Archive for April, 2011

13 Days to Post

Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by a4synapse

Refer to the Kentucky Derby Graded Stakes Earnings List here, which at the time of this post, had not been updated to account for the Coolmore Lexington (won by Derby Kitten) or the Jerome (Adios Charlie), neither of whom seems likely to go in the Derby.

I feel strongly that the field should be trimmed from 20 to 15, knowing that this will not happen. There will be some significant works this week, most notably Uncle Mo on Tuesday.  I don’t think TVG will be doing its ‘The Works’ show yet. Boo. When they do it, it’s a useful look behind the curtain. I suspect that’s a budget consideration.

Uncle Mo had a gallop over the CD surface, very muddy and apparently liked it. I think he’ll be in the gate unless he comes down with a major malfunction. Dialed In is up next. I haven’t seen any reports of works and he’s still in Florida. But he loves the CD track (as does Mo) and that’s very important.  I think Zito doesn’t want to move him too soon, or show his hand, but Zito certainly knows how to get a horse ready for this race. Of the two, I have greater confidence that Dialed In will get the distance, but less confidence that he will not get trapped behind horses in the cavalry charge and get knocked out of the race. That depends on the draw, track conditions and Julien.

Archarcharch will definitely go unless he sustains an injury. He’ll be covered as a feelgood story. Sometimes the press overplays its hand on these. I’m dubious right now on his chances. It’s the old story: is he just coming into his own as a very high-quality horse, or was the Arkansas Derby a one-hit wonder? He has the breeding.

I think Comma to the Top is out of it. He hasn’t been consistent (seriously bouncing), and I think he’s a grinder, which has not been very successful in large fields going a new distance (there’s a statement).

I like Toby’s Corner. He has actually been racing in New York. He showed ability in the Gotham, and improved off of that race to win the Wood (quite nicely). I like his breeding and I like his style.

Pants on Fire has shown something in Louisiana. I don’t like his name. I’ve seen a few articles on how a badly-named horse doesn’t do well. Is that a clue to the cosmos?

Also like Midnight Interlude. Like his connections, like his running style, like the way he’s improving rapidly. The Derby may be too much, too soon, but I think he’ll be in the mix in the last quarter mile.

I think JP’s Gusto will be withdrawn.

I think Soldat will also be withdrawn. He hasn’t shown anything recently to make me feel that they will enter him. Owners are funny people.

Brilliant Speed was brilliant in the Blue Grass. Right now, I have no idea if he can run on dirt. Maybe Tom Albertrani does, and watching ‘The Works’ would be useful here, but apparently not. He does have an appropriate running style. His sire is Dynaformer and he’s out of a Gone West mare. I confess that I’m a sucker for Dynaformer’s.

The word right now is that Master of Hounds will be coming over. Yay! He will make it interesting and I would seriously consider a bet here, pending more information.

Twice the Appeal is in simply and only because he won the Sunland Park Derby. Don’t care for him.

Nehro is in because he got up for second in the Arkansas Derby and was closing fast on Archarcharch (it’s annoying to type that name). I think he has the breeding and the connections. Want to see more.

Mucho Macho Man is another feelgood story. He is supposedly training very well. For some spurious reason, I have no respect for horses that have been running in Louisiana.

Decisive Moment has been running in Lousiana. Breeding is not outstanding and the connections are obscure.

Animal Kingdom has a great trainer, but has been running on Polytrack or whatever they want to call that surface. Has a turf pedigree; affinity to dirt unknown. No race over the CD surface that I know of.

The Factor is turning out to be one of my favorite horses this year. His race in the Rebel was impressive because he led early and found something later to put the field away. This leads me to believe that he is a horse with courage. He displaced his palate in the Arkansas Derby, but kept trying. He is in the best of hands. I’m pretty sure they’re on the bubble. I think they’ll probably keep him out for his own sake. I look for great things from him down the road, but maybe not for May 7.

Stay Thirsty had C. H. Borel aboard for his latest work, which was not distinguished. I think they would be very smart to have this jockey, but that’s undetermined. Based on what I saw in the Florida Derby, he will have to be training lights out to belong in this field.

Jaycito will not, in my opinion, be in the gate.

Santiva has shown nothing recently to deserve the start.

Watch Me Go is a real wildcard. He beat not much in the Tampa Bay Derby, which included Brethren who has been sent to the Farm for a rest, but will probably go just because he can.

I really like Shackleford. His race in the Florida Derby was pure heart, and he probably got a lot out of it. I think he will have the earnings to get in because of defections. I hope so.

Twinspired ran lights out in the Blue Grass. Don’t know if his form will hold up on dirt.

That’s what I think right now. 13 Days to Post. With luck, something will show in training to help clear up the picture.



Posted in Uncategorized on April 24, 2011 by a4synapse

This was scratched into the paint of an ancient elevator. “You never know how much is enough until you’ve had too much.”

Words to live by.

Hanna has no sisters

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , on April 10, 2011 by a4synapse

Went to see ‘Hanna’.  The director is Joe Wright; I had seen three of his films without noting that this was his work: Atonement, The Soloist, and Pride & Prejudice. I didn’t hate any of them; just didn’t notice them enough to see who had directed until this film.

In some ways, it’s like a european travelogue. It begins near the arctic circle, hops to Morocco (and some really spectacular scenery (I think it’s called the Atlas Mountains)), crosses the Gibraltar Strait into Spain and travels by barge toward Berlin. At least some of the director’s objective was to shock its inner child by pulling her from snowbound isolation into the expanse of desert. Then she is pulled into the stream of humanity: some are kind, some are helpless and others hunt her. She doesn’t know what to do with the first two, but knows exactly what to do with those who wish to do her harm.  She sees her species at its most elemental, and as she travels into Berlin, the camera is intent on capturing the freak show/underbelly of the city.

It’s beautifully shot, and it’s a good thing Saoirse Ronan gets along well with a camera. It’s also ridiculously jump-cut and it helps to be a polyglot while you’re watching. Substantial portions of the dialogue are unintelligible, even the english. It’s hard to remember a shot that lasts for more than thirty seconds. It’s a repeating meme that objects are there, and then they’re not.

Most of the deaths are off-camera, but the bodycount is impressive. The door to a sequel is wide open, but this is not a film for everyone. It gets in your face very purposefully, but not from a ‘tranformers’ perspective. Her journey tells her that she is a freak, without knowing her origins. Her first meaningful contacts range from kind and lovely to horrific and painful. Throw in some wondrous and primal and you have a mix that is not usually seen on screens in the states. Props just for that.

Tom Hollander plays a freak who’s hired to hunt Hanna down. He drives a white Land Rover and has skinheads for flunkies. His hair is bleached blonde and he’s wearing guyliner. He’s always tended toward pudge and dressing him in a white tracksuit does him no favors. Here, he’s really quite wonderful. They only give him one real scene with Cate Blanchette, which is a shame. He makes the most of the secondary bad guy role.


Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 9, 2011 by a4synapse

To Honor and Serve and Premier Pegasus have both sustained injuries (both to the left fore, I think) and are off the Derby Trail. To Honor and Serve has a pulled suspensory ligament and Premier Pegasus has a fracture in his cannon bone that requires surgery. That’s two of the top ten knocked off. Soldat has been underperforming.

I’m thinking that Mr. Commons has an opportunity to step up in the Santa Anita Derby. I have great respect for John Shireffs talent as a trainer.

Time will tell.

Peregrine Falcons

Posted in Uncategorized with tags on April 4, 2011 by a4synapse

Yay! I spotted at least two eggs. And if you scroll down (here), you get the view from the second camera (thanks) which shows that they extended the front porch by about six inches and they added those cool tree branches for hanging-out purposes. I’m sure they will be much-appreciated. Best real estate in town, and what a view.

Last year they hatched on May 4th. A month of sitting. I hope all goes well.

I Agree with Justice Kagan

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 by a4synapse

As Adam Liptak represents in the New York Times (paywall (sorry)) here. There’s some of the usual hoo-ha regarding standing. But… it’s a tax CREDIT. I’m sorry: that is spending tax dollars to establish religion. P. S. I don’t live in Arizona.

Florida Derby Redux

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 by a4synapse

If something is worth doing, it’s worth it to review the effort against the results. The DRF’s result is at the bottom.

I picked Dialed In and Flashpoint as likely winners. Dialed In finished first by a head over Shackleford. To Honor and Serve finished third and Flashpoint was fourth. The rest in order: Soldat, Arch Traveler, Stay Thirsty and Bowman’s Causeway.

Shackleford surprised the hell out of everyone. It was a bravura performance. You may watch the video here, courtesy of The Bloodhorse. Scroll down to the ‘racing’ section. As I watch the replay, it’s remarkable that Dialed In is basically not in the picture until the far turn (he was that far out). Another matter of note: Shackleford, To Honor and Serve, and Flashpoint remained in situ from the first eighth of a mile throughout the rest of the race. I’m guessing that Dutrow told C. Velasquez to not gun Flashpoint in the early phases of the race (or maybe Flashpoint didn’t have his “a” game yesterday. Another possibility is that Dutrow wanted him to get dirt in his face and relax. Dialed In came and got them in the last 3/8 of the race, circling the field with no traffic problem that I could see. He won’t have that luxury on May 7. Mine That Bird did it on the inside (courtesy C. Borel) and Super Saver did it last year (courtesy C. Borel). The aforementioned C. Borel is currently riding Elite Alex (one of my faves); next start is the Arkansas Derby, which, if he doesn’t do well (as in ‘win’), he probably will not go further and C. Borel will be available.

I think Shackleford may have acquired sufficent earnings yesterday to make it into the gate. The earnings list hasn’t been updated yet. It’s here.

The Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby are April 9. The Arkansas Derby is April 16. Things (barring injury) should be reasonably well sorted after these three races, at least in my fevered brain.

I’m of two minds regarding the 13.4 seconds for the last 1/8 of the Florida Derby. It’s not a disreputable time; they were going well for the first mile, but it’s significantly slower than you would like. The 3/4 to 1 mile was 26.1, so they were slowing down pretty far back (which is why Dialed In’s move looks so explosive). I’m not a fan of track bias. Times for the rest of the races on the card were respectable.  Little Mike’s 1:32+ for a mile on the turf was pretty great. These are 3-year-olds. They’re being raced in to shape to go 1-1/14 mile. I’m not sure the time matters.

Stay Thirsty wore blinkers for the first time. It would seem that it did not go as planned. It will be interesting to see if he wears them in his next race (as yet unannounced). Soldat simply didn’t fire. Haven’t seen any remarks from his camp, other than ‘no excuses’.

Have to give props to for streaming the entire card from Gulfstream yesterday. It was stellar! I have thoughts (best kept to myself) on the trackfeed commentary.

Florida Derby
1 1/8 Miles | 3 Year Olds | STAKES ( $0 ) | Open
7 Dialed In J. Leparoux $7.80 $4.80 $4.00
5 Shackleford J. Castanon $36.60 $15.20
2 To Honor and Serve G. Gomez $4.20

Times in 5ths: :231 :461 1:103 1:361 1:50

Times in 100ths: :23.30  :46.35  1:10.63  1:36.38    1:50.07

Winning Trainer: Zito Nicholas | Owner: LaPenta Robert

Unplaced horses listed in order of finish.
Also ran: Flashpoint, Soldat, Arch Traveler, Stay Thirsty and Bowman’s Causeway

$2 Exacta (7-5) Paid: $339.60, $1 Trifecta (7-5-2) Paid: $710.80, $1 Superfecta (7-5-2-8) Paid: $3,650.60, $2 Daily Double (10-7) Paid: $45.40 Daily Double Pool $154,051.00 , $1 Pick 3 (1-10-7) 3 Correct Paid: $71.00 Pick 3 Pool $185,495.00

Something Fun on a Rainy Day

Posted in Uncategorized on April 4, 2011 by a4synapse

One of my favorite things to do is to watch the peregrine falcons on webcam here. The University has upgraded to two cameras and it’s no longer stop-motion. I think she’s sitting on eggs, but can’t say for sure until she gets up. Sometimes they give you information, but there’s no new info this year, yet.

Peepers on a Spall

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by a4synapse

Spring evenings are dominated by these noisemakers, but they’re invisible. This photo shows the juxtaposition of two accidental entities.




They were lying in the road, near this piece of curb which had fallen. We have to construct or reconstruct our environment. They’re tiny, about the size of my finger from the third joint to the end, but they make a lot of noise.

Florida Derby Day

Posted in Uncategorized on April 3, 2011 by a4synapse

Each year the best colts/geldings (and the occasional filly, but not this year) are nominated and prepare for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. For my money, May 7 will be the best day of the year. But today’s race is a critical steppingstone.

Soldat was impressive in the Fountain of Youth. Kiaran McLaughlin is always dangerous as a trainer. Soldat’s sire is War Front (and also the sire of The Factor). Many analysts get into the dam’s side of the ledger. I’m skipping it. That is not a comment on whether the dam’s qualities matter; it’s simply that I don’t want to get into those details. Soldat has a nice way of going. He is the morning-line favorite. His Jockey is Alan Garcia, who I think is smart and has a way with a horse.

To Honor and Serve is in the best of hands with Bill Mott. He didn’t fire in the Fountain of Youth and the pre-race chatter was that he wasn’t expected to win that day because he ‘needed the race’. I have a little problem with trainers entering horses to get some experience into them. I understand the necessity, but entering a horse you’re pretty sure will lose seems a bit disingenuous, even if all the bettors know it. That said, he’s a Bernardini and should get the distance, and from what I’ve seen, he covers ground well. Garrett Gomez is the pilot; one of the best, although I’ve seen him make the occasional mistake.

I haven’t seen Arch Traveler run, and know little about him. He’s 20-1. By Sky Mesa, and seriously inbred to Mr. Prospector.

Same for Bowman’s Causeway. His trainer is Patrick Biancone, who sometimes skates close to the edge. He’s a Giant’s Causeway, so distance should not be a problem.

Shackleford I like just for his name. Dale Romans is very capable and I’ve loved the pieces I’ve seen of him and his wife as they run their stable. Also 20-1, and I don’t know the jockey. By Forestry, out of an Unbridled mare.

Stay Thirsty (also a great name). Trained by the Toddster and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and getting blinkers for the first time. 8-1. By Bernardini, out of a Storm Bird mare. One of the best riders, one of the best trainers, but he’s the number two in his stable.

Dialed-In. His move in the Holy Bull was spectacular. His next race, not so much. Nick Zito, Julien Leparoux (a personal fave). He needs the race to set up well for him, which is dependent to some extent on his jockey. Eight horses should work to his advantage, but twenty horses in the Derby will be a real problem. I love, love, love the way he moves. By Mineshaft out of a Storm Cat mare. Also love the pedigree.

Flashpoint, by Pomeroy, whose offspring have been distinguishing themselves this spring. Also love the way he moves (high cruising speed) and his last proves he can keep going, which entrances me. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez and trained by Rick Dutrow. I respect this jockey, but he’s not the best jock here, which is worrisome. R. Dutrow is a very good trainer.

So: Dialed-In and Flashpoint. Because they move well. One gets in front and dares the rest to come and get him (except he has more in the tank). The other waits until the far turn and then runs down the rest of the field. Every horse needs to get a good trip, so it depends on who is lucky and has a smart jockey. I think Leparoux is the smarter jockey, but I think Dutrow is the smarter trainer.

This is the first time since the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile that a group of quality colts has actually run against each other. So there may be some clues here.

Here are the entrants: (from the Daily Racing Form –

Florida Derby

1 1/8 Miles | Open | 3 Year Olds |  G1STAKES |  Purse: $1,000,000
Exacta / Trifecta / $0.10 Superfecta / Daily Double (Races 10&11) Bet 3 (Races 10-11-12)
1 1 Soldat
ML: 9-5
A. Garcia
122 Lbs
K. McLaughlin L
2 2 To Honor and Serve
ML: 4-1
G. Gomez
122 Lbs
W. Mott L
3 3 Arch Traveler
ML: 20-1
J. Lezcano
122 Lbs
J. Jerkens L
4 4 Bowman’s Causeway
ML: 20-1
P. Lopez
122 Lbs
P. Biancone L
5 5 Shackleford
ML: 20-1
J. Castanon
122 Lbs
D. Romans L
6 6 Stay Thirsty
ML: 8-1
R. Dominguez
122 Lbs
T. Pletcher Blk-On L
7 7 Dialed In
ML: 2-1
J. Leparoux
122 Lbs
N. Zito L
8 8 Flashpoint
ML: 6-1
C. Velasquez
122 Lbs
R. Dutrow, Jr. L