I Remember Extreme Exclusivity

When I became a fan the only slot machines were Las Vegas. There was no simulcasting, no OTB, no telephone wagering on cell phones or otherwise and no internet. If you wanted to place a bet off track you had to know a bookie and I didn’t know any bookies. If I wanted to bet on a race I got in the car and my dad drove us to Aqueduct, Belmont or Monmouth Park. Between November when Aqueduct closed (there was no inner track in those days) and mid-March when it reopened; I never bet on a race, I did not know it at the time but I was experiencing what you might call extreme exclusivity; one track, one race at a time and twenty five minutes to think about the next race. I did not feel deprived.

Nowadays here in PA I have so many opportunities to place a bet my head spins. On any given Saturday, I can bet on literally hundreds of races. I can bet off-track at a Turf Club, on my phone and/or the internet. I usually bet on the internet but if Phonebet’s servers go down I experience AB Server Unavailable Anxiety Syndrome (ABSUAS) My blood pressure rises and small anger rises in me when I can’t get a wager in with the click of a mouse in less than two seconds, so I click again, no response. I feel deprived. I go to Plan B. I get up walk all the way across the family room pick up the phone and press speed dial #1 ( yes Phonebet is #1 on my speed dial, are you surprised?) Ah, relief as I hear Wel

Sinister Minister's Finest Moment

This is an incredible performance and worth watching again(almost any other horse would have quit after 6 furlongs). Some may say it was a fluke; ah but what a fluke it was.

A 33 Horse Field - 1953 Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby)

Another Youtube gem, some footage I have never seen. A nasty spill marred the race. Bostonian was the winner.

Sunrise Bacchus: Japan's Best Hope In The Godolphin Mile

The Japanese "arrived" at last year's Dubai World Cup Series winning both the Godolphin Mile with Utopia and the Sheema Classic with Heart's Cry. This year they have a major contender in the mile with Sunrise Bacchus seen here winning the 1600m February Stakes at Kyoto last week. With Discreet Cat set to mix it up with Invasor in the World Cup the mile may come up at a very competitive race.

Not Everything That Can Be Counted Counts

Back in the days when it was common belief that the world was flat most people believed it to be true. Although there were a few scholarly souls out there who thought otherwise; they kept their ideas to themselves rather than be burned at the stake in some jurisdictions. The commonly held belief now under scrutiny is that a horse can't win the Derby off just two preps.

As trainers go, Carl Nafzger and Kenny McPeek could be thought to be living in an ivory tower with a Breeders Cup Classic, Kentucky Derby, Belmont Stakes and numerous other Grades 1 wins to their credit. More than a few of those wins were at the expense of commonly held beliefs by others that horses in question were not up to the task at the time.

This time the Inquisition is in Dallas and Gary West is holding the match ready to burn Nafzger, McPeek and their two prep disciples for this heresy. But we all know that commonly held beliefs are often wrong except for one of mine that certain pages of the Star Telegram make for good kindling and wee-wee pads :-)

Last year Barbaro put the four-week layoff belief to rest and in the recent years commonly held beliefs about the superiority of certain three-year olds like Bellamy Road and Empire Maker where laid to rest by geldings like Funny Cide and non winners of two like Giacomo. Counting prep races can be a foolish thing, as a scholarly man once said “Not everything that can be counted counts; and not everything that counts can be counted.

Dubai On My Mind

With just over five weeks to go it's time to start thinking about the Dubai World Cup Series. There was some scuttlebutt on the Dubai Racing Carnival site that Stormello might go over for the UAE Derby but the Downey report confirms today that Stormello will stay stateside on take on Nobiz in the FOY.

That brings us to Asiatic Boy, one of the main contenders for the UAE Derby, trained by South Africa's Mike DeKock. Asiatic Boy took the UAE 2000 Guineas, a Grade 3 prep for the UAE Derby rather handily last weekend.

Dan Fogelberg Has Nothing To Worry About

I think Dan Fogelberg penned the best song about horse racing when he wrote "Run for the Roses" back in the early eighties. That song from Guys and Dolls (I got the horse right here, his name is Paul Revere) is a good one too. I came across two songs this week that bear mentioning even if I don't care for either of them. On Jill Byrne's Derby blog some guy from Pennsylvania with a band called "the tell alls" has written a Barbaro tribute song called "Wear Your Crown" it's pretty dreary if you ask me. The next song I came across was on a thread about Birdbirdistheword on the Thoroughbred Champions message board. The posters were guessing about the origin of Birdbird's name, which is explained on the sidebar of the Birdbirdblog. They were discussing an Australian grunge band called "Silverchair" who had written a song called "Surfin Bird" and the chorus is pretty catchy of you ask me.

Everybody's heard about the bird
Bird bird bird, bird is the word
Don't you know about the bird?
Well everybody's heard about the bird

I am guessing that bird is some surfer dude down in Queensland.

Anyway in my opinion Dan Fogelberg is still tops but I also like this tune about Smarty Jones.

The TBA Invades Palm Meadows

Brad, David and I were real impressed with Palm Meadows. The barns are open and airy and each stall has its own lighting. Brad, who currently owns a fine filly named Movement, was impressed that there were no mechanical hot walkers on the grounds. When he asked Jesse Caudill (Kenny McPeek's assistant trainer) why, Jesse replied that the owners of horses stabled here can afford human hot walkers.

Palm Meadows was originally developed to be a racetrack but when Frank Stronach could not get a parimutuel license in Palm Beach county (there is only one and the owner wasn't selling) it morphed into a training facility. On racing days there are shuttle vans that take horses down to Gulfstream Park and back. Of course if you are entered in the 9th race at Gulfstream chances are you do not get back to Palm Meadows, get the horse fed and back in his stall till 10 PM. It's a long day.

Thank You Street Sense

Anyone who reads this blog probably knows I am also a Street Sense fan. I posted about him back in August (last sentence of the post) when he broke his maiden at Arlington Park. He was my pick to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile and when I got the chance I went over to see him and thank him for that winning effort at Churchill. The folks at Carl Nafgzer's barn were kind enough to let me have a moment or two with the champ!

Gulfstream's new fan-friendly seating, well maybe if you’re a duck with telescopic vision.

As you know I am not a big fan of the new Gulfstream Park or Frank Stronach. So I took it upon myself to pay a visit to the mistake that Stronach calls Gulfstream Park. It rained pretty hard in the area on Monday and racing was cancelled after the first race but I stayed around to take in some of the new so-called fan friendly seating at the north side of the grandstand. Any racetrack can be a bit depressing in the rain and it isn’t always easy to stay dry and comfortable but Gulfstream Park’s management seems to go out of their way to make racing fans uncomfortable. As has been noted by Andy Beyer and others, fan seating at Gulfstream is abysmal; after all isn't Gulfstream supposed to be a premiere facility?

Following many complaints about this topic last year, new fan friendly seating was installed on the north side of the grandstand. A press release by Gulfstream Park touts these seats as fan friendly and free. I don’t think they're fan friendly in good weather and I could not find a duck who liked it either. The following are three videos of my visit to the Eighth Pole seating area, oh I mean the North Park seating area, which isn't very park-like either. Check them out but the third one showing the handicapped restroom facilities is priceless. Frank thinks this is fan friendly, I think not!

All Roads Lead To The Birdbirdblog

On Thursday, thanks to the owners of Birdbirdistheword, I got the chance to visit Palm Meadows and to meet Birdbird, Kenny McPeek, Jesse Caudill (Kenny's assistant trainer and a great guy!) and Kenny's really great staff. Posting here on Not To The Swift will be light as I get up some posts on the Birdbirdblog about my visit.

While I was visiting with Birdbird I got a meet and greet with Street Sense, Invasor and even heard the latest rumors on the Green Monkey (if you are cynical enough you can figure out what I mean) why even Kiaran McLaughlin did not escape my cheap camcorder, so stay tuned for some really great stuff from Palm Meadows (after this visit I doubt they will ever let me in again).

Thinking Of Anna . . .

I couldn't think of any clever way to link the two Annas together, after all one is a champion race horse and the other was a mess in a dress. Yet I will remember them both for different reasons.

I will always remember Anna Nicole for an appearance she made at the 2003 Kentucky Derby; she was there promoting that tacky reality show of hers as I recall. Some reporter asked her the typical who do you like question and I was expecting the typical dumb blonde answer about playing names or colors but Anna Nicole didn't miss a beat and said confidently, "I like Funny Cide"

A few hours later Anna Nicole looked pretty smart to me.