05 May 2006

The First Saturday in May

One of my favorite sporting events each year is the running of the Kentucky Derby. Back when I liked to gamble too much (not quite in a Dalyish or Barkleyian way though), I'd go to Vegas for the 'Run for the Roses'.

Never even thought of going to Kentucky, looks like fun, but also crowded, crazed, and expensive.

I'll stick to Vegas, Laughlin, or Hollywood Park (which has live races also that day).

A maximum field (20) of 3 year olds will be racing, hard to get a feel for any of the horses, but always keep an eye on the horse that finished 2nd at the Santa Anita Derby. In the entire history of the race, only two winners of the Santa Anita Derby have also won the Kentucky Derby. The only horses to do it were the great Affirmed in '78, also the last Triple Crown winner, and the other horse to win both the Kentucky Derby and Santa Anita Derby was Sunday Silence in '89.

(I saw Affirmed race that year, and I've seen Seattle Slew, and more recent top horses like AP Indy and Cigar, but my all time favorite horse will always be the big gelding with the bad temper, John Henry)

Horses in the money, but that didn't win the Santa Anita Derby have won with much greater frequency, so look out for Point Determined and AP Warrior, and don't believe the hype surrounding Brother Derek. He's unbeatable at Santa Anita, his home track, but there's a long trail of great horses that don't ship well, and don't adjust to the huge field at the Kentucky Derby (20 horses and dealing with the auxillary gate can screw up even experienced horses, let alone not very experienced 3 year olds). Brother Derek is breaking from way outside, and there's a ton of speed on the inside.

Lately the winning horses have come out of the Floriday Derby and the Arkansas Derby and west coast horses haven't shipped well, plus Brother Derek is a Cal-bred horse, and would be the first horse bred in California to win the derby if he does so.

So if I get off my duff, and get over to Hollywood Park tomorrow, I'll probably be tempted to take the 12-1 straight up on Point Determined and ignore all the exotic bets.

(also, I swear I'll blog about something other than sports one of these days)

(and even though I saw John Henry race when I was still in elementary school, that horse is still alive and kicking at over 30 now, picture, borrowed from here, below, hopefully the fate that befell Kentucky Derby winner Ferdinand, will be avoided by John Henry when his inevitable end comes)


Icepick said...

I was at the 1992 Kentucky Derby. It really is the most exciting two minutes in sports. It's not really that horse racing is all that, it's that when all that cash is floating on the race, the crowd gets intense. No credit is accepted at the track, not even from the oil sheikhs, so everything on th big board is cash. It was just awesome.

Incidentally, I hit a $150 payout in the Oaks, and gave all my winnings back on Derby Day. For the Derby itself, I think I had every horse covered in some damn fool bet or another except for the three that won, placed and showed. (MC Hammer's horse Dance Floor finished third that year.) Still, I broke even for the week, which was much better than I expected to do. I expected to come home broke.

XWL said...

I'd regale you with stories of bets won (and there have been some good days at the track), but it'd obscure the fact that there have been bad days, too.

When gambling always best to assume that you will lose every last dollar you intend to gamble, and treat it like any other form of entertainment where you pay for the fun/time ratio, and don't expect any loot in return.

OK, one story, I introduced one of my girlfriends to the joys of Hollywood Park, and on our first trip there she made out like a bandit. It's right next to the Forum, and as it so happened the Sacramento Kings were playing the Lakers (she was from the Sacramento area and her family had Kings season seats), so we went over there, approached a scalper, and she spent the days winnings on two tickets that turned out to be on the floor behind one of the baskets. We had better seats than Darryl Strawberry (who was with the Dodgers at the time) and some family members of Jack Haley (who was with the Lakers). She rooted for the Queens, but it was still back when they were one of the worst teams in the league, so it was a Laker victory all the way.