Archive for the ‘horse racing’ Category

Sarah Stephens won the amateur all-around title for mule riding with Lizzy.

Sarah Stephens won the amateur all-around title for mule riding with Lizzy.


American Pharoah is now a legend and the impressive horse will be fed the biggest pail of oats and be served the most delicious bales of hay ever invented.

Trainer Bob Baffert can certainly afford to buy American Pharoah the best bales of hay around after the horse became the 12th Triple Crown winner in horse racing history on Saturday. Not since Affirmed in 1978 had one horse won the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and Belmont Stakes.

You remember 1978 — that’s when stamps cost 13 cents and, gosh, did my mom think they were expensive. Dave Winfield still played for the San Diego Padres and thought he was underpaid. The Cars were taking over the rock music world with their debut album.

Let all that sink in … yeah, 1978 kind of seems like ages ago now.

And now 2015 is a memorable horse-racing year thanks to American Pharoah.

It was a standout race as jockey Victor Espinoza quickly moved American Pharoah to the front and led the entire way while posting a winning time of 2 minutes, 26.65 seconds.

American Pharoah breaks the jinx that had been picking up momentum over the last decade as short-sighted people began saying there would never be another Triple Crown winner. That’s kind of like saying the Chicago Cubs will never again reach the World Series.

Ohhhh. Yeah, bad comparison.

There had been eight attempts since 1997 with horses such as California Chrome (2014), Smarty Jones (2004) and Silver Charm (1997) among the disappointments. There were also major failures such as Big Brown (2008) and War Emblem (2002).

If horses have a memory, perhaps War Emblem was scarred by the eighth-place performance at the Belmont. Two of my brothers and I saw him at the Pacific Classic in Del Mar two months later and he was a nonfactor in that race as well and finished sixth.

Who knows where Silver Charm hangs out these days but we had a lot of fun picking on him in the sports department that no longer exists. Two of the dudes — or should I say gambling addicts who like horses more than people — were so crushed when Silver Charm failed to win the Triple Crown but the rest of us really enjoyed sticking the needle in.

You see, not every horse can be Secretariat — he’s the 1973 horse racing Triple Crown winner — but American Pharoah can take his place as one of the better horses in recent times.

American Pharoah won by 5 1/2 lengths over Frosted, which pales in comparison to Secretariat — even today, he could still win, show or place — and the famous dash in 1973.

Secretariat won by an unfathomable 31 lengths. Count ’em up — 31.

He eats bales of hay … Secretariat.

And now let’s serve up some extra bales for American Pharoah for ending the Triple Crown drought.

I personally went through some sacrifice as I watched 4 1/2 minutes of horse racing this year instead of my usual two.

And with the drought over, there goes the annual anticipation and hype the horse-racing folks create about the possibility of the first Triple Crown winner since the 1970s.

Now there is nothing to look forward to when the 2016 Kentucky Derby rolls around.

So I may be back to watching just two minutes of horse racing next year.

Thank you American Pharoah! Enjoy the extra oats and hay!

What a crazy Saturday full of sports and if you left your house even once today, you kind of fail at life.

If you missed all the sporting events, you are likely one of the following: Incarcerated, marching the streets of Baltimore or wasting your day on a used-car lot.

Suddenly, playing for the Cleveland Browns doesn’t sound so bad. Well, if you can figure out how not to live in Cleveland while cashing their checks.

Before the big fight between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao even hit the pay-per-view airwaves at $99.95 plus tax per purchase – you mean people don’t understand you can find FREE online streams for these fights? – we got to view an outstanding Game 7 between the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers. And it was on FREE TV and it was outright amazing.

Clippers point guard Chris Paul was hobbling on a sore hamstring he injured earlier in the game and sidestepped Danny Green’s defense and avoided Tim Duncan’s attempt to swat it aside to bank in the decisive shot with one second left to give Los Angeles a 111-109 victory. Good bye defending champions. See you next year.

The unexpected thing was that the basketball game was much more exciting than the big boxing bout. Mayweather improved to 48-0 in his career with a unanimous 12-round decision but it was hardly an entertaining tussle and nothing like its billing as “Fight of the Century.”

There was no knockout for Mayweather. He apparently saves those for the women he hits.

Who can forget that American Pharoah became the luckiest horse of the year by winning the Kentucky Derby. Since horses don’t spend money, American Pharoah gets all the bales of hay he wants forever and will never have to worry about sitting hungry in a barn again.

Good food if you can get it. Well, for a horse. Just ask Secretariat.

“He eats bales of hay, Sec-re-tar-i-at.” (Use tune of Toto’s “Rosanna” for full effect).

The NFL Draft finished up but nobody was even chatting about that by dark. Not with all the other good stuff going on.

Oh yeah, the New York Yankees tried to spoil our day of fun by saying they won’t pay Alex Rodriguez his $6 million bonus for catching Willie Mays on the all-time homer list with his 660th blast. It’s hard to ever be on Rodriguez’s side on anything but you know, it is in the contract and it wasn’t written in that it is voided if you cheat.

Wow, so weird to commiserate for A-Rod the fraud.

OK, on to the top 10 list:

10. The Kansas City Royals played a baseball game without getting in a fight. They must have missed the word that Saturday was “Fight Night.” In fact, the Royals were so punchless that they scored just one run while losing to the Detroit Tigers

9. The New York Rangers defeated the Washington Capitals 3-2 to even their playoff series at one game apiece. I have no idea if this was a big accomplishment or not because it is the NHL but I also know I need to mention it or else my inbox will be filled with hockey fans calling me names over the omission.

8. The NFL Draft is lucky to crack the list as the once-anticipated Saturday has been rendered a complete waste of time due to the league’s switch to a three-day event. When the best thing you have to talk about is whether Blake Petty or Brett Hundley will go first in the fourth round, you know there is no further reason to watch.

7. The big Twitter outburst that CNN’s Rachel Nichols and ESPN’s Michelle Beadle had credentials pulled for the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight because they said mean things about Mayweather’s history of domestic abuse. I understand why Mayweather and his handlers don’t like Nichols (see interview here but Beadle is one of those harmless fools who hosts some kind of lowly fluff show on ESPN. She’s just happy to get some pub. Oh yeah, Mayweather’s camp denies there were any games played with the credentials. Um, OK.

6. Shortly after American Pharoah won the Kentucky Derby, @NBCNews tweeted BREAKING: American Pharoah wins 141st Kentucky Derby. Good thing I wasn’t drinking a mint julep as I would have dropped it upon seeing the response from a Bo Pelini parody account: “That has to be a record.”

5. The bugle at the Kentucky Derby. As soon as that familiar race-day jingle is played, I know my yearly output of two minutes of horse racing is near. Love that bugle.

4. Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros are the talk of baseball. Wait, the HOUSTON ASTROS are the talk of baseball? This is indeed a Saturday Sports Day for the ages. Altuve hit a three-run homer – he came up short in his bid for his 10th consecutive multihit game – and the formerly woeful Astros have won nine straight games and 13 of their last 14. Call them the first-place Astros. Wow.

3. Quite a performance at the Kentucky Derby for American Pharoah and, gosh, do we wish the horse could talk so we wouldn’t have to hear owner Bob Baffert drone on and on about nothing of substance. Jockey Victor Espinoza rode the horse way wide as they hit the stretch and the finishing kick was stellar to win the Run for the Roses.

2. Special thanks to the Website known as vipleague for the free boxing stream as there was no way the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight was worth $100. I knew that before the fight – duh – and it became even more obvious during it. So much hype means so much dollars for all involved. But the actual action didn’t live up to the hype and I can’t believe how upset people must be for forking over that much cash.

1. NBA playoff basketball is about 100 times more exciting and intense than the regular season and the epic contest between the Clippers and Spurs once again proved it. And how badly does San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich want to beat up – Mayweather style – the shot-clock operator at the Staples Center for messing up the team’s last-second play?

I have no idea what Calvin Borel does for 10 months of the year. But I know what the fast-becoming-legendary jockey does on the first Saturday of May each year.

The little guy wins the Kentucky Derby.

Saturday’s victory aboard Super Saver makes it three wins in the last four Kentucky Derbys for the 43-year-old Borel. No other jockey has ever done that in the race that has to be the toughest to win because of the pressures at Churchill Downs and the always-large field.

Super Saver beat Ice Box by 2 1/2 lengths in the latest edition of the one horse race a year you can’t miss. Even the sloppy track beat down by torrential rain all day couldn’t keep the race from being rip-roaring good once  the horses were let out of the gate.

Borel used the rail to his advantage, taking the shortest route around the track to win in 2 minutes, 4.45 seconds.

A nice touch was that Borel’s terrific ride gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Derby win. Pletcher was in the spotlight a lot this week because he was 0-for-24 at the Kentucky Derby.

But the 136th running of the Kentucky Derby turned out to be the magical day for Pletcher because he was intelligent enough to have Borel guiding one of his horses. I don’t know if there are bidding wars for jockeys, but Borel is worth a million bucks – perhaps $2 million – on the first Saturday of May.

Borel won on 50-1 long shot Mine That Bird last year and on Street Sense in 2007.

The second-smartest person in Lexington on Saturday was a software consultant from Houston named Glen Fullerton. He won a contest to place a $100,000 bet and took Super Saver, leaving the track with a cool $900,000. Fullerton cited Borel as the prime reason for choosing Super Saver.

After the race, Borel said he was going after the Triple Crown, the coveted horse racing accomplishment last done in 1978 by Affirmed. The other two legs are the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes.

Obviously, I wasn’t thrilled to hear that news because I like for the Kentucky Derby to be my only two minutes of horse racing of the year (though I have also watched the Belmont on occasion when a Triple Crown attempt hangs in the balance).

But I just may have to count on making time for the Preakness.

Like I said, I haven’t a clue what Borel does when he’s out of the spotlight. But he definitely makes horse racing fun to watch during the Triple Crown portion of the year.

Borel might only stand 5-feet-4 but he’s a giant on Kentucky Derby day.

Uh oh, it’s the first Saturday of May so you know what that means.

Oh no, I wasn’t talking about MrSportsBlog’s first of the month rant (though that will likely occur too). It’s Derby Day.

It’s time for my two minutes a year where I happily watch a horse race. Not just any horse race, either. It’s only the biggest one of the year – the Kentucky Derby.

About to research when post time is to make sure I plan my day correctly and catch the race. I once missed the race in the mid-1990s because some work commitments put me in nowhere land – halfway between home and the workplace – as post-time arrived.

Pulled off the freeway and tried to find a watering hole in the area. First place didn’t have a television. Second place turned out to be three minutes away – and the race ended before I got there.

Also faced a quandary a few years ago where the pro football team I was covering had minicamp the same day as the race. After watching NFL players and other team employees hand off money to the defensive end that was running the team’s in-house Kentucky Derby gambling pool – hey Commissioner Goodell, is a horse racing gambling pool on team premises permissible under NFL rules? – I realized the timing was such that I could skip out of a few minutes of practice to catch the race.

Since there’s very few things a sportswriter does that is more boring than watching football practice, this was a definite win-win scenario.

Yeah, I’ve become a pro at making sure I get my yearly two-minute fix of horse racing. Wouldn’t know a mint julep if you threw one in my face and sure don’t know the words to My Old Kentucky Home but you certainly don’t have to be on hand at Churchill Downs to get excited about this race.

And who cares if you don’t know the names of the horses. Some long shot named Mine That Bird won the race last year. I could have spent weeks researching the big race and still wouldn’t have uncovered that name.

My knowledge is sufficient to get me through the race. Always been a big Secretariat fan but never thought Big Red was a person – I’ve encountered folks that thought Silver Charm was a human – for the simplest of reasons.

“He eats bales of hay … Secretariat.”

Yes – I’m now officially ready for the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby is Saturday and that means I will gladly spend two minutes of my time watching a horse race. I’ve never tasted a mint julep or hummed along while “My Old Kentucky Home” was playing or sent Barbaro or any other horse a get-well card but I always make an effort to watch the Derby the first Saturday of May each year. It is pretty amazing how popular a two-minute race can be, particularly when you realize the race is over and done with faster than you can order a Big Mac at the local McDonald’s. While some horse racing fanatics hold great racehorses like Silver Charm in higher regard than they hold humans, I’ve always had the proper perspective. After all, even when watching the great Secretariat, one thing was always very clear: “He eats bales of hay.” …