Sunday, May 25, 2008
Friday, May 23, 2008
And, in an open thank you to Louisville in general: I came here practically sight unseen. I came here because I lost my job in New Orleans after Katrina, and I couldn't imagine staying there with no job security, with no security in general.
The folks at my school here in Louisville recruited me relentlessly; they may me feel a sports hero. I was kind of broken back then-- Katrina had hit me hard, psychologically-- and it felt so nice to feel so wanted. Roommate discovered this neighborhood by accident (but after much driving around) and told me that this was where I needed to be. I bought the second house I looked at. I moved here after being here twice, briefly each time.
I feel so lucky. I started this blog after my first school year of being here because I truly wondered at the fact that this city was so totally undiscovered. I have been thrilled that in the two years that I have been here that there have been so many Louisvillagers who have sought to spread the Good Word about this place.
New Orleans remains the city of my heart-- cut me some slack, I lived there for nine years and dreamed about living there for years beforehand. But if the winds had to blow me to some city that was not New Orleans-- and they did-- I feel blessed to the hilt that they sent me here. I live in the greatest undiscovered city in America, and in the best neighborhood in that city.
Thank you, Louisville, for bringing me home.
(I still HATE the winters... can anyone do anything about that??)
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Please send your good wishes Lou's way. Even though she is a godless heathen she still appreciates all prayers and love transmitted in her direction.
Mama loves all of you. Louisville rocks.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Eight Belles was a pretty horse, a horse with tremendous heart. And though it may be somewhat crass to admit this, I don't know that collectively we would have despaired the loss of any horse in this year's Derby in quite the same way that we've felt the loss of this horse. For all the speculation and admiration that followed horses like the incredible Big Brown and the other favorites, Eight Belles was the story. The filly who skipped the Oaks to race with the boys. A filly more evenly matched with Derby colts than most people recognized. Her numbers put her flat in the middle of the pack-- even before she raced, it was clear that at least half of the field didn't measure up to her.
And, again, probably not a popular opinion, but the fact that she was a girl, I think, plays on our collective sympathies even more. Her trainer and owner and jockey fawned over her in a way that people don't fawn over colts. Called her "sweetheart" and "baby." And speaking for myself, as a woman, I loved the "girl power" aspect of the story. If I'd been able to bet on Derby day, I would have put my money on her (and, of course, my Denis of Cork-- bless his heart to come from 20th to finish 3rd-- he's still a horse to watch), especially after seeing her on TV on Derby Day. She just looked like she had a win in her.
I like to talk a good game, but in reality I know bupkus about horse racing in the grand scheme of things. And, like many people, my knee jerk reaction to the tragedy was to think, "I don't know how I can ever watch horseracing again." I felt that way when I watched a horse die in the paddock area of Keeneland last fall, a senseless and incomprehensible death where the horse reared, fell down, and broke his neck on the bricks.
And that was my gut reaction: "I don't know if I can watch horseracing again" not "should horseracing exist."
But that's been a question that's been raised in the wake of this horrible loss and in the wake of the loss of Barbaro. In some online news sources, I've seen pundits speculate about whether or not there's a difference between horseracing and dogfighting. Speculation that we condemn one and celebrate the other only based on the socioeconomic differences between the fans.
Again, I stress that I come from no place of expertise when it comes to horseracing. But I can honestly say that for the most part I have more concern for the treatment and well being of the humans who work on the backside of the track than I do for the horses on a day-to-day basis. And yes, that does concern me.
The questions that should be raised-- and are being raised by many-- are ones about reform to the sport. Should all tracks move to Polytrack? Tracks like Santa Anita have seen dramatic reductions in catastrophic injuries since moving to Polytrack. Should we be looking at reform in horse breeding? European racehorses are more hearty than their American counterparts. Should we be doing more when it comes to horse medicine? There is now sophisticated medical imaging technology that can detect even the most delicate fracture.
There are always going to be things about horseracing that upset me. But that doesn't necessarily set it apart from other sports. Athletes in general risk injury or worse for the love of the sport and for their fans. The level of excess at the Derby is generally appalling, but events like the Superbowl have it beat.
I will say this categorically: I really, truly, passionately wish they'd ban whips.
But I do think, for the most part, horses are very well cared for. I believe they have generally good lives. And I do believe that they love to run. It's hard not to believe that when you watch a horse race.
What happened to Eight Belles was a senseless, incomprehensible tragedy. And as I still try to recover from the news, I'm reminded by other news today that life is just goddamned full of senseless, incomprehensible tragedies. 10,000+ dead in Myanmar. Six sea lions shot dead while trapped in humane traps on the Columbia River. 12,000 kids in China sick with a deadly virus.
It doesn't make this any less sad. Nor is the answer to shuttle it off as just one more thing to outrage and appall us.
Online today at the NYTimes, this was posted in the comments of The Rail blog:
Michael Blowen, of Old Friends (http://oldfriendsequine.com) sent me this
e-mail on Sunday that he received from a young fan:
Hello. My name is XXXX,
and I am 11 years old, and I won money off of Eight Bells at a Derby party
yesterday. I feel so bad about what happened to her that I can not enjoy my
money that I won. So, I am going to donate my winnings to your organazation and
so is my mom. I found out about you on the internet last night. Your farm sounds
like a very nice place. I am asking everyone that I know if they also won money
off of Eight Bells, and if they would like to dotate their money as well. Some
people that I am asking are donating money just to be nice. So I just wanted to
let you know that as soon as I collect the money, my mom will send you a check.
— Posted by alex
Also worth checking out: Jane Smiley's Op-Ed column.
Saturday, May 3, 2008
Yesterday was a washout. Buddy and I got there just before Race 5 and around an hour before the rains started. And what rains they were. Big drops blown sideways by hard winds, thunder, lightning. At one point Churchill had to lower the score boards. Buddy and I were, of course, among the riff raff on the infield. Finally, after having spent more than an hour off and on in the shelter of an ATM tent, we grabbed a giant recycling sign, held it over our heads, and made our way to the Grandstand where we dried off a bit and watched the Oaks on the monitors.
Honestly, it wasn't much fun. I was dressed for the 78 degree morning and not the 62 degree wet afternoon. We froze our tuchases off. I did have my annual julep, and then a woman next to me bought a Filly and asked if she could pour the drink in my empty glass. I must have looked at her like she was crazy because she said, "I'm in recovery. I just wanted the glass." I didn't have the heart to tell her that she could get one at Walgreens for $2.50.
All and all it wasn't a bad day for my pocketbook. Lou has once again proven that she's decent at picking the second or third place horse (but never, ever first). Out of the five races I put money on, my horse placed in three. I had the impressive Little Belles for the Oaks and she came in 2nd. I wasn't betting super long odds-- most were 7-1 or 8-1. Belles was 5-1.
That being said, Mama loves her the underdogs, and with most handicappers drooling over Colonel John, Big Brown, and Pyro, I think the Derby field is a good place to look for the longshots to shine.
After spending about an hour with the C-J Derby Preview, here are my choices for double-digit odds that could pull off a win.
Of course, my baby, Denis of Cork. He's 20-1 morning odds. Definitely underrated and his fifth place bomb recently has caused a lot of people to put blinders on when it comes to Denis. The only things this puppy has going against him are (a) I've got my money on him and (b) he's named after a priest from Ireland. Last year's religiously named horse-- Dominican-- was also "my" pony, and he came in middle of the pack. This is science, folks!
Recapturetheglory (20-1) has great Best Beyer and BRIS numbers, but his Dosage is 5.00, the highest of the field (and no, Lou has no idea what these numbers really mean). In the Illinois Derby (during which he beat Denis), he ran the last 3/8 in 36.2 and the last 1/8 in 12.2. Killer numbers bested in last starts only by favorite Colonel John and Visionaire.
So that's why Visionaire makes the list. Visionaire (20-1) has less stunning numbers, but had an amazing finish in the Bluegrass. He came in 5th but rocketed at the end.
Eight Belles' (20-1) numbers are better than Recapturetheglory's and she's among the fastest horses out there. A filly hasn't won the Derby since 1988, so let's face it... we're way overdue. She gave up a chance to trounce the Oaks field for a shot at the Derby. You gotta love those guts. And her stablemate Proud Spell took the Oaks, making this a possible storybook weekend for Larry Jones.
Bob Black Jack (20-1) is my final longshot. Second best numbers in the field after Big Brown. Finished second after Colonel John in the Santa Anita... handicappers like him as a longshot. But he's my least favorite longshot. Will bet him only if odds stay at 20 or better.
There you have it, Colts and Fillies. Bet at your own risk; I'm not really a handicapper, I just play one on the internet. Good luck! Go Denis of Cork!!
Thursday, May 1, 2008
By the way, the Mayor's office has declared May 1 official Louisville Collegiate School Kindergarten Derby Day.
Happy Oaks Eve!
Plan your next roadtrip with MapQuest.com: America's #1 Mapping Site.