Saturday, November 7, 2009


Poor quality, but it's the only one so far....Zenyatta is everything we on the West Coast have always claimed she is!

Friday, November 6, 2009

09 Breeder's Cup Sat Selections

Below I'll just list the four horses I like in each of the nine races. Cobble together tickets however you seems when I post actual tickets, I hex myself. :-) But where I am rooting for a particular horse, I'll put that in italics. Don't see those as singles, though, because what I want and what I get are often two entirely different things. Good luck today!

Race 2: Interactif, Viscount Nelson, Pounced, Bridgetown
Race 3: Noble Court, California Flag, Diamondrella, Cannonball
Race 4: Zensational, Fatal Bullet, Gayego, Capt. Candyman Can
Race 5: Noble's Promise, Aikenite, Lookin At Lucky, Eskendereya
Race 6: Goldikova, Zacinto, Cowboy Cal, Justenuffhumor
Race 7: Mastercraftsman, Midshipman, Neko Bay, Chocolate Candy
Race 8: Conduit, Dar Re Mi, Spanish Moon, Presious Passion
Race 9: Zenyatta, Richard's Kid, Einstein, Rip Van Winkle

RESULTS: Won: Pounced, California Flag, Goldikova, Conduit, and Zenyatta.

09 Breeder's Cup Fri Pick 4s

Well, pay attention to my picks in the first post, but don't copy my tickets is the name of the game. Better luck tomorrow!

Late Pick 4: ($36 far no luck today, but my spouse Chelle is alive to the 4 and 5 in the Pick 3 right now. Maybe I should start betting on her account. Grin.)

Race 6: 2,4,5
Race 7: 9
Race 8: 1,5,7,8
Race 9: 2,10,13

2nd Pick 4 ($48 ticket):

Race 5: 3,4,10,11
Race 6: 2,4,5,6
Race 7: 9
Race 8: 1,5,7

$54 ticket:

Race 1: 3,6,9
Race 2: 1,7,9
Race 3: 6
Race 4: 2,4,7,8,9,11

Thursday, November 5, 2009

09 Breeder's Cup Selections

It's that time again! 2007 was a profitable Breeder's Cup for me; last year was not. So here's hoping tomorrow and Saturday will be good days. Below I'll choose three horses for each race and indicate others you might include on your tickets and the possible singles. Another thing to note is that Bob Baffert says this year's main track is playing more like dirt as compared to last year's, and he's been on a roll at Santa Anita this meet. (Correct winners are in bold)

Marathon: Mastery, Cloudy's Knight, Father Time. (I also think Black Astor has a shot if he gets loose on the lead, and Man of Iron is a scary face as well. Having said this, Mastery is a most probable single and the likely chalk.)

Juvenile Fillies Turf: Crapshoot race. The class of the field is Lillie Langtry, and I also like House of Grace, Rose Catherine, and Junia Tenzia. Hatheer might surprise us, and it could be foolish to ignore Smart Seattle. (nope, crapshoot as I said)

Juvenile Fillies: Not about to leave out Baffert's Always A Princess, but also like Beautician and Negligee. I also have to root for Jerry Hollendorfer's Blind Luck (hey, he's a Nocal trainer and my last name is Luck!) Connie and Michael might be in over her head, but on the other hand, she could be a monster. (nope)

Filly and Mare Turf: Forever Together, Pure Clan, Magical Fantasy, and Midday. Sorry, that's four.

Filly and Mare Sprint: Ventura is a most probable single. Informed Decision and Sara Louise ought to be hitting the board as well. Free Flying Soul has worked sizzling bullets over the track and will try to steal it, but she's probably outclassed. (Note: this was the superfecta if you boxed them, which I did.)

Ladies' Classic: Zenyatta would've been a single, but since she runs tomorrow in the Classic against the boys, this race becomes a bit of a crapshoot too. I like Careless Jewel, Music Note, and Rainbow View. Note that Life Is Sweet has been chasing Zenyatta.

I'll likely do rolling Pick 3's and stagger selections around a bit. Good luck!

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Santa Anita Picks 10/17

Early Pick 4: (who won in bold)

Race 1: 2,4,5,6 (2)
Race 2: 4,5,6 (5)
Race 3: 4,6 (did a cover Pick 3 bet that had 5,6 in this leg)(4)
Race 4: 4,5 (5)

So far it's a chalky day...let's hope that 4 comes in in the 4th.

Rest of day:

Race 5: 5,3 (nope)
Race 6: 9,3,7 (nope)
Race 7: 7,3,5 (nope)
Race 8: 6,2,8 (2)
Race 9: 9,1,5 (9)

LATE NOTE: A lot of early money went on the 1 in race 6, so I added that horse in for my late Pick 4. The ticket I did was:
6: 3,7,9,1
7: 7,3,5
8: 6,2,8,5
9: 9
Gotta single somebody, so I singled the most likely. Good luck everybody!

Managed to get 6 of 9 legs, but that wasn't good enough to do anything but lose money today.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Classic a Real Possibility for Zenyatta

Classic a real possibility for Zenyatta
By Jay Privman

Zenyatta's connections will wait to pick between the Breeders' Cup Classic and the Ladies' Classic.

ARCADIA, Calif. - The connections of the unbeaten Zenyatta, who raced to her 13th straight victory in the Lady's Secret Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting, said Monday they would wait as long as possible before determining which Breeders' Cup race she will run in. Zenyatta is the defending champion in the $2 million Ladies' Classic, which will be run this year on Nov. 6, but there is the very real possibility Zenyatta could take on males for the first time in the $5 million BC Classic on Nov. 7.

Asked on Sunday morning at Hollywood Park if he thought Zenyatta could compete with males in the richest race of the two-day Breeders' Cup program, her trainer, John Shirreffs, said, "I don't think there's any indication that she couldn't."

"But there's absolutely no reason to rush into that decision now," Shirreffs added.

The decision will be made by Shirreffs along with Jerry and Ann Moss, who own Zenyatta, and Shirreffs's wife, Dottie, who is the racing manager for the Mosses. Pre-entries for the Breeders' Cup are taken Oct. 26, and are announced Oct. 28. At that point, Zenyatta could still be pre-entered in both races. Final entries are due on Nov. 3.

"Both races are very much open to discussion," Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs said Monday morning. "It will depend on who's coming, the size of the field."

John Shirreffs on Sunday morning was savoring the Lady's Secret, in which Zenyatta equalled the win streak of Personal Ensign and received a rousing cheer when she returned to the winner's circle.

"It was really special because Zenyatta equaled Personal Ensign's record," Shirreffs said.

The only disappointing aspect of the day for the Mosses and Shirreffs was that a half-hour before the Lady's Secret, Tiago finished last in the Goodwood Stakes.

"He's not the same horse right now," John Shirreffs said.

Dottie Ingordo-Shirreffs said plans for Tiago are "undecided at this time, but he is going to Adena Springs at the end of his racing career."

The Classic, at 1 1/4 miles, should have a full field of 14. Among those under consideration for the race are several horses who competed Saturday in the Goodwood, including Gitano Hernando, the upset winner of the race, and Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, who finished sixth.

Gitano Hernando "came out of the race well, but we really do need to take our time and evaluate everything," said Aron Wellman, the racing manager for the horse's owner, Team Valor International, which is headed by Barry Irwin.

"It was a long journey from his Newmarket base," Wellman said. "He got in on Tuesday, left quarantine at Hollywood Park on Thursday, shipped to Santa Anita Thursday afternoon, and ran Saturday. That's a lot for a lightly raced 3-year-old who had not won a graded stakes yet."

Mine That Bird returned to the track at Santa Anita on Monday morning to jog and "went well, bucking and playing," according to his trainer, Chip Woolley Jr.

"Nothing set up for him," Woolley said of the Goodwood. "The pace was too slow. He needed the race. It had been exactly 10 weeks race to race.

"Calvin," Woolley added, referring to jockey Calvin Borel, "said he was a little tired pulling up. That would explain why his run was a little less explosive. He was a little tired. Calvin said he struggled with the track a little bit, but I can't use the track as an excuse. It's been my experience that if a horse really struggles badly with a track, he pulls up exhausted. My horse got his wind back pretty quickly.

"It was a prep. He only got beat 3 1/2 lengths. It's not like he got beat a dying nine lengths. Everybody seems disappointed, but I think they're disappointed because it's Mine That Bird. If it wasn't him, they'd have said, 'Well, he was off for 10 weeks.' "

Monday, October 12, 2009


The Governator just signed into law: (1) The Harvey Milk Day bill, authored by Senator Mark Leno, will honor the slain civil rights leader with the nation’s first “day of special significance” for an openly LGBT person in the country;(2)The Family Protection and Marriage Recognition Act, also authored by Senator Leno, underscores that same-sex couples married out of state are entitled to full recognition in California, and (3)The LGBT Domestic Violence Programs Expansion Bill, authored by Assemblymember John A. PĂ©rez, will expand funding for LGBT domestic violence programs in California.

Friday, August 28, 2009

DelMar 8-28

Today's Pick 6 is weird because of some key scratches, but I cobbled together a $48 Pick 6. If you have more money to wager or want to also bet the Pick 4, add in the horses in parentheses. Good luck!

Race 4: 5, 7 (6...and throw in the 2 and 9 if they take early money)
Race 5: 5, 11
Race 6: 2, 7, 10
Race 7: 2, 9
Race 8: 2 (5)
Race 9: 2 (3, 6)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Zenyatta (in a serious moment)

I've got a hilarious one of her in a not-so-serious moment on the Del Mar backside, which I'll post as soon as a certain somebody downloads it from her camera. Hint, hint.

Del Mar Pick 6 Carryover

Here's a cheap $32 Pick 6 ticket (in parentheses are horses I'd add if I had more money to wager):

3: 3,9 (2)
4: 4
5: 3,5 (6)
6: 4,5 (6,8)
7: 1,4 (2)
8: 7 (11)

Otherwise, races 5-8 with all selections make a $48 Pick 4. Good luck!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

My Political Views
I am a center-left moderate social libertarian
Left: 2.91, Libertarian: 2.84

Political Spectrum Quiz

RACHEL ALEXANDRA - 2009 Haskell Invitational Stakes

She will go down in history as one of the great ones! This filly beat the colts yet again, easily, on a sloppy track...and still just missed getting a track record. Notice jockey Calvin Borel's cute little twirling of the crop as she stormed passed the boys at the top of the stretch, and then it seemed he didn't even tap her, just waved the crop by her head to keep her running straight. For whoever may not know, she beat Mine That Bird, the Derby winner, in the Preakness, and in this race, she beat Summer Bird, the Belmont we will always wonder if she could've won the Triple Crown.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Del Mar Pick 6 Carryover (Picks Updated)

This is the bet I placed.

Race 4: this is a wide open race, but you have to pick somebody! So I'm going with 6, 5, and 3

Race 5: 4, 1, 9

Race 6: 7, 3, 2

Race 7: 2, 3, 5

Race 8: 6

Race 9: Another wide open race, so I'll single the likely favorite: 8 (although the 2, 4, and 11 all make me nervous )

This made a $162 ticket. I did get the first Pick 3 and the trifecta in the first race, so let's pray my luck holds out. Good luck to everybody!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Del Mar 09 Opening Day Pick 6

Here's my way random Pick 6 for $24 with three singles that ought not be too chalky. Can it win? Sure, but odds are it won't. Then again, that's why they call it gambling.

5th: 5, 6, 7
6th: 6
7th: 3, 9
8th: 3
9th: 7, 8
10th: 2

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Pleasanton Pick 6 Carryover

Here's what I'd playing if I had a big bankroll...

Race 5: 6, 5, 1
Race 6: 8, 2
Race 7: 6, 1, 9
Race 8: 7, 5
Race 9: 2, 4
Race 10: 2, 6

...but since I don't, I've got to single at least two legs. Given this, I'd chose a longer shot over the likely favorite, so I'm going with the 2 in race 10 and the 7 in race 8, which makes a much more affordable bet. Good luck!

UPDATE: 7 is scratched in race 8, so go with the 5.

UPDATE: Interestingly, the 5 took no early money at Pleasanton, only the 6 and 1.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Too Much Bush

Hi, my brother quit drinking, but I just started! So glad he's holding me up.

Monday, June 29, 2009

RACHEL ALEXANDRA - 2009 Mother Goose Stakes

The pace was blistering! She is a talented filly. I really want to see her take on Zenyatta...that would be some match race.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

2009 Kentucky Oaks - Rachel Alexandra + Post Race

In my opinion, had she run in the Derby on Sat as opposed to the Oaks, she would've been the Derby winner and a filly would've had a nice shot at this year's Triple Crown. She's the how she tracks the pace, moves easily ahead at the 3/4 pole, and runs under a hand ride to win by 20 lengths! Secretariat's little sister? LOL

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Kentucky Oaks Picks

Well, this year's field is cowering beneath the monster filly, Rachel Alexandra.

I think last year's Oaks had 12 entries (?), and this year's has been reduced to eight, because nobody wants to chase this girl.

If you're doing an Oaks-Derby double, I'd say single the 6 for the first leg. If you're doing a Pick 3 (Oaks-Woodford Turf-Derby), you can also probably feel pretty good about singling her.

Having said that, if I'm going to bet a superfecta and win (as I did last year), here's my bet and rationale:


This is an $8 bet. I don't like to make expensive bets like that because I'm cheap. But in a case like this one, I'm going to count on every jockey in that race trying to block Rachel while Garrett Gomez goes free on the outside. Thus 6,8.

The 5 horse has just won five races in a row and has Julien Leparoux aboard. Beyers aren't quite there, though. Likewise the 2. But D Wayne Lukas has three horses in this race and Bejarano, aboard, is canny.

The end of the super is a matter of throwing in who else might show up. I do think the 7 could do it because she's the only horse in the field who has been racing in better company (Graded 1's). But it's all on synthetic track and you just don't know how they'll do on dirt. The recorded work at Churchill was a bullet, but 5 furlongs in 1:00 is pretty typical for horses entered into a race like this.

Good luck!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

O Firefly Gets 2nd Place!

She was definitely feeling her oats yesterday, but this is a good thing. Next race will be April 18 on the turf.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Story of Nopie, Part Two

Here's an update on Nopie. He's doing well at GEVA, has a voracious appetite and will eat anything you put in front of him. His spirits seem much better and now he's reminding me of our Ole Nopie; he's getting so playful that the volunteers even got him a Jollyball to play with as he stands in his paddock. He is standing well on all legs, which is a good thing, and he's down to only one tab of Bute a day for pain. It does look like he'll have a rather boring existence for the next 9 months or so as his leg heals, but at least (so far, knock on wood) it seems he may mend completely and he can be reschooled as a pleasure horse.

Here are some photos:

Here's Nopie standing in his little paddock outside his stall in the barn. This is where he'll be until his leg is fully healed and he can be moved into a bigger paddock where he can do a little running around without danger of reinjuring himself.

Nopie has a habit of sticking his tongue out, curling it up, and then sucking on it, which means he wants a treat. It's the cutest thing you've ever seen!

Here's Chelle, who hopped into Nopie's paddock to give him some love. But as you can see, he's eyeballing me (the photographer) because he knew I had carrots tucked in my pockets.

GEVA is taking good care of Nopie and can always use donations. There are thirty retired racehorses there, and each and every one of them is special. If you can, please donate. Even five bucks makes a difference. Click here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Smoochin' a Clydesdale

Sorry. You just haven't lived until you've had a Clydesdale nibbling on your lips. LOL

Friday, March 6, 2009

The Story of Nopie

That number 6 up there is Nopie, one of the sweetest race horses you'd ever want to meet. He is just a $4,000 claimer, a bottom-of-the-barrel type, but he has great heart, would always try, loves carrots and scratches under his neck and right below his withers. He has more personality than most people. As proof, look again at the photo. Our friend Sabrina couldn't find the camera, but Nopie did that day, and grinned right at it.

He wasn't our horse, but we always stopped by his stall in the barn to say hello. He won two races back-to-back at Golden Gate Fields. Then one day he raced and didn't even hit the board. The vet checked him and found bone chips.

The next thing we heard, ole Nope-on-a-Rope (as I called him) was being transferred to a trainer in Arizona and he'd be running at Turf Paradise.

Well, we thought, Turf Paradise is a notch lower, but not so bad. Lots of horses go from here to there and do okay.

Problem was, Nopie didn't hit the board there, either.

We'd assumed he'd been retired until my partner got an email notice (we keep horses we care about on a watch list) that Nopie was running at Fonner Park, Nebraska, in a $2500 claiming race. Fonner What? We'd never heard of that racetrack. Obviously it was a bush league track. Was somebody actually going to continue to race Nopie when he was clearly not the same horse he'd once been?

Good lord. Our beloved Dopie Nopie, if he thought it would get him a kiss on the nose, would run himself into the ground trying to please his people.

So, we panicked. He'd break out of the gate and run his heart out and break his hurt ankle. They'd have to haul out the screen and shield him from the crowd as they put him down. No need to discuss; my partner and I agreed: "Let's get him out of there." We checked our bankbooks and she went to the phone.

And now she takes over the story:*
*Tom is a friend in Chicago

"I originally called the owner/trainer of Nopie the day of his last race (Friday, February 20th) and told him that morning that I wanted to buy Nopie and retire him. This trainer, Gilbert W Ecoffey (he goes by "GW") asked me how much I was willing to pay for the horse. I told him I'd be happy to pay what he had paid for the horse (Nopie had just run at Turf Paradise for $3,500, wasn't claimed out of the race and he finished out of the money). GW told me he paid $3,500 for Nopie and maybe, just maybe he'd sell him to me AFTER the race for $3,500, if he wasn't claimed out of the race for $2,500. Now remember, I know Nopie's original trainer, Steve Sherman, and Bob Bone owned Nopie - Steve said that with the finish Nopie had at TP, Bob would have unloaded the horse for $1K-$1.5K just to get rid of a horse on his way down (Mr. Bone is in racing for the $$$, he cuts his losses quickly). Add on the fact that Nopie left California with bone chips in his ankle and he probably wasn't going to do well running without a long layoff or surgery. I mentioned the bone chips to GW and he said he knew all about them, knew about it when he got the horse in Arizona but Nopie was training well and he thought he was going to win that day. I could see there was no way to appeal to his love for the animal, he was in this for the money, the horse be damned. I scrambled to try to find someone with a Nebraska license to claim Nopie for me but couldn't pull it off before the race. I waited to see who, if anyone would claim him, and then I'd seriously negotiate after that.

"Before the race is when Tom came into the picture. Tom offered to help any way he could and we were on the phone together waiting for the results to be posted (there was NO live video available anywhere to watch the race) when the quick results came up - Nopie wasn't in the top three, "that should help get the price down on him" Tom and I agreed. Then, when the results chart was posted, panic set in. Nopie stumbled out of the gate, was pulled up lame and vanned off... SH*T! I thought I was going to cry, Tom was on it in a flash - "Don't worry, I'll call the track and find out what happened". All I could think was, "I was too late, I should have offered him $4,000 and said *Don't Race Nopie*"... I felt like I had failed this horse with the amazing personality. Tom was back with me quickly and gave me the update, "He's still alive, looks like a torn suspensory, what do you want to do?" I told Tom I wanted him, as long as the injury wasn't so bad it would have been too much for the horse. Tom began the intricate maze of trying to get a horse from a track hundreds of miles and several states away from where he was. He spoke with the Racing Secretary, a Steward, the State Vet at the track and anyone else that could help him. He eventually spoke with the Assistant Racing Secretary, Wayne Anderson, who was friendly with GW. Wayne offered to help broker the deal and really smoothed the way to getting the deal done. I let Tom do the negotiating for me since it was his strength and he had developed relationships with folks at the track. We got Nopie for $1,000 from GW, a substantial savings over the original amount he had requested. I over-nighted a check for most of the amount to Wayne on Saturday and it arrived Monday, three days after Nopie's race.

"The State Vet looked at Nopie and determined that Nopie had a complete tear of the suspensory ligament, it pulled completely free of the bone, even taking a chip of the bone off with it. The vet directed GW to put a gel cast on the leg and to give Nopie pain killers as needed. Nopie was left in GW's barn as Tom and I attempted to find transportation for the horse back to California. Wayne said he'd look in on the horse and make sure he was doing ok. We weren't able to get Nopie aboard the first couple of transports that came through town but we figured that was ok, he was resting and could use the recovery time before making the long journey home. We looked all over for rides and almost settled on shipping him first back to Arizona and then home because that looked to be the only way to get him out of Fonner Park, but even that was difficult to set up. We didn't feel comfortable leaving Nopie in GW's barn for an extended period of time, so on Wednesday Tom got another trainer at the track to move Nopie to his barn. This trainer, Cody Ungles, came highly recommended and he and Tom hit it off right from the start. Cody went to GW's barn to pick up Nopie and was dismayed at what he found. There were no wraps on Nopie's injured leg, he appeared to be in pain and he was very underweight - he looked and felt horrible. GW did not even give Nopie the slightest care. I was devastated and Tom was pissed beyond belief. At that moment we both knew we had to do something to insure that GW would never do this to another horse again, but first we had to get Nopie out of Nebraska. We had another vet come and look at Nopie, he gave him Bute for his pain and Cody wrapped up both of Nopie's front legs to make sure he had enough support. Cody fed Nopie and in a short time with care, medication, food and a little attention, Nopie started coming back around. After a day, Cody reported to Tom that Nopie was doing good and even commented that he was "a playful son of a gun". Nopie nickered at people when they walked by his stall, especially if they had food and was getting better. Tom found a ride for Nopie direct from Nebraska to California and that's where we're at today. Nopie will be back home later this week and I'll see him on Sunday, photos will follow shortly.

"I wanted you all to know the real story of what went on to save Nopie, it was not an easy process. Tom and I made lots of phone calls and sent lots of e-mails and it was an emotional roller coaster as bad news followed good news - just when things seemed to be falling into place, something bad would happen. The care that Nopie received while in GW's barn was atrocious and is something that I can not condone. GW was named the Trainer of the Year in South Dakota last year and I find that hard to believe. I will be writing to the Racing Commission for the states of Nebraska and South Dakota to complain about the treatment that Nopie received. There was no excuse for not wrapping his injury or giving him pain medication - I sent a cashiers check for 75% of the purchase price (remainder to be paid upon receiving the horse), I gave the vet my billing address to cover his bills, agreed to pay GW an additional $200 for taking care of Nopie until we could get him out of Fonner Park - I did everything to show that I would take responsibility for this horse and he couldn't even provide basic care for Nopie. It's unacceptable and I don't think this man should make his living at the expense of the well being of horses. If you have found this story to be half as disturbing as I have, please help Tom and I do something about it. Call or write to Fonner Park, the State Racing Commission, animal rights groups, anyone who can do something that makes this guy realize that what he did isn't right and won't be tolerated. If you appreciate folks like me and Tom that want to care for horses when their racing career is over, donate to groups like GEVA, Old Friends, ReRun and others like them. This has been an amazing learning experience for me, and as challenging as it has been, I’d do it again (although there were times the past week I wondered why I did it), Nopie is worth it, I truly believe that this horse is worth it."

That's my girl! Of course Nopie is worth it. And if you've been at all moved by this story, here's a link so you can even donate to GEVA in Nopie's name:

Thank you for reading.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Fighting Giraffes

Why they're bonking on each other is a mystery, but I suppose since they can't exactly don boxing gloves, this is the way they whack. I can hear them an hour later, conversing. "Dude! I have a headache!" "Dude, me too. You don't gots no aspirins, do you?"

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Curlin Gets Horse of the Year

I can't say I'm surprised it went to Curlin instead of my beloved Zenyatta, but I'm doggone happy Curlin got it over Big Brown Ball o' Poo...

The remaining winners are:

Two-Year-Old Male: Midshipman.

Two-Year-Old Filly: Stardom Bound.

Three-Year-Old Male: Big Brown.

Three-Year-Old Filly: Proud Spell.

Older Male: Curlin.

Older Female: Zenyatta. (YAY!!!!)

Male Sprinter: Benny the Bull.

Female Sprinter: Indian Blessing.

Male Turf Horse: Conduit.

Female Turf Horse: Forever Together.

Steeplechase Horse: Good Night Shirt.

Owner: Stronach Stables.

Breeder: Adena Springs.

Trainer: Steve Asmussen.

Jockey: Garrett Gomez.

Apprentice Jockey: Pascacio Lopez.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

O Firefly's Trainer: Steve Sherman

From a Daily Racing Form article written by Chuck Dybdal:

Steve Sherman was not born with the proverbial silver spoon in his mouth, but he will be the first to admit he began his training career in January 2008 with plenty of advantages.

"It takes a lot to get going, but I was left in a good position," he said of taking over what had been the Northern California barn of his father, Art Sherman, who is concentrating on a Southern California operation.

Taking over a successful operation has plenty of advantages, but it is far from a cakewalk. "There is some pressure on you," Sherman said. "You're expected to win when you have a big barn."

But even Sherman says he didn't expect his first year as a trainer to go quite like it did. "If you told me I'd win a stakes and 140 races in my first year, I'd say, 'No way,'" he said.

But win he did, posing for pictures 139 times, including a snapshot in the winner's circle with Siren Lure after the Sausalito Stakes on Nov. 22.

And thus far, he's avoiding the so-called sophomore slump, already saddling his second stakes winner, the talented 3-year-old filly Ultra Blend.

Sherman, 45, ascribes to the old sports axiom that it is better to be lucky than good, telling his jockey and owner before each race, "Let's get lucky." But he also believes, like legendary baseball general manager Branch Rickey, that luck is the residue of design.

And while he may be surprised by his good fortune thus far as a trainer, he is not surprised by the work it takes to maintain a winning percentage of 23 percent (and 57 percent in the money).

As his father's top assistant he has known good times and not-so-good times. And he knows that hard work and attention to detail are two key ingredients to success.

"You have to appreciate everything you have, but there are times when you don't do good," he said. "You struggle and you do a lot of thinking, staying up late at night. But you have to grind it out, keep working and plugging along."

Although his father had nearly 1,000 wins as a jockey and has amassed more than 2,000 wins as a trainer, Steve Sherman never expected to go into the family business.

He was an excellent high school athlete in football and track whose career goal was to join the California Highway Patrol. It wasn't until after his high school graduation that he came to the backstretch for what he thought would be a summer job.

But he never left.

"I started rubbing horses, ponying, being a hotwalker," he said. "I believe you have to start from the ground up, so I also went to a ranch to learn about breaking and caring for horses and beginning the training process.."

When he began his training career on Jan. 1, 2008, Sherman didn't have to do anything different."It was easy for me," he said. "My dad was gone, trying to get started down south. I was doing it all up here anyway."

Sherman has the same crew he used to work side-by-side with and says his success is a reflection of their hard work and the teamwork within the barn. He keeps lines of communication open with grooms, owners, and even fellow trainers. "You always have to be open to suggestions," he said. "I'm not scared to ask people questions and get feedback."

Sherman has outstanding winning percentages and shows profits with new faces in his barn, with layoff runners and with blinker changes.

Sherman's success comes from his ground-up learning, his communication with his crew, watching horses closely and equal amounts of patience and aggressive placement of horses in races.

He says that with new runners he likes to try to work them two or three times and always tries to use the same gallop rider with them, listening to any suggestions they may offer. He checks the newcomers' general health, their teeth, and gives them time to adjust to his feeding program. And he spends long amounts of time under a horse checking legs.

"If you spend time with them and get in their head and get to know them, it pays off," he said. "You have to make your horses happy. If they're not happy, they're not going to do much running."

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Congratulations, President Barack Obama

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Pole in the Hole Race

The running commentary in the background is the best part. "Robin, your hole is closed!" "Get your pole out of her breast!" "Her hole done went waaayy down!" I dare you to watch this one without splitting your sides.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Sarah Haskins Makes Me Laugh

Hat tip to Teh Portly Dyke. This one is hilarious. Even better, it's true. I think I'll even use it in the classroom this semester when we do the unit on advertising manipulations.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

O Firefly in Air

This is our beautiful new filly, O Firefly. She doesn't run. She flies.

Her papa is Old Topper, and she is a feisty tall gal. Recently turned three, she'll grow into her frame, we hope, and then show everybody up here in Northern California.

We brought her carrots this morning, and she's calmer than she was last Friday after the race we claimed her out of. True, she's still a bit twitchy, but we've always had a weakness for twitchy girls. (Actually, that last bit is my partner talking.)

UPDATE: Oh, I forgot. If anyone cares, that's Russell Baze up.