Saturday, May 29, 2010


Miss Phoebe had a little elective surgery last week to remove 2 small lumps from her leg. Hence the bandage.

Because of her girth, Phoebe tends to hold on to the anesthesia in her system for a few days. Hence the foggy look.

Sometimes I find her just wandering into a room or a spot in the backyard and just standing there as if to say "How did I get here."

We are all going to take a few days off and recuperate from the ordeal.

See you on June 1. Have a nice Memorial Day.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Help Create a Park!

So here's a great idea sponsored by a great group of Urban Planners from the Univ. of Pa. They have entered Pepsi's "Refresh" contest and are in the running for the $50,000 prize to reclaim a parcel of concrete in the city and turn it into a "pop-up park," something that is apparently all the rage in New York City.

Here's the catch. They have to win the contest which depends on your votes.

Please lend them your support by going to and voting for their great idea!


Thursday, May 27, 2010

Pelicans in Peril

These are pelicans which are now back on the endangered species list (having recently come off) thanks to the oil spill that is coating them with black sludge. It is heartbreaking to see the photos of once white birds, completely black, trying to fly.

Barataria Bay, along the Louisiana coast, is a refuge for pelicans and home to thousands. These protected marshlands are one of the reasons for the proliferation of the shore birds, many of which are now encrusted with oil.

Officials say the birds try to clean the crude from their bodies by splashing in the water and preening. But their efforts are often in vain as more and more oil contaminates the water in which they are trying to wash themselves.

According to the AP, "Pelicans are especially vulnerable to oil. Not only could they eat tainted fish and feed it to their young, but they could die of hypothermia or drowning if they're soaked in oil."

Wildlife officials have suspended efforts at trying to rescue the birds, since this only spooked them. "They said sometimes it is better to leave the animals alone than disturb their colony."

Please do not buy BP gasoline or any other products with their label, ever.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010


A small announcement: I have ordered an ipad. After a considerable amount of research (basically hanging around the Apple Store and asking a lot of questions from very knowledgeable salespeople), I decided to take the plunge.

I ordered the Wi-Fi, 3 G version, 32 gigs, and the keyboard dock (as well as the wireless keyboard with the intention of returning one) and a case. The problem is that all of my local Apple stores are sold out of the ipads as well as most of the accessories so you really don't have a chance to play with anything more than the demo models--which is fine but its hard to judge if I will like the keyboard with a dock or the wireless one until I see it in action.

Plus the whole case thing is a bit confusing since I truly do want a case that will hold the keyboard but also one that supports the ipad on an angle. I think I need to have it in my hands before I commit to anything but I ordered the Apple case just to have something and also knowing I can return it to the store if I don't like it.

Now of course, I want it instantly which may be a bit of a problem. 7-10 business days is the current delivery but we will see. I have heard 2 weeks but am of course hoping for 2 days!

I will admit that what sealed the deal for me was the opportunity to sign up for the 3-G service month by month. I was having a terrible time rationalizing $30/month for something I might not use. We have Wi-Fi at home so the 3-G seemed a bit like overkill. But when I heard you can sign up month by month, as well as for an abbreviated plan ($14.99), I took the plunge. That way you can order the 3-G when you know you will be traveling to places where Wi-Fi might be spotty.

The keyboard was a no-brainer. I am hoping that this gizmo serves as a mid-level laptop for me--truly mid-level--but I was impressed with the word processing App and the fact that you can export documents as Word which means you can email them to yourself and they will at home on the desktop when you return.

I don't intend to write the great American novel on this but it may be very useful for short pieces on the road.

Stay tuned. I am officially excited.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sam and Phoebe Have a Long Way To Go

Amazing....Sam and Phoebe are so far from this! My favorite part is the tail wagging at the end!!


Monday, May 24, 2010

Rabbit Shortage?

Well it appears that New England cottontails are becoming scarce in New England. Guess what? They've all moved to Pennsylvania!

According to The Boston Globe, wildlife biologists currently estimate that the population of cotton tail rabbits in the entire state of New Hampshire is less than 100!!! Trust me, that's about the average siting in one night here in the wilds of Pa. (well, that might be a tad bit of an exageration, but trust me, rabbits are multiplying before my very eyes...)!

"They're the poster child for the loss of shrubland habitat," said Steven fuller, a wildlife biologist with the New Hampshire Fish and Game Department. In fact, last year the New England states of New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut "received federal grant to help preserve the cottontail." Could I make this up?

The problem seems to be that the forest areas that originally formed on farms (and therefore featured thickets that rabbits prefer) have grown and expanded to be so thick that thickets disappear. And then, apparently, so do the rabbits.

In my experience, rabbits do indeed make no secret of their existence. They build their nests out in the open in suburbans lawns, never under bushes or trees. Perhaps they should consider clearing some of the forest areas or better yet, checking around the ever present soccer fields of baseball diamonds. Chances are rabbits are hiding there.

In the meantime, if New Hampshire gets really desperate, I know a great place to nab a few cottontails for transport over state lines.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Scenes From a Photo Shoot

To whet your appetite, these are some scenes from a photo shoot for Lick Your Plate! due out in Fall 2011. The dogs in question are Daisy, the Great Dane and Lilly, the Weimeraner. As you can tell, they eat well.

Sabina works hard to get great angles! The entire shoot was a great success and the dogs ate everything!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Triple Crown Suggestions

It is as predictable as rain in April (as in April showers bring May flowers). The arrival of articles that question the validity of the Triple Crown contest, as it currently stands and has stood since it was initiated way back when. And of course part of the reason for the onslaught of naysayers is the fact that there is no possibility of a Triple Crown this year.

Add to this, the fact that Lookin at Lucky is not running in the Belmont and neither is Super Saver and the Belmont, in the eyes of a casual observer, the Triple Crown is passe. I don't think so.

Arguments against keeping the Triple Crown as it is include the idea that we can't breed a race horse strong enough to endure the physical challenge that the three race series represents. "Today's thoroughbred is no longer bred for endurance or stamina, but for speed, speed, and speed," writes Bob Ford. "A typical racing career doesn't last five, six or seven years any longer, which, because of the emphasis on breeding for speed, is a self-fulfilling prophecy."

Maybe but it sure looked like Barbaro was going to do it, or even Big Brown, who was certainly big and strong enough--except for the feet. The point is that we can breed big and strong horses if we set out to do so. The other point is that it has never been easy, so why make it easier now?

There are lots of ways to change the Triple Crown and we hear about them every year. stretch out the distance between races; shorten some races; run the Triple Crown for 4 year olds, not three year olds. The list goes on.

But guess what. Nothing is going to change because this is a sport steeped in tradition and even as it it gasping its dying breath, the Triple Crown is going to remain one of the most difficult feats to attain in all of sports.

Is the Tour de France easy? No. Is winning an Olympic Gold medal easy? No. Is winning the Masters or Wimbleton easy? No. And the way to keep it worth winning is not by changing the rules.

Friday, May 21, 2010

True Bliss

Sometimes, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words. . .

Happy Spring Day!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Psst...Have I Got a Book For You!

So there's doting and then there's doting but the parents in this recent article from The Wall Street Journal seem to be to have too much time on their hands. Consider that these empty nester fifty somethings have swapped driving to their kids' sporting events for driving to events for their dogs. Yes, you read that correctly.

Aside from the fact that they are willing to drive to the far corners of the earth when their days of trying to locate soccer fields in the middle of cornfields are over (read: no more MAPQUEST!!), these people are obsessed with finding sporting or social outings for their pets.

Consider the following scenario one recent weekend in Georgia. More than 100 pet parents set up "camp" at a facility called Canine Ranch to "watch" their dogs compete in activities like sheep herding, frisbee catching (in the pool), hurdle jumping and dock diving (to see who goes the farthest off a dock).

Owner of Canine Ranch (who is laughing all the way to the bank), Chris McLeod says that more than fifty percent of her business if from these empty nester parents who have simply traded over scheduled kids for dogs. "This is like their kids' softball or ballet, but now it's their dogs," she said.

And it's not just down south. In Seattle there is a place called University Canine Learning Academy (UCLA, can you stand it?) with 12 week classes in "dog sports." The clientele? You guessed it? Predominantly fifty something moms whose offspring have gone to college, like Evie Bronikowski who used to drive to a myriad of lessons for her children. "After they left, I thought, 'Holy Toledo, I've got a lot of time,'" she admitted. The new objects of her downtime: three dogs who get carted to weekly lessons in agility, one at a time.

I sincerely doubt that any of the dogs are minding all this attention or the activities, but seriously people, is this truly how you want to spend your lives? I can think of a lot of elderly people who would love to be driven to the grocery store or doctor's appointments once or twice a week if you are so intent on perfecting your chauffeuring skills.

But who am I to tell anyone how to spend their time or their money. In fact, there's a great book coming out in the Fall of 2011 that might interest them: Lick Your Plate! Celebrity Chefs Cook for Their Dogs and Yours. Cook-offs anyone?

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Cameo Hound

So you probably know that Greece is in a state of turmoil. Their economy is teetering and civil unrest is rampant. Riots have become fairly routine in the country.

But did you know that a dog, allegedly named Louk, seems to turn up in photos of nearly every riot. This dog wears a blue collar, which means he is a stray but has been vaccinated, and is actually trailed by photographers and videographers who have posted his image on Facebook, Youtube and in many newspapers, courtesy of the AP and UPI wire services.

Look closely in these photos culled from the AP (and courtesy of and see if you think he demonstrates allegiance to one side or the other.

Or maybe he has just been photo-shopped in?

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Rabbits Redux

They're back!! The rabbits have returned and guess who found them. Phoebe actually brought me one in her mouth and dropped it when I saw the legs hanging out of her mouth and screamed. Perhaps you heard me? The rabbit was still alive and I put it in a dustpan (with a stick) and returned it to the nest.

Then Sam found another one and identified it by laying down and poking it with his nose. That one also went back to the nest. Out came the furniture to construct a teepee to keep the dogs out and let the mother in.

The next morning, when Sam woke me by standing on my head to remind me that "Rabbits are outside..." I found yet another one out of the nest. Actually Sam found it and tried to play with it by nosing it around. It too was alive and got returned to the nest.

Then we went for a walk and when we came back, there was absolutely no sign of the rabbits that I had deposited very close to the top of the hole. Either they have crawled all the way in or (as the wildlife center suspects), they have fled the scene, since they are big enough to move about on their own.

I shall maintain my vigil, but I am hopeful that my rabbits have left the premises. Either way, the lady at the wildlife center said the mother would return even if they smelled like dog or human. The mothering instinct was pretty strong.

As they say, never a dull moment. . .although I will admit that as soon as I gave my dogs bones to chew, they forgot about circling the rabbits den!

Monday, May 17, 2010

Nicky's Race

I've watched Nicky's race quite a few times and to tell you the truth, I like what I see. This is a nice horse who belonged in this field under this jockey. I don't think he liked the far outside post--witness what being that far afield did to Dublin in the Preakness--and I think that may have been part of the problem in the beginning. He had to break straight and then immediately veer in, which is hard to do when you've never done it before.

That said, once he got away from the field he wanted to go out in front and probably would have run himself out quicker than he did by hanging second. As they turned for home, he was in a perfect position. And when he was asked for more, he responded once, and then just ran out of gas.

Smart jockey knew when his horse was done, didn't beat him up and just hand rode Nick across the wire. Would the result have been the same if he had gone out in front and stayed there? The winner win with that strategy and that is the way Nicky won at Delaware Park, but this was an experienced field who knows how to rate and wait.

This has not been Matz's year in terms of finding the right race at the right time for the right horse. Hopefully there will be a stakes race at Delaware Park in about a month because I think Nicanor will win there, in that company.

Don't count him out and be sure to bet on him his next outing. The odds will be good and I think he's about due.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Change Your Luck

So Lucky finally got some luck. Maybe it was the jockey change. Maybe it was the good track conditions. Maybe he liked the longer distance, the smaller field and the tighter turns at Pimlico, but whatever it was, Lookin at Lucky prevailed in the Preakness.

Not so for Nicanor who finished a disappointing sixth in the Dixie Stakes, run one race before the Preakness. Of course, what would have been lucky, or even smart marketing, would have been for NBC to televise that race so that millions of viewers might see more than one horse race per telecast. What a concept!

Never mind the back story--we all know it concerns the older brother of one of the contestants who did not have an easy trip in the Preakness--and never mind the possibility of getting the proverbial monkey off one's back--just show the race.

Back to the race, we did see. It was a good one. Dublin breaking from the 12 post and making a bee line for the outside fence was high drama--the fact that he finished fifth was even more so--although the commentators make absolutely no mention of the incident. Ice Box can roar from last to become closing contender in the Derby and everyone has him labeled as the "one to watch." Twelfth to fifth after going a mile wide at the start--well, that makes his worthy of being watched in my book as well. Dublin is a nice horse--maybe blinkers?

As for Lookin at Lucky, well I am delighted that he redeemed himself and his connections. He truly has been anything but lucky this entire season, so he deserves the win. Just goes to show you, that sticking with the status quo is not the only way to go. As Baffert said, "We had to change something to change our luck."

Moral of the story--sometimes we make our own luck.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Race Day

Big day at Pimlico with Nicanor running in the race before the Preakness, the $200,000 Dixie Stakes, a Grade 2, 1 1/8 mile turf race. Nicanor drew the #13 post, which can work both ways. This will be Nicanor's stakes debut and hopefully the outside post will allow him the opportunity to break cleanly, go to the front and stay there!

Nicky's race is shaping up to be as competitive as the Preakness. Just as Well has an impressive record, having won over a million dollars and Grassy, Picou and Rahystrada are equally daunting. It will be a serious test for Barbaro's brother and one has to believe that Michael Matz thinks his horse is up to the challenge.

Speaking of Matz, after a pretty dismal record in Florida this winter, he saddled three winners in one day at Delaware Park earlier this week so perhaps his luck is changing. Either that, or his horses run well at Delaware, very close to his home base, Fair Hill.

Hurricane Ike is out of the Preakness with an injury so all eyes will be on Super Saver and Lookin at Lucky to see if a Triple Crown is in the making. It is believed that NBC will telecast Nicky's race since it is the one right before the Preakness. Post time is 5:12 pm, EST.

A beautiful day is forecast so stay close to your televisions for some great racing. If Nicky wins, he will dispel the Preakness curse that has surrounded the Jacksons and Matz, perhaps in time for Brother Number 3 to stake his claim!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Good Luck

So will Saturday be lucky for Lookin At Lucky? Bob Baffert is certainly hoping so after a disappointing trip and finish (6th) in the Kentucky Derby. To change his luck, there is a new jockey on the Smart Strike colt since Garrett Gomez will be riding Dublin in the Preakness. Baffert hasn't revealed his choice but rumor has it that Martin Garcia is the leading contender.

In other lucky developments, the forecast is for clear and sunny conditions, with only a 10 percent chance of precipitation. The temperature should be in the mid seventies come race time.

Feeling lucky? Consider betting on Pleasant Prince, owned by Ken Ramsey, who says he doesn't think the horse has a great chance of finishing on the Board. "I try to be realistic. He's probably not going to be the first, second, third or fourth choices," Ramsey told "He's running against some very good horses, many of them more accomplished than us."

That said, Ramsey feels that jockey Julien Leparoux gives his horse "an edge," and that he thinks his horse is better at longer distances. "He has to improve, but my feeling is, if you keep putting yourself into position to get lucky, strange things can happen," he notes.

Other threats to Super Saver's potential Triple Crown include Caracortado, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby and has wins over California's polytrack, Schoolyard Dreams, who finished a half length ahead of Super Saver in the Tampa Bay Derby although losing to Odysseus by a hair, Hurricane Ike and First Dude. It is shaping up to be a good and competitive race.

And just one more tidbit to factor in: 22 of the last 25 horses that won the Preakness, ran in the Derby.

Good luck!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Alternative Equine Therapies

This is Dr. Kathleen Anderson, whom some of you may remember as Barbaro's vet from Fair Hill. The photo is from The New York Times and illustrates Dr. Anderson doing acupuncture. The article is about alternative therapies for race horses including the use of a hyperbaric oxygen chamber, an underwater treadmill (see below) and cold saltwater spa.

Some of the new age therapies come straight from nature. The idea behind the cold saltwater spa is based on standing horses in the ocean, a practice quite common in England and France. The cold water reduces swelling and we all know saltwater is good for practically everything.

None of these treatments come cheap and many are not regulated which opens the door to all sorts of dangers for the horse as well as the owner paying the bill. While massage, acupuncture and even reiki (a type of Japanese energy healing) are pretty much standard, many draw the line at animal communicators who claim to be able to determine why a horse is not winning (or running well).

Personally, I think a combination of traditional and alternative therapies is probably the best way to go for humans as well as animals and it is always important to remember that there is no placebo effect for animals. Either it works or it doesn't. Chances are if horse trainers are using some sort of alternative therapy, they have probably seen some benefit to it.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tall Order

Met Big Jake, the world's tallest horse! It is official. The Belgian gelding has been entered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's tallest living horse. He stands 20 and 3/4 hands or just a quarter inch less than 6 feet, 11 inches.

Described by owner, Jerry Gilbert as a "gentle giant," Big Jake is 9 years old, lives in Wisconsin and weighs about 2,600 pounds!

Two things to consider: how much food it takes to keep a big boy like this happy and how to protect human feet from getting inadvertently stepped upon. I'm not sure any of us would be able to recover from 2,600 pounds landing on our unprotected tootsies!

One more thought: what goes in must come out. Pity the poor soul who mucks that stall!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Riding the Rail

So how important is riding the rail? If you ask Calvin Borel, it makes all the difference, but a lot depends on the horse you are riding. True, it is the shortest distance around the oval, but not every horse will feel comfortable running along the edges, so to speak. And it is only natural when a horse tires, especially at the top of the stretch, that their inclination is to drift out, away from the middle of the track.

So how does Borel do it? According to, it is a combination of experience and what Bob Baffert refers to as "great hands. "He know if he gets on top of the rail, it's a big advantage," continues Baffert. "Lots of guys try it, but they can't do it. He's got it mastered. He can get a horse to relax. He's got really great hands."

Of course, it helps to have a fairly low post position, but if you watch replays of most of Borel's big races, he steers his mount toward the inside, pretty much as soon as they break out of the gate, and then just lets the openings manifest themselves.

It has backfired. There are lots of times when he gets shut out and lots of times, when he finishes on the rail but nowhere in the money. But when it works, it is as if the seas part for him when all he does is wait for the hole to open up. When it does, he has to have enough horse underneath him to accelerate quickly to take advantage of a fleeting opportunity.

Is Super Saver that horse? Borel seems to think so. I'm not sure. I'd like to see the Preakness run on a dry track so we can throw out the conditions as a deal maker, and I'd also like to see Super Saver get an outside post so he can truly prove himself.

It's not like Borel makes a secret of his strategy. "We all know what he is going to do," said Robby Albarado, whose mount was 14th in the Derby. "He just does it anyway." How could they stop him? By not letting him through or making him lay too far back to be able to catch the leader.

Certainly Borel had the fire power he needed to win the Preakness last year on Rachel Alexandra. Can he do it again?

We'll know in less than a week.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Eskendereya Retired

The big news in racing is the retirement of Eskendereya as of Friday May 7. According to, Ahmed Zayat will retain a stake in partnership with Jess Jackson, owner of Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Nothing has been officially announced, but don't be surprised if Eskendereya is soon joined by Rachel Alexandra who is having what might be described as a less than stellar start to her four year old racing season.

Jackson is on a mission to recreate the American thoroughbred, based on the theory of breeding the best to the best (and his own subjective evaluations of that criteria), and the pairing of Rachel with Eskendereya as well as Curlin would certainly fit into his plans.

As for Eskendereya, well it is a shame that a horse with such promise is retired with so little experience--four victories in six starts with one second. True that experience includes some significant wins (Wood Memorial, Fountain of Youth Stakes) but the hypothetical will always loom in his pedigree.

Certainly Zayat's financial issues played a part in his decision to retire the horse and cash in on his breeding potential, rather than wait out a soft tissue injury with no guarantees of ever being able to fully regain his former level of fitness, but I can't help but wonder how big a role his insolvency played in this latest decision. Clearly Jackson has come to the rescue in more ways than one.

It will be very interesting to see what kind of price tag will be attached to a date with Eskendereya as well as what his progeny will do. The state of racing is such that fees for seasons to tops studs are not what they used to be and one hopes that Jackson and Zayat will not overbreed their top stallions when they may be the only ones who can afford to keep and/or buy them.

You can't fault any of the parties involved for the decision; it is their best and perhaps only option. That doesn't stop us from wondering not only what might have been, but also what might have been done to prevent yet another career ending injury.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Are You My Mother?

Nature is truly amazing. Phoebe and Sam discovered this little guy (a baby cardinal) balancing on a branch of a rhododendrum bush that borders my terrace. I had no idea what they were busy sniffing until I saw this little guy shivering with fright. He looked to be OK--no broken wings or anything--just a relatively young thing still getting the hang of flying.

First order of business was to convince the dogs that treats were better than a bird--actually pretty easy to do for goldens. I wooed them to another area of the yard and then watched Mother Nature go to work.

Within two minutes, the mother cardinal had swooped in and was working her way down the branches of the bush. Not too far away, the siblings were doing a lot of chirping--maybe to distract all of us--and pretty soon, the mother had urged the young'un to abandon his branch.

Which is how he found his way to this damp puddle in the middle of the terrace--very exposed to snouts of two goldens. Amos, by the way, was uninterested. Since I was sweeping another area of the terrace, I simply shooed the dogs away with a broom, which actually encouraged the baby bird to try and fly up. He could indeed fly, but not high enough to escape the sunken terrace.

The broom prompted the mother bird to begin dive bombing both the dogs and me--she swooped in so fast we never saw her coming--which accomplished the task of getting the baby to move closer to the steps, where he eventually worked his way out of the terrace through a combination of flying a hopping.

Meanwhile my backyard looked like a bird sanctuary. I have never seen so many birds, cardinals and otherwise, flocking to assist. Eventually the bird made it to shelter in another clump of bushes. The mother hovered nearby and I took the dogs inside to see if the baby would ultimately fly away.

Things quieted down and I think the baby figured it out. All of which goes to show you just how strong that maternal instinct is. And how easily golden retrievers can be swayed by food. . .

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Dog Saves Dog

This is upsetting at first but keep watching. The dog saves the injured dog, by the way, which is truly remarkable.

Friday, May 7, 2010

You Ought To Be In Pictures. . .

The Secretariat film is on the horizon--due out in October 2010. News this morning that next summer will feature another horse film, this one directed by Steven Spielberg, based on the novel War Horse by Michael Morpurgo.

You might remember that this book was adapted into quite a spectacular play in London last summer that featured amazing puppets that portray the horses. Well apparently Spielberg has been infatuated with the book ever since he read it and has selected it for his next film.

The World War I story is about a British boy, Albert, who raises a foal named Joey on his parents farm. Albert is drafted to serve in World War I and separated from his beloved steed. I won't give any more away except to say there is a spine chilling twist to the plot and that the book is narrated by the horse.

Seems to be that Hollywood is waking up to the allure of the equestrian, although I maintain that it has to be a special horse to grab their attention. Could there be a Barbaro movie on the horizon?

I remain skeptical but stranger things have happened.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Jockeying for the Preakness

And so the speculation begins. Who will compete in the Preakness? Who will reappear in the Belmont? Who may not emerge until the summer and who will we never hear from again?

At the moment, Super Saver is headed to Pimlico where he will compete in the Preakness on May 15th. The same can be said for Paddy O'Prado who finished a respectable third in the Derby.

As for all the rest, well we can only wait and see. Awesome Act will not be going anywhere near a race track. He is headed to Lexington's Rood & Riddle Equine Hospital to determine why he came up lame after the race.

Other possible starters like Mission Impazible, Jackson Bend, Lookin at Lucky and Conveyance are all still being evaluated by their respective trainers. Even the impressive Ice Box who got everyone's attention with his closing moves,is being scrutinized very carefully.

According to, trainer Nick Zito wants to wait until the Belmont to run the colt but the owners are said to be leaning toward the Preakness. Some newcomers may well include the Dale Romans-trained First Dude as well as another Todd Pletcher-trained colt, Aikenite.

It seems as if "Mums" the word until early Sunday or Monday, when things should become more apparent. Until then, stay tuned.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Stamps to the Rescue

Our local SPCA has been undergoing a house cleaning of sorts and disinfecting its main kennel area. As a result, the dogs who usually live there are being housed in temporary shelters around the area and lots of incentives are being given to encourage people to adopt these dogs.

I thought of this when I read the account in USA Today by reporter Sharon Peters of accompanying the founder of Stray Rescue, Randy Grim, in St. Louis on his rounds. As she describes their travels on a day when they rescued three dogs, I realized how dedicated these rescue workers are. True the story takes place in St. Louis, but it could be anywhere.

The three dogs rescued in the story all had been abandoned and were in need of veterinary care. But they all should survive and hopefully find new homes. One, a puppy, was actually reunited with one of his litter mates, so that is a happy ending in itself.

The St. Louis Stray Rescue organization is a model of success. In its 12 years of existence, the non profit has rehabbed and found homes for all but 10 of the 20,000 dogs they have rescued.

20,000 dogs in 12 years. That is a lot of dogs wandering the streets, most of whom don't realize that it is their lucky day when they get picked up by Grim and his fellow workers.

Buy some of the new stamps being issued at the Post Office on April 30 and touted by Ellen DeGeneres and you will be helping rescue organizations continue to do their good work.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Entitlement ( A. K. A. The World According to Phoebe)

Forwarded to me in an email and worth passing on. . .

This morning I went to sign my dogs up for welfare. At first the lady said, "Dogs are not eligible to draw welfare". So I explained to her that my dogs are mixed in color, unemployed, lazy, can't speak English and have no frigging clue who their daddies are.They expect me to feed them, provide them with housing and medical care, and feel guilty because they are dogs.

So she looked in her policy book to see what it takes to qualify. My dogs get their first checks Friday.

Damn, this is a great country!

Monday, May 3, 2010

That X is Still Heavy on Points

There is a new class at Princeton called Constrained Writing in which the students draft assignments with all sorts of writing constraints. For example they might have to write a paragraph in which all the words are alphabetical or one which reads the same upside down or right side up. Or compose a poem of anagrams. You get the drift.

One very clever student invented his own constraint which was to use every tile in the Scrabble set to compose a sentence that was coherent. The result even used the two blank tiles.

I was reminded of the Scrabble constraint when I read a recent blurb in Time magazine about the appearance of new Scrabble rules in the United Kingdom. Mattel, which manufactures the U. K. edition of the game, has introduced a version called Scrabble Trickster that permits all sorts of variations like the use of proper nouns and backward-spelled words. As you can imagine the classic aficionados of the game are a bit miffed. Such audacity!

Not to worry. The United States rights to the game are owned by Hasbro, not Mattel, so there is little chance that Americans will be seeing the funkier version of the game. Unless of course it becomes a collectors item in its own right.

I wonder if you get extra points for spelling a word backwards. . .

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Derby Thoughts

Here are my thoughts about the 2010 Derby in no particular order:

Calvin Borel has claimed the Kentucky Derby for his own and it is going to be hard to take it away from him. Go back and look at that replay and you will see what a perfect trip he gave Super Saver as well as how close he rode to the rail. That inner inch of track was practically untouched and may have been one of the few dry spots on the track, simply because no one hugs the rail like he does. Borel rode two earlier races yesterday and he knew exactly where to put his horse on a very off track.

Ice Box is an impressive horse. Go back and watch that replay and focus on him. He got cut off about three times when his jockey tried to get through, which meant hauling him back in and refocusing him. He must have gone around 18 horses when he made that late charge and he was FLYING at the wire. Give him a little longer distance and a few less horses and he is going to win one of the Triple Crown races.

Don't listen to me as far as handicapping goes. Backtalk was dead last. OK the track was horrible but he didn't do much. Neither did any of the highly touted "mudders" like Awesome Act or Stately Victor.

For all his unluck, Lookin at Lucky (who got a horrible trip in that number one post position) ran gamely. I don't think he liked the mud but I also think he got a really rough trip.

If I had had a horse in that race, I think I would have scratched. We are so lucky no horse broke down but we will still be learning about after effects of running on a sealed, sloppy track for a while.

And poor Sidney's Candy did not like having mud splashed in his face. He was fine when he was in front, but stopped as soon as they began going around him and getting him dirty. The synthetic to dirt switch is still problematic.

Do I think Super Saver is a Triple Crown horse? I don't think so and I do think Ice Box may spoil his attempt.

Anyone think this just makes Lenny look better?

Saturday, May 1, 2010


I know there is a monsoon (or at least one is forecast) but if you want to get in the proper Derby frame of mind, watch this.

And then say a prayer they all come home safely.

And start counting the days until October 8 when the movie is released.