Tag Archive: Triple Crown 2014

May 16 2015

Triple Crown: The Middle Child

There is only one thing to think about today and that is justice for Freddie Gray and the other victims of a militarized and out of control Police’s Racist War on Blacks, Hispanics, and the Poor.

A Baltimore Neighborhood, Wary and Healing, Prepares for Preakness Day

By JULIET MACUR, The New York Times

MAY 10, 2015

“They told me that there’s so many things we can do here that it would be really fun for me and my kids,” said Thomas, a 33-year-old single mother of four who works transporting patients at a hospital. “But I don’t know what to think of it. We’ll see. It’s been a tough couple of weeks.”

A tough couple of weeks for the entire city.

Less than a month ago, Freddie Gray, a 25-year-old black man, was arrested in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood, about four miles southeast of Pimlico, which sits on the northwest side of the city. Gray fell into a coma while in police custody and later died. Riots and protests followed, including some outside Camden Yards, where in the jittery days after Gray’s death two Orioles games were postponed and another was played behind closed doors.

Six police officers have been charged in connection with Gray’s death, and some residents here predicted that those indictments might quell any protests, at least until the trial. But for now, the wounds in the city and in this neighborhood, where the 140th Preakness will be run on Saturday, are still raw. As race day approaches, many people here remain on edge.

Sometimes sporting events can play a role in healing a city’s wounds, as the baseball games after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, did in New York City. But the Preakness doesn’t quite fit that role.

A gigantic banner hanging above the racetrack’s main entrance declares the Preakness to be “the people’s race” and “the people’s party.” But those people, for the most part, aren’t from the largely black community around the track, where just gaining admission to the clubhouse and the grandstand will cost you $25 (much more if you want a seat), and where an infield ticket will set you back $70.

“For 50 years, I’ve sat on this porch and have seen people come and go on Preakness day, and most of them are white and rich and look all fancy in their dresses, neckties and shorty-shorts,” said Ruth Spencer, 87, who lives near the corner of Hayward and Winner Avenues, across the street from the track. “But I do love watching the people come by. I feel proud that they’ve come here to my backyard.”



But on race weekend, Austin said, the neighborhood was energized by the party atmosphere and the chance to make a bit of quick money. Asked if that fun might be ruined this year by protesters looking to grab the spotlight, Austin laughed.

“Oh, no, no,” he said. “Do you know how many police there are here that weekend? There’s one every few feet. Nothing’s going to happen here. Not a thing.”

Austin said that the greatest tension between the residents and the police in recent years had stemmed from a rule that bars the sale of anything on the racetrack side of the street.

The rule was announced a few years ago when signs appeared that read: “No vending. By order of the Baltimore City Police Department.” Residents trying to make a buck on Preakness weekend are still grumbling about that, noting that the police certainly have bigger problems to worry about than octogenarians selling iced tea for a dollar.



But Zora said that Gray’s death had changed the way she viewed the police. When she sees a police car drive by now, she said, she can feel her heart beating faster.

“Now when I see them, I start thinking, What if they want to fight one of us? What if they want to fight me? And that scares me,” she said, while sitting on a swing at the Pimlico Good Neighbor Park, which on Thursday was so strewn with cups, candy wrappers and potato chip bags that it looked as if a trash bag had exploded.

Thomas said that Zora’s distrust of the police made her sad. And even Baltimore’s mayor, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, admitted on Wednesday that the police and the community had a “fractured relationship.”

That was why the mayor asked the Justice Department to investigate any unconstitutional abuse or discrimination on the part of the Police Department. That federal investigation is now underway, but in Park Heights and Sandtown-Winchester and many other neighborhoods, a tense truce between the black community and the police will remain the order of the day for a while.

To make the best of the situation, even if it is a short-lived distraction, Thomas said she was considering her neighbor’s suggestions for race day.

“I have a hot dog machine, and a popcorn maker, so I might take them out to see if I can sell some, or maybe make fresh lemonade,” she said with a sigh as her 8-month-old daughter wailed in the background. “Or, I don’t know, maybe not.

“With all that’s happened here in our city, I have really mixed feelings. A lot of people do.”

Yeah, celebrate good times and forget about all the ugliness and oppression, c’mon.  Rights?  You have no rights a Gold or their jackbooted Sturmtruppen, the Blues and the Greens, are bound to respect.  Vive la Ancien Régime.

Even the Derby winner, American Pharoah, has a name that reeks of oligarchic privilege and wears earplugs to dampen the noise of the unwashed masses.

American Pharoah Is a Fan Favorite, but Not Vice Versa

By MELISSA HOPPERT, The New York Times

MAY 15, 2015

During the walkover at the Derby, a tradition that allows contenders’ connections to escort them on the racetrack to the paddock, American Pharoah became so unnerved by the crowd of people around him and the record 170,513 in the stands that it took several grooms to control the dark bay colt.

“The walkover for the Derby has gotten out of control,” said Baffert, who even stuffs fluffy cotton plugs in American Pharoah’s ears before every race to avoid such occurrences. “There’s too many people. It was like walking your horse through Times Square at midnight on New Year’s Eve. And they were yelling and screaming and running next to him and taking pictures, so it got him a little stirred up.”

His aggressive behavior, noted by horseplayers as a bad omen because it saps strength, continued in the paddock and on the racetrack, until he was loaded into the starting gate.

“He started becoming very hyped, and he was using a lot of energy, and I got very nervous because that’s the first time I’ve seen him do that,” his owner, Ahmed Zayat, said.

From the URL- Favorite’s Problem? He hates crowds but packs them in.  There is truth in that.

Oh, you want to talk about horse races, not class conciousness.  Well, there are only 8 horses in today’s race because if you don’t have a Triple Crown contender, what’s the point?  People care more about dogs than they do about horses, and your ever shrinking audience is 1%er’s, gamblers, and the celebrity obsessed.  Still, no one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the people.

American Pharoah will not win despite the hype.  His stablemate Dortmund is much more stable in temperment, was faster through the length of the shorter Pimlico course, and starts from a more favorable pole position.  American Pharoah begins on the rail and will be buried by an avalanche of horses headed for the racing line.

According to The New York Times the field looks like this-

Gate Name Jockey Odds
1 American Pharoah Victor Espinoza 4-5
2 Dortmund Martin Garcia 7-2
3 Mr. Z Corey Nakatani 20-1
4 Danzig Moon Julien Leparoux 15-1
5 Tale of Verve Joel Rosario 30-1
6 Bodhisattva Trevor McCarthy 20-1
7 Divining Rod Javier Castellano 12-1
8 Firing Line Gary Stevens 4-1

Joe Drape’s picks: Firing Line, Dortmund, American Pharoah

Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Dortmund, American Pharoah, Firing Line

Pimlico.

Preakness Trivia

  • Actually 2 years older than the Kentucky Derby.
  • Shortest in distance (1/16th shorter than the Derby).
  • Only the Derby has a larger attendance.
  • No Black Eyed Susan has ever been used, currently it’s painted Chysthanthemums.

There have been 34 winners of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes including the 11 Triple Crown winners.

Preakness Traditions

Winners don’t get the real Woodlawn Cup to keep, but a half size replica (oh, and the Woodlawn Racing Club is defunct).  Black Eyed Susans don’t bloom until 2 months after the Preakness.  The Old Clubhouse was destroyed in a fire in 1966.  They paint the winner’s racing silks on the weathervane.  No one on the internet knows why it’s called the Alibi Breakfast.

Official Website

I need a drink-

Black Eyed Susan Recipe

(Official, but without the brand names)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Bourbon (20% of Early Times is aged in used barrels)
  • 3/4 oz. Vodka
  • 3 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice

Preparation:

Fill a highball glass with shaved ice, add the liquors first, then top off with orange juice and sweet and sour mix. Stir and garnish with an orange slice, cherry, and stirrer.

Post time 6:18 pm ET, coverage starts at 4:30 pm on NBC.

May 17 2014

Triple Crown: The Middle Child

I once again have to try and find something interesting to say about Pimlico.

Preakness Trivia

  • Actually 2 years older than the Kentucky Derby.
  • Shortest in distance (1/16th shorter than the Derby).
  • Only the Derby has a larger attendance.
  • No Black Eyed Susan has ever been used, currently it’s painted Chysthanthemums.

There have been 34 winners of both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes including the 11 Triple Crown winners.

Preakness Traditions

Winners don’t get the real Woodlawn Cup to keep, but a half size replica (oh, and the Woodlawn Racing Club is defunct).  Black Eyed Susans don’t bloom until 2 months after the Preakness.  The Old Clubhouse was destroyed in a fire in 1966.  They paint the winner’s racing silks on the weathervane.  No one on the internet knows why it’s called the Alibi Breakfast.

Official Website

I need a drink-

Black Eyed Susan Recipe

(Official, but without the brand names)

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 oz. Bourbon (20% of Early Times is aged in used barrels)
  • 3/4 oz. Vodka
  • 3 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
  • 2 oz. Orange Juice

Preparation:

Fill a highball glass with shaved ice, add the liquors first, then top off with orange juice and sweet and sour mix. Stir and garnish with an orange slice, cherry, and stirrer.

Post time 6:18 pm ET, coverage starts at 4:30 pm on NBC.

I once saw a future Miss America almost eaten by a horse.

Ok, so she wasn’t a Miss America, but she was one of the 10 finalists.

We were on this band trip (she played French Horn, was the practice Piano player for Choir, and sang- rather badly as I recall which is why she got stuck playing Piano) and we went to this ski resort in Pennsylvania where I and my room mates mostly amused ourselves by doing a lot of superficial “damage” like draping our underwear over the lamps and taking the mattresses off the beds (they wouldn’t let us on the bus for the trip home until we “fixed” it which took like a whole 5 minutes).

For me it was notable for this big scar I got while skiing (I’m quite good by the way) when this football player plowed into me at full tilt and opened up a remarkably large wound on my shin with his edge through a teeny tiny little hole in my jeans.  Hardly even noticed it until my boot started filling up with blood.

So one of the other things you could do was horse riding which was a big thrill for me since I went to the boy’s camp with the lake and not the girl’s camp with the horses and the only other time I’d been on the back of one was this sad nag at the fair who was chained to a not very Merry-go-round and even though we didn’t get much past a stately amble at least we were going somewhere.

Future Miss America was two horses in front so I saw it all.  It had started to snow a little, the path was getting slippery and her horse’s hoof went out and kicked the horse behind.

Who got a little ticked, climbed up on the back of her horse and started biting her.

Well, she went the emergency room, I got the aid station at the slope where the patrol person took a look and said- “That’s nothing, just a scratch.  Are you sure you want a band aid?”

I dunno, does it have Spongebob on it?

Top Horse, From a Place Winners Aren’t Made

By JOE DRAPE, The New York Times

MAY 16, 2014

There is no bluegrass here or limestone fences framing postcard-ready landscapes. A drought has drained the San Joaquin Valley of any color other than beige. There is no mistaking the smell in the air, either: It is cow manure from the feedlot of California’s largest beef producer.

This is a working ranch, after all, where cows graze, almonds and pistachios grow on trees, and asparagus sprouts from the arid ground. The horses here are a sidelight, not sheikh-owned stallions that command $100,000 in the breeding shed. There is no harem of impeccably bred mares owned by the Wertheimers of the House of Chanel or any other of the sport’s boldface names.



Instead of relying on multigenerational horse families like the Phippses, owners of the 2013 Kentucky Derby winner, Orb, and deep-pocketed commercial breeders with their large band of broodmares, farms here use breeders like Coburn and Martin, who are equipped with one or two mares and the dream of creating a home-run horse. At first blush, California Chrome’s parents did not seem like champion stock. A time-honored racing maxim says, “breed the best to the best and hope for the best.” In this case, Coburn and Martin, with their limited budget, settled for “best available.”

Coburn is employed by a Nevada company that makes magnetic tape for items like credit cards and hotel keys; Martin owns a California laboratory that tests safety equipment.

Derby Victor a Heavy, and Heavier, Preakness Favorite

By JOE DRAPE, The New York Times

MAY 14, 2014

California Chrome will break from the No. 3 post, well inside his two most formidable challengers. Bayern (10-1) is in the No. 5 hole and Social Inclusion (5-1) the No. 8. Both rely on early bursts and are likely to dictate the pace.



“He likes to run in the pocket; I don’t think you’ll see him far off the pace,” Sherman said of his colt. “If he can come out of there and be fourth going around the turn and fourth down the backside and have a clear path, you’re going to see old Chrome perform.”

There are some promising horses among California Chrome’s nine challengers, but none of them have shown talent similar to that of Chrome. Only two horses that ran in the Derby are back for more: Ride on Curlin was a well-beaten seventh, and General a Rod finished 11th.

The new faces on the Triple Crown trail are far more interesting. Social Inclusion was unraced as a 2-year-old but won twice in Florida spectacularly, smashing the track record at Gulfstream for a mile-and-a-sixteenth in a 10-length rout of Honor Code, a graded stakes winner. In April, he finished third in the Wood Memorial.



The Bob Baffert-trained Bayern is still learning the racing game. He has won two of his four races but did not have enough qualifying points to make the Derby.

“He has a lot of speed and is going to be up close,” Baffert said. “He’s ready for it now, and I feel good about him going in. If he’s good enough, he’s good enough.”

The Preakness Dartboard

By JOE DRAPE and MELISSA HOPPERT, The New York Times

MAY 16, 2014

Post time: 6:18 p.m. Eastern Television: NBC

Joe Drape’s picks (win, place, show): California Chrome, Ring Weekend, Kid Cruz

Melissa Hoppert’s picks (win, place, show): California Chrome, Social Inclusion, Bayern

Concerns Fade Over Weather and the Favorite’s Health

By JOE DRAPE, The New York Times

MAY 16, 2014

California Chrome galloped in the rain, took his medicine – a glycerin rinse for a small blister in his throat – and was declared fit, fast and ready for Saturday’s 139th running of the Preakness Stakes by his father-son training team.



Just as the commotion surrounding California Chrome’s cough blew over, so did the stormy weather that made for a dreary Friday morning. By late afternoon, the track was dry at Pimlico Race Course, and it was expected to be in fine condition for Saturday’s race.

No Stop at the Preakness for Two California Chrome Owners

By MELISSA HOPPERT, The New York Times

MAY 17, 2014

The Martins had booked their trip to Baltimore but canceled at the last minute to stay home in Yuba City, Calif. They own a laboratory in Sacramento that tests safety equipment like air bags and landing gear, and, the Coburns said, the Martins have fallen behind in their work because of California Chrome’s success.



Carolyn Coburn also said their co-owners did not have a pleasant experience with the organizers at Churchill Downs. The Martins picked up Perry’s 83-year-old mother, Katherine, from a nursing facility in Michigan and drove her to Louisville for the Derby.

“Churchill did not go out of their way to get her to where she needed to be and to assist us,” Carolyn Coburn said of Katherine Martin, who was in a wheelchair. “Steve and Perry did everything, got her in her seat, then we had to get her to the rail so she could watch the race, then get her to the winner’s circle.”

A Long-Shared Love of Racing and a Champion

By MELISSA HOPPERT, The New York Times

MAY 17, 2014

The Coburns and the Martins owned shares of California Chrome’s mother, Love the Chase, through a syndicate and then bought her outright. They raced her two more times, but it was clear that she was not a runner after she won only once in six tries, and retired her so she could become a broodmare. She was bred to Lucky Pulpit for $2,000, and the rest is racing history.

“Our first check that we got with her, she ran fourth, her first race, was $46, and we had invested $4,000, plus the monthly fees,” Carolyn said. “But Steve said, ‘No she’s going to do something.’ And being a mother was what she did.”

The Coburns spoil their horses – Love the Chase, California Chrome, a yearling and a suckling, both full sisters to Chrome – as much as they do their eight grandchildren. When Love the Chase was racing, she refused to eat carrots. So they scoured livestock stores for a treat she might eat. They found Mrs. Pastures cookies for horses, and she ate them up. Now her offspring cannot get enough, especially California Chrome.

“He runs for those cookies,” Steve said. “We buy those things by the buckets full, and we take them over to Harris Ranch, got every horse over there hooked on them.”

May 03 2014

Triple Crown: The Longest 2 Minutes In Sports

This was no ordinary homecoming.  This was a do-or-die attempt to lay the ghost of years of rejection from the horse-rearing elite and the literati who sat in those privileged boxes overlooking the track and those unprivileged craven hordes who grovelled around the centre-field where he had suffered as a boy.

The clubhouse as I remember was worse, much worse than I had expected.  It was a mess.  This was supposed to be a smart, horsey clubhouse, oozing with money and gentry, but what I saw had me skulking in corners.  It was worse than the night I spent on Skid Row a month later, back in New York.  My feet crunched broken glass on the floor.  There seemed no difference between a telephone booth and a urinal; both were used for the same purpose.  Foul messages were scrawled in human excrement on the walls and bull-necked men, in what had once been white, but were smeared and stained, seersucker suits, were doing awful things to younger but equally depraved men around every corner.  The place reminded me of a cowshed that hadn’t been cleaned in fifteen years.  Somehow I knew I had to look and observe.  It was my job.  What was I being paid for?  I was lucky to be here.  Lots of people would give their drawing arm to be able to see the actual Kentucky Derby which was now hardly an hour away.  Hunter understood and was watching me as much as he was watching the scene before us.

Something splattered the page I was drawing on and, as I moved to wipe it away, I realized too late it was somebody’s vomit.  During the worst days of the Weimar Republic, when Hitler was rising faster than a bull on heat, George Grosz, the savage satirical painter, had used human shit as a violent method of colouring his drawings.  It is a shade of brown like no other and its use makes an ultimate statement about the subject.

‘Seen enough?’, asked Hunter, pushing me hastily towards an exit that led out to the club enclosure.  I needed a drink.  ‘Er… one more trip to the inner-field Ralph I think,’ I heard Hunter say nervously.  ‘Only another half-hour to the big race.  If we don’t catch the inner-field now, we’ll miss it.’  So we went.

While the scene was as wild here as it had been in the clubhouse, it had a warmer, more human face, more colour and happiness and gay abandon – the difference in atmosphere between Hogarth’s Gin Lane and Beer Street.  One harrowed and death-like the other bloated with booze but animal-healthy.

Who would have thought I was after the gristle, the blood-throbbing veins, poisoned exquisitely by endless self-indulgence, mint juleps, and bourbon.  Hide, anyway, behind the dark shades you predatory piece of raw blubber.

The race was now getting a frenzied response as Dust Commander began to make the running.  Bangles and jewels rattled on suntanned, wobbling flesh and even the pillar men in suits were now on tip-toe, creased skin under double-chins stretched to the limit into long furrows that curved down into tight collars.

Mouths opened and closed and veins pulsed in unison as the frenzy reached its climax.  One or two slumped back as their horses failed, but the mass hysteria rose to a final orgasmic shriek, at last bubbling over into whoops of joy, hugging and back slapping.  I turned to face the track again, but it was all over.  That was it.  The 1970 Kentucky Derby won by Dust Commander with a lead of five lengths – the biggest winning margin since 1946 when Triple Crown Champion, Assault, won the Derby by eight lengths.

‘I think it’s time I was thinking of getting back to New York.  Let’s have a meal somewhere and I can phone the airline for plane times.  What day is it, we seem to have lost a weekend.  I need a drink.’

‘You need a lynching.  You’ve upset my friends and I haven’t written a goddamn word.  I’ve been too busy looking after you.  Your work here is done.  I can never come back here again.  This whole thing will probably finish me as a writer.  I have no story.’

‘Well I know we got a bit pissed and let things slip a bit but there’s lots of colour.  Lots happened.’

‘Holy Shit!  You scumbag!  This is Kentucky, not Skid Row.  I love these people.  They are my friends and you treated them like scum.’

Ralph Steadman- The Joke’s Over

If you want to you can watch Kentucky Derby coverage from 11 am ET (on Vs. where it actually started on Wednesday) until 7 pm (on NBC, where they spare you the pre-race hype until 4).

I suppose this is good thing since you can hardly be expected to follow Horse Racing unless you’re a tout or plunger in one of the few forms of gambling deemed socially acceptable (as opposed to Poker, which is not gambling at all) and 2 year olds don’t have much of a record to handicap.  Hoppertunity is out with a sore foot.

Ice Cream.  Get your Tutsi Frootsie Ice Cream.

It’s really mostly an excuse to wear hats that would be rejected from a 5th Avenue Easter Parade or Royal Wedding and get tanked up on Bourbon that is best sipped with a soda chaser and not muddled up with mint.

The Kentucky Derby tax break

By RACHAEL BADE, Politico

5/2/14 6:20 PM EDT

A gift from Congress is expected later this year: renewal of a multimillion dollar tax break for thoroughbreds.

It’s a nice little perk for racehorse investors, considering some of these prized animals go for hundreds of thousands, sometimes, millions of dollars.

“Oh, the poor impoverished owners of racehorses,” said tea party favorite Rep. Tim Huelskamp (R-Kan.). “I don’t know how you can defend that … I’m sure it’s so critical that we borrow money from the Chinese to spend” on this.



The Senate Finance Committee last month approved an $85 billion package renewing most tax extenders for two years, including the racehorse provision, which will cost about $97 million in fiscal 2014 and 2015 – a small fraction of the overall tax package cost.



The Humane Society argues that “healthy racehorses end up in the slaughter pipeline when their owners abandon them because they are injured or aren’t turning a big enough profit.”

They cite Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, who was sold and then slaughtered in Japan in 2002.

Over a decade, the racehorse tax provision would cost about $500 million, according to a February Congressional Budget Office report.



“To me, the horse-thing is just one example of this bigger problem,” said Steve Wamhoff, policy analyst at the left-leaning Citizens for Tax Justice. He is steaming about “the fact that Congress can find time and money for this but not unemployment” insurance.

Loves me some Derby winner viande de cheval.

Mint Julep

Ingredients

  • 4 cups bourbon
  • 2 bunches fresh spearmint
  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • Powdered sugar

Directions

To prepare mint extract, remove about 40 small mint leaves. Wash and place in a small bowl. Cover with 3 ounces bourbon. Allow the leaves to soak for 15 minutes. Then gather the leaves in paper toweling. Thoroughly wring the mint over the bowl of whisky. Dip the bundle again and repeat the process several times.

To prepare simple syrup, mix 1 cup of granulated sugar and 1 cup of distilled water in a small saucepan. Heat to dissolve sugar. Stir constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.

To prepare mint julep mixture, pour 3 1/2 cups of bourbon into a large glass bowl or glass pitcher. Add 1 cup of the simple syrup to the bourbon.

Now begin adding the mint extract 1 tablespoon at a time to the julep mixture. Each batch of mint extract is different, so you must taste and smell after each tablespoon is added. You are looking for a soft mint aroma and taste-generally about 3 tablespoons. When you think it’s right, pour the whole mixture back into the empty liter bottle and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to “marry” the flavors.

To serve the julep, fill each glass (preferably a silver mint julep cup) 1/2 full with shaved ice. Insert a spring of mint and then pack in more ice to about 1-inch over the top of the cup. Then, insert a straw that has been cut to 1-inch above the top of the cup so the nose is forced close to the mint when sipping the julep.

When frost forms on the cup, pour the refrigerated julep mixture over the ice and add a sprinkle of powdered sugar to the top of the ice. Serve immediately.

Other Stories in The New York Times

I suppose I might mention this is the 140th edition.