Saturday, May 05, 2007

Kentucky Derby Predictions

It’s the first Saturday in May and that means one thing – It’s DERBY DAY!!!.....

Let’s talk horses....there are 20 horses and we need to eliminate some in order to make our selections....The Wall Street Journal’s Allen St. John helped us out with yesterday’s edition, he wrote that the last 15 Derby winners finished at least fourth or better in its final prep race...

He went on to write that a strong performance does not mean a victory though....the Wood Memorial is considered the premier prep race....however, since 1982, only one Wood winner – Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) went on to win the Derby....he continued that the last winner of the Santa Anita Derby to win in Kentucky was Sunday Silence in 1989....the last horse to win the Blue Grass Stakes and follow-up with a Derby win was Strike the Gold in 1991....

Therefore, that means Nobiz Like Sobiz (winner of the Wood Memorial), Tiago (Santa Anita), and Dominican (Blue Grass) will not win the Derby....

Curlin may be the favorite, but I think come post time, the "hot" horse will be Street Sense.....according to Andy Beyer, in yesterday’s Washington Post, he wrote, ". . . no 3-year-old has been pointed toward tomorrow’s race more thoughtfully than Street Sense."....

Railbird Roberts also picked Street Sense as did my dad....even my track friend Lenny is going with Street Sense......the Street Sense delegation looks solid, but Rick Snider and myself like Scat Daddy....Snider wrote, in his column yesterday, that he wanted a horse who is a ". . . stalker who can jump up at the top of the stretch . . . " him, Scat Daddy is that horse....I went with Scat Daddy because trainer Todd Pletcher has never had a Derby winner....he has two good shots today with Scat Daddy and Circular of them will hit it big for Pletcher....

So here are some picks:
Railbird Roberts - Thistledown Race Track
Win - Street Sense
Place - Great Hunter
Show - Circular Quay
Darkhorse - Sam P.

Rick Snider - Examiner Newspapers
Win - Scat Daddy
Place - Zanjero
Show - Curlin

Ignatius - my dad
Win - Street Sense
Place - Curlin
Show - Nobiz Like Shobiz

My picks
Win - Scat Daddy
Place - Circular Quay
Show - Stormello
Darkhorse - Storm in May

Who knows what will happen once I get down the track today....I remember in 2002 I went down there all hot for Harlan's Holiday....but as the horses came out of the paddock something hit me when I saw War Emblem...I don't know if it was love at first sight, but I said to my dad, that horse is going to win...he just had this confident walk - it's hard to explain...I went up and place $10 on War Emblem...the rest is history....Good luck to all.....

Friday, May 04, 2007

Kentucky Derby Facts

Today ‘s blog is dedicated to facts about The Kentucky Derby.....I had the privilege to visit and take a tour of Churchill Downs in February was one of the most exciting times because I was walking on “the holy ground” of horse was magical walking in the paddock area then out in the grandstand....even before the tour, I always enjoyed this race....

One of the greatest moments in sports occurs when the horses come onto the track and the Louisville Marching Band serenades them with “My Old Kentucky Home”....every year, I get chills and tears form in my eyes....there is something about that song and that moment that just strikes a cord is the most moving moment in sports...”My Old Kentucky Home” is without a doubt, one of the five greatest songs elicits raw is a link to The University of Louisville band playing it....when you get on the page, click on "Hear the Song" at the top of the page....

  • My Old Kentucky Home

  • Q. When was “My Old Kentucky Home” first played at the Derby?
    A. Although there is no definitive history on the playing of the Stephen Foster ballad as a Derby Day tradition it is believed to have had its origin in 1921 for the 47th running of the classic. The Courier-Journal in their May 8, 1921 edition reported, "To the strains of "My Old Kentucky Home" Kentuckians gave vent their delight. For Kentucky triumphed in the Derby." The story refers to the popular victory of the Kentucky-owned and bred Behave Yourself. The actual year the song was played as the horses were led onto the track is also unclear. A 1929 news account written by the legendary Damon Runyon reported that the song was played periodically throughout Derby Day.

    A report by the former Philadelphia Public Ledger provides evidence that 1930 may have been the first year the song was played as the horses were led to the post parade - "When the horses began to leave the paddock and the song 'My Old Kentucky Home' was coming from the radio, the cheering started."

    Q. Who was the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby?
    A. Aristides won the first Kentucky Derby in 1875. A statue of Aristides is located in the paddock area.

    Q. Who has trained the most Derby winners?
    A. Ben A. Jones trained six winners: Lawrin (1938), Whirlaway (1941), Pensive (1944), Citation (1948), Ponder (1949), Hill Gail (1952)

    Q. How many fillies ever won the Derby?
    A. There have been 36 fillies to start the Derby, but only 3 have ever won: Regret (1915), Genuine Risk (1980), and Winning Colors (1988). A filly has not run in the Derby since 1999 when Excellent Meeting finished 5th and Three Ring 19th.

    Q. How long is the Kentucky Derby?
    A. The Derby is one mile and a quarter. None of theses horses have ever run that far in a race.

    Q. How many horses have been disqualified in the Kentucky Derby?
    A. This has occurred twice. In the 1968 Kentucky Derby, Dancer's Image finished first and Forward Pass finished second, followed by Francie's Hat, T.V. Commercial and Kentucky Sherry. The Kentucky State Racing Commission ordered redistribution of the purse with first money to Forward Pass, second money to Francie's Hat, third money to T.V. Commercial and fourth money to Kentucky Sherry, because of its finding of prohibited medication in Dancer's Image.
    After extensive litigation, the Commission's order was upheld in April, 1972, by Kentucky's highest court in Kentucky State Racing Commission et al v Peter Fuller, 481 S. W. 298. In a subsequent proceeding, the Commission also ordered that Forward Pass be considered the winner of the 1968 Kentucky Derby, except for pari-mutuel pay-offs, and that the 1968 gold cup Kentucky Derby trophy be awarded to its owner, Calumet Farm. An appeal from this order was dismissed and it is final.
    In the only other disqualification, Gate Dancer, the fourth-place finisher in 1984, was disqualified for interference in the stretch and placed fifth.

    Q. Who ran the fastest Derby?
    A. Only two horses ever completed the Derby in less than 2 minutes. In 1973 Secretariat set the record that still stands when he completed the course in 1:59 2/5. In 2001 Monarchos completed the race in 1:59.97.

    Q. What color of horse has won the most Derbies?
    A. 47 bay-colored horses have won the Derby followed by 43 chestnut-colored horses.

    Q. What is the worst type of track condition?
    A. A sloppy track is considered the worst type of track condition. That has happened only four times in the Derby with the last time occurring in 2004 when Smarty Jones won the race.

    Q. What post position has produced the most winning horses?
    A. Of the 20 post positions, 12 times each the winning horse came from either the 1st or 5th position. The 4th and 10th positions produced the next most winning horses with 10 each. A winning horse has never come out of the 17th or 19th post position.

    Q. How many women trainers or jockeys have ever participated in the Derby?
    A. There have been 12 women trainers who trained a horse for the Derby. The last coming in 2004 with Kristin Mulhall and Jennifer Pederson. There have only been five women jockeys to ever ride a horse in the Derby: Diane Crump, Patti Cooksey, Andrea Seefeldt, Julie Krone, and Rosemary Homeister....

    Below is a link to when former Kentucky governor and baseball commissioner the late - A.B. "Happy" Chandler sang "My Old Kentucky Home" on Senior Day at a Kentucky basketball game....he does not have the voice of a pure singer, however, his creaky and crackily version fits this song the emotions pour from each person.....

  • Happy Chandler

    My Old Kentucky Home
    The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
    'Tis summer, the people are gay;
    The corn-top's ripe and the meadow's in the bloom,
    While the birds make music all the day.

    The young folks roll on the little cabin floor,
    All merry, all happy and bright;
    By 'n' by Hard Times comes a-knocking at the door,
    Then my old Kentucky home, goodnight.

    Weep no more my lady
    Oh! weep no more today!
    We will sing one song for the old Kentucky home,
    For the Old Kentucky Home far away.

  • Thursday, May 03, 2007

    Five Good Questions with . . . Rick Snider of The Examiner newspapers about The Derby

    Today's "Five Good Questions" is with sports columnist Rick Snider.....Rick works for the Examiner newspapers in Washington and Baltimore ( he has covered horse racing for over 25 years and knows our friend Railbird Roberts well....the two have been trackside for many great races....

    Q1. What is a jockey's best strategy in trying to win the Kentucky Derby?
    There is no one way to win the Derby so knowing your horse's capabilities is everything. If he's a speedster, get to the early lead and hope for the best. If he's not, don't fight for that early lead on the first turn. The opening turn can really make or break through bad traffic problems so staying clean is a big deal. The second key is not letting the adrenalin kick in too early on the final turn. If you have some horse left, wait until the top of the stretch before moving.

    Q2. Curlin is trying to be the first horse in over 100 years to win the Derby without ever racing as a 2-year old. What do you know about Curlin and is it possible for this horse win?
    You'd like to dismiss Derby trends and take each horse as they come, but those trends tend to be right. Dosage, no starts as a two-year-old, mares . . . betting against them is often futile. I'll toss Curlin for that reason -- lack of seasoning. In a race with 150,000 people at the track, green horses can become unnerved. Throw in a tough race of 20 horses and Curlin could be undone by elements that aren't there in any other race. He is fast, though.

    Q3. In your opinion, why hasn't there been a Triple Crown winner since Affirmed did it in 1978?
    Mostly, bad luck. Silver Charm lost a photo. Several others have been equally robbed. And who knows the real story on Spectacular Bid and the safety pin he supposedly stepped on the morning of the Belmont. I don't think it's an indictment against the modern horse. It's just one of those things. We'll see another one day and he'll be worthy of it.

    Q4. How does Barbaro rate when compared against other elite horses in the last 30 years?
    Very hard to say. Barbaro basically won two big races. That doesn't make him great. If he wasn't hurt, maybe Barbaro would have been a super horse, but maybe doesn't make him immortal. In the end, we'll remember him as a potentially great horse who suffered the grand misfortune. Personally, I think Barbaro wouldn't have won the Preakness after breaking through the gate beforehand. That usually costs horses their momentum.

    Q5. Who should I put my money on in this year's Kentucky Derby?
    If you want to double your money, fold it in half and put it back in your pocket. Sorry, old racetrack joke. My Derby record consisted of two wins in 20 tries with six seconds, but I did have War Emblem paying $42 so in the end I finished $8 ahead over the long run on $2 bets. Seriously, I won't decide until Friday because my tuition at the University of the Twin Spires taught me to toss any horse that has anything strange happen to him during the week. I'm talking anything minor that trainers dismiss only to admit after the race it was more of a big deal than they admitted. Happens all the time. Hard Spun gets tossed by that fast workout on Monday. But, if you're reading this beforehand, my early money will be on Nobiz Like Showbiz over Tiago. Throw in Bwana Bull at 50-1 in your triples. But for my final decision, read my column on Friday in Good luck.

    I want to thank Rick for his time.....he has agreed to provide analysis for the Preakness and Belmont...also if you are looking for some real estate, visit Rick’s site at

    Today's Derby moment is Spectacular Bid's 1979 win....

  • Spectacular Bid
  • Wednesday, May 02, 2007

    Kentucky Derby News

    Here are a few stories about the Kentucky Derby.....

    In the Louisville Courier-Journal....
    The post positions for this year's Kentucky Derby will be selected at 5:00 p.m. today on ESPN 2.....

  • Post Positions
  • A feature on trainer Barclay Tagg.....

  • Barclay Tagg
  • In the Lexington Herald-Leader, there is a feature on trainer Todd Pletcher....learn about his non-serious side....

  • Todd Pletcher
  • Today's Derby moment is from the 1973 Derby when Secretariat smashed the field.......

  • 1973 Secretariat
  • ...

    Tuesday, May 01, 2007

    Five Good Questions with . . . Railbird Roberts on The Kentucky Derby

    Today’s "Five Good Questions" is with legendary horse racing reporter Railbird Bob Roberts.....Railbird wrote for many years with The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.....since retiring, he now works for Thisteldown Race Track just outside Cleveland.....I just want to say that when I called Railbird and asked him if he could provide feedback for the Triple Crown races, he was more than gracious to help out....after reading his work for all those years, it is an honor to have him write something for this blog......

    Q1. What are some tips for someone who only bets on horse racing during the Triple Crown season? What should they look for when betting a horse for the Kentucky Derby?
    An old-timer once told me that if you want to bet the classiest horse, divide a horse's earnings by the number of starts that he's made. The horse with the highest average earnings per start is the class of the field. It probably is a good way to approach the Derby. This year, it would have you deciding between Curlin and Street Sense.

    Q2. Back in February the talk was that Nobiz Like Shobiz was almost a guarantee to win The Derby. It seems like he will be one of the favorites going into The Derby. Is he the real deal?
    His victory in the April 7 Wood Memorial was impressive. He was anxious in the early running but settled down and won as a professional. Nobiz Like Shobiz has to be one of the favorites.

    Q3. Circular Quay does not get a lot of publicity, but he has the pedigree in former Kentucky Derby champ Thunder Gulch. What are your thoughts about Circular Quay?
    He has certainly done nothing wrong. A jockey fell in his path in the Feb. 10 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds and his rider had to snatch him up to avoid a disaster. He then came back to win the March 10 Louisiana Derby. I guess Circular Quay is one of those "out of sight, out of mind" horses. Still, he is difficult to discount, especially for those playing trifectas and superfectas.

    Q4. What type of horse is best suited to win The Kentucky Derby?
    There is no "best suited" horses. Winners come from just off the pace (Barbaro) and from the back of the pack (Giacomo), so running styles are not a factor. It is hard to go wire-to-wire, but that also has been done. I try to find a horse who is peaking on the first Saturday in May, which means I watcha lot of video replays.

    Q5. Who do you think will win the Derby and who are your sleepers?
    I'm still studying workouts, but I kind of like Street Sense, Chelokee, Tiago, and Nobiz Like Shobiz. I'll watch the final round of morning drills and then the post position draw before making up my mine. There is really no hurry . . . until late afternoon on May 5.

    Once again, I want to thank Railbird.....and we will hear from him again.....

    In honor of Derby week - everyday I will put a link to a classic Derby is the 1978 Kentucky Derby when Affirmed beat out Alydar

  • 1978 Kentucky Derby
  • Sunday, April 29, 2007

    Five Good Questions with . . . Kevin Iole of The Las Vegas Review-Journal about the De La Hoya-Mayweather Fight

    Today’s "Five Good Questions" is with Kevin Iole of The Las Vegas Review-Journal....Kevin covers boxing for the paper and will soon be the boxing columnist at Yahoo! Sports.....Kevin gives his views about Saturday’s big fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr.....

    Q1. This fight is being billed as one of the biggest fights in quite awhile. What are your views -- is this one of the biggest fights or just another good fight that is being over-hyped?
    It is a legitimately big fight. You're matching the most popular fighter in the game (De La Hoya) against the universally recognized best (Mayweather). That's always a recipe for a big fight.

    Q2. What is the impact now that Mayweather Sr. left the De La Hoya camp and returned to his son's corner?
    Big Floyd is now not working for Junior. He's upset at comments made by Roger in the second episode of De La Hoya-Mayeather 24/7. I think his impact would have been minimal in any event.

    Q3. In a recent column, you wrote that Mayweather should "take the fight to De La Hoya" and try to knock him out. What is your reasoning for that analysis?
    I don't think Floyd should try to attack De La Hoya. My column was making the point that if Mayweather wants to call himself the best ever, he needs to add more offense. He's great defensively, but he's not a feared guy offensively. And so I was saying that if I'm going to accept his argument of being the best ever (or even in the conversation), I need to see more offense. Hence, under that scenario, he needs to attack and get the KO.

    Q4. Is this going to be De La Hoya's last fight? Do you think he still has "something left in the tank" to beat quality opponents?
    I don't think it will be Oscar's last fight. If he wins, defintely not. If he loses, I think he'll want to have at least a farewell fight so he goes out on a better note. I still think he could beat most guys at his weight.

    Q5. Last question - who should I put my money on and why?
    I like Mayweather to win unanimous decision. Mayweather is about 2-1 now in Las Vegas. I expect most people to bet De La Hoya on the night of the fight, so that number will come down and I think Floyd will provide even more value.

    I would like to thank Kevin for his time and wish him Good Luck at his new job with Yahoo! Sports....

    Quick thoughts on Day 1 of the NFL Draft

    Here are some quick thoughts on the first day of the NFL Draft....

    What I liked
    Cleveland - the Browns chose to go with Joe Thomas with the 3rd pick....however, when Brady Quinn slipped by Miami, general manager Phil Savage aggressively got on the phone and made the effort to secure Quinn.....the Browns also were aggressive in trading back into the 2nd round to get cb Eric Wright....

    New York Jets - the Jets needed a big-time cb especially with the speed receivers in their division (Ginn, Stallworth, Evans).....they made a good choice of Darrelle Revis over Leon Hall being that Hall was toasted by Ginn back in November....Jets also got themselves a solid ilb in David Harris....

    San Francisco - the Niners solidified their defense with ilb Patrick Willis then got protection for Alex Smith with Joe the 3rd they got a wr in Jason Hill and a de in Ray McDonald.....none of those picks are flashy, but solid....

    Baltimore - the Ravens sured up their o-line with Ben Grubbs and Marshal Yanda....this helps open holes for Willis McGahee and provide protection for Steve McNair.....

    Buffalo - Marv Levy had 2 glaring holes - rb and ilb.....they filled those holes with Marshawn Lynch and Paul Posluszny......then they added qb Trent Edwards as a bonus....

    Jacksonville - I like the first round trade with Denver.....the Jags moved down 4 spots, picked up some extra draft picks and still got their man in safety Reggie Nelson....

    What I questioned
    Miami - Ted Ginn at number 9???....this has nothing to do with not taking Brady me, Ginn is not a number 1 receiver.....head coach Cam Cameron was justifying the pick by telling the fans they now have a quality punt returner, blah, blah, blah.....that may be basically the Dolphins drafted a punt returner 9th overall....this coming from a team that has an aging defense and no quality qb (they did address the qb position in round 2) the way, what was up with Cameron's comment that "We drafted the Ginn family. Ted Ginn and his family will give us everything they have."....when did the Ginn's become the "first family" of football?....

    New York Giants - the G-Men addressed their problem at cb by taking Aaron Ross in the 1st round.....but I question taking wr Steve Smith in round 2 especially with the Giants having some o-line problems and losing Luke Pettigout.....

    Other thoughts
    -- Back in November after Ohio State beat Michigan - again, ESPN college football analyst Kirk Herbstreit was the driver of the Troy Smith bandwagon.....Herbie was adamant the Browns must take the hometown kid with their first round pick because he is a winner and the Browns need someone with his ability to win the big games and change the losing mentality.....uhhh Herbie, so far 99 picks have been made and six quarterbacks selected....but still no time, leave your bias in your Columbus home....
    -- I liked ESPN’s coverage this year.....last year they did not have as much on-site debate and I thought they actually underutilized Mel Kiper....there were periods where he was just sitting there not saying a word....I liked the spirited talk this year, especially between Mort and Steve Young about Green Bay’s selections....
    -- According to ESPN’s Michael Smith, Andy Reid and the Eagles brass rattled Donovan McNabb’s cage by selecting Kevin Kolb 36th overall.....
    -- I can’t believe running back Michael Bush from Louisville is still available....if I were the Browns, Seahawks, Falcons, or Packers, I would be on the horn trying to move up and get him....
    -- Other solid players still out there: rb Antonio Pittman; ilb Brandon Siler; ilb H.B. Blades; wr Dallas Baker; ot Mike Otto; og Josh Beekman; olb Dallas Sartz; olb Prescott Burgess; olb Zak DeOssie; cb Tanard Jackson; s Josh Gattis
    -- Of all the draft publications - I have to give a "Tip of the Cap" to The Sporting News...they predicted, back in February that Quinn would go 23rd to Kansas City...they were on the money about Quinn sliding...
    -- Ever wonder how good Mel Kiper is with his predictions....check out Smittblog...he reviews Mel's predictions over the years and what the NFL teams would look like if they listened to Mel...very intersting and also a very good blog....

  • Smittblog