Saturday, August 1, 2015

Del Mar Late Pick Four

Well, I spread quite a bit in the 7th and 10th races in hopes of picking up a longshot. I did single Beholder in race 8. Good luck to all! PS--looking forward to seeing American Pharaoh run tomorrow.

Monday, July 13, 2015

Yeshua in Biblical Archaeology Review

Check it out! The BAR did a nice job with this. It's a half page ad that will run in the Sept/Oct issue of Biblical Archaeology Review. That issue hits stands next month.

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Master Yeshua Chosen for July Issue of Kirkus Reviews

Hey, this is cool. Tons of folks are reviewed by Kirkus online, but it's pretty rare to have your book chosen to appear in the print edition. My book counts as an indie novel since the press that picked it up is so small, but only 35 books (10% of the indie titles) wind up being featured in the print version every month.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Book Giveaway!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Master Yeshua by Joyce Luck

The Master Yeshua

by Joyce Luck

Giveaway ends July 10, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to Win

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Belmont Stakes 2015: Late Pick 4 Tickets

And they're off!
As promised, here are two tickets for the Belmont Late Pick 4, each with a different strategy. The first one gets solidly behind American Pharoah by singling him to win. Therefore I went a bit deep in the other legs in hopes of hitting a longshot. The second ticket doesn't single American Pharoah and therefore doesn't spread as much in the other legs. However, I have a betting superstition about betting against myself (your own mileage may vary on that), so it's possible both tickets could hit, although I did include on the second ticket some horses that I didn't on the first one.

As for the Belmont Stakes itself and how I'll bet that race, obviously I need a look at the horses before the actual race, but none of my tickets will leave out American Pharoah or Frosted (Kiaran Mclaughlin is very high on his horse's chances). Other horses I'll have a close look at are the obvious Materiality, and two longshots: Madefromlucky and Keen Ice.

Good luck to all, and may all the horses come home safe!

Ticket 1, Pharoah singled

Ticket 2

Friday, June 5, 2015

Can American Pharoah Win the Triple Crown?

American Pharoah wining the Arkansas Derby.
Time for the last jewel of the Triple Crown! The question on everyone's mind, of course, is can American Pharoah be the one to finally win the Belmont Stakes to take all three legs. It's been a long time since it was last done, by Affirmed, way back in 1978.

Now, some people knock his pedigree--he's not really bred to run long--but I don't know. Honestly, it seems to me that pedigree is only one small piece of the puzzle. Many times the most "well bred" or the horse bred for the distance is still not the best horse. And Pharoah's grandsire is Empire Maker, who did win the Belmont Stakes. For me, the bigger factors are how tired is he coming into this race because he'll be facing fresh horses, how fit he is, and how well he handles that big, sandy track at Belmont. Unlike Big Brown, who missed a workout approaching the Belmont because of a hoof issue, Pharoah seems to be very healthy. He had a nice work over the Churchill Downs track and wanted to do more, but Martin didn't push him. He obviously feels good, because he's eating and has put on weight since the Preakness (not tons of weight, just nine pounds and in horse body weight, that's rather like a human gaining a half pound, if that). It's losing weight that's an indicator of a fatigued horse. Also, trainer Bob Baffert said something interesting the other day. I'm paraphrasing, but essentially he said that the Kentucky Derby for Pharoah was the race that got him super-fit. Usually it's the other way around. Horses give all to get into the Derby, and then the Derby tuckers them out. Pharoah coasted into the Derby and finally faced some serious competition, while having to break from far on the outside in the 18 hole. He's that good.

American Pharoah was more than ready for the Preakness, going to an easy lead in the slop, and he never looked back. The jockey, Victor Espinoza, didn't even have to ask anything of him. There's been criticism about the slow finish, but Pharoah was clearly going to win. Why on earth would Victor have asked more of him? Save some gas in the tank for the Belmont. Don't wear the horse out.

From where I sit, it looks like Pharoah is poised to make a great effort, barring his grabbing a quarter like California Chrome did coming out of the gate or encountering some other bad racing luck.

That leaves us whether or not American Pharoah will take to the Big Sandy. He did gallop over the track and by all accounts, seemed keen to go on. Baffert said he looked like he was "floating" over it the way he usually looks, so that seems to say Pharoah liked the track just fine. Of course, a lone gallop is different from a race, when dirt and sand can get kicked into the horse's face, but since Pharoah's running style is to sit off the pace and then make his move, that shouldn't be an issue unless he gets a bad break. With a small field of 8 horses, I'm not too concerned about this. The real question is whether another horse in the field can run Pharoah down in that long stretch towards the finish line. That, of course, is impossible to gauge, but I do think Pharoah is intelligent enough and competitive enough to not give up a lead that easily, unless he's absolutely pooped.

The bottom line is that I really like his chances. I like them so much that I may do the unthinkable and single him on a few tickets. But I'm wise enough to know that winning the Belmont is just plain hard in a schedule as rigorous as the Triple Crown. I won't single him on other tickets.

The other choices are Frosted and Materiality. Madefromlucky is a possible upsetter, for he was pointed at this race and followed the same path to it as Tonalist, last year's Belmont winner. He also already has a win over the track, although it was not an impressive win. Others are hyping Keen Ice, because you can't disrespect a Dale Romans horse at Belmont, and he'll offer juicy odds at M/L 25-1. The other horses I'd toss out. They may get up for a piece, but I can't see them winning.

Of course, as the favorite with M/L odds of 4-5, American Pharoah will offer no value, so on the tickets I single him on, I'll go deep in the other legs and hope a longshot hits one or two of them.

I'm 'capping tonight. So check back tomorrow for a couple Pick 4 tickets post-scratches.

Hail the Tail!

Monday, June 1, 2015

The Master Yeshua Featured at June Patheos Book Club

Hi, all! Just checking in to let readers know that The Master Yeshua is an "also featured" selection for June at If you don't already know of the site, Patheos represents a large, multicultural online presence for the religious community, with interfaith discussion on various topics, blogs, news, and, of course, a book club. Probably the most popular blogger at Patheos is Mark Sandlin, who publishes "The God Article." There's even an atheist and pagan community at Patheos, and Patheos supports a large progressive Christian readership.

You can find The Master Yeshua at Patheos here, but while you're there, be sure to check out the entire site!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Book Trailer for The Master Yeshua

Now that the book is finally out, I updated the book trailer to include a few excerpts at the end from the Kirkus review. Feel free to share with whomever may be interested.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Preakness Day Pick 4's

Well, today's betting strategy is called "I can't make up my mind!" I wound up betting two Pick 4 tickets and will hope they both hit. It's race 12 that has proved to be the real puzzler. Anyway, here are my two tickets. American Pharoah will have to win the Preakness for them both to hit.



Good luck! May all the horses come home safely.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Preakness 2015 Picks

Time for the second jewel of the Triple Crown! Here are my thoughts on the Preakness.

Well, after the Kentucky Derby, I would've said American Pharoah was the likely winner until he drew the rail. He likes to stalk, and the speed is immediately in the two-hole. Martin Garcia on Dortmund is not going to be kind to Victor Espinoza on American Pharoah and graciously leave a hole for him on the rail. So Victor will have to take Pharoah to the outside, meaning there will be a lot of jockeying for early positions. It could work out, or it could NOT work out. At short odds, I'm not sure I like the idea of singling American Pharoah.

Bob Baffert has also admitted that Dortmund was a bit colicky after a workout prior to the Kentucky Derby, so since he still hung on for third and has a shorter trip this time, assuming he's 100%, he may just give Pharoah a better race. Same for Firing Line, who passed Dortmund and for a moment looked like he might run away with the Derby until Pharoah mowed him down. So, again, with a shorter distance to go, a miscalculation by Espinoza (such as moving American Pharoah too late or finding himself boxed in) could set up a nice, clean trip for Firing Line on the outside.

The bottom line is that I think any one of these three horses could win--though, of course, my desire to see a Triple Crown winner after all of this time means that naturally I'm rooting for American Pharoah.

Of the other entries, I don't like them to win (they appear outmatched), but it's worth noting that Bodhisattva has a win over the Pimlico track, and Divining Rod, who qualified for the Derby, skipped it to be pointed directly at this race, so he's fresh. If they look good going into the race, I'll probably sprinkle those two on the bottom in the exotics.

I'll probably post a Late Pick 4 ticket for races 10-13 tomorrow morning after the scratches, so check back. Good luck!

Saturday, May 9, 2015

My Latest Acquisition

Djed amulet, Late Period @500 BCE

Check it out! Though I'm no serious collector by any means, I'm proud of this one. It's a djed amulet from the Egyptian Late Period, dated approximately 500 BCE. It's also tiny, not quite an inch tall. There's also a tiny hole in the back through which a person could've strung a cord and worn it.

The djed, said to represent the spine of Osiris, most often imparted stability. But when the amulet was placed on the body of a mummy near its spine, it was said to ensure the mummy's resurrection.

I bought this from a collector in the UK, who acquired it at auction back in the 1980s.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Hapless Tigger's Pick 4 (races 8-11) Ticket

Well, with the scratch of Stephanie's Kitten, I had to do a little rethinking, but this is the ticket I finally landed on. Good luck, all!

Friday, May 1, 2015

Derby Picks 2015

I'm afraid I don't have time tonight to 'cap the entire card, but I did consider the Pick 4 that commences in race 8 and ends with race 11 (the Derby). Here are my thoughts:

Race 8: Lady Lara, Sandiva, Coffee Clique; Tepin is a live longshot with Leparoux up and 15-1 odds.

Race 9: Bayern (although one hates to single a horse at such low odds unless his name is Zenyatta. He's also been inconsistent at times and is coming off a layoff from an injured quarter crack. Still, I've never known Bob Baffert to run a a horse that wasn't ready, and his works seem to say he is.) I may add Pants on Fire, Private Zone, and Gentleman's Bet. But if I have to pick a single, he'll be it.

Race 10: I have to root for Stephanie's Kitten! She's won over the course three times; let's make it four. But serious competition looms in Jack Milton, Optimizer, Finnegan's Wake, Seek Again, and Grand Arch. Coalport looks like a good longer shot. Argh. I suppose I could narrow it down a bit by picking Seek Again, who's been chasing the best in Wise Dan. (Note: in my Oaks-Woodford-Derby pick 3, I went with 1,5,7,8. So I probably, in the Pick 4, will choose 'Kitten, Seek Again, and others I've mentioned here that I didn't bet there since I did pick the Oaks winner. If 'Kitten wins, I'll be doubly thrilled.) UPDATE: STEPHANIE'S KITTEN IS A SCRATCH.

Race 11: As I posted earlier, I have a soft spot for the undefeated Dortmund. That big guy is a freak of nature! But American Pharaoh simply can't be ignored, even if he is stuck way out in the 18 hole. I'd put those two on top. Other contenders to include in the exotics: Materiality, Carpe Diem, Firing Line, Frosted, and Upstart. (update: I'm having second thoughts about Carpe Diem due to his post position coupled with the fact that he tends to work himself up before races. Obviously you can't check how he looks before betting the Pick 4, but for trifectas, etc, I'd have a look at him prior to the race to see how much energy he's burning off.)

These are just preliminary thoughts. I'll post my actual Pick 4 ticket tomorrow, so check back!

Good luck to all!

Actual ticket:

Oaks/Derby 2015

Hello, fellow horseplayers, I know you've not seen anything from me lately but a barrage of posts about my novel. Never fear, I'd never shirk my duty on the Derby! I'm afraid I'm getting to this rather late today since my tummy was giving me problems this morning, so all I've got are Oaks, Woodford, Derby picks. 

In the Oaks, I want to like Stellar Wind, but John Sadler does horribly when he ships out of California. So she's nothing approaching a single. So really there are any number of fillies that could step up. I like Larry Jones a lot, so I'm not leaving out his two entries. And Joel Rosario will be a big threat on Condo Commando. I also like Birdatthewire. Yeah, I'm spreading there, but if you have deeper pockets, you might consider adding the 1 horse as well as a potential upset.

This year's Kentucky Derby is the most competitive one I've seen in quite some time. But I have to pick somehow and frankly, I have a soft spot for big ole Dortmund. That horse is a freak. Still, American Pharaoh is not to be trifled with either. I hate to pick the two favorites, but those two stand out head and shoulders for me. It should be something to see them tackle each other. Either way, I think Bob Baffert will win the Derby this year unless there is a total pace meltdown and some horse at 50-1 shuffles over the wire first.

More tomorrow, I hope.

Oaks-Woodford-Derby Ticket

Oaks: 5,7,8,12,13
Woodford: 1,5,7,8
Derby: 8,18