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Posts Tagged ‘Horse Racing’

Mine That Bird Longshots To Derby Greatness

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Well, THAT was unexpected. Mine That Bird, a 50-1 long, long shot, won the Kentucky Derby Saturday in dramatic and incredible style. Coming from the dead last position, Bird delivered an incredible run down the stretch, one that saw him overtake the ENTIRE FIELD from the inside position, as jockey Calvin Borel masterfully maneuvered his horse to the front of the pack and into horse racing history. A quote from longtime Louisville-now-ESPN scribe Pat Forde, who has seen his fair share of Derby stories, details just how surprised the horse racing universe is by Mine That Bird’s amazing win, and just how much his win resonates:

More Derby reaction after the jump >>

A Big Brown This Year? (Kentucky Derby)

It’s the First Saturday In May in Kentucky. What could be afoot? Horses? Roses? Bourbon? Hats? Legal Gambling? General disarray? Professor Chaos? Derby Pie? Yeah, something like that. My question is, can we get a repeat performance? Something like what Big Brown provided last year? You know, where the favorite dominates the field, except for a courageous filly? Can I Want Revenge live up last year’s favorite’s performance or will a great story like General Quarters warm America’s heart? I Want Revenge has been impressive in the qualifying racing, so it wouldn’t be surprising, but this is horse racing and these are million dollar animals — anything can happen.

It’s the Kentucky Derby, folks, otherwise known as the only time the rest of the world cares about the Bluegrass State and the sport of horses. Regardless of the cynicism, the Derby is still a massive deal — or party, depending on your point of view.

Speaking of which, rumor has it that Billy Gillispie is going at the Derby Infield. That should make for some entertaining pictures.

No Joy In New York: Big Brown Finishes Last

Big Brown

31 years and counting. When the Kentucky Derby kicks off on May 2, 2009, there will be 31 years between Triple Crown winners in the world of horse racing. There was an opportunity to have such a winner last Saturday at the Belmont Stakes, but alas, Big Brown just didn’t have it in him. Instead of finishing first and rejuvenating the horse industry — not to mention keeping the memory of Eight Belles alive — Big Brown finished dead last while the long shot Da’ Tara (33-1) won the race, leading it wire-to-wire.

Granted, jockey Kent Desormeaux pulled Big Brown up towards the end, but nevertheless, for some reason, the horse didn’t have it in him on Saturday. Was it the heat? Was it the fact that Brown got kicked after the start? Was it the lack of the steroid Winstrol in his system? Or could it be the chickens came home to roost after Rick Dutrow’s bombastic bragging about Big Brown? ESPN’s Pat Forde expands on that thought:

No, talking trash didn’t get Big Brown beat. But it came back to smack Dutrow in his fresh mouth when the foregone conclusion fell apart.

Forde goes on to say:

Problem is, Dutrow never entertained the possibility of a problem during this Triple Crown run. Even after watching all the Triple Crown near-misses of recent years — Silver Charm in 1997, Real Quiet in ’98, Charismatic in ’99, War Emblem in 2002, Funny Cide in ’03 and Smarty Jones in ’04 — he failed to absorb the singular truth of this three-race series:

It’s incredibly hard to win. That’s why it’s been done just 11 times in the history of the sport. That’s why great horses like Spectacular Bid and Point Given didn’t get it done.

As it stands, there appears to be nothing wrong with Big Brown which led some folks with ties to horse-racing industry to believe simply this — Big Brown didn’t want to run on Saturday and there’s nothing anyone could’ve done about it.

Whatever the case, the horse that looked so dominant in May was not the same one that ran on Saturday. In case you didn’t see it, here’s YouTube to the rescue:

And with that, the horse racing season comes to a close (for those of us that only follow the Triple Crown). See you next year when the Kentucky Derby gets ready for action.

Legging Out A Triple?

Brg Brown

What can Brown do for me? How about winning the Triple Crown for starters. Is that too much of a request, considering just how common of an occurrence it really is? In other words, yep, there’s one more horse race for you to pay attention and then the industry goes back on the shelf until May 2, 2009 — at least in the eyes of the sporting world; unless, of course, you like to play the ponies.

If that’s the case, carry on, sir/ma’am.

For the rest of us, horse racing only means something A. when it’s the Kentucky Derby and B. if there’s a Triple Crown storyline to follow. This year, like the last few years before us, we do, in fact, have another horse with Triple Crown aspirations. So, is this the year the string gets broken or will Brown fail during the 1.5-mile Belmont; a distance that can tire the strongest horses?

If Vegas is your guide, then yes, it does look like we’ll have our first Triple Crown winner in 30 years. It also doesn’t hurt your chances when the horse with the perceived best chance to beat you — Casino Drive — bruises his heel. Because I’m no horse-racing expert, I can only give you my hunch. Considering the time between capturing all three titles, I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Brown actually did lose the Belmont. However, I’m also inclined to agree with trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr:

If Big Brown gets the lead, especially down the stretch, it’s hard to see any of the other horses catching him. The one question I do have has to do with Big Brown’s inside position. He’s drawn the number 1 slot, meaning he’ll be up against the fence. Can the other jockeys box the favorite in and block his path to history? Will they if they can? We’ll find out Saturday.

Anyway, here are the post positions along with the odds related to the horse, compiled by Vegas Watch:

(1) Big Brown, 2/5
(2) Guadalcanal, 40/1
(3) Macho Again, 30/1
(4) Dennis of Cork, 10/1
(5) Casino Drive, 10/3
(6) Da’ Tara, 33/1
(7) Tale Of Ekati, 16/1
(8) Anak Nakal, 33/1
(9) Ready’s Echo, 40/1
(10) Icabad Crane, 35/1

One more thing, does Big Brown’s previous steroid use concern you?

Belmont Stakes: Big Brown Runs and Studs

Big Brown

With the Belmont Stakes coming this Saturday — and a potential Triple Crown winner — the sports world again turns its gaze towards the horse racing industry and this year, all eyes are watching Big Brown. Can the horse with the UPS tie-in complete the Triple Crown, something that hasn’t been done in, well, a freaking long time? Will his cracked left hoof hold up to a 1.5 mile gallop while carrying jockey Kent Desormeaux?

If the reports are from today’s test run are to be believed, it certainly looks like Big Brown will be up to the challenge on Saturday but will he be able to hold off the seemingly made-for-the-Belmont thoroughbred in Casino Drive? Trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. doesn’t seemed concerned:

“There’s not any issues with our horse,” Dutrow said. “He’s right on target. He’s by far the best horse in the race.”

These comments come on the heels of a little horse-racing trash talk from from the Big Brown camp towards Casino Drive and the rest of the field.

Obviously, Dutrow isn’t worried about the safety or ability of his horse (and by safety, I’m referring to whether or not the cracked hoof would give Big Brown problems).

In other Big Brown news, after he retires, the horse has certainly has his future planned out — one of impregnating willing mares. According to reports, Big Brown will receive $100,000 each time he gets a female horse pregnant… and I thought Las Vegas hookers were expensive. Of course, you don’t get to impregnate one either (eww), but I digress.

Finally, it has been revealed the final resting place of Eight Belles will indeed be at Churchill Downs.

An Interview With Doctor Lawrence Bramlage

Dr. Larry BramlageBecause we are in the grips of horse racing’s run for the Triple Crown, the subject of horses and their safety has been brought back to the forefront — especially when you consider the tragedy of Eight Belles. With this in mind, I pursued an opportunity to interview Dr Lawrence Bramlage, the attending on-call* veterinarian of the Kentucky Derby.

Dr. Bramlage also oversaw the euthanasia of Eight Belles after determining the severity of her injuries; something he’s never before witnessed during his career as a medical expert for the thoroughbred industry.

In our interview, we asked Dr. Bramlage some questions about the Eight Belles injury, potential prevention methods, Big Brown and Derby Pie. Needless to say, Dr. Bramlage went to great lengths to educate some of us who may have been in an uproar about animal cruelty and horse racing. Our interview was conducted via email and because I’m no expert when it comes to matters of the horse-racing industry, some of my questions may seem elementary.

Thankfully, Dr. Bramlage’s answers were not:

Intentional Foul: Dr. Bramlage, thank you for taking the time speak with Intentional Foul. In your report, it was revealed Eight Belles had fractures of the cannon and sesamoid bones in both front legs. What, in your professional opinion, contributed to the severity of these injuries? Was Eight Belles fighting the “slow down” commands she was being given or did she perhaps step incorrectly while she was slowing?

Dr. Bramlage: She was slowing down perfectly just like you want a horse to do. She was decreasing her momentum without abruptly stopping. She was relaxed and the jockey had her perfectly balanced. There is no good explanation for how she got the fractures. In her last three strides she showed lameness in the right front on two, then dramatically shifted her weight to the left. That is when the left fractured and she went down. Obviously she overloaded the right as well.

There is no indication of anything wrong until those three strides. Horses occasionally sustain injuries during a race that shows up as they slow down, but no one associated with racing that I have talked to has ever seen anything like this event.

Continue reading our interview with Dr. Bramlage

The Derby Shows Beauty, Horror of Horse Racing

While the Big Brown celebration is legitimately deserved — his performance was incredibly dominating; so much so it seems his opponents have thrown in the towel for the Preakness — the sadness concerning Eight Belles is legitimately deserved as well. The only filly to appear in the 134th running gave an incredible performance as well.

Unfortunately, her run ended in despair after she broke both front ankles after crossing the finish line. Because the damage to her legs was so extensive, Eight Belles was euthanized on the track. In light of the horrific ending to Eight Belles’ promising racing career, PETA has, of course, shared their opinion with the rest of the free world.

And while it may be a bit misguided, the fact of the matter is, seeing Eight Belles succumb like she did is enough to make any animal lover question the need for horse racing. While Mike Vick gets vilified for his role in a dog fighting ring (deservedly so), the horse racing industry continues on its path unimpeded.

What makes this even harder to take is it’s doubtful Eight Belles will be remembered with the same passion devoted to Barbaro, especially after the initial buzz tapers off. Personally, I’d prefer to remember her like this instead of debating whether or not NBC should have shown more footage of her horrific ending.

Eight Belles

But maybe that’s just me.

Is Steve Spurrier Into Horse Racing?

Will we see the Ole Ball Coach, Steve Spurrier, compete in the upcoming Kentucky Derby? Well, maybe not him exactly, but perhaps someone or some animal using his likeness might. Wizard of Odds has more:

But (John) Fort saw something and immediately named the colt Spurrier. “I thought it was a good name for a colt from South Carolina. Everybody is proud to have him as our coach, and I am a tremendous fan of his.”

Fort said Spurrier was “extremely laid-back, kind of sleepy when we put him into training.” But trainer Todd Pletcher, who won the 2007 Belmont with Rags to Riches, has been working his magic.

As of now, Spurrier the Horse isn’t part of the field for horse racing’s crown jewel. However, with some upcoming races on his schedule, he still has an opportunity.