Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Durkin Steps Down

It was announced today that Tom Durkin has stepped down from his TV Gig with NBC Sports calling the Triple Crown Races.

My guess is that Larry Collmus, a real pro, will get the nod.

Durkin isn't going anyway, his calls will continue to be heard for NYRA at Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. Like all of us, he made mistakes every so often but I love Durkin because he has all the qualities I look for in a race caller:

Call the entire field at least once.

Durkin, even in the 20 horse Derby field, would always call every horse and their race position at least once. It is amazing how many race callers don't regularly do this. There is nothing more frustrating they betting on a horse, trying to follow where he is in the field, and never hearing the horse called.

Call the splits.

Durkin would quickly and clearly call the 1/4, 1/2 & 3/4 mile splits so you knew how the speed of the race was going.

Know when the race deserves a big call.

Durkin is great at turning it on when the race calls for it. Durkin knew when a race was big, when the stars of the sport when running, and when the audience was watching.

One of his best calls containing the above qualities was his call of Rachel Alexandra winning the 2009 Woodward Stakes

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mudder, Mudder, Father, Father

Is it too early to check out the long range weather forecast for the Kentucky Derby? It would seem so, but already I have seen some folks on Twitter with certainty predicting rain all day for Oaks day and Derby day. Seems too early for me, although definitely appears the Kentucky area is stuck in a wet pattern and it is expected to continue into next week.

For some reason it always seems to rain either the Friday or Saturday of Derby weekend, or at least I seem to remember it that way. But in actuality only 4 Derby races since 1990 have been run on a "sloppy" track. Here is the list with winners:

2010: Super Saver
2009: Mine That Bird
2004: Smarty Jones
1994: Go for Gin

Oh, one more thing if you are going this year, Umbrellas are listed as a "Banned Item" not allowed at Churchill Downs.

Photo Credit: The Weather Channel (www.weather.com)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Calling the Race Caller

Man was that a particularly bad race call by Terry Wallace calling the Arkansas Derby. I realize a 13 horse field makes it difficult but this was a big race and he blew it.

If you just turned on the TV set the last minute and didn't know it was a big race, you almost would think it was a lesser race being called by a celebrity showing his hand at race calling.

Wallace lost control of the race early on when at the first turn he literally stopped calling the race for 5 seconds when he had trouble coming up with who was leading the pack.

He also never called the entire field. In fact if you were rooting for Elite Alex or Caleb's Posse, and wanted to know where they were in the race, you were out of luck.

Wallace never mentioned Elite Alex or Caleb's Posse at all the entire race.

He did spot winner Archarcharch coming strong on the outside in the final stretch, but otherwise the race call was a disaster. 5th place finisher Alternation got his name called for the 1st time after he finished, after first being called Altercation by Wallace.

I guess I am spoiled with the great race callers calling my local tracks up in New York with Tom Durkin, Larry Collmus calling Monmouth and even Tony Calo at Finger Lakes.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Uncle Who?

Who knew everyone would have fun with the name Uncle Mo after his less than stellar Wood Performance at the Big A. Various twists on the 3 year old's name heard and seen out there include:

Uncle Slow

Uncle No

Uncle Schmo

Uncle Slo Mo

and my favorite:

Uncle NO MO

I mean really, can there be more than one Mo in New York? There is really only one Mo in New York and that is Mariano Rivera. This New York Yankee Reliever and Future Hall of Famer is affectionately known as Mo Rivera. He is an 11 time all star and 5 time Champion. Short of taking the triple crown, can Uncle NO MO come even close to ringing up these numbers?

Imagine the 5 Yankee World Series Wins since 1996 without Mo. Impossible, can't happen. He is the best. When the pressure is amped up he excels, unlike Uncle NO MO who wilted under the pressure, the real Mo never does. The Real Mo holds the record for post season saves and Earned Run Average. And he is still going strong at 42 years old.

I still see good things ahead for Uncle NO MO, but We should have known all along that there can only be one Mo in New York , anything else is just a "not quite reasonable facsimile".

Notes: Photo Credit: My Brother Dave

Friday, April 08, 2011

Here Comes Uncle Mo

Fun weekend on tap, especially if you happen to be a New York Sports fan. The NY Rangers play for their NHL Playoff lives at the Garden Saturday afternoon, The NY Mets Home Opener in Queens is today, the Yanks go up to Beantown to face the 0-6 Sox. And of course Uncle Mo faces 9 others in the Wood Memorial at the Big A on Saturday.

Actually with a little bit of planning and proper use of our fine NYC Subway system, one could take in the Ranger Game at Madison Square Garden at 12:30 pm, watch it to completion, hop on the Subway and get to Aqueduct in plenty of time to watch the Wood which goes off at 5:48 pm. Once that's done, stay right in Queens & head up to Citified to catch Uncle Mo Owner Mike Repole's favorite team the New York Mets for an opening pitch of 7:10 pm.

As for the Wood, Uncle Mo is just too fast and too good for the rest of the field, none of who have ever won a graded stakes race. I do like Preachintothedevil as a live underdog to get a piece of the board. You can read my full take of the race over at the Handicappers Corner at the Thorofan website.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I asked for Shaq, they gave me Shackleford

As the blogosphere and Twitter land debate on whether the win of Dialed In was impressive or not, this blog author's mind drifts off to wonder about more odd things such as: How did Florida Derby 2nd place finisher Shackleford get named?

As a lover of all things sports, and especially at this time of year I associate the name with Charles Shackleford, former NBA player who starred in college at NC State.

Maybe if the connections of Shackleford the horse knew about Shackleford the man, they would have named him something else. Although there is a gambling connection.

Charles Shackleford was accused (although never arrested) of point shaving along with 3 other players at NC State in 4 games during the 1987-88 season in exchange for cash payments from 2 men, one of them a known gambler.

Shackleford denied the point shaving but admitted taking $65,000 in cash from the 2 men, terming it a "loan".

Shackleford has had further trouble with the law since, being convicted in 2006 of weapons possession and being arrested in 2010 for selling prescription medication.

Well, Dale Romans, the trainer of Shackleford the horse is funny and always a good quote but can he top this gem of a quote from Shackleford the man, who, when talking about his shooting prowess, said:

“Left hand, right hand, it doesn't matter. I'm amphibious."