Friday, October 31, 2014

Breeders Cup - Day 1

Unfortunately this year heading to California was not in the cards.  However Maryjean, our gal from the Canterbury Racing Club, is heading to post later today at Hawthorn Race Course and as luck would have it, Heather has the time off and I have to be in Wisconsin and Iowa for business bookending the weekend, so at Hawthorne we shall be. That preview can be seen over at the Canterbury Racing Club page.  Here we'll focus on Day 1 of the Breeders' Cup.

If you don't know, Hello Race Fans is a site dedicated to racing fans education, a great way to bring fledgling fans deeper into the game. Even if you're not a novice they have great stakes previews, a "things to know" feature for key races that are must reads, and general overviews of things we may have forgotten over the years that can help sharpen up our handicapping. 

Several times a year Hello Race Fans invites a few experts to share their picks on key races.  For whatever reason, I am fortunate enough to be one of them.  Each year around the Breeders' Cup I try to share my reasoning being my selections and then be publically humiliated later!  Well, not always, which is what keeps me coming back.

My goal is to try and provide some value and not just pick the chalk.  The name of the game is making money and that's what I'm going to try and do!  So without further ado, my picks for Day 1:

Juvenile Turf - Startup Nation.  This colt's first two races were stellar.  He kind of stumbled a bit in his last, the Grade 3 Pilgrim, and threw in a real clunker.  Rosario makes the trip to ride, trainer Chad Brown seems to be around the winners' circle in every big race this year and I'm willing to draw a line through his last and also believe that there is going to be enough speed to run at to start us off right.  Morning line: 12-1

Dirt Mile - Tapiture. I wanted to type in Goldencents very badly.  That 6-5 morning line was less than appealing however and I'm not convinced that he's a mortal lock - though he's probably pretty close.  My guess is that he's going to go off at even money or less and that leaves some juicy payouts on the table.  I know I'm not exactly going longshot with Tapiture but at 6-1 there is value there and his off the pace style may suit this race given that there is plenty of speed in here.  Goldencents may seize the lead at the top of the lane, but I'm betting on Tapiture to pass him by in the final strides.

Juvenile Fillies Turf - Sunset Glow. A 2nd place finish at Ascot and then a couple of graded stakes wins upon her return home makes me feel pretty good about her.  I know we all look at the Euros in BC turf races but this gal has proven she can run with them.  She's fast, can win up front and can rate and since her maiden breaking effort, Victor Espinoza has been with her every step of the way. Morning line: 7/2.

Distaff - Don't Tell Sophia. I went round and round with this one.  Beholder would have been my choice if she stayed in, not only because she's amazing but because I have a real soft spot for her.  I would have thrown value out the window to see her win.  But she's out and I move on, but not to either Untapable (who I also think is tremendous) or Close Hatches, but to Don't Tell Sophia.  Sophia can run with these types, may be able to sweep by if their rivalry wears them both down, and she shares a name with my mom.  Analysis teamed with a hunch - the handicapping formula of the ages!  Morning line: 5-1

Good luck everyone!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Cam Casby - One of a Kind


 
“Do you mean he just left you down here…alone?”

These were the first words that Heather heard from Cam Casby.  It was Canterbury Park opening day 2013 and Cam was horrified that I just left Heather to fend for herself.  Of course that wasn’t EXACTLY the way it all went down: it was Heather’s first trip out to the track with me and she was hesitant to join me in the press box so she insisted on just enjoying opening night downstairs.

That was Cam.  She took care of you if she could.  She would take care of everyone if she could!  There was nothing she wouldn’t do for her friends and to know Cam was to be her friend.
You never knew who Cam was waving at...she knew everybody
Cam was inspirational.  Her enthusiasm for the sport was infectious.  It’s no secret that this past summer was not one of our best but whenever I’d feel like packing it in, one conversation with Cam would change all that.  I’d be rejuvenated and ready to try again.  And again.
She encouraged cheering at her table.  If you had a bet, a horse in the race or just wanted a rooting interest, she made sure you were yelling and screaming for your horse as the race unfolded.  Fun was not only encouraged, it was mandatory.
Cam was wonderful with children.  My son, Forrest, loved spending time with her.  They would talk music and the instruments they each played.  He, of our three, is the only one that loves the track as much as we do and he loved talking horses with Cam - and he took her mandate of loud rooting to heart.  There wasn't a kid introduced to Cam that didn't love her - or she love right back.
Cam didn’t like going into the paddock before races but she encouraged others to go in there and support her horse.  I wish I had a count of the number of people we brought into the paddock on her behest.  And EVERYONE was invited to the winners’ circle if she was fortunate enough to win.  Going to the track was supposed to be fun and she made sure you had it.

Cam enjoying Talkin' Bout stakes win on Festival Day, August 31, 2014
But Cam wasn’t just fun and games.  There was no greater supporter of Minnesota bred horses than Cam Casby.  She insisted that if we took care and bred carefully, our horses could compete anywhere in the country.  She put her money where her mouth was and sent her MN-breds all over the country to win races and be stakes placed.  Breed them right, train them right and then give them a chance to succeed.  And tell her it can’t be done and then stand back and watch her accomplish it!

It was a long week last week.  Rather than improving, Cam drifted away from us.  I don’t know if she could hear us or not, but I made sure that heard Wildnightattheopera’s win from Wednesday and a recap of Talkin’ Bout’s race on Saturday. 

Talkin' Bout, under Eddie Martin Jr, winning the Glitter Star Minnesota Distaff
Cam probably would have been appalled by all of us all there with her in that condition.  I can almost hear her, “There’s nothing you can do? You have a thousand other things you have to get done that you CAN affect.  You should be doing those things.  Am I wrong?”

I understand that but I couldn’t stay away either.  I wanted to hold on as long as I could.  I wanted to talk to her one more time.  There were things to share and horses to talk about.  I wanted to maybe get her annoyed enough that should would just wake up and yell at all of us. 

Of course that wasn’t meant to be and now we mourn the loss of a friend.  The entire vibe of racing in Minnesota is now changed forever.  I can’t imagine what being at the track will be like without her. Her advice, friendship and loving nature can’t be replaced. 

I would ask that Cam watch over us all as we try and move forward without her but, knowing Cam, she’s already started doing that.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Off-Season"

As fall continues to trundle along here in Minnesota heading toward our inevitable date with winter (side note: two reports have indicated the upcoming winter to be "possibly the worst on record" and "milder than normal" - take your pick!), I'm spending time trying to streamline the operation a bit.

Crowded and hectic are only two words that could describe how things are.  Between our groups, the Canterbury Club, the new gig for slotmaker Incredible Technologies (or for the non-gamers, the force behind Golden Tee golf), the breeding operation and serving on the Board of the Minnesota Thoroughbred Association, life has gotten a bit crazy. Heather has been a big help but you can only give attention to so many things before there is some deterioration.

MTA

Obviously work can't deteriorate, that has to be the first priority.  The rest of it needs to be streamlined.  To that end, as my term ends on the MTA board I decided not to run again.  I'll continue to be a member and help out where I can, but my time on the Board is over...for now anyway.  I loved my time on the Board and I'd encourage any of the over 200 members to run.  I heard a lot of constructive criticism of the MTA in my three years on the board and I would encourage any of those dozens of folks to go ahead and run.  Try and make a difference, don't just complain and then do nothing to affect change.  This is a wonderful time for Minnesota racing and a crucial time for Minnesota breeding so go ahead and run, get involved and make an impact.

BREEDING

Additionally, as I've mentioned, we're working on selling Tabby Lane.  That may be getting closer as activity and interest in that regard has picked up significantly on several fronts in the last week.  It really is bittersweet for me on a couple of fronts.  It's not secret that I love that mare and George (the future Tabby Dacat), her first foal, is just a joy.  Throw in the fact that the foal she is carrying is by multiple graded stakes winner Doneraile Court, they both exceled between 7 furlongs and a mile and 70 and are an A++ True Nick and I think that whoever gets her is going to have one helluva runner on their hands (preference will go to the buyer that allows us to be listed as co-breeder).

So why sell her?

I love racing.  I'd like to be proven right on the match but I love racing.  I don't have the patience for the development time it takes for breeding.  Georgie we will keep and race - watch for him to become part of a group late next year as he moves from yearling to a 2-year old in training.  Selling Tabby and the foal-to-be will help me finance the racing operation.  We're not independently wealthy and as such we can't do all things so for now we will streamline the operation to racing.  That's not to say we won't be back to breeding at some point in the future but right now the money in Minnesota is skewed toward racing and not breeding so we're going to focus on that aspect of the industry.

RACING

Heather is working with Ellie a bit now that she's had 30-days to come down from being at the track.  Not a lot of heavy work, but just some lunging to keep her active and get her mind active.  Ellie is an immature 3-year old and is almost ADD!  She's learning focus and concentration and hopefully getting a bit more independent.  She finally showed some promise going a route the end of last summer and I want her to come to the track next year as a completely different horse.

The Canterbury Club is starting to wind down as well.  We still have our two runners, Maryjean and Terice, but hopefully not for long.  Both are doing well and continue to hit the board but that elusive 2nd win for the Club has been tough to come by.  Hopefully we can pick up a couple before the end of the meet for the folks.

We'll also be looking to get ready for the 2015 season now that Bourbonology has retired and pull together another group to go after a runner to compete next season.  If there is some interest, please go ahead and email me and I'll give you the details.

The off-season really is a bit of a misnomer since there really is a lot going on, though hopefully in the next few months our focus can get sharpened up and we can head into 2015 ready to rock.