Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Holy Bull Stakes

Well, I handicapped the race but the problem was I liked so many of the horses! I picked out (1) Coup de Grace for the combo of good jockey and trainer along with a good record. I liked (4) Almost Famous because Borel was on top and my motto is "Even if he's riding a ten speed on a muddy track, I always bet on Borel" and because Almost Famous had won at the distance of 1 1/16 miles with a comparatively decent Beyer Speed number. I liked (7) Cairo Prince because he has a good record and trainer and had some good work outs recently. Wicked Strong (8) caught my eye because of his jockey, trainer, record and performance in the Remsen Stakes.

My imaginary exacta (boxed, of course) was 4/7/8 and my exactas were 8/6 and 1/7. The horses came in 7-9-11-4 so had I bet, I wouldn't have won anything. As usual! But I had fun doing it and that's what counts!

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

I love this hat.

Navy and white from etsy

I love this hat! 
First of all, I'm not sure it's "me." I'm never the most fashionable girl in the room (unless it's me and a bunch of guys but if one of those guys was gay, he'd probably still have more style than I do). 
Second, I have no idea what I'd wear with it! It's navy, not black. If it was black, it'd be much easier to work with- black dress and bright jewelry. Done.
I think it would go best with a simple dress with minimal jewelry but what color? A navy dress with a navy and white hat would be blah plus it would probably be next to impossible to match the navies. White dresses are out of the question. They're just not practical for me at the Derby. Too much dust, leaning against railings, possible rain which leads to mud, beer spills, etc. 
I think it'd be cute with a bright pink dress or kelly green. Red? Or would that be too nautical? Too 4th of July? Would it make you want a hot dog and a Budweiser real bad?

How do horses get into the Kentucky Derby?

This is a Derby 101 topic. If you're looking for more graduate level discussions, you might find this a little basic.

First, a 3-year-old horse is nominated by the owner or trainer for the Triple Crown. There is an early nomination period till January 25th when the fee is $600. Starting January 26th, the fee jumps to $6,000 till March 22nd. After March 22nd, if you have a horse who has done well in any Road to the Kentucky Derby races (more on those in a bit!), you can pay a supplemental nomination fee of only $200,000.
So if you have a horse that's 3-years-old and you think it might have a chance to run in the Derby, you really should get out your checkbook before January 25th.

As of 2013, Churchill Downs changed the process of how horses get into the Kentucky Derby. Previously, it was based on how much money the horse earned from graded stakes races. Graded stakes races are the races with the cream of the crop running in them. However, just because a horse earned enough money to get into the Derby doesn't mean it belongs in the Derby. The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 miles long. Some horses are sprinters and are better a shorter races. They might lead the pack for 6 furlongs or so but after that, they run out of gas and end up coming in 17th.

In 2013, they switched to a points system. There are 34 races from September through April where horses earn points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The first 18 races give 10, 4, 2 or 1 points to the first four finishers. Then near the end of February, it starts to get real and horses earn 50, 20, 10, or 5 points and then at the end of March you really get a sense of who will be in the gate on the first Saturday in May. Starting with the Florida Derby, horses earn 100, 40, 20, or 10 points. Keep track of who has how many points here.

In 2013, horses with anywhere from 14 to 150 points ran in the Derby. And don't disregard a horse with low points. Sure, Orb had 150 points and came in first but Golden Soul who entered the Derby with a mere 14 points  came in second (and totally screwed up my bets!). 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Lecomte Stakes

**Yeah, I totally skipped writing about the Sham Stakes. There were only 4 horses in the race and there were no surprises. The superfecta paid out a whopping $4.50. I skipped it. Meh.

Moving on to the Lecomte Stakes... I handicapped it and did my imaginary exactas* of 4/1 (Gold Hawk/Roman Unbridled), 7/1 (Vicar's in Trouble/Roman), and 7/4 (Vicar/GH). My long shot was 5, Smarty's Echo. They came in:

7- Vicar's In Trouble
6- Albano
4- Gold Hawk
1- Roman Unbridled

My long shot, Smarty's Echo, came in dead last. But like I said in my Jerome Stakes post, that's why he was my long shot. I didn't give Albano too much credit because he hadn't raced a race this long before. That's the same reason I threw out I'll Have Another in 2012 Kentucky Derby. Yeah, we know where that got me! But I'm feeling pretty good about my other picks. By May, I'll be picking winners like a true degenerate gambler!

The top 4 finishers were in the front for most of the race but coming down the stretch, Vicar's In Trouble found his second wind and left the other three in the dust! He finished 7 lengths ahead of Albano! I'll be keeping an eye on Vicar! He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 97, the highest of any horse on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

 *Why are my exactas imaginary? Because I can't wager online from the lovely state of Missouri, at least not on any reputable site that I've found. I'm sure a guy in Nigeria would be elated to have my credit card number but will not take registrations from the Show Me State. Therefore, I just write down what I would bet if I were at the track. I don't win any money but I don't lose any money either!

Side note- Whenever I see the name Vicar's In Trouble, I start to sing Vicar In A Tutu. Surely I can't be the only child of the '80's to do this? Maybe I should pass this along to Vicar's In Trouble's connections as a recommendation as a name for Vicar's offspring! Think of how many people bet on a horse because of it's name! Or not. I'm not sure how many fans of The Smiths follow horse racing and it's a pretty obscure Smiths song. Girlfriend in a Coma is more well known but that would be one hell of a morbid name for a racehorse!

PS. 102 days till the Kentucky Derby! We're almost to double digits, ya'll!

Monday, January 6, 2014

Where to park at the Kentucky Derby

This is a question I see a lot on message boards. I've only parked at Papa John's Stadium which to me seems to be the cheapest and easiest option but I'll do my best to write about other options.
Self parking

The easiest way is to park at Papa John's Stadium for $15 and then either walk to Churchill Downs (15 minutes or so) or catch one of the shuttles they have running back and forth (another $15/person). It's an easy walk but I highly recommend wearing your comfy shoes and then slipping on your heels when you reach Churchill. The hardest part of the walk is the rather lengthy staircase you have to climb from the parking lot to Central Ave but then it's literally downhill from there. You'll pass people selling flip flops, beer or beads, at least two guys with bullhorns talking about Jesus (and at least two wiseguys heckling them), a carnival stand selling everything from funnel cakes to corn dogs, etc.

The first gate you'll come across is Gate 3 on 4th Street. This is where you want to enter if you are sitting in the infield and have a chair, blanket or tarp. The entrance will take you right to the infield. If you have grandstand tickets, keep walking down Central Ave and enter through Gate 1. Blankets and tarps are allowed but not chairs. If you have reserved clubhouse seats, Gate 10 is apparently the place you want to go. No chairs, blankets or tarps are allowing through Gate 10.
Churchill Downs is selling parking passes too. Passes are good for both Oaks and Derby. $300 will get you into lot 2B and $95 will get you into lots 15/16.
Here's a map I made featuring parking lots and gates; parking lots are red markers and gates are green. 

Residents near Churchill Downs apparently charge people to park on their lawns but I haven't seen this in action and I have no idea what they charge. I honestly think parking at Papa John's Stadium is the way to go. It's cheap and the walk isn't bad at all. If you can't handle the walk, you can do the shuttles.

Valet parking

Another option is to do valet parking through Derby Experiences. Their lot is 1.5 blocks from Churchill Downs. According to their website, they charge $325 per person. They're parking cars, not people so I'm not sure why it says per person. It looks like even after paying $325, you still have to walk 1.5 blocks. For that price, I want Zenyatta herself to carry me to the entrance of Churchill Downs and a shirtless Mike Smith to escort me to my seat.


I've never used taxis but word on the street is getting taxi after the Derby is over is a 2-3 hour affair. After a long day on your feet, it's not something I'd want to do. A friend of mine once stayed in Sellersburg, IN and found a local to drive him back and forth. I assume the front desk clerk recommended someone to drive them. The driver dropped them off as close as road closures allowed and they had a designated pick up time and place. That sounds a lot more convenient than waiting in the taxi line for 2 hours. I'd try this instead before doing a taxi. It might be something you can use CraigsList for? I'll check when the Derby gets closer.

As usual, if you have any other ideas that I haven't listed, let me know!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Jerome Stakes

The holidays are over. It's all downhill from here, folks! Every weekend for the next 16 weeks, we'll have a race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby that will determine who is in the gate on May 3rd. Not to mention, spring dresses will be hitting stores soon, followed by hats. Glorious hats!
But I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. Today brought us the Jerome Stakes at Aquaduct Racetrack in Queens, NY. I handicapped it (first time I've gotten out my special handicapping pen since Breeder's Cup!) and I picked Noble Moon, Scotland, Lawmaker and Classic Giacnroll, in no particular order, with Mental Iceberg as my long shot. Noble Moon had a great run and came in first, followed by Classic Giacnroll, Scotland and Matuszak. Not too shabby for a novice who hasn't done this since November! Mental Iceberg came in 6th but hey, that's why I had him as my long shot.
Now that the holidays are over and Derby prep races are in full swing, I'm starting to get excited! Hat shopping will probably start in early March. That's only 8 weeks away!!

118 days till the Kentucky Derby! Unless something really goes wrong with the universe, the weather should be completely different.