Thursday, May 31, 2012

Training Continues at Belmont

I'll Have Another continues to gallop daily over the Belmont track getting used to the deep surface often known as the "big sandy." He looks great in this video taken earlier this week.

I keep thinking about one thing trainer Doug O'Neill said after winning the Preakness--that everything has gone right for this horse. He's had no injuries, never missed a day of training, always comes out of the race sound....To me it sounds like the Barbaro story up until that awful day at the Preakness. He too was never injured or missed a day of training.

I do believe that a sound horse has a lot to do with a string of victories as impressive as this horse's and I'd like to believe O'Neill will keep him sound without the use of any illegal performance enhancers. You better believe there are millions of eyes watching this horse and this trainer so for the sake of the sport, I hope they do well without doing wrong.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Estate Planning for Pet Owners

Here is a great tidbit sent to me by a friend who happens to be a lawyer. The American Law Institute and the American Bar Association (known collectively as ALI ABA), the continuing education arm of the Bar, is offering a course entitled "Estate Planning for Pet Owners" in which three esteemed law professors are going to educate practitioners on the particulars of planning for one's pets in one's will.

From their brochure: "Helping your clients to plan for their pets care is critically important. The Humane Society of the United States estimates that 4 to 5 million pets are euthanized annually, with more than a million of these as a direct result of the failure on the part of the owners to provide for their pets in the event of death or disability."

Actually that is a startling number and one that gives pause in more ways than one. Apparently 46 states, plus the District of Columbia, have adopted pet trust statutes that permit pet owners to include their pets in their estate plans.

But here's where it many require the services of an attorney, since every state is different and there are lots of aspects to consider including food, medical care, etc.

More proof that pets are big business, especially if the lawyers are getting into the act.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Arlington Park's Behind the Silks

Arlington Park, outside of Chicago, has made a nice video series about racing as seen through the eyes of one of their leading jockeys, Tim Thorton. There will be a new "episode" posted every Friday on their website.

The video above introduces you to the charismatic and well-spoken Thorton who makes a great subject. I think you will enjoy it!

Monday, May 28, 2012

I'll Have Another Adjusts to Life in the Big Apple

Want to know how I'll Have Another is settling in at Belmont Park? Here are some videos from his routine on Saturday: a nice gallop (you can see how deep and sandy the track is at the end of his stretch run) and a nice bath!

He looks wonderful according to all first hand reports and seems to be taking everything in stride! No plans to do more than continue this regime up until the big day: June 9.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Going Up!

Perhaps it was inevitable--fat dogs can't make it up the stairs so why not give them a lift? Literally. This is a prototype of a Stair Lift for dogs created by a U.K. pet insurance company to illustrate the dangers of pet obesity and to draw attention to the epidemic. It did get your attention didn't it?

And I quote: Once the dog sits in the basket big enough for their chubby derriere, the system initiates, bringing the pup up to the second level or back down to the first. The proposed design even includes a paw recognition button.

Overweight pets run the risk for developing the same diseases that their overweight human counterparts do: diabetes, kidney disease and even cancer.

Now about taking that extra lap around the yard with Fido in tow?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

O'Neill has Suspension Reduced to 45 Days

How the worm turns. Trainer Doug O'Neill, who faced a suspension of 180 days for racing a horse in his care with an elevated level of total carbon dioxide, has had the suspension reduced to 45 days and a $15,000 fee. The California Horse Racing Board will decide when the suspension will begin but no sooner than July 1, 2012, giving O'Neill plenty of time to appeal.

In addition to removing 135 days from the suspension, the state hearing officer in charge of the case, noted that O'Neill was not guilty of "milk shaking" the horse, that is giving the horse an illegal concoction of baking soda and other illegal substances shortly before it raced. The hearing officer did not find any suspicious betting patterns in the race to support the use of illegal substances.

"I'm gratified that the CHRB found that I did not 'milkshake' a horse or engage in any intentional conduct that would result in an elevated TC02 level," O'Neill said in response to the decision. "I plan on examining and reviewing all of my options following the Belmont Stakes, but right now I plan on staying focused on preparing for and winning the Triple Crown.”

Friday, May 25, 2012

New Mounts in the Belmont

Jockey juggling for the Belmont: Johnny V (Velazquez) will be aboard Union Rags and Javier Castellano will ride Dullahan. I like both these changes.

“Julian was good with the horse…but he got in trouble in the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby and I don’t think the horse really had a chance to run,” said Matz, who conditions Union Rags for owner/breeder Phyllis Wyeth. “Whether it was the horse, the jockey, or the trainer, I don’t know, but we decided to make a change.”

Matz also said that Johnny V had agreed to a multi-race commitment with Union Rags.
"We didn’t specify what races… I just wanted someone to stick with the horse and he said he would," Matz said. "Obviously if it doesn’t go well between Johnny and the horse, we will talk it over. There was no contract or anything…whether we made the right choice or not, this is what the Wyeths, my assistant, and I came up with.”

Castellano replaces Kent Desormeaux who failed a breathalyzer test. If Desormeaux straightens himself out, this will be a temporary switch, according to Bloodhorse.

You can be assured that both jocks will be gunning for I'll Have Another from the get-go.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

One MooShake Please

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Why do I think Phoebe would do the same thing if given the chance only she would get highly insulted if they didn't give her what she ordered!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Triple Crown Near Misses

For those of you are are thinking that I'll Have Another's Belmont victory is a sure thing, here is a list of those in column A who were once in the same spot as he is: winners of both the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness.

Who can forget the heartbreak of the Smarty Jones year or 1997 and 1998 when both years the Triple Crown was a near miss. I clearly remember the Phipps colors on Easy Goer as he stole the three-peat from Sunday Silence in 1989.

The point here is that it's not a given that I'll Have Another will have another. But what is a given is that every single horse and rider on that track will be trying to make sure he doesn't.

And you know what they say? Nobody remembers who finishes second....

Triple Crown Near Misses
Year Derby/Preakness winner Belmont Finish Belmont winner
2008 Big Brown 9th Da' Tara
2004 Smarty Jones 2nd Birdstone
2003 Funny Cide 3rd Empire Maker
2002 War Emblem 8th Sarava
1999 Charismatic 3rd Lemon Drop Kid
1998 Real Quiet 2nd Victory Gallop
1997 Silver Charm 2nd Touch Gold
1989 Sunday Silence 2nd Easy Goer
1987 Alysheba 4th Bet Twice
1981 Pleasant Colony 3rd Summing
1979 Spectacular Bid 3rd Coastal
1971 Canonero II 4th Pass Catcher
1969 Majestic Prince 2nd Arts and Letters
1968 Forward Pass* 2nd Stage Door Johnny
1966 Kauai King 4th Amberoid
1964 Northern Dancer 3rd Quadrangle
1961 Carry Back 7th Sherluck
1958 Tim Tam 2nd Cavan
1944 Pensive 2nd Bounding Home
1936 Bold Venture Did Not Start Granville
1932 Burgoo King Did Not Start Fairen

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Lancelot II

I Cloned My Pet 2 kicked off its second season last night on TLC with the story of Lancelot who was cloned by this couple, who bid $155,00 in an auction for the opportunity to have their beloved dog back.

Check your local listings for repeats of their story and others like it.

Monday, May 21, 2012

I'll Have Another Heads for New York

I'll Have Another left Pimlico early Sunday morning on a van and headed for the Big Apple. At this point, all systems are go for the Belmont on June 9, and perhaps the first Triple Crown in 34 years. Bodemeister is back in California probably resting up for the Haskell and if all goes well, the Travers and Breeders Cup.

According to O'Neill, I'll Have Another came out of the Preakness perfectly; ate up his dinner and seemed to have excess energy. His legs were cool when he removed the poultices, so all things pointed to New York. O'Neill himself returned home to California to check on the rest of his horses and most likely will return to New York in about a week.

In the meantime, the plan is to train I'll Have Another the same way he trained for the Preakness: easy gallops to get him used to the surface and nothing too strenuous.

Now that there is a Triple Crown at stake, the rest of the field will make itself known. Don't be surprised if many of them are horses that have not raced in the first two legs such as Paynter, also trained by Bob Baffert, who had an impressive win in an allowance race on the Preakness undercard.

It's an exciting time to be a racing fan!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

I'll Have Another Runs down Bodemeister

Wow. What a stretch drive and what a finish. There is no doubt after the Preakness that I'll Have Another is a contender and while it troubles me that a trainer with medication violations is in the running for a Triple Crown, take nothing away from the horse. He has heart and determination and he got a perfect ride from Mario Gutierrez, who waited until the perfect time to make the perfect move.

To me, it looked like I'll Have Another veered out coming down the stretch and continued to lug to his right until he was about a length behind Bodemeister. No one else seems to be making too much of this, but if the horse had run in a perfect straight line down the stretch he would have won by a larger distance.

Take nothing away from Bodemeister; he is a good horse and Baffert is right in not entering him in the Belmont. There is no way he could run that far. Union Rags and Dullahan will be determined to thwart the Triple Crown and you can be sure that Gutierrez will have a huge bulls eye on his back; the race riding will be tough to beat especially if he gets an inside post.

34 years since the last Triple Crown; do you think it's time for history to be made? Only time will tell, specifically three weeks so stay tuned.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

A New Meaning For Best Friend

They are talking about their dogs, of course (all of which were rescued or adopted) but they want you to believe they are talking about their Chevys. Either way, its a great commercial for the Best Friends that help get us where we have to go, with four legs or wheels!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Preakness Draw

The Preakness Draw is the big news from Pimlico. The Derby winner and current favorite, I'll Have Another drew post position 9, with Bodemeister in the 7 hole. Creative Cause, the California shipper, has drawn 6, next to Went the Day Well in the 5 slot. Newcomers, Tiger Walk, a Baltimore based horse, and the Michael Matz trained Teeth of the Dog are 1 and 2 respectively, along with Pretension at 3 and Zetterholm at 4. Daddy Nose Best is 8, Optimizer 10 and Cozzetti rounds out the field at number 11.

What do I think? I think Bodemeister may win the race if he has enough left in his tank after that blazing run at the Derby. The forecast is for clear skies with temperatures in the high 70's, no humidity in sight, so that should help all the horses.

I also like Went the Day Well and Tiger Walk so if I were betting an exacta, I would box those three horses. I don't think I'll Have Another is going to win--I personally think he may be sore after the Derby--but that's why they call it horse racing. It's anyone's game.

I love the smaller field, the forecast for clear, dry weather and I do hope that Michael Matz somehow gets the chance to overcome the Preakness chip on his shoulder. A nice showing by Teeth of the Dog would do just that.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Lenny Runs on Saturday

All eyes will be on Pimlico Saturday for the Preakness, but reserve some of your vision for the 6th race at Belmont when Lenny will run in an Allowance race at a mile on the turf.

Here is the field:

Race 6 - 3:30 PM


Purse $81,000. (up To $15,390 Nysbfoa) For Three Year Olds And Upward Which Have Never Won Three Races Other Than Maiden, Claiming, Starter, Or Restricted Or Which Have Never Won Four Races Or Optional Claiming Price Of $75,000. Three Year Olds, 118 Lbs.; Older, 123 Lbs. Non-winners of $24,000 at a mile or over on the turf since March 16 Allowed 2 Lbs. Claiming Price $75,000 (Races where entered for $50,000 or less not considered in allowances) (Preference by condition eligibility). One And One Sixteenth Miles. (Inner turf)
PP Horse Virtual
Stable A/S Med Claim $ Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Colgan's Chip (CA) 7/G L $0 C H Velasquez 121 A W Dutrow
2 The Cognac Kid (PA) 5/G L $0 E Vaz 121 P Kazamias
3 Chosen Empire (KY) 7/G L $0 J L Espinoza 123 E Gray
4 Sky Blazer (KY) 4/G L $0 R Napravnik 121 B Tagg
5 Yankee Fourtune (KY) 5/G L $75,000 R Maragh 121 K P McLaughlin
6 Lentenor (KY) 5/H L $0 A Garcia 121 L Delacour
7 Rustler Hustler (PA) 4/C L $0 I Ortiz, Jr. 121 W I Mott
8 Souper Spectacular (KY) 5/H L $0 E Castro 121 W I Mott
9 Gathering Cloud (IL) 5/G L $0 D Cohen 123 B Tagg
10 Bad Debt (FL) 5/G L $0 M J Luzzi 121 M J Trombetta
11 Malibu Glow (KY) (MTO) 4/C L $0 121 G Weaver
12 Those Wer the Days (KY) (MTO) 5/G L $0 E Castro 121 K P McLaughlin

A - Coupled Entries - Yankee Fourtune, Those Wer the Days

Lenny has drawn the 6 post and my guess is that HRTV may have the race. In any event if you have settled yourself into an OTB parlor for the day, you'll be able to catch the race. It looks like a nice field and lets all hope for a safe trip for all horses racing on Saturday.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Preakness Update

A field of 11 or 12 is expected for Saturday's Preakness. It rained very hard on Tuesday but the long range forecast is for clear weather with temperatures in the 70s on Preakness Day.

This is trainer doug O'Neill's assessment of his horse's training status.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How the Preakness is Shaping Up

The video, above, is of Went the Day Well, who is training for the Preakness at the bucolic Fair Hill Training Center in Maryland. How many Preakness horses can say they train in such a wonderful setting?

Not many who ran in the Kentucky Derby, as it turns out. Hansen is skipping the Preakness and so are Union Raggs and Dullahan. Bodemeister is in as Daddy Nose Best. Newcomers include Tiger Walk and Teeth of the Dog, trained by Michael Matz.

The field will continue to sort it self out as the week goes on but the Belmont is shaping up to be an interesting race!

Monday, May 14, 2012

CBS Early Show Video

Chefs Heffernan, Levin and Tellez made us all look good on the CBS Early Show on Saturday. Kudos to them and to their adorable pups!

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother Hen (Or In This Case Duck)

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In honor of Mother's Day a modern day reenactment of the classic children's tale, Make Way for Ducklings. Only this time, the brood fell into a storm grate and the mother darted into traffic to try and find someone who would save the day. They did.

Just goes to show you how far a mother will go to protect her kids, furry, feathered or otherwise.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Here and There

News a few days ago that Union Rags would be skipping the Preakness and prepping for the Belmont. Matz felt that the two weeks between races was not enough time for his horse to recover.

An interesting opinion especially since Union Rags really didn't "run" very much in his last two races--more like dodged traffic. Could it be that Matz doesn't want to return to the track where the Barbaro tragedy played out? I bet if Union Rags had won the Derby he would have been headed for the Preakness.

Look for a jockey change come Belmont time if Union Rags does indeed enter.

In other news, NPR had a great interview on Thursday with Joe Drape and Walt Bogdanich who wrote the series in the New York Times about the demise (in their opinion) of horse racing. Links to the podcast, NY Times articles and interview here.

I think it was Drape who revealed near the end of the interview the questionable background of trainer Doug O'Neil who saddled the Kentucky Derby winner, I'll Have Another. He has numerous drug violations and has been fined for "milk shaking" horses--a practice that involves inserting a tube down a horse's throat and pouring a mixture of baking soda and other ingredients down his throat. The point being that the infractions happen at every level of the game and there is no way of enforcing the penalties even when they are doled out.

Case in point: Rick Dutrow who has been banned from racing in New York yet still saddles horses. Where oh where is the commissioner this sport so desperately needs?

Friday, May 11, 2012

From Princeton With Love

Pardon if I toot my horn, but here is the video that the Princeton Alumni Weekly took at my house! Phoebe looks smashing in orange and black, as I think you will agree.

Also: DVR alert: 3 chefs from The Culinary Canine will appear this SATURDAY, May 12, at 8:22 AM EST. I think you'll enjoy the segment!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Puppy Conan Redux

Puppy Conan and Puppy Andy return on their own miniature set. Just as cute as the first time.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Man's Best Friend Yet Again

Absolutely AMAZING and could be the first chapter in that book I want to write about comparative oncology.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Sgt Rex and Handler Reunited

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A happy and fitting ending to two military careers. Handler and service dog reunited thanks to social networking campaign and intervention by New York State Senator Charles Schumer.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Derby Recap

For those of you who were expecting a Kentucky Derby recap yesterday, I apologize. Family obligations kept me from my computer. Which also gave me the opportunity to peruse all the other pundits and the above video from the Daily Racing Form is, I think, one of the best assessments of the race.

First of all, please note that I did pick the horses that finished second and third, so I retain some credibility. Secondly, Union Rags had, as you heard, a horrible trip, but it was a trip I actually predicted as soon as I saw him break a step slow. Go back and watch the replay of the break. Union Rags is already a half length behind the other horse, about two steps out of the gate. Of course, he then gets bumped by the traffic jam around him and has a hard time settling down. There was a lot of dirt kicked in his face before he even reached that first turn.

Which is why, I repeat, the Kentucky Derby is actually won around the first turn. Whoever gets out of the gate quickly and away from the traffic, puts himself in a position to run a clean race. Bodemeister did just that and it was those blistering fractions that did him in, not the traffic around him. I'll Have Another also got a nice trip breaking from the 19 post and heading toward the rail with only one horse on his outside, so there was no chance of getting boxed in. He settled in sixth and had room to make that big stretch run.

What do I think about him? I don't think he is a Triple Crown horse but I would love it if he was. The jockey is the feel-good story--rookie makes good and he and the horse seem to have formed a bonded team. We'll just have to see how it all plays out.

It would be something if Union Rags came back and won the Preakness to take the Barbaro monkey off of Matz's back once and for all. Now that would be a great story.

Bodemeister can't go that far but will still be around to set blistering fractions. It should be an exciting two weeks as the horses jockey for the next leg.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Look Before You Leap

Remind me NEVER to let Phoebe and Sam anywhere near a cliff--especially one that overlooks the ocean. A frightening story with a happy ending. Click below for more details.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Rosie Gets Her Roses!

Rosie Napravnik rode Believe You Can to victory in the Kentucky Oaks yesterday. On a day dedicated to the fillies, Napravnik became the first female jockey to win the Oaks. Breaking from the 9 post position, Believe You Can went off at 13 to 1, returning $29.60 on a two dollar bet.

Broadway's Alibi was second and Grace Hall finished third. The race was delayed by fierce thunderstorms that forced officials to clear the track for almost an hour.

“It’s unbelievable,” said Napravnik. “I couldn’t even tell you what I’m feeling. It feels like when your dreams are coming true. The filly is all talent and all heart and she certainly showed that today.”

Broadway's Alibi took the lead early, breaking smartly from the 6 hole but Believe You Can was right behind her all the way around. Napravnik, in perfect position, made her move at the top of the stretch and got a second gear out of the filly with the wire in sight.

That strategy, avoiding the crowds and shooting straight for the lead out of the gate, is certainly the preferred way to win the Kentucky Derby today. Of course, you must have a horse that breaks well and can beat the pack in that cattle charge, but I truly believe it is the safest way to go.

Let's see if my predictions come true. I hope Union Rags has the stuff to get out of the gate quickly and avoid the stampede and that he doesn't get trapped on the rail. My horses, stacked right across the track in post positions 3, 4, and 5 all need to get to the lead but also move away from the rail. It's a tricky strategy but the Kentucky Derby is often won in the first turn.

Union Rags and Others

I know it's 24 minutes long, but its also worth every minute. This is the story of Union Rags and the woman who loves him enough to have bought him back for double the amount she sold him. You'll know why he is the hometown favorite and probably the Derby favorite too.

Yes Union Rags is in my top three and so are Dullahan and Bodiemeister. If I were a betting woman, I'd box those three!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Post Parade

Here are the post positions for the KY Derby on Saturday. Note that Union Rags has drawn the 4 post and Bodemeister the 6 hole. At this point Bodemeister is the favorite with Union Rags close behind. Interestingly enough, my other pick, Dullahan, is number 5. So all my horses are right in a row, for whatever that's worth because that is probably the only time they will be that way.

I also like Take Charge Indy, who has the 3 hole with Calvin Borel--a position that should never be ruled out. #21 My Adonis is also eligible and will only start if another horse scratches.

What would I bet? Probably across the board on Union Rags, Bodemeister and Dullahan unless I was feeling brave and did an exacta box with those three horses.

For those of you looking for a long shot, Take Charge Indy should have good odds as well as Went the Day Well, both of whom have a legitimate shot.

Remember it is anybody's game with a 20 horse field and the first turn is critical. Whoever gets himself in striking distance and doesn't get boxed in down the back stretch will probably have a good shot if they have enough horse left by the time they hit the top of the stretch. Look for a horse with more than one gear and say a prayer for a safe trip for all.

PP Horse Virtual
Stable A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer
1 Daddy Long Legs (KY) 3/C LA C O'Donoghue 126 A P O'Brien
2 Optimizer (KY) 3/C LA J K Court 126 D W Lukas
3 Take Charge Indy (KY) 3/C L C H Borel 126 P B Byrne
4 Union Rags (KY) 3/C LA J R Leparoux 126 M R Matz
5 Dullahan (KY) 3/C LA K J Desormeaux 126 D L Romans
6 Bodemeister (VA) 3/C LA M E Smith 126 B Baffert
7 Rousing Sermon (CA) 3/C LA J Lezcano 126 J Hollendorfer
8 Creative Cause (KY) 3/C L J Rosario 126 M Harrington
9 Trinniberg (KY) 3/C L W Martinez 126 B Parboo
10 Daddy Nose Best (KY) 3/C LA G K Gomez 126 S M Asmussen
11 Alpha (KY) 3/C LA R Maragh 126 K P McLaughlin
12 Prospective (KY) 3/C L L Contreras 126 M E Casse
13 Went the Day Well (NY) 3/C LA J R Velazquez 126 H G Motion
14 Hansen (KY) 3/C LA R A Dominguez 126 M J Maker
15 Gemologist (KY) 3/C LA J Castellano 126 T A Pletcher
16 El Padrino (KY) 3/C LA R Bejarano 126 T A Pletcher
17 Done Talking (KY) 3/C LA S Russell 126 H A Smith
18 Sabercat (KY) 3/C LA C S Nakatani 126 S M Asmussen
19 I'll Have Another (KY) 3/C LA M Gutierrez 126 D F O'Neill
20 Liaison (KY) 3/C LA M Garcia 126 B Baffert
21 My Adonis (KY) (AE) 3/C LA E Trujillo 126 K J Breen

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hometown Favorite

Around here, which would be Barbaro country, Union Rags is the hometown favorite. Check out this nice article from Mike Jenson about the Wyeths, owner Phyllis and her artistic husband Jamie. Thats him above pointing to a painting he did of their menagerie at their farm, including a galloping yearling in the corner that he claims is Union Rags.

At least that's what he says although Phyllis isn't so sure.

Stay tuned for my picks but I will tell you that Union Rags is in the mix!

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Derby Antics

Sometimes you just need a good roll in the sand! This is Kentucky Derby contender Hansen getting that trademark nearly white coat of his pretty dirty with a nice roll! No word on whether that means roses will adhere better to his coat or not....

The Derby Draw for post positions will be televised LIVE on NBC today at 4:00 PM Eastern Time. On Saturday, between NBC and VERSUS, there will be about 8 hours of coverage so check your local listings. With all that coverage, it will feel like we are all there, so maybe you should pull out your best hat and get in the mood!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Darling Diane

Diane Keaton's new movie, Darling Companion, is about rescuing a dog. She took the cause to heart and brought a dog from the Helen Woodward Animal Rescue Center in Rancho Santa Fe, California to the Jay Leno Show last week, hoping it would find a home. See the reveal at about 1:58 in the above video.

Not to mention that Clover, the dog up for adoption , looks a lot like Leno.

No word on whether or not Clover found new home but we hear the movie is a winner.