Unlike Alberto Gonzales . . .

I will not avoid testifying under oath (about my picks in the Florida Derby and the World Cup card).

Oh Ye of Little Faith !

Not one of my fellow bloggers has picked Birdbirdistheword to win the Florida Derby. Watch Birdbird run down both Scat Daddy and Stormello today.

This is probably one of the best World Cup cards I can remember. As usual the television coverage in the United States is spotty but between Youbet and Philadelphia Park Phonebet TV, I should be able to see the entire card live. I will be looking for non-North American runners at good odds in the North American betting pools.

In the Godolphin Mile I like Singing Poet, he's cutting back in distance and has decent placing to the likes of Kandidate, Eu Tambem and has won at Nad, he's 20-1. I really like Patrol Board but the 16 post is a problem with the first turn coming up pretty quickly in this race.

In the UAE Derby look no further than Asiatic Boy who has been a monster at Nad Al Sheba. He's 6-5 but he's money in the bank to me.

The Golden Shaheen is a toss up but I like Terrific Challenge at 15-1. He has a win over the surface and a win over Thor's Echo at Nad. The mare National Colour is a South African sensation and has a handy win at Nad to her credit, I really like her at 8-1. I am intrigued that Frankie Dettori is riding Kelly's Landing and I will have him in a few exactas.

The Sheema Classic should make any horse player's mouth water. Lots of great horses at good prices. I am throwing out Red Rocks, check out the Dubai Dispatch blog and you will see why. Andre Fabre has entered Bellamy Cay who is Grade 1 placed in France . Fabre is a master and never to be underestimated, Bellamy Cay is 30-1. I will also be using Pop Rock, Youmzain and Quijano in the exactas.

In the Duty Free I am throwing out Lava Man since he is not a good traveler. I can't go against the Japanese entrants here. I like Admire Moon and Daiwa Major, both of whom have been chasing Deep Impact in Japan.

In the World Cup I can't go against Invasor. His win in the Donn was proof that he is an extraordinary athlete and already a proven commodity in a variety of conditions; the pampered Discreet Cat will meet his match tonight.

Godolphin Mile Odds

Paddy Power odds on selected runners. Killybegs favored over Dixie Meister. Video of Fusaichi Richard is available under the video index on the sidebar of this blog.

Killybegs 11-2
Dixie Meister 13-2
Court Masterpiece 7-1
Fusaichi Richard 10-1
Spring At Last 10-1

UAE Derby Odds

Paddy Power odds on selected runners. Asiatic Boy is heavily favored. Videos of Eu Tambem, Asiatic Boy and Day Pass are available under the video index on the sidebar of this blog.

Asiatic Boy 4-5
Eu Tambem 4-1
Folk 5-1
Day Pass 14-1

Dubai Sheema Classic Odds

Paddy Power odds on selected runners. Red Rocks is favored. Great odds here on some really good horses especially Collier Hill. Videos of Collier Hill, Sir Percy, Vengence of Rain and Quijano are available under the video index on the sidebar of this blog.

Red Rocks 9-2
Pop Rock 11-2
Sir Percy 5-1
Collier Hill 9-1
Vengence of Rain 8-1
Quijano 11-1
Honey Ryder 20-1
Obrigado 20-1
Host 25-1

Dubai Duty Free Odds

Paddy Power odds on selected runners. In a surprise Admire Moon is favored. Look at the odds on Lava Man !! Videos of Daiwa Major, Pompeii Ruler and Seihali are available under the video index on the sidebar of this blog.

Admire Moon 11-2
Daiwa Major 6-1
Lava Man 6-1
English Channel 9-1
Pompeii Ruler 10-1
Miesque's Approval 12-1
Seihali 16-1

Golden Shaheen Odds

Paddy Power odds on selected runners. Thor's Echo is favored

Thor's Echo 7-2
Nightmare Affair 7-1
Bishop Court Hill 12-1
Kelly's Landing 12-1
Harvard Avenue 16-1

Answered Prayers: Magna to Cease Building Racetracks

I guess Magna’s president Michael Neuman thought he would send shutters through the racing community when he declared that Magna will not build any new race tracks without alternative gaming and a free-enterprise approach. I for one breathed a sigh of relief at this wonderful news. It means that unsuspecting fans will be spared Magna’s warped vision for the future of racing. You don't have to look to far to find proof of this warped vision. Look no further than the new Gulfstream Park, where the average racing fan is marginalized, herded off into the far corners of the facility and can’t find a good seat unless it’s in front of a slot machine. Other missteps like Palm Meadows, which was supposed to be a racetrack, but became a training facility almost as an afterthought because Magna could not secure a pari-mutuel license in Palm Beach County are monuments to Magna's miscalculations. Investors seem to see things pretty much as I do, Magna’s stock has been in steady decline for years now even with the addition of slots at Gulfstream Park stockholders are fleeing.

The only thing that would have been better is if Neuman announced that debt-laden Magna was divesting itself entirely of its racing holdings but at the moment I guess that is just to much to hope for. But if their stock price continues to head south as it has, maybe all my prayers will be answered. If only we could get Stronach extradicted to Austria; has anyone checked his work authorization papers lately?

Early Odds on Dubai World Cup

Here are some of the early odds on the Dubai World Cup courtesy of my favorite Irish bookmaker Paddy Power. Invasor is slightly favored over Discreet Cat.

Bullish Luck 25-1
Discreet Cat 11-8
Forty Licks 20-1
Invasor 5-4
Kandidate 25-1
Premium Tap 13-2
Vermillion 25-1

Bullish Luck: Beware Of The Giant Killer

Bullish Luck a son of the 1990 Breeders' Cup Mile winner Royal Academy stretches out in the Dubai World Cup. A champion miler in Hong Kong whose original name was Al Moughazel, he was sold to Wong Wing-keung of Hong Kong who changed his name to Bullish Luck. At age 5, Bullish Luck found his own, winning the 2004 Hong Kong Gold Cup and finishing second to Alexander Goldrun in the Hong Kong Cup.

In 2005 Bullish Luck won the Champions Mile (video below) at Sha Tin and put an end to the seventeen-race win streak of stablemate Silent Witness. His performances in 2005 earned him the Hong Kong Champion Miler title. In 2006, Bullish Luck won his second Champions Mile, he was voted Hong Kong Horse of the Year honors.

Fusaichi Richard Could Surprise in the Godolphin Mile

Owned by Fusao Sekiguchi of Fusaichi Pegasus fame, Japan's 2005 champion 2yo colt, Fusaichi Richard will contest the Godolphin Mile. A son of champion miler, Kurofune out of champion mare Fusaichi Airedale, Fusaichi Richard won the Futurity Stakes (G1) in addition to the Tokyo Sports Cup (G3).

Fusaichi Richard had a disappointing three year old campaign, capped by a dismal 13th in the Japan Cup Dirt. In his last race of 2006, the Hanshin Cup (video below) the gray returned to the turf and cut back in distance to seven furlongs. The change of tactics worked and Fusaichi Richard recaptured his form and defeated a field of notable older horses including Daiwa Major. Fusaichi Richard could make win the Godolphin Mile at a nice price.

It's So Easy the NTRA Could Do It !

Why is it that a cold-blooded amphibian can be a spectacularly effective spokesman for something as mundane as car insurance?

How is it that a gecko with an Australian accent can raise the profile of an relatively unknown company like GEICO to the level is at today? Someone at the NTRA should be asking someone at the Martin Ad Agency (Martin Agency also developed the Caveman ads for GEICO) that question.

If you type "horse racing commercial" into Youtube do you know what you get?

The answer is not one advertisement developed for the NTRA, the Breeders Cup, TVG or HRTV. What this proves is that advertising developed for these companies has failed to make a lasting impression on the intended audience. What you do get when you type in those three key words is a series of ads developed by the Japanese Racing Association (JRA) featuring Japanese film and television stars like Masahiro Motoki and baseball legends like Katsuya Nomura. Obviously these ads are well loved by Japansese fans who wanted to share them with people like me who have never seen them. It also speaks volumes about how racing is marketed in Japan and how it is marketed here. What this and other JRA ads do demonstrate is that fans will crossover if you find the right icon(s) to convince that they are missing something.

Before the Breeders Cup There Was The Marlboro Cup

Just another of those great videos from those halcyon days of the 1970's. The Marlboro Cup Invitational Handicap was first run in September of 1973 at Belmont Park. The popularity of Secretariat was such that CBS television agreed to broadcast the race nationally. Originally conceived as a match race with stable mate and 1972 Kentucky Derby winner Riva Ridge, it was changed to an invitational race that would bring together the top horses 3 years of age and older. The inaugural race more than lived up to its expectations with Secretariat setting a new world record time for 1 1/8 miles on dirt while winning by three-and-a-half lengths.

The race became a very important annual event and 1978 marked the first, and as of 2006, the only time in racing history that two Triple Crown winners ever met in a race. Seattle Slew, the 1977 champion, defeated the 1978 champion Affirmed by three lengths.

The advent of the Breeders' Cup races in 1984 marked the beginning of the end for the Marlboro Cup. The Philip Morris company who manufactured the best-selling Marlboro cigarette canceled their sponsorship in 1987.

Get In Line Jean

There’s an article in today’s Lexington Herald about Seattle Slew’s jockey Jean Cruguet and whether he deserves induction into the Hall of Fame. All the greats from his era have already been inducted, among them Braulio Baeza, Jorge Velasquez, Jacinto Vasquez, Angel Cordero and Steve Cauthen. All were no brainers for induction. But having seen Jean ride many times, I for one do not
wonder why he isn’t in the Hall of Fame. His notoriety is largely an accident of fate. It was Slew’s talent that elevated Cruguet and made this talk of inducting an otherwise ordinary rider into the Hall of Fame. I saw Cruguet manhandle many a mount and lose many a photo to more skillful riders like Cordero and Cauthen. If all other things about a race were equal, Cordero or Cauthen would get my two dollars over Cruguet. During Seattle Slew’s triple crown campaign, I even remember reading articles in the press suggesting that Bill Turner take Jean off Slew and get a better rider.

Before inducting Jean, I’d like to see overlooked riders like Eddie Maple, Jose Santos or Jorge Chavez inducted. Why even riders like Pat Valenzuela (where are you these days Pat?) and Chris Antley, who both had careers shortened by drug abuse accomplished more on the track than Jean Cruguet.

Any Given Monday to Reflect On Any Given Saturday

Weekends are slow on the TBA feed, that’s why I look forward to Monday and the chance to read what other bloggers have to say about the weekend’s events. Any Given Saturday was knocked off his pedestal by Street Sense who everybody thought was not cranked up enough to win. Was Carl Nafzger being coy about Street Sense's readiness? Calvin Borel wasn’t being coy when he said the Street Sense we saw on Saturday was twenty lengths short of his best. You do the math. There are some in the press who are still trying to find a reason to put Any Given Saturday back up on his pedestal. They have decided the best way to do that is to deflect from his loss by changing the subject to Street Sense’s bandages and Borel’s trademark rail skimming trip. In my opinion Any Given Saturday’s best Saturday was last Saturday and he will regress from here. As for the Street Sense detractors, I say put down the New York Post and the Racing Form and watch the horse run.

Obviously Street Sense, Great Hunter and Circular Quay head the class. In their few meetings they have repeatedly proved best. Stormello’s best Saturday was probably in the FOY. Liquidity’s poor performance in the Louisiana Derby reflects on Ravel’s abilities. If Great Hunter comes east for the Blue Grass, Ravel may not have to beat much in the Santa Anita Derby and will go into the Derby as this year’s Brother Derek. It looks like the Blue Grass will be a meeting of the titans with, Street Sense, Great Hunter and Circular Quay set to compete and my pal Birdbirdistheword looking to spoil the party. The Wood Memorial shapes up as an opportunity for Nobiz to finally show he has learned how to change leads. The Florida Derby looks like Scat Daddy’s race to lose. . The Derby should be Curlin’s fourth career start and probably his first loss

"As you guys know, true mile and a quarter horses, there aren’t a lot of them." ~ Wayne Lukas

And by the time we know that, the Derby will be over. And that’s the great thing about the Derby. By and large it’s a bunch of horses that can’t run a mile and a quarter being asked to run a mile and a quarter. Facts are stubborn and statistics can be fickle; Giacomo won and that’s a fact. Bellamy Road had the highest Beyer of any horse going into his Derby but he wasn’t a mile and a quarter horse; that’s a fact.

Year after year the best laid plans of talented trainers and horses like Nick Zito and Bellamy Road, Todd Pletcher and Bandini and Kenny McPeek and Harlan's Holiday come undone in that last quarter mile.

Will this year will be any different; I will be betting it won’t. It should be Todd’s year. Todd has a winning formula with one flaw, it doesn’t work in the Triple Crown and underperforms in the Breeders Cup. Why is it that his horses all peak one race too soon. I don’t know but it is a fact and given his resources it makes you wonder what Michael Matz, Michael Dickinson or John Servis could do with them. Maybe you really can’t be prepared for Kentucky Derby? Too many really good horses have lost the Derby to discount that idea.

That’s why I am not looking at any of Todd’s horses to win this year. He may very well win every prep up to the Derby and wind up losing to that mile and a quarter horse whose name we don’t know yet.

Ferdinand and Alysheba Battle It Out

My thanks to fellow blogger, Rather Rapid for reminding me that Ferdinand and Alysheba had previously locked horns in the 1987 Breeders Cup Classic. Rather Rapid knows his details and his blog KY Derby or Bust is always worth a read; he's a true individual and not afraid to say what he thinks (although sometimes I have to read his posts three times before I get the point}. I am honored to see that he reads the Birdbirdblog.

My Lagniappe

Lagniappe is a term used in Louisiana to describe a little something extra, a gift of sorts. Like being invited to attend the Louisiana Derby was not enough, Team Bird also invited me to attend the pre-Derby party which was held last night at Pat O's in the Jackson Brewery in the French Quarter. I donned my pink shirt(required attire for Team Bird) and off I went, wondering who I would see. Would the elusive Mr Pletcher show? Maybe Michael Tabor too. Not that either of those guys requires a name tag for me to know who they are. What are the eating and drinking habit of horse racing royalty. It would all be revealed to me as the evening progressed.

Team Bird was easy to recognize, just look for a table where everyone is wearing pink. As I suspected Cottrell family are very nice, down to earth people. I also met Birdbird's breeders Randy and Lucy Edwards who drove all the way from Ocala to attend today. Of course, conversation centered on Birdbird and all things racing.

One thing I did notice about these parties is that they are just like weddings; people tend to talk to people they know and a lot of people only had their first names on their tags.

As for notables I did see at the party I was surprised to see retired jockey Don Brumfield who won the Kentucky Derby on Kauai King. Dallas Stewart, Bernie Flint and Ken McPeek were there. Jose Riquelue (excuse the spelling) and James Graham were there too.

I wouldn't be surprised to see Graham's horse carrying overweight today, James likes to eat !!

The Jitters

I have an hour to kill before my flight to New Orleans to see Birdbird run in the Louisiana Derby. I drop into the Jet Rock bar at Philadelphia International Airport and order a Bud Light and a taco salad. Like any airport bar, a wall of televisions displays a smorgasbord of news, sports and games shows. CNN is reporting on that smoky jet crash in Indonesia, just the thing a guy getting on a plane in thirty minutes wants to watch. The footage would make your average air traveler a little nervous but not me, as my Bud Light disappears my mind wanders off to all the little things that go wrong with a horse, a sudden fever, cough. What if he doesn't finish his feed? These are the same fears that would go through my mind when I owned horses in partnerships. Of course nothing bad every really happened but that did not stop me from worrying about it. I always assumed the worst. That's why I could never cope with having a "big" horse like Birdbird, I'd worry myself to death.

I fly enough that flying should not make me jittery but it still does; takeoffs are the worst; defying gravity doesn’t agree with me. A little while later the flight attendant takes my drink order, she notices the Smarty Jones cap I am wearing, maybe she senses my mood. After she takes my order she says “Didn’t Barbaro break your heart?" Yeah he did, I reply.

Alysheba and Ferdinand Battle It Out

The 1988 San Bernardino Hcp., one of the few races where two Kentucky Derby winners battle it out. Will we ever see two Derby winners battle it out again?

The Clumsy And The Bold

I don’t think Nobiz lost much stature in his defeat in the FOY, as is his habit (and I hope Barclay can do something to correct it) he failed to change leads easily and looked like a big clumsy kid at the quarter pole. Nobiz still has not figured out that he is a racehorse and this is not a game. Scat Daddy proved that he is a force to be reckoned with and Stormello ran a heck of a race considering his commute in from California. But I still think we haven’t seen the best of Nobiz and when we do, watch out. I can console myself though, I had the Scat Daddy/ Stormello exacta!

Meanwhile Bold Start, a stablemate of Birdbirdistheword, (in fact their stalls at Palm Meadows are right next to each other) has finally figured out that he is a racehorse. Last month I asked Kenny McPeek about Bold Start and he was a bit puzzled by him. He knew he had worlds of ability but would not step up when asked. Today in the Hutcheson, Bold Start stepped up, giving King of the Roxy reason to worry at the top of the stretch.

McPeek quote from Bloodhorse:
“He’s got a lot of talent," McPeek said of the runner-up. "The battle is getting it out of him. He’s still in the game. I’d like to run him 1 1/8 miles in four or five weeks, probably the Illinois Derby (gr. II)."

The Illinois Derby is April 7 at Hawthorne Park.

Here’s a photo of Bold Start ignoring me in his stall at Palm Meadows.

New Blogger (New to me at least)

I happened on Canadian Gambling News and Issues from a comment on Jen's ThoroughBlog. I can't find a profile for whomever is writing it but it worth a look, especially the Twilight Zone video posted yesterday(it's long but worth watching;the best part is about 13 mins. into it) and the video about the poker player who has 800K tied up at Netteller just when they went of out of business, really unique stuff.

Seihali: Next Stop Dubai Duty Free

Eight year old, Seihali, third in the Dubai Duty Free last year, seen here winning the final prep for the Dubai Duty Free, the Haafhd Jebel Hatta, Johnny Murtagh up.

Quijano: On Track for the Dubai Sheema

Quijano took the Dubai City of Gold (2400m) at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday. This is the final prep for the Dubai Sheema. This was Quijano's tenth win in a row, laying just off the pace in the yellow silks, Quijano makes his move at the top of the stretch and isn't fully extended to win. I haven't read much about him here in the USA but I think that will change soon.

I'll Take A Pass On Day Pass

Former Darley and now a Godolphin Kentucky Derby hopeful (soon to be transferred back to Darley after this effort), Day Pass disappointed in his Dubai debut. He ran into a locomotive named Asiatic Boy in the Bahri Al Bastakiya, the final UAE prep at Nad Al Sheba for the UAE Derby. Asiatic Boy, who won the UAE 2000 Guineas a fews weeks ago and now must be the prohibitive favorite for the UAE Derby on World Cup Day. Day Pass faded to finish fourth while Asiatic Boy looks like he could give Discreet Cat a run for his money, of course Discreet Cat would have to leave the barn for that to happen and apparently Discreet Cat is fond of staying in the barn !!!

Albert The Great - Sire of Nobiz Like Shobiz

Yes I am being lazy this week. Don't feel like writing anything and that's why Youtube is so great, I can always find something interesting out there. Here's a short video of Albert the Great at Three Chimneys.