Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Damn You John Terry, For Ruining My Dream Outcome

Midway through the 2nd half, I realized that there was in fact, 1 outcome of today's match that I could get behind: the match going to penalties and C Ronaldo, probably the player I hate most, missing the final penalty to lose the CL final. That alone would have been schadenfreude heaven; him exploding into tears would have just been unneeded but certainly welcome gravy.

So what happens? 120 minutes and on to penalties, where the first 5 kicks are made and then CR7 does a super exaggeration of his stupid little stutter step, and has it saved by Cech. The next three kicks are made so all Chel$ea captain John Terry has to do it hit the target and my longshot scenario comes to pass.

Instead his plant foot slips and he misses the target completely, and 3 more made kicks and an Anekla penalty saved by Van Der Saar later, and ManUtd are champions and Vanity Smurf the drama queen C Ronaldo is weeping tears of joy. Truly a dream turned nightmare.

I watched the match off and on via Slingbox at my desk, so I don't have any worthwhile analysis to add {like I ever do}.

Fuck it, it's over. Bring on Euro 2008.

Dividing By Zero: The 2008 Champions League Final

I don't know if I am even going to watch, and if I do, I don't even know how to watch- it's a bit like dividing by zero for my brain watching these two clubs play for the biggest club title in the world. What I mean by that is not only 1) am I not sure who I want to win, score goals, etc, but 2) watching the match, on any given pass, I don't even know whether I want that pass to be completed to its intended recipient or intercepted, or what- and that goes for both teams, thus creating quite a mindfuck. So my brain is on TILT on this one, as it doesn't even know how to process the information and what to make of it other than SYNTAX ERROR. In other words, the ultimate meteor game, or what I always refer to as an "injuries and explosions" game, as in, that is all there is to root for.

The equivalent of this match in college football terms would be Georgia Tech and Florida playing in the national championship game.

If you're a South Park fan, then this is giant douche v. turd sandwich.

Another way to explain it would be to use an analogy to sex. I rather enjoy sex, just as I like watching Champions League finals. But watching these two teams contest the CL final is like watching my parents have sex- just cause it's sex doesn't mean that I won't be repulsed by it if the participants are a certain set.

Each team has 1 of the 2 biggest divers and whiners in the world, Chel$ea's Drogba and ManUtd's C Ronaldo. Both teams, more than any other {in England at least} are known to all crowd around, bully, and even push referees when calls go against them. Neither of these are admirable traits, and both make it hard for any neutral or other non fan to get behind either of them. I could go on and on, but I won't, cause there's really no point.

If Chel$ea win, then uber cunt Ashley Cole is a Champions League winner, and that will be highly irritating. If ManUtd win, then C Ronaldo will be a Champions League winner, and that will be just as irritating.

And even if you get past the allegiances, there's still probably not much for the neutrals. Remember that just last year these two teams, as completely loaded with talent as they are, played the most dire and boring FA Cup final you might ever see. Add to that a very foreign atmosphere and climate, and the fact that they local kickoff time is 10.45 p.m. for TV, and the match itself could easily be a borefest of a 0-0 or a 1-0.

On the one hand I could rationalize that I'd rather ManUtd win because they are known for attacking football. On the other hand, if Chel$ea win then it might make my week to see C Ronaldo bawling his eyes out like we've seen so many time.

I think the pub is out; I'll probably just fire up the slingbox and have it streaming as I do some work. Just hoping that if there is a hero that it's a palatable player like Essien or Giggs; worst case scenario would be C Ronaldo scoring the winner.

They should just cancel the whole thing and instead bring out a giant pool and have C Ronaldo and Drogba have a diving contest to determine the winner.

I'd also like to thank Barcelona and Liverpool for allowing this travesty to happen.

This preview has been brought to you by The Optimist Club- Enjoy The Match!

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Happy Bay To Breakers Day

The list of things that I will get up at 6 a.m. on a Sunday morning to do, that aren't "to watch an Arsenal or World Cup" match, is a pretty damn short list. In fact, there's only 1 thing I can think of, and it's this morning: Bay To Breakers.

If you don't know what that is, then here two chances to learn up, the explanation and recap of the 2005 B2B as well as the 2006 B2B recap.

We're off to Market St to get our tortilla, mimosa, and walk on.

Happy Sunday.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

BIG BROWN Destroys Field, Wins Preakness With Ease

BIG BROWN destroyed the field at the top of the stretch when asked to run by jockey Kent Desormeaux, and in only 10-12 strides went from even with the field to 8 lengths ahead, and like Michael Johnson back in the 90s when he was at the top of his game, Desormeaux shut down BIG BROWN and jogged home, saving energy for the Belmont Stakes in three weeks. One of the most impressive moves I've ever seen a horse make.

Big Brown cruises to victory

That was as impressive a triple crown race as you will ever see.

So now the Belmont awaits, and a shot to become the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. Over the next three weeks there will be an incredible buildup which will become a full on frenzy bu Saturday, June 7th. And that is good for racing, which really needs something good and positive to happen. It would be so good for the sport if BIG BROWN wins the Triple Crown and points towards a showdown with CURLIN at the Breeder's Cup Classic in November, but a mile and a half and a bunch of fresh new horses ain't no joke. In the 29 years since AFFIRMED won the Triple Crown in 1978, ten different horses have won both the Derby and the Preakness but failed to win the Belmont, including 6 in the previous 11 years.

Everyone in horse racing industry will be rooting for BIG BROWN to do it, myself included.

Kanu!!!! Pompey Legend Forever

"He's tall, he's black,
He's had a heart attack,
Ka-nuuu, Ka-nuuuu!!!"

That song is ringing in the air tonight both in London, where today's FA Cup final was held at Wembley, and Portsmouth as well.

After scoring the only goal in Portsmouth's 1-0 FA Cup semifinal win, which put them in their first FA Cup final since 1939, he repeated that feat again today in the FA Cup and scored the only goal in Portsmouth's 1-0 win over Cardiff City. And from what I saw it looked like he could easily have had a hattrick, but 1 was all that was needed as the rest of the Arsenal Retirement Football Club {Sol Campbell, Lauren, Diarra, and assistant manager Tony Adams} kept a clean sheet for the win.

Kanu scores the winner

You can see the BBC's video highlights of the match here.

The most decorated African footballer in history, who appeared to be at the end of his career with little chance to win trophies, has not only won a trophy at a smaller club but made himself a Portsmouth legend for all time with his FA Cup performances and goals.

So congratulations to Kanu, Lauren, Big Sol, Tony Adams, 'Arry Redknapp, and everyone else at Portsmouth.

Can Anyone Beat BIG BROWN?

So if BIG BROWN doesn't do it today, who can or will?

Well, you have to start with GAYEGO, simply because he is the only other Kentucky Derby horse running today, and horses that ran in the Derby have won 20 of the last 22 Preakness Stakes. In those last 22 years, 226 horses have run in the Preakness; 122 of those have been horses exiting the Derby, which is 54%, yet they have won the Preakness a whopping 91% of the time. So the first place to look for any Preakness winner is horses exiting the Derby, and this year GAYEGO is the only other one. Yes, he ran a poor 17th in the Derby, but he had a horrible trip, starting badly, then getting bumped and pushed around, and essentially his Derby was over by the time he rounded the first turn. So if you are inclined to give him another chance after a horrific trip in the Derby, then you can fall back on the fact that this horse had 3 wins in 5 starts before the Derby, had never finished worse than 2nd, won the Arkansas Derby, and has the highest Beyer speed figure {103, Arkansas Derby} of any horse in the race not name BIG BROWN. And at 11-1 there's definitely some value there.

KENTUCKY BEAR is a very talented 3 year old that is yet unproven; he's the least experienced horse in the field with only 3 career starts. He'll probably be 2nd or 3rd choice, but you are definitely betting on the come. He could be like a Bernardini in 2006, who was super talented yet unproven, and romped in his coming out party in the Preakness. On the other hand, he could be a talented horse that is found wanting when running against horses of this caliber.

After that every horse is a longshot of some sort, so you have to find something to get behind. For instance, RACECAR RHAPSODY is a late closer, so if the pace of the race is fast then he has a great chance to come flying late and hit the board.

HEY BYRN is a good horse and with his win in the Holy Bull stakes has a win at the Preakness distance of 1 3/16 miles, something that no other horse besides BIG BROWN has. He has as good a chance as any of the non BIG BROWN horses; the trick is that he drew the outside post, which is a significant disadvantage in this race and lessens the chances of him having a good trip.

MACHO AGAIN is a talented horse, but has never raced more that 7 1/2 furlongs {15/16 of a mile}, so the question is can he get the distance. He's also on the rail, in the 1 hole, which is a disadvantage.

STEVIL has Nick Zito as his trainer, and made a big effort in the Bluegrass, so he could be sitting on a big race. On the other hand, the Bluegrass is run on a synthetic track, so it's hard to say if his effort will translate.

Those are the horses that I think could win if BIG BROWN is off, or who are likely to place or show in the event that BIG BROWN does win today, so I won't get into the others. Not to say they can't hit the board, just that I don't have anything informative to say about them.

I don't really like the race as far as betting, but if I was at Pimlico today I'd probably pick a horse other than BIG BROWN that I think can finish 2nd behind him and even win if he falters, and bet that horse across the board at a nice price. I'd probably go with $10 on GAYEGO across the board, $10 on HEY BYRN across the board as well, and then bet some sort of trifecta box with BIG BROWN on top, GAYEGO, HEY BYRN, RACECAR RHAPSODY, KENTUCKY BEAR, STEVIL, and TRES BORRACHOS in the place and show spots- a $30 1 dollar trifecta ticket, for a total of $90 wagered.

That being said, I hope that BIG BROWN wins today; it would be good for racing, and if there's one thing racing needs right now, it's for something positive and good to happen.

First and foremost, I'm just hoping that they all make it around the track safely today, no matter who wins.

Enjoy the race, and good luck.

Probable? Sure. Sure Thing? No Way.

Solon summed it up best last week when talking about all the buzz about Big Brown and the talk that he would easily win the Preakness and the Triple Crown.

"I've got two words for BIG BROWN," he said. "FUSAICHI PEGASUS".

Wise words from a man who makes it his business to be wise. FUSAICHI PEGASUS was the super horse of 2000, the big favorite at the Kentucky Derby, and won, breaking a 20+ year Derby jinx for the betting favorite. People instantly started talking about how "Fu Peg" was a shoo-in for the Preakness and the Triple Crown as well. FUSAICHI PEGASUS was a massive odds on favorite in the Preakness, and went off at odds of 3/10. He lost to horse named RED BULLET that largely was never heard from again.

The point being that as certain as it appears that BIG BROWN is an absolute lock in today's Preakness, there is no such thing. I believe 8 of the last 20 Preakness favorites have failed to win, including 4 odds on favorites.

So what could prevent him from winning? Well lots of things, actually. For one, he has never raced back in 2 weeks, and it will be the biggest physical test of his career off such a massive effort in the Derby. Second, there is a chance that he could "bounce", a horse racing term for regressing after running career best fast times, which is even more possible considering BIG BROWN's lack of foundation {races under his belt}. Thirdly, racing luck could get him: a bad start, a stumble at the start, getting clipped by another horse and bleeding, he could bleed in his lungs, he could get caught in traffic, the jockey could screw up, etc, etc. Each race is an unknown and anything can happen as the race develops. Everyone knows that BIRDSTONE was not a better horse than SMARTY JONES in the 2004 Belmont, but multiple events during that race conspired to keep the best horse from winning. Lastly, he could just have a bad day, and as strange as it seems, it is possible that he won't "fire" {the equivalent to a runner's final kick or sprint} when asked.

Now I'm not shitting on BIG BROWN {pun intended} and saying that he definitely won't win. I'm just saying that it certainly is not the lock that many are saying it is, especially against 10 other horses. Yes, he is likely to win, and all of the things mentioned above won't phase you if you are a fan of the horse, because he has already broken many horse racing molds thusfar.

One thing is for sure: there sure as shit isn't any value in betting BIG BROWN, who currently is the massive odds-on favorite at 1/9.

I'll write in a little bit about possible betting options/winners in the event BIG BROWN somehow falters.

Here's the field with current odds:

1. Macho Again, 45-1
2. Tres Borrachos, 50-1
3. Icabad Crane
4. Yankee Bravo, 25-1
5. Behindatthebar, Scratch
6. Racecar Rhapsody, 30-1
7. Big Brown, 1-9
8.Kentucky Bear, 16-1
9. Stevil, 45-1
10. Riley Tucker, 35-1
11. Giant Moon, 45-1
12. Hey Byrn, 30-1

Monday, May 12, 2008

Arsenal Complete Best 3rd Place Season In EPL History

Arsenal won yesterday to finish in 3rd place with 83 points, 4 back of champions ManUtd and 2 behind 2nd place Chel$ea. Yes, third place is disappointing after leading the league from August to March, but there are good things to be taken from this season. Arsenal improved by 15 points over last season's 68 point total, and didn't fall into an abyss after selling Thierry Henry like so many predicted. 83 points is very good; so good, in fact, that it is the highest point total for a 3rd place team in EPL history and before this season would have been the highest point total for any runner up in EPL history.

So congrats to the manager and the team for a great season. The media is overreacting as usual when it comes to Arsenal and people are calling for a clearing out and signing of a whole bunch of new players for this "failed" team, the same team that the same media were saying would be lucky to finish 4th back in August.

They are so close to winning trophies that dismantling the squad would be foolish- thankfully Arsene knows that more than anyone. Flamini will need to be replaced, and a winger who actually scores goals would be great, but dismantling is silly. And although he is amazing on the ball, Hleb can fuck off to Inter Milan if he likes- they can be just as frustrated with his silky skills but only 11 goals in 4 seasons and chronic fear of shooting.

Minor modifications, a few additions and having another go are all that is needed here. When you consider that this team was just a result or two away from being champions, I have every confidence that they could win the title with just a few additions to the current squad, and a season of full health from the likes of Van Persie and Rosicky.

Haskin's Derby Recaps

Per usual, the best writing on the Derby last week came from The Bloodhorse's Steve Haskin.

The first is more a recap of the race, a commentary on Eight Belles and PETA, and a review of his thoughts going into the Derby.

The second is a great telling about Big Brown and his connections, with lots of good inside info. The second is an especially good read and worth 5 minutes of your time to learn up on the horse & trainer history and journey to the center stage that they currently occupy.

I have a couple more things to throw up from our experience last week, and then it's on to this Saturday's Preakness Stakes.

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Six Figures

Sometime last night this place welcomed it's 100,000th page view, which means that in a little more than 2 short years I was able to accomplish something that Orson Swindle knocks out every 4 or 5 days. Not bad.

In all seriousness, I just wanted to say thanks to the tens of y'all who stop by, read, and contribute to the back & forth in the comments. You make it significantly more fun than if no one stopped by at all.

As long as we all remember that this truly is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Happy Weekend and I'll see you around the bend.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Feel Good Friday: Superhero Brother Edition

It's official: Superhero Brother is coming for your ass on June 24th.

Way cooler than Iron Man.

Who is Superhero Brother? Why G. Love of course, and along with his band Special Sauce this will be their 10th album. I have heard a few tracks from it and they are very, very good. I can't wait, and I already know that this will be my summertime all the time CD this year.

G. Love also just announced dates for a new tour this summer called the Block Party Tour with the John Butler Trio, but I'll let him tell it.

How many dudes you know that can play banjo & beat box?

I can't tell you how geeked I am that he is playing in San Francisco's Fort Mason near my apartment on August 31. The theater there only holds 370 people so I can only assume that he is going to play outdoors in the meadow with the bay and GGB as his backdrop. One thing is for sure: it won't suck.

And finally here is a cool promo vid from his last album- also outstanding- called Lemonade.

You can see all the tour dates, when he is coming to your town, and keep up with him- yeah, he blogs- on his official site, Philadelphonic. If you have never been to a G. Love show then get out and see you some hip-hop/blues this summer.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

The Roses That They Run For In The Run For The Roses

Why is the Kentucky Derby called "The Run For the Roses"? Well, the Derby winner received a floral arrangement of roses as far back as 1896. In 1904 the red rose became the official flower of the Derby, and in 1925 sportswriter Bill Corum dubbed the Kentucky Derby "the run for the roses". The garland, or blanket of roses, has been draped over the winner's neck every year since 1932.

You would think that each year the garland of roses would be made at some exclusive, private, fancy high society club.

You'd be wrong.

It's made inside a Kroger.

Yup, you heard it right. The Kentucky Derby winner's garland of roses is made the night before the race in a Kroger.

Suck on that, Publix!

I knew it was made at Kroger, and that it moved around the city to different Kroger's each year, but I had never stopped into see it being made. As it happened, this year it was being assembled at the Middletown Kroger, which just so happened to be right next to where we ate dinner on Friday night.

So after a late dinner we went in to check it out. It was late, and they were almost finished, so the crowd/line wasn't too bad, and we were able to see it up close and personal as they put the finishing touches on it.

There was a crew of half a dozen ladies who meticulously created the garland, and another couple who stood by and answered any and all questions that people had. They even handed out a little brochure explaining all you would want to know, as well as a ziploc bag with a couple rose petals from the actual roses being used for the blanket.

Before this year they used a smaller rose and there were 554 of them in the garland; this year they switched to a larger rose called the "Freedom Rose" {makes you wonder if it used to be called the French rose, but they renamed it, but I digress}, and this year there were I believe 436 such roses in the garland.

Pretty cool.

"Yeah that is pretty cool", you say.

"But, Kanu- you know what would be way cooler? If you had a tandem of septuagenarians setup at the end of aisle 7 under a tailgaiting tent playing a cover of the song "Spooky" by Dusty Springfield on a little mat of fake grass. Now that would be some off the chain shit right there."

Funny you should ask...

Yeah, these two dudes pretty much took a fun experience and turned it up to, and dare I say even past, 11.

Finest endcap display aisle 7 has ever seen

Here they are again with their smooth loungy version of "My Old Kentucky Home"

Yeah, it was that awesome.

Cool to finally see this little slice of local Americana flavor after 10 trips to the Derby. Even cooler was seeing it again about 20 hours later, as 5 men and a 4 man Kentucky State Trooper security detail carried it from the winners circle back to the clubhouse, passing right in front of us in the paddock.

Six women to make it from hand, nine men to escort it around.

I have tried in vain to find a photo of BIG BROWN in the winner's circle with the blanket of roses draped over his neck. You would think it would be the easiest thing in the world, as it is one of the traditionally famous Derby moments, but i can't find it anywhere {official site, DRF, Bloodhorse, Thoroughbred Times, ESPN, Louisville Courier Journal, all 3 local Louisville TV stations, etc}. Anyhow, if you come across a photo please let me know where I can find such a photo to add to this story.

Thanks to commenter xprider, who hipped me to this ESPN article which tells that BIG BROWN doesn't like flowers, got a little freaked out after winning the Florida Derby when they tried to lay the blanket of orchids over his neck, so his handlers decided against laying the garland of roses around his neck. I can tell you without question that the line {emphasis mine}...

Nevin and Blum dutifully held the flowers for a moment, then dropped the blanket on the ground to join the party, leaving the most hallowed floral arrangement in sports laying on the infield for a few hours before it was rescued by a state trooper.

... is a journalistic fabrication because we saw with our own eyes the garland being escorted through the paddock about 10 minutes after the race.

Anyhow, here's the closest that's been found, with the two people to the right of the horse holding up the garland:

Now I feel sorry for those ladies at Kroger who spent over 6 hours assembling that thing by hand, although I guess it's cool that it is hanging on the side of the wall in BIG BROWN's stall in Barn 22 at CD.

***Update 2***
This article in the Louisville Courier-Journal goes into detail about the garland of roses, BIG BROWN's aversion to them, and the journey that the roses took from Kroger to Barn 22.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Want To Play For The Arsenal?

Well from the latter part of the ad, it looks like you have to be a Dutch national. Anyhow, here is the latest Nike Football commercial featuring a 1st person point of view of being discovered and playing for Arsenal Football Club and Holland. It was directed by Guy Ritchie of Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch fame, and features cameos from Arsene Wenger, Cesc Fabregas, William Gallas, Christiano Ronaldo, Wayne Rooney, Marco Materrazzi, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rafa Marquez, Ronaldinho, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, and more.

Pretty slick ad- enjoy.

And Speaking Of Charismatic Scotsmen...

... in honor of our friend DCTrojan here's Mr. Charismatic Scotsman himself. I have no idea what his name is, but we ran into him at the Derby on our way over to the paddock. I chatted him up, and it turns out that he and his friend flew all the way over from the old country just to go to the Kentucky Derby. Then I asked him, "so- Celtic or Rangers?" and he said, "nae- Aberdeen!". I said "ahhh, then you like Fergie" to which he said "aye. They {ManUtd} won today, ye know, 4-1". And that's how I learned that Arsenal's EPL season was mathematically over. We chatted some more and that was that.

Fast forward a few hours...

We're making our way out of Churchill Downs after the final race, and we see him and a friend similarly dressed. We're in the happy zone so I go over and start singing an Aberdeen chant and he starts dancing a jig with me! It was awesome.

And I thought I was pimped out...

Unfortunately before I could get the camera out of my back pocket and over to The Hit, my jig with him had ended. But we did capture jig #2 with him & his mate with me & my crew singing in the background. Everyone was fully liquidated and having a grand old time. Top shelf, man.

A jolly good lad he was, nae a bad bone in im.

The Ultimate Word On Bissinger

If you are aware of the shitstorm created from last week's Bob Costas Now show on HBO by Pulitzer Prize winning author Buzz Bissinger {Friday Night Lights} for his juvenile and vitriolic attack on DeadSpin's Will Leitch about the value of sports blogs, then if you read one commentary on it, make sure that commentary is that of DCTrojan, for he absolutely knocked it out of the park, as he is wont to do. No one, no matter what media form, will write a better commentary about the whole situation, as well as the blogs vs. mainstream media issue, as our Scottish friend.

As I have said to him before: "On your regular days you’re like James McFadden in Stade de France; on your best days you’re simply Archie Gemmill on June 11, 1978", which only makes sense if you have a rudimentary knowledge of Scottish soccer history.

Anyhow, read the article, for DCT is dropping knowledge in the most massive way.

For the record, Bissinger is embarrased and apologetic, and says so in his interview with Orson Swindle, who also represents the blogosphere exceptionally well for his rational and reasoned interview discourse- compare that with how he might be interviewed by the tools on Pardon The Interruption or even CNN, and there's your stereotype destruction of the tired cliche about bloggers vs the MSM.

And a final word out blogs being dumbed down: watch ESPN College Football GameDay, and then read Sunday Morning Quarterback, and you tell me which one is dumbed down and worthless {hint for the lazy: one of them features Big And Rich, and one doesn't}. I rest my case.

Big Pimpin' At The Derby

This really works best if you start over on the jukebox on the left, scroll down to OutKast's "So Fresh, So Clean", fire it up, and then come back. Go ahead, I'll wait.

Now then...

You saw the shoes sitting on my living room floor last week, which was just a taste.

Here they are again on Derby morning

I matched them up with some light blue argyle socks that worked perfectly with the color scheme of the alligator shoes

Too much? Nope- just enough.

From there we went with some yellow dress pants- which match the yellow lines in the socks- and a blue alligator belt to match the shoes

Random drunken mistake pic got the isolation on the belt

Then topped it all off with a white linen shirt and a light blue fedora.

The result? Straight pimpin'

Pimpin' and reading the Racing Form looking for winners,
just like the dude at the 2.40 mark of this video. Hustlin'.

Here's myself & Bonita at the entrance to CD

CD here we come

Here's Kanu & The Hit, pimpin' hard

Sorry, ladies, we're taken

Here's Kanu & Bonita doing that hat switch

Switch hitters {insert SF joke here}

At the end of the day, walking back to the car, I realized about 6 hours too late that I could step it up another notch by putting my fedora brim on tilt- I won't make that mistake again.

Slim with the tilted brim

Back at casa del Hit, my threads finally tapped out after a long day of making this dork look presentable.

Your job is done, so sleep well- you earned it.

Oh, and one more thing. I be that baller on a budget as well:

Blue thatch fedora: H&M, $8
White linen shirt: H&M, $29
Blue alligator belt: Zoot suit store on Market St, SF, $10
Yellow pants: Ralph Lauren outlet store clearance rack, $8
Blue Argyle socks: Bass outlet, $4
Alligator shoes: Zoot suit store on Market St, SF, $39

Total outfit cost: $98. Suck on that, GQ!

Kentucky Derby 134: Bonita's Big Day

Bonita had such an outstanding first Derby on Saturday that it's worth retelling.

Rollin' in the back of the Sequoia to CD with her pimped out hat

The first thing we did once inside CD was run into the Julep Man, and 2 minutes later Bonita had her first Julep.

$18 of tasty sweetness

The 7th race went off just after we arrived at the track, but once we got settled over in the paddock we went to get some bets in on the 8th race, and she made not only her first bet at the track but her first lifetime sports wager of any kind. And she did it all by herself, with no help {it's tricky saying everything correctly when you're new to it}.

If she's in Gamblers Anonymous in 5 years, this moment is to blame

She didn't win that race, but little did she realize at the time it didn't matter much at all.

Shortly thereafter, she met this dude from Scotland and got a feel for how you literally meet people from all over the world who come to CD on the 1st Saturday in May just to go to the Derby

She let him slide for being a Sir Alex Ferguson fan

Her bet on a horse named GOLDENBALLS in the 9th didn't work out either, so it was on to the Derby. She bet $5 across the board on BIG BROWN because he was the 20 horse and 20 is her favorite number. She also bet $5 to win on EIGHT BELLES because she was a girl taking on the boys. At that point I said "why don't you put them together and do a $5 exacta box with 5 and 20? Fatefully she said "OK, that sounds good."

You'll notice that as we watched the race and BIG BROWN crossed the wire first, the video goes all crazy. That's because I dropped it as I picked Bonita up, gave her a big bear hug, and said "you just won the Derby!!!".

We were on cloud nine, until about 2 minutes later when we realized that EIGHT BELLES finished 2nd and not only did she have the winner across the board but she also hit the exacta.

Winner, winner, chicken dinner!

BIG BROWN paid 6.80 to win, 5.00 to place and 4.80 to show for a $2 bet, so her $15 on him across the board returned $ 41.50. Furthermore, the exacta paid $141.60 for $2, so her $10 spent on the $5 exacta box turned into a nice $354, for a total return of $395.50 on $30 of wagers. Even better, she put down a pair of $20 win bets on BIG BROWN for her mama and grandma back in San Jose, respectively, so they both won as well and will be getting $68 back, each.

Very impressive that she stuck to her plan and didn't cave to the group peer pressure, as all of the rest of us were riding with Colonel John, and of all of us she knew the least about horse racing. She also gladly participated in our tradition of buying everyone a celebratory mint julep if you win big, and so instead of winding down, the party continued.

Bonita with the Julep Man

But we weren't done yet. There are 2 races after the Derby, which I call the 'Gamblers Anonymous' races, as they offer a chance for losers to try to win it all back and instead give CD more of their money. The thing is that the races are kind of crap, not stakes races but an allowance race and a maiden race, so the vast majority of the crowd starts to leave after the Derby. So as we went to the bathroom we saw the entrance for grandstand section 118, which is right near the finish line, and we decided to just walk in an act like we belonged. It worked perfectly, and the next thing you knew we were setup in a box in section 118 about 25 yards from the track. I immediately realized that this was a nice side benefit to dressing up for Derby, as we looked like we belonged, whereas the Arsenal kit untucked, shorts, and flip flop route of years past might not have got us into the high cotton section.

We went back and got everyone else, and then watched the 11th race from our new big pimpin' digs.

The queen of section 118 and her court, minus the court jester

After the 11th race, we realized that we could do even better, as the section was 60% empty, so we moved down to a box in the front row. We were now about 6 feet from the track- the only thing separating us from the outside rail was the small walkway used by jockeys and others to get from the winners circle to the walkway back to the paddock area. We were now about 20 yards from the CD finish line, and in the front row. Ballin' hard.

She must be in the front row- eat your heart out Bob Ueker

It got even better. We then watched the 12th race up close and personal, and although we all lost- a horse named FOOLISH PLEASURE won- after the winners circle ceremony, the owners walked right in front of us carrying their silver platter which they received from the track for winning. As they walked by we all offered our congratulations and I asked if I could take a picture of them with the plate. The owner took the plate from his daughter and handed it to us and said "here, you hold it!" {they were tipsy and high on life with the euphoria of winning a race at CD on Derby day}. We settled on a picture of Bonita and the owner's daughter holding up the silver plate that was inscribed with "Congratulations FOOLISH PLEASURE May 3, 2008"

How many people get to do this???

At long last the races were all over and it was time to go home. But not before we stopped off at the betting window to cash Bonita's winning tickets.

Turned $70 into $531.50 in 2 minutes, 1.86 seconds

Then as we walked past the paddock she walked down into the paddock to check it out. She was on such a roll who was going to stop her?

Shez in yer paddock takin picturzzz!

And her big day didn't end at the track. That night we all ended up at Cracker Barrell of all places, so she got to try a bunch of signature Southern foods, none of which she had ever had and some of which she had never heard of: chicken n' dumplings, fried okra, collard greens, grits, and homemade cornbread. She even played the little wooden triangle with the golf tee elimination game.

Cracker Barrel 1, Bonita's arteries 0

So suffice to say that Bonita had a pretty memorable day at her first Derby.

And yes, I know that I'm a lucky man.

And no, I don't know what she sees in me, either.

Eight Belles, R.I.P.

Some shots from the not at all fun part of Saturday.

Trainer Larry Jones leading EIGHT BELLES into the paddock area.

We were about 8 feet away from her, and my God what a beautiful animal she was. She was also the biggest filly I have ever seen. Normally fillies are visibally smaller than colts, but she was as big as if not bigger than most of the boys. Unlike most women on Craigslist claiming it, she was really and truly a BBW.

Jockey Gabriel Saez leads EIGHT BELLES out to the track

I'm a bit of a lefty, but I want to take a minute to say what a stupid bunch of ignorant glory hunting douchebags the folks over at PETA are for coming out and demanding that Gabriel Saez be suspended for "killing" EIGHT BELLES. I guess I missed the part where he pulled out his machete and slit her throat after crossing the wire. The fact that they would seek the spotlight without as much as taking the time to ask anyone who knows anything at all about horse racing before saying such ignorant shit as she was "doubtlessly injured before the finish" among other complete ignorant things. They have absolutely no idea what they are talking about and are just using a tragic accident to seek the spotlight and glamorize themselves, and as someone who is pretty into horse racing, it pisses me off. So eat a dick, PETA.

I also want to say that it was very classy and thoughtful for NBC track reporter Donna Brothers to pick Saez up on the track and give him a ride back around the track and through the paddock to the jockey's room. Brothers was right there on the scene and is visibly shaken up, as was Saez, but he was still gracious enough to toss one of his pairs of goggles to a fan as they went past us.

As we left the track it felt eerie looking over at the stall in the paddock where she saddled up, which was now completely empty, in more ways than one.

What an empty feeling

I don't want to write a book about all the ethical questions floating around right now, but this was an accident and it happens in horse racing all the time, albeit 99% of the time not when millions of people are watching but rather a few hundred. FYI the statistics available show that there are between 1.5 and 2 fatalities per 1000 starts in thoroughbred horse racing in the United States. I would be interested to see how that compared to boxing, wrestling, or the newly popular mixed martial arts and ultimate fighting.

At the end of the day, no one "killed" EIGHT BELLES, she misstepped and broke down, and as cold as it is to say it, it is a part of racing. You are talking about 1600 pound animals who run 35 miles per hour and whose ankles are the same size as yours and mine. Think about that for a minute and let that sink in.

The problem lies not in what most people are talking about, the problem lies in the breeding of thoroughbreds. Years ago they were bred for strength, stamina and speed, but the last few decades they have been bred purely for speed and speed only, and as a result the entire breed has become even more fragile. Why? Because with syndication in the 70s there is now so many hundreds of millions of dollars in the breeding industry, that they want speed, speed, speed. The breed has been inbred too much to accomplish this, and the result is the we inevitably will see more fatal breakdowns because the breed just keeps getting less strong and more fragile with each passing generation. The introduction of synthetic racing surfaces seems to be cutting way down on fatal breakdowns, and I truly believe that we will see the Kentucky Derby run on a synthetic track in our lifetimes. But the only way to really address the situation is through breeding, and like with so many other things in this world there seems to be so much money at stake that those who control it will likely never change, as they are making too many millions of dollars doing what they are doing and are unlikely to fundamentally change and make less money in order to do the right thing for the breed as a whole.

It's tragic and I know alot of non-horse racing people like to poke fun at it, just like they did in backlash to the Barbaro media circus, but people in racing get very emotionally attached to these animals and it is heartbreaking to see them suffer and even die. Hell we're just racing fans and 3 different dudes in our group had tears in our eyes, myself included, when the word swept through CD on Saturday- I cannot even imagine the emotions felt by those really close to the animal- the people who bred her, who raised her, who broke her, who worked with her every day, who trained her, and who owned her, and that they all went from total & complete euphoria for the animal to utter and complete sadness & loss in the span of about 2 minutes. Imagine your dog dying when you were a kid and then multiply that by a 1000 or so. And no I don't want to see zoomed in still images or shots from the blimp cam and get all Joe Theisman with it; there's no point- it's just another instance of unnecessary injury porn.

And people snark about the owners being millionaires and making money off the horses. Look, most people in the racing game are already millionaires, and each and every one of them would rather that any of their horses would never win a dollar and be healthy than sacrifice their lives to win them a bunch of money.

After the Barbaro thing, as well as some other breakdowns in the last few years, including George Washington in last year's Breeders Cup Classic, I have changed my prerace thought pattern from "man I hope my horse wins" to "I just hope that they all get around safely and get out of the race healthy".

R.I.P. EIGHT BELLES, a beautiful champion filly who lost her life doing what she loved, and doing it well.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

The 134th Kentucky Derby: Our View

Here's the Derby as seen from the paddock with the always excellent on track announcer {Durkin does the call for NBC but the permanent CD announcer does all the calls at the track, even the Derby}.

Don't mind the moron who says "looks like he's {BB} laboring a bit"
as they cross the wire the first time. Focus on the genius who says
"he's {BB} a fucking freak" at the top of the stretch.

No we didn't see it live, because there are only 51,000 seats at Churchill Downs but there were 157,700 people at Derby this year, and we don't roll in the high cotton like that {read: grandstand tickets are fucking expensive}.

Also, note the flags in that video. That's the reason the finishing time wasn't super fast- 2:01.82 - because the horses ran directly into that significant headwind twice, first from the gate to the first turn and then again down the stretch. So if, IF, Big Brown goes on to be some sort of horse racing legend, and someone years from now tries to act all smart and say "yeah, but his Derby was slow", then you can call that person out and everyone will look at you like you really know what you are talking about, which if you are like me, would be nice for a change.

Behind The Scenes With Big Brown At Derby 134

Here he is walking into the paddock to get saddled up. On the way in he stopped in front of us and laid a massive big brown himself.

Big Brown is led into the paddock to gear up

And here is is walking back out to the track during the playing of "My Old Kentucky Home"

Desormeaux leads Big Brown from the paddock to the track

Something I have never seen: on walk out, Desormeaux had to circle Big Brown 5 or 6 times, and as he was the final horse there was a huge crowd behind him- everyone else inside the rails in the paddock. Later we learned that the 18 horse, Recapturetheglory, had thrown his rider and this was the cause of the delay. Anyhow, despite the chaotic circumstances, and so many people so close to him, Big Brown remained calm, cool, and collected- very impressive.

And about 10 minutes after that, he ran into the history books as the winner of the 134th Kentucky Derby, and only the 7th undefeated Derby winner.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Big Brown Is The Shit.

BIG BROWN romps to historic-on-multiple-levels victory

"Freak" status confirmed

Literally too tired to type.

R.I.P. EIGHT BELLES. Saw her from 10 feet away in the paddock today; what an exceptionally beautiful filly: a true BBW if ever there was one.

More later- I'm off to try to pay off some of this massive sleep debt.


Happy Derby Day!!!

All the rain is gone. It's 75 degrees, sunny, with a bright blue sky and that famous Kentucky green. The dogwoods are in full bloom. And despite getting home last night and going to bed at 6 a.m., I got 5 full hours of sleep, the most since Monday night.

We're rolling to the track now, hope to be there by the 7th race.

To the 2 people who actually care, I'm very sorry that I ran out of time this week and never got to post my thoughts on the Derby.

Paul Westerdawg just texted me saying that he & his bro have successfully snuck into the 300 club level, and that "a fella could get used to this."

We're off, but you can follow the goings on vis Twitter, both myself and The Hit.

Derby post is 6.04 p.m. EST, and I believe the NBC coverage comes on at 5 p.m. EST.

Have a wonderful Derby Day.

I need about an hour alone with the racing form, but I like Colonel John {liberal elite California horse} an Court Vision {ultimate horses for courses- horse LOVES the CD track}.

Have a great day; we will drink a julep or 3 for you all.

Friday, May 2, 2008

All Drinks Tonight Will Begin With A Toast To...

PROUD SPELL, winner of the 134th Kentucky Oaks today.

We're out for a night on the town at Phoenix Hill Tavern, and a grand crew of old and new friends has been assembled: Kanu, Bonita, Brain, Solon, Tasso, The Hit, as well as Paul Westerdawg and his brother, who we all met 30 minutes ago.

Really hoping to get my Derby thoughts up in the morning; but at the rate that activities I can't promise anything.

Happy Friday and Happy Weekend.