Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Power of Education

With Dialed In swallowing up the field in the Holy Bull Stakes we now have another interesting New York owner among the Derby chase leaders. Uncle Mo and owner Mike Repole garnered most of the early 2011 Derby talk but now another original New Yorker in Dialed In owner Robert LaPenta joins him.

They both followed the same template in achieving success and entering the horse ownership business. Both are native New Yorkers, Repole was born in Queens, LaPenta in Yonkers. Both came from humble beginnings and were the first generation in their families to attend college. LaPenta's father worked in a warehouse, Repole's father was a waiter. Both attended and commuted to nearby New York City Metro area catholic schools-LaPenta graduated from Iona College (New Rochelle, NY) and Repole from St. John's University.

Repole and LaPenta used their college degrees as a springboard into the business world, where both became highly successful. They than parlayed that success into horse ownership. Neither has forgotten their alma matter, in fact it would be rare to hear an Repole or LaPenta speak longer than a few minutes without acknowledging St John's and Iona College. LaPenta's silks are maroon and gold in honor of his alma mater. He also has donated 7 million to Iona. Both are big sports fans outside of racing, LaPenta with college basketball and Repole is a fanatical NY Mets baseball fan. His silks are blue and orange, in honor of the Mets. Repole was quoted yesterday in the NY Daily News as being interested in owning a piece of the Mets.

You still got to have a little bit of luck to get that Derby horse, but it was not luck that got them in a position to get that portential Derby winner, it was education.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Zenyatta-Bernardini comes Full Circle

It seems somewhat logical for Bernardini to be announced as the first mating partner for Zenyatta. Not from a pedigree standpoint but from an Eclipse Award view.

We all know about the Zenyatta debates for Horse of the Year in 2009 and 2010. But Bernardini was involved in Eclipse Award debates himself in 2006. Bernardini had to battle the ghost of the ill fated Barbaro as the 2006 Eclipse Awards approached. That year, Bernardini won the Preakness, The Jim Dandy Stakes and The Jockey Club Gold Cup and finished 2nd in the BC Classic to Invasor.

In the 3 year old Male Horse of the Year, Bernardini won despite the sentimental pleas for Barbaro to pick up the award. Bernardini won the award going away with 210 votes to 56 for Barbaro.

But even though Bernardini trounced Barbaro in the 3 year old vote, he finished 3rd in the Horse of the Year tally with 16 votes and behind the 2nd place Barbaro, who garnered 21 votes. Invasor won convincingly with 228 votes.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Blasphemy-How dare we slam the Shake Shack

Veteran racing scribe Michael Veitch of the Saratogian wrote an article on the upcoming capital improvements expected at Saratoga, courtesy of VLT money from the to be built racino at Aqueduct, with emphasis on a local advisory committee formed to discuss the proposed changes.

Veitch discusses how the Saratoga Race Course is now a part of the fabric of the city, linked to the local architecture and culture. In the article he than says this:

"Shake Shack, the new dining area thrown together quickly before the 2010 meeting, upset many Saratogians on this count."

Veitch does not expand on this statement, nor does he include any quotes from the "upset Saratogians".

Gasp! How dare the esteemed Veitch slam the almighty Shake Shack. Has he not ever tasted the high caloric burger fans happily line up for at the Shack? Has his lips never touched a sumptuous Black and White Shake?

Yes the building might seem a tiny bit too big and modern looking at first glance, but after the first weekend it blended in nicely, like it had been there all along, like a familiar friend at the Spa. And let us not forget it replaced a tacky looking Paddock Tent, not what I would consider exactly high end architecture.

And with the Blue Smoke and Paddock Bar mere steps away, I dare say this was the best Trifecta bet placed at the track all year

Thursday, January 06, 2011

24/7: The Road to the Kentucky Derby?

If you like the National Hockey League like I do and have access to HBO on your cable or satellite systems you had to love the HBO "24/7 Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic" series.

The series was great, with candid interviews, nice game action editing and the dulcet narration of Liev Schreiber ( I could listen to this guy narrate the dictionary). In the past HBO has had success with the 24/7 shows on boxing and last year they did one on Jimmy Johnson leading up to the Daytona 500.

The template is fairly simple: an all-access look at the athletes and teams in a sport that leads to a climax.

What better climax to chronicle and lead up to than the Kentucky Derby?

The First Saturday in May movie by the Hennegan Brothers did this brilliantly but the movie was put out after the Derby outcome was known. This HBO series would be done in real time, creating a suspense and interest in the outcome as you invest time in the horse, trainers and owners being serialized. I think this would work great, profiling 4 or so horses and their connections as they lead up to Derby.

According to a NY Times article by Richard Sandomir, HBO is looking to take on a new sport. Sandomir suggests gold's Ryder Cup. Golf, Smolf, I say do the Derby.