Horse Race Would Look Like in Motion Picture?

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

Then you are in luck. And this was the Grade 1 Vosburgh, a huge race with major Breeder's Cup implications. AND the stretch run was awesome. I won't tell you who wins.

That's how I roll.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

More Synthetic Track Uncertainty

(that was just the first horse pic I randomly found in my pics folder. I'm pretty sure that isn't a synthetic grass surface that Ouija Board is on)

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

I didn't find anything about this article to be conclusive, but I'll pass it along anyway. It's a Chicago Tribune article about the synthetic surface at Arlington. The 2009 season has seen fewer equine breakdowns but has had two jockeys left paralyzed after falling from their horses. The article speculates about whether or not a synthetic surface is any less safe for jockeys to land on after falling off their mount.

The article can be found here.

One paragraph I found to contain some concrete info was:

Data released in 2008 from 2,235 injury reports showed virtually no difference in the fatality rates for horses racing on synthetic surfaces compared with conventional dirt. The information was presented at a safety summit at Keeneland.

That's how I roll.

Friday, September 11, 2009

You Just Don't get it, do you Breeder's Cup? New Rachel Alexandra v. Zenyatta Possible Development

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

Too little, too late. You are broke and offering money you don't have when this could have been avoided just as easily as it was created. Throwing more money at multi-millionaire to race his arguably-overworked horse over a disadvantageous surface is pipe dream.

The Breeders' Cup executives are bad at their jobs.

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Horse Racing Yoda is on my Side Regarding Rachel v. Zenyatta and the Breeder's Cup Being Morons

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

It's nice to see when someone intelligent agrees with someone you believe. This was plagiaraized from the

Female showdown a fitting scenario

By Andrew Beyer

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - After her electrifying photo-finish victory in the Woodward Stakes at Saratoga, Rachel Alexandra should be entitled to rest on her laurels. The filly has campaigned steadily since February, racing at seven different tracks and winning all eight of her starts. With three triumphs over males, she has virtually locked up the Horse of the Year title. Owner Jess Jackson and trainer Steve Asmussen would be happy to give her a breather until she resumes racing in 2010.

Rachel Alexandra, however, still has one piece of unfinished business: a confrontation with Zenyatta, the champion 5-year-old mare who has never been beaten in 12 career starts and has unleashed explosive last-to-first rallies in most of them. Almost everyone in the sport wants to see a race between two of the greatest female Thoroughbreds of all time. The New York Racing Association would like to host the showdown on Oct. 3. But a Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta race will probably never happen. Partisans of each horse blame the other's camp for being unsporting, but the real blame belongs to the Breeders' Cup organization.

The Breeders' Cup chose Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif., and its synthetic track as the site for its event in 2008 and 2009, and last year's results produced an inescapable conclusion: Synthetic tracks are very different from dirt. The horses who won over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface were either proven synthetic-track runners (such as Zenyatta) or turf specialists. Top horses with good form only on dirt didn't win. The highest-profile loser was Curlin. Jackson had been hesitant to run over synthetics, and his views on the subject hardened after the defeat. So when Jackson bought Rachel Alexandra in the spring and watched her develop into a superstar, he adamantly declared he would not race her on "plastic," his derisive word for synthetic surfaces. The Breeders' Cup would not be on her agenda.

For Zenyatta, by contrast, back-to-back Breeders' Cups in her home state were a blessing. The mare can run on dirt or synthetics - she scored a smashing Grade 1 stakes win over Oaklawn Park's dirt in April 2008. But since then she has not ventured from California, where she won the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic last year, except for a planned start at Churchill Downs that was spoiled by an off track. With the Cup back at Santa Anita, trainer John Shirreffs and owner Jerry Moss decided to stay at home for all of 2009 and aim for the Breeders' Cup again - either the Ladies' Classic or against males in the Classic. As for a meeting with Rachel Alexandra, Moss said in a recent teleconference, "The Breeders' Cup was created for this kind of a circumstance. That's the spot where champions are made."

A Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta race at Santa Anita, however, would not necessarily be a meaningful test. A victory by Zenyatta might prove only that she is a synthetic-track specialist and Rachel isn't. The New York Racing Association sought to have this showdown in the Beldame Stakes at Belmont Park on Oct. 3. Betfair, the parent company of the TVG racing network, offered to add $400,000 to the purse, making it a $1 million race if Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta both show up. The Zenyatta camp evinced some interest, but Shirreffs was concerned about sending his mare into NYRA's mandatory prerace detention barn, and he is reluctant to change his long-planned all-California racing schedule for her. Yet Zenyatta could never find better circumstances for a race on dirt against Rachel Alexandra.

Of all the dirt tracks in America, none is more conducive to Zenyatta's come-from-behind style than Belmont Park, with its sweeping turns and long stretch. Zenyatta has conclusively proved her ability to run on dirt - her performance at Oaklawn was one of the best of her career - so Belmont would be the fairest possible site for the confrontation.

Zenyatta is a fresh horse, after running only three times against soft opposition this season, while Rachel Alexandra has been through a grind, running eight times in the last seven months. After earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure in the Haskell Stakes of 116, she recorded a 109 at Saratoga on Saturday. Her form may be on the downgrade, while Zenyatta could very well be pointing toward a peak effort. Advantage: Zenyatta.

Rachel Alexandra is the horse with the most to lose. She could go to the sidelines tomorrow with the Horse of the Year award locked up. The only way she could lose the title is to lose to Zenyatta. Although Jackson recognizes that Rachel Alexandra is ready for a rest, he said, "If Zenyatta were to come to the Beldame, that would direct us to that."

Jackson has been the consummate sportsman in his management of Rachel Alexandra, picking tough spots such as the Woodward so that the filly can show how good she is. And it would be extraordinarily sporting for him to risk Horse of the Year honors in the Beldame. Meanwhile, Moss and Shirreffs have so far avoided any serious challenges this season for their mare. They have avoided racing against males. They have acted as if their main goal is not to lose and not to jeopardize the mare's perfect record. If that was their aim, they could have retired her last season. But if they are in this game because they like the excitement of the sport, how could they resist a showdown with Rachel Alexandra?

(c) 2009, The Washington Post

see also:

Let's see if Zenyatta "Forfeits" This Race- my Prosaic Tryptich About Rachel Alexandra V. Zenyatta

My Socratic Homage to the Breeder's Cup re: Rachel v. Zenyatta

My Proof that the Breeder's Cup has lost its mind

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Rachel Alexandra got a 109 Beyer in the Woodward- and other Post-Woodward Rachel Alexandra Notes

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

According to a few different articles on the, Rachel came out of the Woodward in good shape and is healthy. However, she is unlikely to race again in 2009, and the plan is still to have her back to racing in 2010. For her Woodward effort she was awarded a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 109. If that figure stands it would be her third highest career Beyer behind her 116 in the Haskell, and her 111 in the Mother Goose. So her five most recent Beyers look like this, in chronological order:

109- Woodward
116- Haskell
111- Mother Goose
108- Preakness
108- Kentucky Oaks

See Also: Some Context for Rachel Alexandra's 116 BSF in the Haskell

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

European Version of Ohh Maaa Gaaa, Ohhhh Maaa Gaaaa: Sea the Stars

By: T.R. Slyder,, AndyDisco on Twitter

This Gentleman is nothing to eff with. He's an absolute monster and if he runs in the Breeder's Cup and the sight of him makes some other horses pee a little, I completely understand. Oh. And since the Classic will be run over synthetic/experimental surfaces AGAIN this year, the grass-loving euros will have a leg up on the Americans. Have fun with all that, west coasters who still run on that garbage. Let me be the first to say- my deepest sympathy. And the VERY VERY first to say, "Oh Breeder's Cup- you decided to go with a traditional dirt surface in 2010. Congratulations on your return you intelligence- we've been awaiting your return. How was your departure? It is nice to have you back."

I digressed. You'll see Sea The Stars in the yellow down the stretch. This is the definition of "Digging in". He is a bolshy, bolshy, bugger. D'ya know wha I mean? Totely, mate. Totely. All of England is arse over tit with him, and they may be right to think that this year's American crop of older horses has more holes innit than a barmaid's knickers' d'ya know wha I mean? Innit mate? Totely. He's probably all, "Sod off you tosspots in the colonies!" and we're all like, "I have no idea what you just said."

The point is, he's a great racehorse and I have proof.

I call if him and Rachel Alexandra have a kid, I get their firstborn.

I'm T.R. Slyder, and that's how you Tangueray.