This week we find ourselves sitting down, breaking bread, and giving thanks for life’s blessings. – I spent some time chatting with one of the good guys of racing, Mike Manganello. If your memory has you searching, think back to the first Saturday in May 1970. – Ah-ha, it comes back in full color. – Hunter S. Thompson attended the Derby that year, and penned his famous article; “The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved.” – The times were a changing. Along comes a three-year-old by the name of Dust Commander who came from the sixties, and ran into the pages of racing’s history.
I met Mike working at the track. Small in stature, but big in heart. The kinda’ guy who didn’t get his lunch money taken on the way to school. – Born Michael “Mike” Manganello 1941, from Hartford, Connecticut. He got his start working for trainer Odie Clelland as a stable hand, and then began riding professionally in 1959 and earned his first win on March 3, 1960 at Fair Grounds. – In our conversation, he had ridden at over 50 tracks in his professional travels, and most have faded into the pages of time.
Being a jockey can be a tough occupation, and in my opinion they are pound-for-pound the best athletes in sports. Mike had his share of bumps and bruises, and during our chat he spoke of them as if they were no big deal. – Two broken vertebrae, broken arms, wrist, and a collar bone. Just another day in the office for the brave athletes. – The name “Dust Commander” is derived from his dam, Dust Storm, and his sire, Bold Commander. A descendant of Nearco, Dust Commander was bred by the Pullen brothers. He was owned by Robert E. Lehmann and trained by Don Combs. – He told me ” I loved him coming into the Derby. We all did. When he paid over $70 winning the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, I knew he was something good. – They even made a bet on him for me !”
On May 2nd, 1970, a young man from Hartford, Connecticut rode into racing’s royalty. With the gold and red Lehmann silks. Dust Commander won the 96th running of the Kentucky Derby in 2:03.4 ahead of My Dad George and High Echelon. – Take a trip down memory lane and watch closely as a rider with ice-water in his veins only left the rail once nearing the 1/4 pole to steer around a runner and drop right back over. As Mike said; ” it was the shortest way home.”
In 1991, Mike Manganello hung up his tack for the final time, and became a racing steward. – He enjoys his life, and stays active in multiple charities connected to racing. Through his work he has the opportunity to mentor young riders, and be a guiding voice for the betterment of the sport. – As we finished our chat, he said he was grateful for health, good luck in racing, and his better half Kitty Manganello. – I enjoyed my call with Mike, and I’ll see him again when he holds court as a steward at Belterra Park. As I hung up the phone, I realized he is truly one of the good guys in racing. There are too many to mention, and for me I give thanks for the opportunity to meet so many interesting individuals in the sport I hold dear. – Happy Thanksgiving, Mike and Kitty from your friends at Winning Ponies !
This Saturday is a big day at Delta Downs. – The unveil a day-of-days with the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot card. – There will be 11 exciting races with more than $2.3 million dollars in total purses, highlighted by the $200,000 Jackpot Day Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick 4…Races 4-7. You will be in action all day long. – Winning Ponies will be all dialed in, and your E-Z Win Forms are ready and waiting. – Early in the morning there is a good chance for some rain, but it looks to diminish as they get closer to post time. – Who said there is no such thing as a free lunch ? – The card looks to give a pretty good glimpse of what awaits down the road. Sit back, down load your E-Z Win Forms, and get ready to cash some solid wagers !
Race #4 – $150,000 Louisiana Legacy – 1 mile
The top tier levels have some nice value to kick off the $200,000 Guaranteed Pick-Four, and you’ll want to have a wager involved in this multi-race wager.
Race #4 = The top tier runners #10 Sea Vow is (6-1),and owns the Monster Work icon, Should Improve, and Moving in Class handicapping icon. With a 53+ Last Race Rating, and 49 Composite Rating are enough to get you thinking about the added distance which should play to an up-close trip. – #7 G’s Josh (7-2) owns a 52+ and a 45 Composite number. He sports a Monster Work, Has Improved, and Should Improve handicapping icons. - #4 – Our Rapidash (2-1) sports the Monster Workout, and Layoff of 45 Days icons.
Race #5 = The $250,000 Delta Mile – Focusing on the two of the top tier selections, I don’t think you’ll need to look any further. – #1 – Departing (8-5) – This son of War Front owns the field top LRR and CR of 58 and 54, and with Colby Hernandez (29%) for Al Stall should make all the difference. - #7 – Cougar Ridge (7-2) – Sports solid numbers with 57+ and 53, and with the hot hand of Corey Lanerie in the irons will help the cause.
Race #6 = The Delta Princess= #6 – La Appassionata (3-5) is in the top selections and could very well be a single in the exotics. – This daughter of Bernardini owns the top figures of 57 and 55 in this field. – Gerard Melancon in the irons (20%) knows his way to the winner’s circle, and Steve Asmussen (20%) is no stranger as well.
Race #7 = The $1,000,000 G-3 Delta Downs Jackpot= This race has given us a good glimpse of good things to watch, and you need to keep this race on your races to watch for the day. – Winning Ponies is not always going to have the chalk or big favorite in the top tiers, so you’ll want to examine the E-Z Win Forms for the hidden nuggets of gold. Here are some of the runners named in the top tier levels.
#2 – Memories of Winter (10-1)
#1 – Forevamo (4-1)
#7 – Found Money (6-1)
#4 – Whitmore (8-1)
This should get your blood pumping, and ready to dig into your E-Z Win Forms ! – Your friends at Winning Ponies wish you the best of luck, and be sure to check out the Artie Shiller Stakes at Aqueduct, the G-3 My Charmer at Gulfstream West, the G-3 Tropical Turf at Gulfstream West, the G-3 Red Carpet at Del Mar, and the G-3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs. – There is always plenty of action on the docket, and Winning Ponies has your back. Be sure to follow up with the podcast of our Winning Ponies Internet Show, as John Englehardt had on some incredible guests, and Mary Rampellini who covers the south racing action for the Daily Racing Form for her unique insights and selections. – So what are you waiting for ? – It’s almost post time !
We all have lingo. We’re not the Rat Pack, but our own secretive code. – I have observed this working at five race tracks, and it never fails. Just listen closely, and you’ll hear the inner-teen in all of us speaking the truth in non-embarrassing ways. My son is 15, and I notice when he says things about school. At first, it has the innocent sound of kids passing through the hall talking gibberish. But listen a little closer. – I love it when he’ll look at me with complete astonishment and say, ” hey old man, you’re pretty good.” – Thanks, but it’s not that tough, as I was once where you are. Same game, different names. – “Track-Talk” has the same cool attempt at disguising the truth, but if you listen a little closer you’ll hear the message. Not that it means we’re going to be the next Nancy Drew; there I go again showing my age. – See if any of these sound familiar to you.
1. – You ask a friend, co-worker, family member, or track compadre to meet you at the track. You get a response that is a little off key and you start wondering if he or she has turned into your kid. – ” I would love to, but I have to do some work around the house. – My wife wants me to seed the lawn. – I’m not feeling too hot today after you watched him guzzle down lunch like he devoured a whole goat.” – The long and the short, they are a little light in the wallet, and can’t make it. It’s just easier and allows them to save face instead if saying I couldn’t buy lunch if it was free !
2. – You run into an acquaintance at the races. – ” You doing any good today ?” – Sounds like an easy question, and since you both are at the same place it would pass for small talk. – ” I’m about even.” – That is darker than it sounds. He brought $200, and he is down to his last $30. – This way he can play a race or two, and call it a day if he loses. If not, he wasn’t lying. He has now broken even.
3. – ” You like anything today ?” – These are loaded words with a razor-sharp edge. It has the same feel of Charlie Brown’s teacher asking him if was ready for the quiz. – You’re being put on center stage, and the hot white light of truth shines directly into your face. – ” Not really, just taking it race by race.” – This means you made a quick jaunt to the track to make some bets and are hoping for the best. – ” Who is your best bet today ?” – This is that same stage with light in your eyes. – ” I kinda’ like the #2 in the third race at What-the-heck Downs.” – If it wins, you save face with your peers, if it doesn’t, you hope the casual conversation passed in one ear and out the other.
4. – You’re having a little luck and the pal you’re standing next to you starts believing this is your day. You feel like a character in the movie Let it Ride, as you’re having a really good day. – Then a 5,000 lb. gorilla walks into the room and jumps on your back. If it feels like you’ve been here before; you have. – ” My man, can I borrow a little from you. I’ll pay you on Monday.” – When these words are spoken they have hidden meaning dating back to the Incas. If you give your buddy some cash while gambling, you’ll watch your bankroll turn into trash after each race. – If you don’t. You’ll get to see his slowest exit from the track, as he’ll hang around a race or two rooting for your horse hoping you’ll change your mind. – Either way, you’re doomed for the day. Upon hearing this, you should start wrapping up your day immediately. – Thank me later !
5. – My brother is the most explosive gambler on the planet. He once hit a $23,000 twin-trifecta with a $2.00 bet. Impossible. – But he has a gift. He starts off with $10, and come back an hour later and he’ll have $1,000. Stay away for another hour and the room will start buzzing as he is up to $2,000. – All is good, and you think he is on fire. So you come back two hours later and he looks at you and says; ” Where have you been ? Do you have $20 until Saturday ?” – That is my man in a nutshell. Oh, he has put out their lights on many occasions, but more times than not he’ll be borrowing lunch money later in the day. – The best story about the explosive gambler was one night I took him out for his birthday. I hit for $500, and figured we’d catch the last three races and head over to play some cards at the casino where he could have some drinks. This plan made his face light up like Christmas as I knew he was out of money, or as a good friend of ours once said. ” I’m temporarily embarrassed at the time.”
We broke even at the track because I was holding the money. We made the drive to the casino, and he ordered a double whiskey and Coke. It was his birthday, and it was my plan to hang out with my brother. Little does he even realize, once he starts drinking he has to go to the men’s room every 15 minutes like clock-work. – He sat down and played Let it Ride. He immediately started winning, and then his small bladder kicked in. ” Hey, order me a drink and play a hand or two. I’ll be right back.” – Good enough for me, and I did as he requested. The only difference was I would take a $100 chip every time I sat down and put it in my pocket. – This went on for hours. He was way up, and getting toasted. He could make a run to the gents room in 30 seconds. – At the end, he made a very big bet and didn’t even look at his cards. ” We’ll play them in the blind.” – This is fun when you pull up a big pair or better, but not so happy when your cards look like Old Maid when they’re turned over. – Once the money was gone, he said “let’s get the hell out of here, as he stumbled to the car.” – I drove, and he talked about what-if, and if-only he had quit. I was used to this talk, and just listened. – When I pulled up to his house, I reached in my pocket and said here’s a few bucks to get you to payday. – “Naaah, you don’t have to, you’ve already done plenty, as he was watching my hand reach into my pocket.” – I pulled out $500 for him, and his face lit up like a spotlight. “Hey ! – We’re back in action !” – Little did he know I took enough to cover my investment and his losses. All he received was the extra. – To this day he still talks about that night many moons ago. The very next day, he was asking me for lunch money about two hours into the racing card.
The Breeders’ Cup is in the books, and we’re starting to think about the holidays. That’s all good, and time with the family are the best moments in life. In addition to getting in the holiday swing, you’ll see some racing fans sharpening up their skill set. – You’ll see punters focusing in on contest play and getting qualified late for Las Vegas, or already making plans for next year. There are the real fans who are busy looking for cheaper airfares and how the’re going to get to their planned horse racing destination. – American Pharoah was great for the game, and that statement may be a little late to the party. But if there was ever a year where racing could have used the boost, we’ll look back on 2015 as the year that gave the sport of kings a little breathing room. That is something we’re all grateful for having this year.
According to the Blood Horse.com the overall handle was down on Breeders’ Cup weekend. – “The 2015 figure of $155.5 million, down from $159.4 million in 2014, was in part because no World Championships pari-mutuel wagering in Hong Kong took place this year, according to Breeders’ Cup. Common-pool wagering on the Oct. 31, 12-race Breeders’ Cup card was $105,625,491, a slight decrease (.3%) from the 2014 handle of $105,979,062. The on-track handle for the two days at Keeneland was $20,663,054, up 2.5% over the $20,117,488 2014 on-track handle at Santa Anita.” – I guess we could consider that a pretty good number considering we didn’t have the mega-handle machine that Hong King can bring to the table.
Sha Tin can have crowds averaging 10,000 per day, and attending a day at the races can be an awesome spectacle. During the 2013-14 racing season, Hong Kong set a record of $130 billion in handle setting a new record that spans 130 years. – The Chinese see gambling as a form of luck and entertainment. To gamble and win means you are truly a lucky person indeed. – Without having the handle from the most enthusiastic gamblers in the world, and still achieving a high number speaks volumes. That is something to be thankful as handle can be a good gauge on fan interest in horse racing.
If you’ve played in a handicapping contest, you know the incredible rush of excitement. – The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge is an excellent example. The contest is held during the year at BC Qualify.com. There are one day contests, and two round events where players can qualify and move on to the next round. During the year, there are players who qualify for the live bankroll mega-contest, or have the option of paying the large entry fee to try their luck. – This past year there were 322 players located at Keeneland, Santa Anita, Belmont Park, Del Mar, and Gulfstream Park. – This total on-track handle wagered by 222 players at Keeneland came to a total of $3,096,223 from the $4,225,000 handle according to the Blood Horse.com. – If you’ve heard handicapping contests are on the decline, there may have been a premature notice of death as this Keeneland contest handle alone represented 15% of the two day handle totals. Most are playing the on-line format over the tried and true “brick and mortar” contests where players travel around the country and accumulate quite a bit of expense. This handicapper finds it pretty convenient to fire up the computer and play from home. No hassle, no travel, and I can play in more contests if I don’t have to come out of pocket to stay overnight or make trip plans. – Overall, the contest component is an exciting way for racing fans who enjoy doing battle for life changing prize money. That is definitely something to be thankful.
2015 is a year we’ll remember for quite sometime. It was 37-years since the last Triple Crown winner, and that is a long time between drinks. When the Churchill Downs plays “My Old Kentucky Home,” and there is not a dry eye in the house. The world becomes a horse racing fan if even for a day. – But maybe we’ll have fans following the Derby trail a bit sooner. – Did they make their first start at Gulfstream, Fair Grounds, Churchill, or Santa Anita ? – Was it a smaller oval at a lesser meet when we caught a glimpse of greatness ? – The runner could be a multi-million dollar sales purchase, or a modest priced runner who slipped past the watchful eyes in the sales ring. Either way, the build up is all about the journey. Like all sports, we follow from opening day, pre-season, and practice schedules. Racing is no different, and what transpired this past year may give the sport of kings more exposure to the beauty and pageantry. For that, Thoroughbred racing is truly grateful.
As I hung up the phone, I knew this was the last time I would talk to my friend. – He had an illness he kept from his circle of friends, and “didn’t want to bring anyone down.” – Little did he know that’s what friends are for. We’re there to listen, pick-you-up, or help in anyway we can. But he tried his best to keep on keeping on. He said life is for living, and he has done more than his share. – “Eddie, sometimes we bet on the wrong horse. You just stick it out and hope for the best. – But when you bet on the winner, life is so sweet.”
It’s not about the big score, or how I had a big weekend. This is about a longtime horse player who was a man among men. – He loved the competition and never was a big bettor. But he loved the action. – He started long ago going with family, and it carried over to his kids. He loved taking them to the races, and if you saw him, they were not far away. – How many of us learned the ropes the same way ? – I asked him once if he loved to handicap or he just enjoyed the action ? – ” Action. If you have a deuce on a 10-1 in the last, you’re not out yet.” – Those are the words of a gambler.
He and I talked, and his gentle voice sounded weak on the phone. There were times I thought we would end, and he would bring up another story. – For most, stories can be tough to listen to, but for me they have always captured my attention. – This was his life, and he wanted to share a little of his time with me. Horse players know time is important. A fast pace means anything can happen, and slow fractions favor the front runners for the most part. His life was a fine mix of quick quarters and slow middle fractions to put the field to sleep. – He worked for the city most of his adult life and enjoyed the camaraderie of the other guys in the office. He could slip away for the daily double as he got his boss hooked on making a wager or two. These were the good times. He would make “book” on some football and basketball wagers, and then started taking horse racing wagers. He kept his small 8-10 friends / clients, and was not interested in getting bigger. – ” Too much trouble. If you get too big, you’ll attract the wrong kind of players, and it only gets worse from there.” – “I pay on time, and get paid on time. We have a limit to how much can be wagered, and what can be lost or won. This way I won’t lose my house, and I’ll know you’ll have a car to drive to work.” – He never had too many bad weeks, and would be at the track every weekend.
He once told me the secret of a good life is “having a good partner.” – “Eddie, find yourself the right gal, and you’ll be a winner everyday.” – He told me he was finally selling his house and moving to Florida. – ” My wife passed away after a long battle with her illness. She wanted to be in the area for the kids and grandkids. She loved them, and wouldn’t move for a million dollars.- I respected her wishes, and we stayed. But I’m getting out of here. – I’m trading the snow for the sun, and I’m heading to Tampa Bay. – Baseball, football, horse racing, dog racing, and plenty of visits from the grandkids will keep me busy.” – That was over three years ago, and he made a trip up this summer. He looked much slimmer, and gave me a compliment about my race calls. – “Hey, last year you were terrible, but you have gotten much better. Keep up the good work my man !” – That was the last time I saw him, and he told me to dig him up on Facebook and we’ll stay in touch. – He wasn’t much of a computer guy, but he would send me messages about horses at Belterra Park, and ones he really liked elsewhere. – I knew him since I was a parking lot kid, and he used to bust me up by saying out loud; ” I think you should go back to the parking lot if you can’t pick any better than that !”
“Eddie, I’m getting pretty tired and want to take a nap. – Hey, I really nailed them at the Breeders’ Cup this year. – I had a hunk on Nyquist, Runhappy, Found, and had Florent Geroux’s winners. – That kid can ride.” – I gave some money to my son and they bought a new car, and my baby girl was able to save for her son’s college as he’ll be going next year. – I wanted to thank you for all the nice things you did for me. You always had a table for me on big days, and gave me invites to special parties. She and I really appreciated all you did for us.” – My pleasure. I was more than glad to have you as my friend these many years. If there is anything I can do, just let me know. – “I’m ok, Eddie. Just wanted to gab with you and catch up. – Take care of you and your son.” – That was the last time I heard his voice. – I saw on Facebook his daughter posted about his death, and how he wished to have his ashes scattered at the track. He had two adult children and three grandchildren, and left behind a lifetime of good memories and friends. – She said his last wish was not for anyone to send flowers, as that was a waste of money! – Go to the track for lunch, and bet the ponies. That’s what he would’ve done, and wanted everyone to start their day with a $5 daily double of 2 and 3. – Two was for his two greatest loves (his children), and three was for his even bigger loves ( his grandchildren). – “Dad wanted to wish everyone the best of luck, and hope that you had half as good a life as he did. If so, you’ll be a winner forever.”
How old were you when you made your first trip to the track ? – Was it a family member, or did you tag along with a friend ? – Were you in college for a day away from classes ? – Did you make your first trek with some pals from work, or was it a group outing where 50 folks loaded onto a bus enjoying adult beverages on the way ? – For me the answer is easy. Yes.
I started going with my dad and grandpa. By now you know the story if you have followed along over the years. I started as a tag-along, and somewhere it developed into a full-scale love. I couldn’t tell you the date or time, but you always remember your first. – Racing was my first love; and Susan in kindergarten. But racing didn’t tell me to go back to my seat and leave her alone. – Getting to make a $2 place or show bet was the height of excitement. You stared the print off the pages looking to find a magic message in the past performances. When you finally cashed that first ticket, there was nothing like having a couple dollar bills and some change handed to me by dad. I think the bug bit about that time. – How many can name your first big score ? – Easy one for me. Oaklawn Park, Lt. Bert, $20 to win as I had $2 win and place with my dad via the local bookmaker. I can still remember my dad laying out the newspaper showing the results as I came up for breakfast. I had to wait until Saturday to collect.
I used to skip my last 11:00 a.m. class at college. I started early, and kept my last easy class for that time slot. Most of the time I would bolt and head to the library or play racquetball with a friend. But there were special days when a special friend of mine would leave a note on my car window. There were no cell phones, and texting was something from a space movie. I could see my car as I used to park in the professor’s lot; I gave a professor free parking at the track for a parking sticker. Those things were like gold. – I could see my car, and when there was that big white paper under my windshield wiper, it only meant one thing. – Let’s go to Keeneland. We’ll meet at 11:00 am. – Looking back those were some of the best times driving down to Lexington. The leaves would either be turning gold hues of autumn or beginning to bloom. – What I wouldn’t give to make that drive with my old pal again.
I attended the races once on a bus trip. – There is more of a possibility of me sprouting wings than doing that again. I got so drunk on the way down, and all day long we pounded more. I remember going broke about the 7th race, and my brother made a decent score. We had betting money for the last two, and slept all the way back. Never again, just not for me. – Rule #1, never get drunk and gamble. – I broke it enough to last a life time.
Most guys take their gals to meet mom and dad when things are getting serious. – I used to pick them up, and take them to the races. If they wanted to stay, they were keepers. Only one wanted to leave, and I thought she was mad and it wouldn’t work. She had a little something else in mind, and thinking back I’m pretty glad we left early. – There were some great gals I met along the way. – I took my girlfriend /wife to Keeneland, and she wasn’t a gambler, but she rooted like hell when the horses thundered home. She’s been gone 12-years now, and every time I go to Keeneland I think back to the spot we were standing as I won enough to take us to her favorite steak house. – I met my current lady at the races at River Downs on Cradle Stakes Day in the VIP tent. I did some handicapping on TV with a guy I knew from the races, and he paid me with two tickets to the tent party. A few years later, I ended up working with that guy who became one of my best friends. John Englehardt. – One gal stands out in my mind. She was as sweet as possible, and way over my head. She loved the theatre, symphony, and an occasional wine cooler but no more than two. – I didn’t think there was much of a real chance, and I picked her up and we went to old Lebanon Raceway. I asked her if she would like a drink, and she said if they had a cabernet or white zin she would like to have just one. When I returned with two Miller draft beers, she wasn’t going to have any part of that non-sense. I won over $400 in one race, and she started drinking beer. After three, it was all I could do to keep this 90 lb. wild woman off me ! – I think we set new standards of acting like kids at the Warren County Fairgrounds. – If you’re a fella who likes to see what your odds of staying together read. Take your date to the races. You’ll know in a race or two.
I’ve loved the races since the first time I understood what was going on. Money to be made; horses thundering down the lane, and the mass of humanity coming together enjoying the greatest sport in the world. I have always enjoyed sports, but nothing compares to racing. I guess that’s why she is my first love. The game has bit my backside, made me giddy with joy, and introduced me to some of my best friends in life. – I’ve had days where I couldn’t buy a winner, and stretches of time where I could do no wrong. It has provided me with an occupation from the parking lot to calling the races. – How many people could say they have loved one thing with gusto since they were 12-yrs-old ? Exclude sleeping, eating, and watching movies, and you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone who can answer that. – Well, I guess you’ve met a real racing fan who fell in love with his first.
We are in the void of no marquee races and the holidays are arriving. – I’m sitting in front of my computer and had the day all to myself. Shopping done, cleaned the house, shave and a shower, and fired up my laptop. I dropped a few shekels in my account, and the day was good-to-go. It wasn’t going to be a day of big time bets, and more or less a scouting mission for runners on the return and pick up a few bucks on the day. – Saturday still comes around, and you can bet your shoes I’ll want to make a few bets on some of the solid races carded. – Wednesday was a cool autumn day, and even the dog didn’t want to head out the door. But inside my man cave-betting-parlor, the conditions were just right.
Churchill Downs can offer up some good betting value, and even though there can be some small fields. I love it just the same. I’ve watched the runners, know the connections, and trusted in my daily download of E-Z Win Forms. – I have $200 to play, and decided to make a $2 exacta box on the top three selections, and $8 to win on the top tier runner. Sounds good to me, and this allows me more time to scout runners for my stable mail.
Race #1- I made my three horse box with the three selections and $8 to win on the top tier runner. The first and third selections ran 1-2, and the top selection won and paid $10.60. The exacta paid $20.40. = My total cash was for $62.80, for a $42.80 win.
Race #2- The wager came back 1st, and 4th. Minus $20.
Race #3 – I was 1st and 4th, but the top tier selection won and paid $13.00. – The win was $52.00 for a $32 win.
Race #4 – The top three ran 1-2-3, but the top tier runner did not win. – The exacta paid $11.80 for a loss of $8.20 on the race.
Race #5 – I snagged the exacta with the 2nd and 3rd selections, and the exacta paid $48.00. – The total win was $28.00
Race #6 – My exacta box ran 1-2-3, but the top tier selection ran 3rd. – The exacta paid $71.40 for a win of $51.40.
Race #7- Off the board with the top three selections. – Minus $20
Race #8 – The old 1st and 3rd punishment occurred for a tough beat of minus $20.
Race #9 – They were off the turf, and the 2nd and 3rd runners hit paying $7.20, for a minus of $12.80
Race #10 – Off the board for exactas, but the top tier selection ran 3rd. – Minus $20
My day started off with a $200 bankroll, and my tally came out to be $253.20 – I found three runners for my Horses-to-Watch list, and had an opportunity to win. – Sticking to my guns allowed me to keep focus. – Keeping a tally makes for better money management, and using the E-Z Win Forms allowed me to better use the data to make adjustments for the future. – What handicapping icons did I miss ? – Should I have sought better value in some races where the chalk was the top tier selection ? – In my opinion, a day at home watching a card I enjoy was a win on the day. – I’m going to use the tier selections this weekend when I play in satellite handicapping contest. – With any handicapper, it serves you well to go back over your day and see where you could’ve made some changes. – Best of luck, and be sure to check back to see where I finish. By the way, I used them a few days ago for tracks I normally don’t wager. – I finished 29th out of 200. Not bad, but I’m shooting for bigger and better paydays.
There are things that need to be addressed; some need to be left alone, and others that continue to amaze. During the last few days I’ve seen a little sampling of each in racing. – As fans, we are the lifeblood that keeps the game alive. We are riding the high wave of 2015, and now as we see the curtains slowly closing on 2015. A time of introspection replaces the high powered enthusiasm that comes along with the renewal of hope and promise. – But the questions have been answered, and the results have been posted. Sports have always been more than water cooler talk. It’s common ground where we stand and cheer together, and continue to be amazed by the beauty and pageantry. – There is nothing like a day in the grandstand watching the action take place.
Pat Eddery, one of the most successful jockeys of all time, died Nov. 10 at the age of 63. According to reports from Great Britain, he had been in poor health. Eddery was champion flat jockey 11 times, won 14 British classics, and captured the prestigious Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I) four times. He also won two Breeders’ Cup races: the Turf (gr. IT) with Pebbles in 1985 and the Sprint (gr. I) with Sheikh Albadou in 1991. He retired in 2003 with more than 4,600 winners according to the Blood Horse.com.
I remember watching over the years long before simulcast was invented. Most fans only watch if they have a bet, but not this guy. I used to “dumpster dive” as a kid for the Euro recap section of the Daily Racing Form. – I loved reading about the big races and riders that kept the crowds on their feet. Pat Eddery won 4,632 races in his storied career, and was the top flat rider eleven times. If you’ve heard of a little race in France called the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, Mr. Eddery won this prestigious event four times. – He had a style in the saddle that captivated me as a young man watching old replays, and when I finally saw him ply his trade. It was like dream come true for a young racing fan.
Pat Eddery was a rider, a trainer, and family man born into a racing family. – When I read his name in the racing news, it brought a lump to my throat. I can still remember the first time I had the opportunity to watch and wager on Eddery. It was in the 1985 Breeders’ Cup Turf. Join me as I go back in time for a moment, and watch one of my Euro-favorite riders. – Rest in peace, Pat Eddery. You’re named on some big mounts this weekend at Pearly Gate Downs, and I hope to see you ride again someday in distant future.
I wrote a blog about the debacle following the Runhappy victory in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. – She was the “darling of the day” as she held center stage usually reserved for long time trainers who’ve been doing this for quite sometime. Add in the fact the she was training for James McIngvale who is no stranger to racing, or the business world with his acclaimed Gallery Furniture mega-store. – The runner was guided home under a rousing ride by Edgar Prado, and the winner’s circle was full of joy. – That was until the next morning.
Maria Borell had been dismissed as trainer, and Runhappy was being turned back over to Laura Wolhers. Funny thing, she was the trainer in charge when ailments forced them to seek Borell’s help in bringing him back to health. After watching the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for the 1,000th time, I think she did a pretty good job. – In a nutshell, McIngvale has not paid Ms. Borell, and it looks court room bound. – It happens, and the racing community was not pleased at all. I’ve been on her side quietly hoping the courts would recognize this misunderstanding, and pay this talented young trainer. – When I saw today there was a “Go-Fund Me” account to help Ms. Borell, I realized this was growing out of control. They have the right idea seeking a judge’s decision on the matter, but racing would like to allow this to heal. I’ll bet dollars to donuts she’ll come out on top, but the more we keep picking back the scab the longer this will live on.
I’m no trainer, but Maria Borell is a damn good one. In words she knows all to well when it comes to Thoroughbred racing; “let the process take its course, and be patient.” – This has always been the mantra of every good trainer who brings a horse back from an injury, and time has been a trainer’s friend. – Let the courts decide, and let’s get back to racing.
An incredible article in the New York Times kindly reminded me. I knew it has been more than many 100, and less than a million. It seems like he’s always ridden on the Northern California circuit. – As quoted in the New York Times; “Russell Baze, the ironman of Thoroughbred racing – Lou Gehrig on a saddle – was about to ride his 50,000 start. ” – At 55, Baze is near the outside edge of even a durable rider’s working life span. People credit this longevity to his avoidance of serious injury, which may seem an odd thing to say of a man who has broken his cervical spine, pelvis, tailbone and collarbone and suffered multiple compression fractures in his back and neck. But jockeys often sustain far worse, and Baze, having “hit the ground” well over 100 times, believes he has the benefit of an uncommonly resilient body and a conscientious guardian angel.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching “Russell the Muscle” ply his trade like a conductor over a symphony. He’s good on speed, and closes with a flourish. I have to say I’m not his biggest fan when he rides on the turf, but he’s only winning (35%) on the main track. With numbers like that, you’d be sure to get a raise, or ensure your place in the standings nationally for wins. – I’ve always been of the opinion that jockeys are pound-for-pound the best athletes in the world. They have hands that could crush a stone, and still they communicate with a horse with feathery precision. They use the tips of their boots on the stirrup, and have the balance of a ballerina. You’ll see how knees are used to steer and encourage their mount, and they use their knuckles to dig into the back to ask the horse for just a little more. – Horses feel the rider, and they know when you have control. Russell seems to find that little extra more times than not, and no matter what age. He is the kinda’ fighter you can’t take lightly down the lane, or he’ll play possum and blow right past you.
It has been nothing less than a true pleasure watching him ride. I saw him come east a few times, and watched him at my home track of Turfway Park. As he rode Event of the Year in the Spiral Stakes in 1998, he looked like he was on a machine-like runner. – Yeah, it’s fair to say I’ve always been a fan. From a gambler’s stand I never leave him out of an exotic when I play the northern California circuit. He’s always short odds, and that’s for a good reason. He’s a real competitor, and if you leave him off your ticket. You’ll probably be tossing it down as expensive stationary.
I was reading an article about riders and where they cut their teeth. Everyone starts somewhere, and it doesn’t matter how big or small the venue you ply your trade. Some were happy to be the big fish in the small pond, and others had bigger dreams. In my travels I’ve been lucky enough to see some on their way up, and some of the big names making their last run at the winner’s circle. As a fan of racing, I have enjoyed every moment of watching the greatest athletes ply their trade. – Here are a few that come to mind as I sit back and enjoy the journey a second time as a racing fan.
Jacinto Vasquez = He began his career at age 15 in Panama, and will go down as the rider who defeated Secretariat three times on three different horses. He’ll also be mentioned every time you hear about the match race between Ruffian and Foolish Pleasure as he jumped off of “Pleasure” to ride the powerhouse filly in this last marquee match race at Belmont Park. – He won two Kentucky Derbies, the Breeders’ Cup Sprint for a total of 5,231 victories. – In 1984 he was given a one-year-suspension from a 1975 charge of trying to bribe another rider. He fought the charge and eventually had to sit on the sidelines. – I had followed his name, as he was a New York rider as I tagged along with my dad to the races. But when he hung his tack at Keeneland for a couple of meets, it was my chance to see the patient master up close. – In 1988, he had the mount on a runner by the name of Risen Star for Louis Roussel in the Lexington Stakes against the favorite Forty Niner. – There was no live announcer at the time, and I listened to the race on radio as the track was so packed you could hardly wager. – Take a trip back in time, and watch one of my favorite riders do his bidding. You’ll hear the dulcet tones of Mike Battaglia calling the races for radio. Mike loved Forty Niner, and Pat Day did everything he could down the lane. When I heard Mike exclaim; ” I can’t tell as the finish line is a 1/16th of mile from his vantage point.” When I heard this on 630 AM WLEX; I just knew he got up at the wire.
Rafael Bejarano = He was born in Peru, and was a graduate of the world-renowned Panamanian Riding School where the best in the world learned the habits from past masters. – He came to the United States in 2002, and had his first victory at River Downs. A track in my backyard, I was on hand to see him get his picture taken. A little later at Turfway park, I saw this rider waiting to move into the starting gate when his mount propped a bit and he rolled off the back head over heels in an awkward fashion. – We all are guilty of missing a glimpse of greatness, but on this night I chose to put both feet in my mouth. – ” Who is that ? – This guy will never be any good.” – I couldn’t have missed more if I had closed my eyes. Bejarano is one of the most respected riders in racing, and spends most of his time on the west coast. Who can blame him ? The weather is perfect and the biggest names in racing love fun in the sun. I have grown to love this rider every time he takes to the saddle, but forever in my noggin will be the eternal idiot words that came out of my mouth that night. Here is one of my favorite rides from this tough as nails competitor. – As Tom Durkin’s words of a crafty ride by Bejarano echo in my head, I had the opportunity to see him break his maiden in the states.
Julien Leparoux = He was born in France into a racing family. A son of a jockey turned trainer, he started as a stable hand at Chantilly Race Course in France. – He came to the states in 2003 and started working for fellow Frenchman Patrick Biancone in California. He broke his riding maiden at Saratoga in 2005. As an apprentice the next year at The Spa he set a record of 28 wins, the most by an apprentice ever at the historic track. He had riding titles at Turfway Park, Churchill Downs, and Keeneland. – His first big milestone was winning 406 races as an apprentice, and was voted the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Apprentice Rider in 2006. He was also voted another Eclipse Award in 2009 as the Outstanding Jockey for that year. – Having the “Flying Frenchman” ply his trade mostly in Kentucky, I’ve had the greatest opportunity to see these skills. – Here is one of my favorite rides dating back to 2007 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf. – He is patient, and can put them to sleep on the lead, or finish strong from out of the clouds.
Eddie Delahoussaye = “Eddie D” was born in 1951 in New Iberia, Louisiana. He began his career in 1968, and became the top American Jockey ten years later. – I watched his fearless manor of riding for years on TV, and would relish how he hung to the rail, and could master being on the lead or saving enough to fire like a rocket in the lane. – I had one up-close opportunity to watch him ride. I was doing the paddock handicapping for Turfway TV coverage, and he had a mount on Murray Johnson’s Perfect Drift in the 2002 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park. – It was a cold day, and he had this one mount. Perfect Drift always made a nice move, but sometimes he got lazy nearing the wire looking around. Eddie D came out of the jocks room and looked cold as he was hunched over, and walked toward his mount quietly. Perfect Drift needed to stay engaged and see his competition, and the connections sought out a “master” to move him just at the right time. For a man who won two Derbies, a Preakness, two Belmont Stakes, seven Breeders’ Cup races, a George Woolf award, and Hall of Fame honors. This race will always define my time to see the “master” live in action, and was one of my best wagering days I’ve ever had at the Florence, Kentucky track.
I’ve had the pleasure of watching cheap claiming events, the Kentucky Derby, and Breeders’ Cup races. I’ve watched some of the best ply their trade breaking into their career, or on the way out still capturing our hearts. For any sports fan, if you mention one of their favorite players they can recall in great detail the big wins and the ones beat in the shadow of the wire. – There are Javier Castellano, Fernando Toro, Laffit Pincay, Pat Day, Irad Ortiz, Ryan Moore, Bill Shoemaker, Don Brumfield, Mike Manganello, Mark Guidry, Shane Sellers, Randy Romero, Jorge Velasquez, Angel Cordero, Mike McDowell, Perry Ouzts, Earlie Fires, Eddie Delahoussaye, and so many others. I could go on forever and a day recalling names that gave me goose bumps and excitement so rare. They are pound-for-pound the best athletes in the world, and you have to be pretty brave to have an inch and a half of the toe of your boot inside the stirrups, and glide along a 1,200 pound thoroughbred going 35 miles an hour. – There is no other game like the Sport of Kings. If you don’t believe me, just make your way out and watch some live racing soon.
They’re never around when we need them, and they’re probably still writing tickets for improper fashion statements from last Derby day. – But we need them now, and they better hurry ! – The Breeders’ Cup wind blew through the racing world to rave revues, and Keeneland looked right at home on the big stage of Thoroughbred racing. But problems continue, and the ref has stepped into the ring to give the sport of kings a standing eight count.
By now, the world has heard of Runhappy, and trainer Maria Borell. I think the “Integrity Police” should start right there. – It is Mr. McIngvale’s choice to have who ever he wants as his trainer. He can choose the marquee names who cost a pretty penny, and they are damn well worth it. He can have a new trainer who just received his license, or he can pick any face off the street. – His horse, his money, his decision. – But, if a trainer is to be paid a percentage of the winner’s share. Pay the lady. – Maybe there could be a separate account with the horseman’s bookkeeper at a (small price) to the owner to have an agreed upon percentage from purse monies earned. I know, it sounds costly.- The trainer will be paid just like jockeys who win on a mount, the valets, outriders, etc. You get the point. No more stiffing trainers who won’t be able to pay their help. – I can see no problem giving your talented horse to anyone you wish, but you can’t thumb your nose at the hard working people who love their animals more than most people. Reminds me of the words (with a little twist) from Teddy KGB from the movie Rounders; “Pay the lady her money.”
If you read the racing rags, you probably know about the investigation taking place at Mahoning Valley. – If you missed it, or couldn’t sit down to read it. Here it is a nutshell. – There is an investigation taking place about a runner (a gelding) who allegedly ran against fillies. – The horse drew off by 7 3/4 lengths, and paid a whopping $222.40. – According to The Paulick Report, the Ohio State Racing Commission is launching a full-scale investigation into the race, horse, and those involved. I am confident they will get to the bottom of this sooner rather than later. – Here is the rub. We are coming off the heels of one of the best Breeders’ Cup events ever. The feel good swirl is on everyone like cheap cologne as we bask in the glory of the Thoroughbred. – But what about the betting public who got duped ? – They invested money in an event that may have had some extra magic in play. What do we tell them ? Even if this all comes up false, the sport is the loser. – If the investigation turns up to be false. How do we gauge the damage done to public confidence ? – For the latest, here is an article from The Blood Horse.com –
I enjoy making a bet or two. – But when I hear about buzzers being used, riders not trying, or some goof with a magic potion. I stop playing that track. – I guess that’s what bothers me the most. I’ve heard nothing but good things about the new track, and my worry is it will create a sense of distrust among the betting public. If it were not for them, the sport would be running for blue ribbons on Saturday afternoons. – Do I blame everyone ? Hell no. Am I mad at any clown who attempts to deceive the public ? – Yes. – I’m going to sit on the sidelines and let the professionals get to the bottom of this, and not formulate any opinions until they inform the public of the outcome.