Friday, May 29, 2009

Not the News NYRA wanted-Rachel Alexandra out

With Rachel Alexandra now officially out of the Belmont Stakes, The New York Racing Association has no triple crown and no Rachel vs. Mine That Bird re-match to plug. To make matters worse, The NYRA publicity push to market the Belmont Stakes was put in a state of limbo for 2 weeks waiting for the Rachel camp to make a decision.

Now all they can hope for is a sunny day with no humidity.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Don't Hold Your Breath

This made me laugh from The Saratogian article by Paul Post on the new NYRA job position of Saratoga Race Course Operations to be held by Kevin J. Gremillion:

"NYRA has also expressed interest in new improved restaurant facilities at Saratoga and permanent luxury seating to replace rental units at the clubhouse turn. Such work can’t take place until Aqueduct’s VLT facility gets started.

Six firms have submitted bids for the contract and state officials have pledged to name an operator soon."

Are we not at the point when the media should write: "IF Aqueduct's VLT facility ever gets started" ????

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

The Waiting Game

As we wait for the Rachel Alexandra camp to make a decision on running her in the Belmont Stakes..let's ponder this question.

Who is more nervous now about a dream matchup dissolving- NBA Commissioner David Stern as he watches his dream matchup of Lakers vs. Cavaliers (aka Kobe vs. Lebron) teeter with both teams trailing their conference final series 2 games to 1; or NYRA officials (and ABC/ESPN) as the time frame to promote the Rachel v. Mine That Bird matchup withers away?

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Belmont Stakes-Who's In, Who's Possible

Charitable Man
Chocolate Candy
Mine That Bird
Brave Victory
Flying Private
Luv Gov
Miner's Escape
Mr. Hot Stuff
Summer Bird

Rachel Alexandra
Nowhere to Hide

2 weeks to the Belmont Stakes and the big question remains, will Filly Rachel Alexandra run? Judging by comments in the media seems her trainer, Steve Asmussen would prefer to pass on the big race. If I was a betting man, and I guess I am, seems you could get favorable odds today that she is not running.

In other possible entry notes Nick Zito who will be entering Brave Victory and Miner's Escape, is also considering Kentucky Derby also ran Nowhere to Hide. Zito is quoted in Tim Wilken's Time Union (Albany, NY)column today with the following:
"We've done well in the Belmont, so why Not"

Joe Talamo will be the new Jockey on the other Birdstone progeny, Summer Bird, who placed 6th in the Derby.

Weird fact of the day: On this day in 1884 Knight of the Ellersie, wins the Preakness Stakes by 2 lengths over Welcher. There was no 3rd place finisher or 4th for that mattter-it was a 2 horse race.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Preakness Final TV Ratings 2000-2009

The NBC telecast of the Preakness drew the 2nd most viewers this decade drawing a 6.8 rating and 10.9 million viewers, second only to the Smarty Jones Preakness win in 2004 which drew a 7.7 and 11.6 million viewers. US TV viewers love big sporting events with great story lines ( i.e. Super Bowl, Olympics) and the Preakness race of the underdog Mine That Bird and Filly Rachel Alexandra fit the bill. Here is the year by year breakdown of the Preakness ratings this decade:

Year --- Winner -- Network -- Rating -- Viewers

2009 --- Rachel Alexandra--- NBC-- 6.8-- 10.9 million

2008 --- Big Brown --- NBC -- 5.5 -- 7.9 million

2007 --- Curlin -- NBC-- 5.7 -- 8.4 million

2006 --- Bernardini-- NBC -- 6.6 -- 10.1 million

2005 --- Afleet Alex -- NBC -- 6.3 -- 9.3 million

2004 --- Smarty Jones-- NBC --7.7 -- 11.6 million

2003 --- Funny Cide -- NBC -- 5.7 -- 8.6 million

2002 --- War Emblem -- NBC -- 6.5 -- 9.2 million

2001 --- Point Given -- NBC -- 6.4 -- 8.7 million

2000 --- Red Bullet -- ABC -- 4.1 -- 5.5 million

Rachel & Borel Grab part of SI Cover

Well it's not the whole cover, but Rachel Alexandra and rider Calvin Borel did grab at least part of the Sports Illustrated Cover on this weeks issue.

Inside the magazine SI writer Tim Layden in an article titled "Lady's First" writes about Rachel as well as the gutsy ride of Mine That Bird. Two weeks ago Mine That Bird and Borel grabbed the entire cover of SI. This makes 2 out of the last 3 weeks that Thoroughbred Racing was featured on at least part of the SI Cover.

Monday, May 18, 2009

What Sports The Preakness Beat Out: Overnight Ratings Closer Look

The 7.9 overnight NBC race portion TV coverage as well as the overnight 6.3 total NBC Preakness Saturday coverage had no problem beating out all weekend sports events including the Lakers-Rockets Game 7 (5.6) and the Blackhawks-Red Wings Game 1 (2.0). Here is a closer look listed by date, event, network, rating and household share.

15/16/09-PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open: 3rd Round CBS: 0.8/2

5/16/09 Rolex Equestrian Championships (taped) NBC: 0.9/2

5/16/09 Preakness Stakes: Pre-Race Special(4:30-5) NBC: 2.7/7

5/16/09 Preakness Stakes: Total Coverage NBC: 6.3/15

5/16/09 Preakness Stakes: Race Segment(6-6:45)NBC: 7.9/18

5/17/09 NBA Playoffs: Rockets-Lakers: Game 7: ABC: 5.6/na

5/17/09 PGA Tour: Valero Texas Open: 3rd Round CBS: 1.9/4

5/17/09 National Heads-Up Poker Championship (taped)NBC: 1.4/4

5/17/09 NHL Playoffs: Blackhawks-Red Wings: Game 1: 2.0/5

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Sunday, May 17, 2009

NBC Preakness Overnight TV Ratings-Highest Since '04

The overnight ratings are in and they are impressive. NBC drew a 7.9 overnight rating, which is up 27% over last year (Big Brown) and the highest since the Smarty Jones Preakness win in 2004.

Here are Preakness Overnight Ratings since 2002 listed by year, Winner, Network, Rating and Household Share.

2009 Rachel Alexandra NBC 7.9/18
2008 Big Brown NBC 6.2/14
2007 Curlin NBC 6.4/15
2006 Bernardini NBC 7.0/16
2005 Afleet Alex NBC 7.2/17
2004 Smarty Jones NBC 9.2/20
2003 Funny Cide NBC 6.4/14
2002 War Emblem NBC 7.4/16

NOTES: The ratings listed is for the Race portion of the broadcast, defined as the final hour of broadcast (6pm-6:45pm). NBC broke up the day in 3 portions, A 1/2 special (4:30-5pm) which drew a 2.7 share and a "pre-race" show 5-6pm which drew a 5.1 share. Those shows saw a 42% and 46% jump from the 2008 Preakness shows.
These ratings are overnight figures and final ratings figures will be released later in the week.

We will have pre-race Belmont Stakes Ratings historical data for you in the coming weeks.

Source: Nielsen Media Research

This is what makes racing great

Rachel Alexandra winning the Preakness over a hard charging Mine That Bird is what makes racing so exciting to me as a fan.

You had a awesome filly winning against the boys, a plucky gelding proving the Derby was no fluke and an exciting race. It is stories like this that create a buzz and grab the back pages of the NY Daily News and NY Post and tons of other covers on Papers across the country.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Preakness Questions

Will Mine that Bird win the second leg?...NO-he had the perfect trip, perfect surface, perfect ride-won't happen again

Will Rachel Alexandra win?...looks like the best in class but taking a big step up, can she beat the boys off only 15 days rest, I will be rooting as a fan for this Filly...but the answer is No

Will we have another long shot win?...NO..but Take the Points and Terrain can finish in the money and worthy of consideration in your exotic bets.

Will NBC have a higher rating than the '08 Preakness? (overnight rating was 6.2)...YES, interest is high off Long shot Mine That Bird win and fan interest in Rachel Alexandra will spike ratings past the 6.2 figure.

For what its worth here's my predicted order of finish: 1. Pioneer of the Nile 2. Big Drama 3. Rachel Alexandra 4. Friesan Fire

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

All Access?

So I go onto the Pimlico website to see if they are web casting the Preakness Stakes draw today at 5 pm, now that ESPN has dropped live TV coverage of the event. No luck, but the website tells me HRTV is covering it. Well that's great if you get Satellite, but I am a Time Warner Cable Subscriber and HRTV is not available on Time Warner Cable systems. No worries, as I find out is also covering it. Great, I type in the web address for and here is what I find:

" is available at no charge to fans who receive their high-speed Internet connection from an affiliated Internet service provider. is also available to fans that access the Internet from U.S. college campuses and U.S. military bases.

Your current computer network falls outside of these categories

Turns out that Time Warner Cable which also provides my DSL service is not an "affiliate Internet Service Provider". So, looks like I am shutout. Don't you just love trying to follow this game?

Monday, May 11, 2009


"Whenever there are great virtues, it's a sure sign somethings wrong"-Bertolt Brecht

Got a kick out of the Mothers Day happenings with the alleged plot to exclude Filly Rachel Alexandra from the Preakness. Seems many in the press and in blogger land are outraged, in horror, think this is despicable, etc, etc.

Maybe it is the state of the times we live in, but it did not move me much. As long as everyone plays by the rules they are given, I don't get too upset about these things. I'd rather see Rachel Alexandra skip the Preakness and run in the Belmont Stakes, but if Jackson wants her in the Preakness, that's fine too, load him all in the gate and let 'em go.

Speaking of a Filly running against the boys, what happened to all that outrage last year when Eight Belles had to be put down after her game 2nd in the Derby? Should not these same people be screaming at the top of some hill in Baltimore as to this horrible mistreatment of Rachel Alexandra by forcing her to run in the Preakness? What happened to William Rhoden, the NY Times Columnist, who last year led the crusade against the sport with multiple columns about the ills of the sport, including running a filly against the boys?

He did write an article about horse slaughter and the global meat market on May 1st, but since the Rachel Alexandra announcement that she will run in the Preakness, he has written 3 columns which included not a word or opinion on the situation. The 3 columns were one on NBA MVP Lebron James and 2 columns on NY Yankee Alex Rodriquez. (Apparently no one ever writes about A-Rod so Rhoden treated us to back to back columns on him, with the 2nd one stating that "for all his character flaws, the one thing he consistently does well is play baseball". Really, never knew that.)

Will be interesting to see if Rhoden parachutes in with a column before the running of the Preakness, or perhaps he will wait in the bushes to see if some misfortune happens and than his outrage will return, in the form of a NY Times column telling us so.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Derby Doubles Ratings of NBA Playoffs, NASCAR, & PGA with Tiger

It's been well publicized that the Derby had its best ratings since 1992 and the final # this year of 9.8 was an increase of 11% since 1988.

Now lets look at what the Derby Beat out last weekend, listed by Event, Day, Network and Rating.

1. Kentucky Derby-Saturday-NBC-9.8
2. Bulls-Celtics Game 7-Saturday-TNT-4.4
3. NASCAR-Saturday-FOX-4.0
4. PGA Tour-Sunday-CBS-3.7
5. Mavericks-Nuggets Game 1-Sunday-ABC-3.2

The 9.8 Derby ratings converts to 16.3 million pairs of eyeballs. How many of the 16.3 million will turn on NBC on the 16th of May to watch the Preakness?. Not all of them of course, as the Derby will always be the King in TV land, but I expect a big #. Certainly not scientific in nature but today I attended a family event and I had many non racing fans and casual racing fans come up to me to talk about the race. It's amazing what an upset in the Big race does for casual fan interest. No doubt the spectacular last to first rail run by Borel and Mine That Bird added to the excitement of the upset. All the casual fans seemed to know that the Preakness is the next leg of the Triple Crown and they all said they would be watching. I was also surprised that about 1/2 of the casual fans also knew who Rachel Alexandra was.

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Kentucky Derby Final TV Rating: 9.8

The final rating is in from Nielsen Media Research for the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

The race portion of the 2009 Kentucky Derby (6-7 pm) drew a 9.8/22 final rating and 16.3 million viewers on NBC last Saturday.

This is an increase of of 11% in ratings and 15% in viewership from an 8.8/21 and 14.2 million for last year's Derby won by Big Brown. Prior highs in this decade were The '01 and '04 Derby's (Monarchos and Smarty Jones)which both drew a 9.3.

The 9.8 rating is the highest for the Kentucky Derby since 1992 (10.3/30) won by Lil E. Tee, and the 16.3 million viewers is the most for the event since 1989 (18.5 million)won by Sunday Silence.

Since taking over from ABC Network in 2001, NBC Sports ratings and viewership for the Kentucky Derby have grown by 48% in ratings and 51% in viewers.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Mine That Bird breaks Sports Illustrated Cover Drought

It has been 5 years since a Thoroughbred made the full cover of Sports Illustrated. Smarty Jones made the cover of the May 10 2004 issue. Since than Derby Winners Giacomo, Barbaro, Street Sense and Big Brown all failed to make the cover. Back in the day, it was customary for the Derby winner to be on the cover and often racing got the SI cover shot the week before the Derby along with a large preview article. I've criticized the SI lack of coverage before, so in a nod of fair play I note the surprising change. The past few years, SI has given racing short shrift with only a 1/2 page tiny recap of the '08 Breeders Cup. Who would have guessed it would take Mine That Bird to break the drought.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Overnight TV Ratings Comparison since 2002

Here are the overnight ratings comparison for the last 7 years.

Year --- Winner ---Rating/Share
2009 --- Mine That Bird --- 10.2/22
2008 --- Big Brown --- 9.5/21
2007 --- Street Sense --- 9.8/21
2006 --- Barbaro --- 8.9/20
2005 --- Giacomo --- 10.0/23
2004 --- Smarty Jones --- 10.1/22
2003 --- Funny Cide --- 8.9/20
2002 --- War Emblem --- 9.3/21

NOTE: These ratings are for the Race portion coverage only (6-7pm)
The overnight ratings are the highest since 1992
2009 Rating is a 7% increase over 2008 overnight Rating.
NBC has broadcast the race since 2001, taking over from ABC Network

Source: Nielsen Media Research

NBC Coverage of Derby earns Highest Rating in 17 Years

NBC Sports' coverage of the Kentucky Derby earned the highest overnight rating for the race in 17 years according to data provided today from Nielsen Media Research. The 10.2 overnight rating and 22 share of the Kentucky Derby race (6-7 p.m. ET) showed a gain of seven percent from last year's 9.5/21 rating (won by Big Brown). The 10.2/22 is the highest-rated overnight for the Kentucky Derby since Lil E Tee won in 1992.

This rating is for the 6-7 pm time slot. NBC splits the race and the pre-race into 2 distinct shows. I don't have a rating yet for the pre-race show (4-6pm). NBC smartly moved up the Derby Time several years ago from its prior post time of 5:30 pm. The 10.2 number is also an overnight rating. The final ratings (which tend to be a little lower) will be in later in the week and we will update you at that time.

Credit NBC with their "Big Event" multi-platform marketing strategy. As shown with this past Summer Olympics and the Super Bowl, NBC does Big Events well.

Where have we seen this Guy before?

It was bugging me all weekend, where have I seen this guy before, the Mine That Bird Trainer Bennie "Chip" Woolley. Bug Boys Blogger thought it was Him, but no, and than it hit me:

...Its John Rich from that country group "Big and Rich"

Photo credits to ESPN and

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Mine That Bird defies Handicapping logic

Virtually every rule about how to handicap a race would steer you away from every picking Mine That Bird.

Here is what you are supposed to look at when picking a Derby winner on the left and what Mine That Bird actually had on the Right:

High Beyer Figure: Mine That Bird’s highest Beyer Figure was an 81

Grade 1 Wins: None

Grade 2 Wins
: None

Low Dosage Index: Mine That Bird’s was 5.40-the highest in the field

Wins as a 3 year old: None

Wins on Dirt: None

A Synthetic runner: 6 of 8 starts on Synthetics

Maybe sometimes it is just as simple as getting the perfect trip. Sometimes you throw all the numbers out and hope your horse gets the right trip around the oval.

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Watching the Kentucky Derby on your Cell Phone

Can't get to a TV today to watch the Kentucky Derby? Stuck at a wedding, family event, kids game or other activity?

NBC will offer the race via cell phone if you are not near a TV around 6:04pm when the horses take to the track for Post Time. Check with your wireless carrier to see if they have NBC 2Go and NBC Sports Mobile so you can catch the race.

Some more cool broadband offering’s are live streaming of the tote board during the pre-race broadcast starting at 4 pm. You will get the latest odds directly from Churchill Downs.

As the race draws near, still like my horses mentioned in my last post of Friesan Fire, Dunkirk, Regal Ransom, Desert Party & Chocolate Candy. I Want Revenge who I tossed out anyway, is a scratch (ankle). May all your bets be winners !