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  1. Point Counterpoint

    February 3, 2014 by Smarty

    Point Counterpoint

    It’s not just about the gambling.

     

    A day at the track. Drag along lawn chairs and a cooler ? Or travel light and chow down on sausage and onions ?

     
    POINT:
    Personally, I prefer to travel light. Cash, camera (maybe), a credit card and a program. A big ole stogie would be nice too. Hey, you came here to spend some dough, so what the heck. Buy a six dollar beer and an eight dollar bratwurst and live it up. Who wants to keep looking over their shoulder to make sure someone isn’t digging into your cooler or dragging away your chair? I go to the track to relax and have some fun. Paranoia is not fun.
    Walking around the track is fun especially when unencumbered by too many possessions. And I mean walking everywhere while at the track. There’s lots to see and enjoy. Music, scenery, people and horses. Up close and personal.

    paddyoh

    Counterpoint:

    None – No takers.

    #stogie  #cooler  #bratwurst  #scenery

     


  2. Kentucky Derby History

    March 12, 2013 by Smarty

    Kentucky Derby History

     

    By Matthew Bass

     

    The classic American horse race, the Kentucky Derby is the oldest consecutively held Thoroughbred race in America. It is run annually on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Along with the Preakness in mid-May, and Belmont in early June, it is the first jewel of the coveted Triple Crown of Thoroughbred racing, which has been won by only eleven horses since 1919. Triple Crown winners include memorable names such as Secretariat, Seattle Slew, Whirlaway, and Affirmed.

     

    The first Kentucky Derby was held May 17, 1875, before a crowd of 10,000 from around the city, state and surrounding areas. In that race, a field of 15 three-year-olds ran a 1.5 mile course which was won by H.P. McGrath’s Aristides. Although the first Derby was held at 1.5 miles, the distance was changed to the current 1.25 miles in 1896. The Derby field is limited to three-year-olds; fillies carry 121 pounds and colts 126 pounds. So far, only three fillies have won the Derby: Regret in 1915, Genuine Risk in 1980, and Winning Colors in 1988. The Kentucky Derby has also produced countless statistics and bits of trivia over the course of its history. The largest field was during the 100th running in 1974 when 23 horses ran. The smallest fields were in 1892 and 1905, with only three horses in each race.

     

    The fastest Derby was run by the legendary Secretariat, who covered the 1 1/4 miles in 1:59 2/5, the only Derby winner to finish under two minutes.

     

    Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr who built Churchill Downs in Louisville, wanted his track to have a race that would rival England’s Epsom Derby. After visiting England to study both its tracks and its races, he established the Kentucky Derby, which was first run on May 17, 1875.

     

    However, the Derby was just another regional race until 1902, when Colonel Matt J. Winn took over the track. Although he had seen every Derby since the beginning, Winn knew little about horse racing or running tracks. But he was a very good promoter.

     

    After raising money to save Churchill Downs from bankruptcy, Winn began making frequent trips to New York, then the center of American racing to persuade owners to enter their horses in the Kentucky Derby. His persistence paid off. By 1920, the Derby had become the best-known race in the North America and it was attracting the top three-year-olds from all over the country.

     

    The first race in the Triple Crown, The Derby is run on the first Saturday in May. A whole week of festivities know as The Kentucky Derby Festival is built around the race which, like the Indianapolis 500, has become as much a happening as a sporting event. It attracts crowds of well over 150,000 spectators and is watched on television by millions more, many of whom are otherwise not interested in Thoroughbred racing.

     

    #aristides  #churchilldowns  #seattleslew  #affirmed  #louisville  #kentucky

     


  3. Belmont Stakes Party

    March 11, 2012 by Smarty

    Whiskey, Cakes and a Belmont Stakes Party

    One of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak. Time to stock up on some good ole American whiskey (perhaps Jack Daniels) and the Harvey’s Bristol Cream Sherry. It’s never too early to start planning your Belmont Stakes Party.
    You’ll also need some simple syrup, fresh lemon juice, orange juice, cranberry juice and Club Soda so you can have plenty of ingredients to serve your guests a delicious “Belmont Breeze”, the “Toast of the Champion” and official cocktail of the Belmont Stakes; the third, final and most grueling leg of the Triple Crown. Bake a Belmont-themed cake, pick up some traditional white carnations for decoration and a CD of Frank Sinatra singing “New York, New York”. (The song was changed from “Sidewalks of New York” in 1997 – sing: “East Side, West Side, all around the town. The kids sang “ring around rosie”, “London Bridge is falling down”.)

    Ok, so this year’s Triple Crown fever died a painful death in 2006 when Barbaro damaged his rear leg in the Preakness but, life goes on and so does the Belmont Stakes, as it has since June 19, 1867. That was the year Francis Morris’s horse Ruthless won the mile and five furlong race in 3:05 running clockwise. No, not backwards. Horse races were run clockwise, as was the English tradition until 1921, when the first horse was run counter-clockwise at, you guessed it, Belmont Racetrack in Elmont, New York (not a spelling error – a coincidence) That would be on Long Island in Nassau County. And so you don’t get called on the carpet for giving out misinformation, the first Belmont Stakes was run at Jerome Park in the Bronx from 1867 to 1889; Morris Park (birthplace of Regis Philbin) from 1890 to 1904.

    Belmont Park opened in 1905. Except for a few years from 1911 to 1915 when horseracing was outlawed in New York State and for a short period in the late 60’s for remodeling the “Stakes” have been running at Belmont ever since. As for Barbaro, God bless his safe recovery but, I’m sure he’s fairly comfortable and I’m guessing he’s getting some very special, ahem, “attention” to make sure his legacy lives on should he take a turn for the worse. I should be so lucky.
     
     
    In more recent Belmont Stakes, unbeaten Kentucky Derby winner Smarty Jones would be denied the Triple Crown by Marylou Whitney Stable’s 36-1 long shot Birdstone in 2004. In 2005, subsequent to winning the Preakness after a death-defying stumble, one that bestowed him the honor of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association’s Moment of the Year, Afleet Alex went on to win the Belmont. In 1973, Secretariat established the world’s record for a mile and a half in two minutes and twenty four seconds (2:24) at the Belmont Stakes, making him the ninth horse to win the Triple Crown. His record for the mile and a half stands unbroken today. Seattle Slew, who started his career in 1976 at Belmont Park, went on to win the Belmont Stakes in 1977 and remains the only horse to win the Triple Crown with an undefeated record. 1978 saw one of the greatest races in history at the Belmont Stakes when arch rivals Affirmed and Alydar battled it out in the stretch. The horses came so close together that Affirmed’s 18 year old jockey, Steve Cauthen, had to switch his whip from one hand to the other. Affirmed went on to narrowly win the race and the Triple Crown; only the 11th horse to do so. Among the many other great horses to make history at the Belmont Stakes, War Admiral, offspring of the great Man O War, had his 1937 Triple Crown Stakes overshadowed the following year by the legend of the little horse named Seabiscuit. If you haven’t seen the 1993 movie Seabiscuit with Jeff Bridges, rent it. It’s one of the best.
     
     
    But who needs a potential Triple Crown winner to make the Belmont Stakes a blast ? The coolest thing since you first saw your dog eat dirt is the fact that the “Run for the Carnations” is the longest of the Triple Crown races. As a matter of fact, Belmont Park is the longest dirt track in the world (you can make a minor technological argument if you do your research). So, tune your cable TV to ESPN around noon, Saturday June 10th, and hunker down for a day of Belmont Festivities. If you don’t have cable, the party should start around 5 pm on ABC in anticipation of the big race at 6:30 EST. Invite your friends over. Get out the monopoly money and have everyone place their bets for their favorite horse. Fill up the ice buckets, pass around the Belmont Breeze pitcher and get in the spirit. Now, I shall close with some more Belmont Stakes trivia.
     
     
    The highest attendance record was 120,139 in 2004 which is also an all-time high for New York. 2002 saw 103,222 people watch Sarava deny War Emblem the Triple Crown. In 2003 Empire Maker spoiled Funny Cide’s Triple Crown aspirations. The widest margin of victory was 31 lengths in 1973 by the incredible Secretariat at 2:24. The second-fastest time is 2:26, shared by Easy Goer in 1989 and A.P. Indy in 1992. As for jockeys, James Rowe rode ten Belmont victories. James McLaughlin and Eddie Arcaro each had six. Julie Crone was the first woman to win a Triple Crown race when she won the Belmont Stakes in 1993 riding Colonial Affair to a 2 1/4 length victory. James Rowe also had eight of his Belmont wins as a trainer; another record. Trainer Sam Hildreth was second with seven and “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons had six.
     
     
    The “Post Parade” was introduced to American racing at the 1880 Belmont Stakes. Prior to that the horses went directly from paddock to post. The trophy for the Belmont Stakes is a silver bowl supported by three horses; Eclipse, Herod and Matchem and is crafted by Tiffany. It is 18 inches high, 15 inches across and 14 inches at the base and was presented by the Belmont family as a perpetual award for the Belmont Stakes in 1926. Winning owners are given the option of keeping the trophy for the year their horse remains Belmont champion.
     
    Have a great Belmont Stakes party and then get ready for the best of the best meet; Saratoga Springs! Oh, and here is the official recipe for the Belmont Breeze, by mixologist, Dale DeGroff:
     
     
    1 1/2 ounces of a good American blended whiskey
    3/4 ounces Harveys Bristol Cream Sherry
    1/2 ounce of fresh lemon juice
    1 ounce of simple syrup
    (1 ounce of sweet and sour mix may be substituted for the lemon juice and simple syrup)
    1 1/2 ounces fresh orange juice
    1 1/2 ounces cranberry juice
    1 ounce 7-Up
    1 ounce Club Soda
     
    Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.

    #belmontbreeze  #simplesyrup  #barbaro  #whiskey  #jackdaniels  #birdstone  #afleetalex