Monday, November 30, 2009

Rachel Alexandra has arrived

Today the UPS man knocked on my door for a signature required package. Upon opening the package I discovered that my Rachel Alexandra wine made by Kendall-Jackson had arrived. So what did my 50 bucks get me?? The wine came with a glossy card insert with a photo of Rachel on the front and a message stating:

This limited bottling commemorates the 2009 racing campaign of Rachel Alexandra, the extraordinary horse who inspired millions

Unless of course you are a Zenyatta fan, for by judging various comments in the blogosphere and Twitterverse, Rachel has really not inspired you at all. I wonder, when Zenyatta’s wine comes out will it one up Rachel and say..the extraordinary horse who inspired billions.

Anyway, what to do with the wine? The back of the card describes the wine as a 100% Pinot Noir, Vintage 2007 from the western slope of the Arroyo Seco appellation in Monterey County. I don’t know what that means, as yours truly buys his wine by waltzing into the Exit 9 Wine & Liquor Warehouse in Clifton Park NY once a week. I ask the friendly staff for a good bottle of wine for under $20 bucks to match whatever I am cooking/eating that day/night wherein they promptly point me where I need to go, just like the old guy who greets you when you walk into Wal Mart looking to buy a flat screen TV.

The glossy card provided to me free of charge with my bottle goes on to say the wine was aged 10 months in 100% French oak barrels, 41% new. Is that good?? who knows, I can barely interpret all those #’s in the Daily Racing Form despite years of reading it, now I am supposed to absorb numbers on wine stuff so quickly.

I guess I have some time to figure this out, as the card says:

Enjoy now or cellar for five years.

What about the temperature in the cellar?..Doesn’t say…oh well for now it will sit on my desk, keeping my NYRA calendar company,while I go get a beer.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

No Dual Option Vote on Horse of the Year-Good!

I don't know if it has been reported elsewhere but I first read it on the Crist Blog by Daily Racing Form Publisher and Columnist Steven Crist that Eclipse Award voters will not be given the option of naming Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta as joint Horse of the Year winners. It was decided Today by a 2-1 vote of the three organizations that present the awards.

I for one say Yippee!!! I think the raging debate on who deserves the Horse of the Year (HOTY) is great for the sport and the more debate, the more discussion the better it is for Horse racing. Once one of them gets the nod from the Eclipse Award voters the debate will continue on as the losing camp will likely go bonkers (unless the unlikely event of a tie happens).

There is a reason it is called "The Great Debate" by the Daily Racing Form, because it is. As we approach the cold days of winter ahead we can sit by the fire, the laptop, the twitter thingy, and we can type, discuss, argue, and scream over who is better, who raced more, the racing surfaces, the different tracks, the number of races, and on and on and on.

Racing needs more of this and any Co-Horse of The Year would mute The Great Debate. I say , vote one, get a winner and debate on.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Legend of Jimmy The Greek

"My favorite racetrack is the track closest to where I am at the time"-Jimmy The Greek

may screw up coverage of Horse racing but their documentary series "30 for 30" is pretty good. They have run 6 documentary films so far with the last one premiering last Tuesday 11/10/09 titled "The Legend of Jimmy The Greek" . You may only remember Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder from his firing in 1988 by CBS for making racially insensitive remarks, but like all tragic figures, there was much more substance to the man.

I can't think of anyone more influential in the public acceptance of gambling. It was Jimmy that openly discussed sports gambling on network television. There are great behind the scenes information about the "NFL Today" show, which featured Jimmy from 1976-1988. This show ruled the pre-cable television era and it dominated the ratings every Sunday.

Jimmy clearly loved horse racing and there are great tidbits in the film which the horseplayer & racing fans will enjoy, including funny quotes from Jimmy and great shots of Hialeah Park racetrack.

This documentary shows the good side of Jimmy The Greek as well as the bad side. The film is well done on its storytelling. It's worth catching - here is where you can catch a replay:

11/20/09 1 am on ESPN2

11/29/09 9 pm on ESPN Classic

12/25/09 9 pm on ESPN Classic

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Rachel or Zenyatta: Debates and Discussions

I have been reading many media columns and blogs on the Horse of the Year. Sprinkled in are comments stating that the Rachel Alexandra vs. Zenyatta Horse of the Year debate is bad for the game. I could not disagree more. I think this debate and discussion is the best thing to happen to this game/sport in years.

I think Bill Simmons would agree. Simmons, author of the Sports Guy column on as well as the current best seller "The Book of Basketball" is profiled in Sunday's NY Times.

The Times highlights what makes Simmons such a good writer, he understands how a fan thinks, and how important debates, discussions and lists are to the sports fan. The Times article highlights a recent column by Simmons where he debates what is the better sports month- April or October? Simmons describes it as an "underrated argument". The NY Times writer, Noah Cohen than goes on to say this:
"Perhaps that is because it can never be resolved. Can you ever really answer which is better, October or April, or, more profoundly, who is the better N.B.A. center, the prolific scorer Wilt Chamberlain or the prolific winner Bill Russell?"
Rachel vs. Zenyatta can be added to the list. It can never be resolved and that is what makes it so appealing.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Colonel John Retires

Colonel John, last seen finishing 5th in the 2009 Breeders' Cup has retired and will stand at Winstar farm, joining his sire Tiznow. I liked Colonel John in the Breeders' Cup and had him in my 4 horse box trifecta on Breeders Cup day with Zenyatta, Gio Ponti and Summer Bird. The Zenyatta stretch drive was thrilling, but I sure wished Summer Bird or Colonel John could have held on for 3rd instead of leaving me with a worthless betting slip.

I have an affinity for all Travers Stakes winners, so I continued to follow Colonel John after his win by a nose over Mambo in Seattle in the 2008 Travers Stakes. It seems so many of our 3 year old stars retire as a 3 year old, so it is always pleasing when a 2 time Grade 1 Stakes winner as a 3 year old (he also won the Santa Anita Derby in '08) goes on to run as a 4 year old.

He also won a race on all 3 surfaces earning a place in the Omnisurface Stars list winning a Grade 1 over dirt (Travers Stakes), a Grade 1 over synthetic (Santa Anita Derby) and a ungraded Stakes over grass (Wickerr Stakes) .

He retires with over 1.7 million in earnings with wins on both coasts and all 3 surfaces-not bad at all. Here he is winning the '08 Travers Stakes at the Spa.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

2009 Breeders Cup TV Ratings Comparison

Select weekend overnight ratings for other Sports/events compared to the Breeders' Cup:

  • NFL-Eagles/Cowboys-Sunday 8:15 pm-NBC: 14.3
  • College Football*-Saturday 3:30 pm-CBS: 4.4
  • College Football**-Saturday 3:30 pm-ABC: 3.8
  • NASCAR-Sunday 3:15 pm-ABC : 3.1
  • MMA (Strikeforce) 9:00 pm-CBS: 2.6
  • College Football***-Saturday 2:30-NBC: 2.3
  • Breeders' Cup-Saturday 1:30-ABC : 1.0
  • Breeders' Cup-Saturday 3:30 ESPN: 0.9
  • Bull Riding- Sunday 4:00 pm NBC: 0.8
  • Figure Skating-Sunday 2:00 pm NBC: 0.8
*: LSU vs. Alabama
**: Ohio vs. Penn State
***: Navy vs. Notre Dame

The 2008 Breeders Cup rating on ABC was 1.3. Last years ESPN rating was 0.9.
Friday's ESPN2 rating was 0.3, same as the 2008 figure.

The rating figures above are all overnight ratings data, national final figures will be released later this week.

In a sign that maybe the world is really ending in 2012, Sunday's two-hour episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians, featuring Lakers' Forward Lamar Odom's wedding drew a 3.2

Source: Nielsen Media Research

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Zenyattá Mondatta

I'm a stickler for details particularly when reading articles from the mainstream media, prepared by highly skilled paid writers, broadcasters and paid editors (as oppossed to the unpaid unskilled writer of this blog). I heard mentioned twice yesterday on TVG that 2009 BC Classic winner Zenyatta was named after The Police album called Zenyatta. Later on ESPN one of the commentators said it was a Police song called Zenyatta. Now this morning I read in the Times Union (Albany, NY) the following written by Tim Wilken:

"We're over the moon," said Jerry Moss, co-founder of A&M Records and owner of Zenyatta.

Moss named Zenyatta for the album of the same name by the Police, a group that was under his label in the 1980s.

Of course there was never a album called "Zenyatta" by The Police. The Album was called Zenyattá Mondatta. No song named "Zenyatta" was ever released by The Police.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

The Wierd, the Wacky and the Fun

The Breeders Cup is here, time to put away the complaints about the surface, the West Coast location, the 2 days, because it is all water under the bridge and we might as well watch the event, plunk down some money and win. This is the weekend to contact one of your offshore accounts and play the proposition bets like these supplied to me courtesy of the Bodog outfit.

Here is a sampling:

Which call will Trevor Denman use to describe Zenyatta's move?
"Jumps in at the quarter pole" 5/2
"Moving like a winner" 11/4
"They'd have to sprout wings" 4/1
" Poetry in Motion" 3/2
(If none of these phrases are used then all wagers will be no action.)

My pick: Stay away, I think you will here none of them used

If Zenyatta wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic will she break the Santa Anita track record for 1 1/4 miles?
Yes +150
No -200

My pick: NO-even if she wins don't see her breaking any track record

What will attendance for Saturday's Breeders’ Cup Races be?
Over/Under 51,000

My pick: Under, close but under.

What will the national television rating be of ESPN's Saturday broadcast of The Breeders’ Cup Classic be?
Over .7 -160
Under .7 +120

My pick: Over -last year did a 1.0, should get that many again with enough people curious to watch with Zenyatta running

Will the winner of the Breeders’ Cup Classic be bred in the United States?
Yes -400
No +300

My Pick: Yes-got a good shot with Summer Bird, Zenyatta, Mine That Bird, and even Colonel John

My overall advice: Don't get lost in the Stats this weekend, go with the gut and have fun

You can also check out the Thorougbred Bloggers Alliance (TBA) Home Page where yours truly and others have posted their selections in each race.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Tuning in to the Breeders Cup

With the 2 Day Breeders Cup at Santa Anita Park only days away I find myself still trying to muster up some excitement. I would guess I am not the only one that is looking more forward to the 2010 BC when it returns to dirt at Churchill Downs and than hopefully to Belmont Park in 2011.

The action starts on Friday and for those not actually out west ESPN2 will broadcast from 3:30 till 7:00 pm. On Saturday ABC has it from 1:30 -3:30 with ESPN taking over from 3:30 till 7:00 pm.

As for the TV ratings, look for the Friday rating to be flat compared to last years rating figure of 0.3. Last year on Saturday, ABC drew a 1.3 and ESPN drew a 1.0. I expect the ABC number to be the same or a tad lower than last year. I see ESPN drawing a tick higher than 1.0 as maybe some casual viewers tune in to see what the Zenyatta story is all about.

Ratings Source: The Nielsen Company