# Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Hello All!

O.K., so look: I’m not saying that this will be a successful exorcism of the triple crown drought. I mean,

this is a tough one, and it should be. We’re talkin’ a timeless champion that spans the ages and sets the bar

for greatness.


Greatness as in Secretariat. Greatness as in only 11 champions since 1919. War Admiral. Citation.

And who in the congregation is going to ask “...who did they beat?”


Not me, because all they did was beat everyone they needed to beat. That’s who they beat.


But I believe I am on to something and I’m putting it out there because it’s time. And clearly, we must be doing

something wrong. Affirmed in 1978. That was a long time ago.


1978. The first computer bulletin board system is created in Chicago.

1978. Ted Bundy is captured in Pensacola Florida.

1978. Senate proceedings are broadcast on radio for the first time. Cosmos burns up in the atmosphere.

Do you even know what Cosmos is? Charlie Chaplin's remains are stolen from Cosier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. Annie Hall wins best picture.

In Rome, the corpse of former Italian prime minister Aldo Moro is found in a red Renault 4.




I think you will agree that it’s been a while. So then, what does baseball have to do with this and what can

we learn from it? Well, hear me out. Because if I’m right, this will be huge.


So some pitcher is in the 5th or 6th inning and is pitching a shutout. That is to say, not just a shutout, but a no-hit

shutout. Things begin to get baseball-ish in the dugout., don’t they? He is sitting over in the far corner by the

water cooler. Alone. The entire rest of the team...coaches, buddies, roommate, bat boy, trainer, manager, even

the damn pitching coach...all avoiding him as if he just came down with a case of Bubonic plague.


What’s up? Tradition. Superstition. Over a century of protocol. Respect for the game, for the baseball gods,

and a healthy fear that your slap of encouragement on the pitchers back will be enough to dislodge the history

that could very well be made this day.


If only you had kept to yourself and not ruined it by smacking his butt. Or speaking directly to him.

No one wants to have anything to do with him, lest they break the magical spell that is the weave of a baseball

no hitter.

Let’s take a memo. Silence is golden. SO: I’m suggesting that we not utter those words. You know the ones.

Those two words that begin with a “T” and a “C”. And so I’m not going to say T***** C**** for the next three

weeks. I personally am putting my reputation on the line here, and if there is no T***** C**** at Belmont Park

this year, it will NOT be MY fault.


Further, I will not say C********* C*****. No sir, not me. Won’t say it. He’s the pitcher, standing on the

precipice of history and I, the living breathing Slew, will not be responsible for ruining this moment.


But I cannot do it alone!


I’m suggesting that you join me. I am calling for the entire press corps, newspapers, magazines, DRF, Blood Horse,

the entire racing and communications community and each and every racing fan to join me. And that includes you.

Heck, do you really want to be known as the ONE who ruined it? Who jinxed C********* C***** and robbed

him, his owners, his jockey, his trainer, his groom, and the entire world from being witness to a T***** C****? 


Well, do you?


Do you really want to be the one twit trending on Twitter because you tweeted HIS name?

Or uttered the words that might define HIS place in history? Would you want to be the one that sunk the ship

during the critical battle? The one with the loose lips?


Well, do you?


I was there on June 5, 2004. Sitting at the finish line when Birdstone upset history in the last 50 yards.

And I’ll tell you that the place went silent as it became apparent he was going to send everyone home to wait for

yet another year to pass. Stone...Cold...Silent. One Hundred and TwentyThousand screaming fans just stopped on

a dime 50 yards from the wire. 


Too late. 


Just maybe they should have spent the previous three weeks with their collective mouths shut! As for me,

I felt just awful. Why? Because I must have said SMARTY JONES a thousand times on the train ride into

Elmont that day. I’m sure I uttered T***** C**** a million times between the Preakness and the Belmont.


And look what happened! I for one, am not making the same mistake again.


No sir.


And now, as if we needed another brick added to the load, Tom Durkin is retiring. How many times has he

seen the opportunity to call a triple crown champion to the winners circle? How close has he come?

If you said a desperate nose, you would be correct. Here is the final chance. The chance of a lifetime.

Hollywood couldn’t script it any better.


So: let’s all join hands, sway to and fro, and sing Kumbaya in one voice for the good of racing.

Let’s unite in respectful silence and not utter his name. Let’s write letters to the editor requesting the no-hitter

approach to racing coverage over the next three weeks. If you see the name in print, avert your eyes.

For the good of the sport, man.


If we all work together on this, I promise you...without fail...you will see history. But if we once again fall short, you will have only yourself to blame.


Now as for my pick: the field isn’t finalized but I’ll make my pick anyway. I know there will be new shooters.

I know there will be fresh horses. I know there will be trainers, owners and jocks itching to ruin everyone’s fun.

I know there will be multiple efforts to take the horse out of his game. Rush him into the pace.

Box him in on the rail. Slow him down. Speed him up. 


No matter. 


My pick is C********* C*****


Please don’t ruin it for me.

- Slew


posted on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 1:35:58 AM UTC  #   
# Thursday, November 7, 2013

Some things we'll just never know. Was there anyone at all behind the grassy knoll? Did Area 51 have the body of E.T. on ice? Was Pluto a planet? Yes, or no?

And what about Orb? If you scroll down just a little bit you will see my last notation to this blog. I wondered if his return to the races at Saratoga was the start of a second coming, so to speak.

I had it wrong. It wasn't Orb being raised from the ashes, it was Gary Stevens. Who could have known?

So yesterday, the headline that read "Kentucky Derby Winner Orb Retired" was not a shock, but a surprise. And while we write about how 'all too often' 3 year old horses, especially ones that are successful in the triple crown, are retired too early, it makes good business sense. It isn't good for the game, but then the money isn't in the game.

It is in the breeding shed. Which is where you will find the Kentucky Derby winner come next breeding season. Then, in a few years, we'll have little Orb's running around.

What we will never know is if there were physical reasons why the horse was laid up in an equine version of a spa reserved for the rich and famous, run twice, then retired. With the breeding shed being such a lucrative place, that sort of personal health information is kept close to the vest. But it serves as a reminder that the triple crown is a difficult road to hoe for a young equine athlete, and isn't without it's price.

Paid by both the athlete, and the sport.


It isn't often we are witness to a real live extinction. But that is what will happen at the end of this year when Hollywood Park closes it's doors for the final time in forever. The history of this place is as unique as the ghosts that roam the grounds in the quiet hours.

Opened June 10, 1938, this amazing race place witnessed ownership with names like Jack L. Warner, Al Jolson, Joan Blondell, Walt Disney, Sam Goldwyn, Darryl Zanuck...just to name a very few. But the real stars were named Seabiscuit, Citation and Affirmed. And John Henry became the first 4 million dollar winner when he took the Hollywood Turf Cup in 1983. And back then, 4 mil was worth 4 mil., and the pennies still had copper in them. And speaking of cups, the Hollywood Gold Cup would be won 11 times by horses who would distinguish themselves as Horse of the Year. Names like Seabiscuit, Citation, Swaps, Round Table, Affirmed Ferdinand and Cigar grace that amazing list.

The park was witness to the first shipper transported by air travel to compete in a specific race. Historian was shipped from Chicago to start in the 1946 Gold Cup. In 1957, fans witnessed a triple dead heat for win, and then again in 1997 a triple dead heat took place 3 races after Sharp Cat participated in a walkover in the Bayakoa Stakes.

The first film patrol for recording races to be reviewed by stewards, the Pick Six, the first million dollar race for 2 year olds, Friday night racing and the revolutionary Amtote's AM 300 wagering system all born on the left coast, and all have left their mark.

Shoemaker, Pincay, McCarron. Whittingham & Frankel.

Were this an archeological dig, it would be touted as the find of a lifetime. A virtual historical record of some of the greatest moments, names and events representing an entire age in the historical record of the sport of kings.

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

I wonder if Joni Mitchell ever played there?


As my wife said after the Macho Man crossed the finish line with Lazarus on his back:

"Another racing season comes to an end."

Pithy, I know. Of course, the other side of that coin is that a new one is about to begin. That's the good news. The bad news is that they go so quickly, the next one is here before you know it. I mean, I said I was going to find a new group of key horses just a few months ago, for the fall. I just checked my calendar, and it says November.

I'm already thinking Gulfstream Park, the Florida Derby, and...well, you know.

This is the third breeders cup I have missed in a row. Last year, I was hauling water from the lake and using it to make a little steam (and flush the toilets). You would be surprised how warm 50 degrees feels in a small room when the rest of the house is 45. And how heavy water is!

This year my schedule played the cruel trick of keeping me from...well...losing my shirt. Along about Wednesday, after I had thoroughly reviewed Friday's card, I made two notes to self: Euros on the grass, and Stevens on everything else. Too bad I ignored them both!

My heart was with Big Blue Kitten even though my PP's clearly show that I circled the two Euros that made up the exacta and even commented on The Fugue in posts the day before it all began to unfiold. I mean, c'mon. Those guys didn't come over here because they have nothing else to do! And come to think of it, those animals must have thought they had gone to turf heaven with the surface something other than a Euro-bog. You can actually run on this stuff. And oh yes, as I look at my marks on the form, what has the biggest circle?

Magician's first time lasix of course.

Handicapping 101, don't you know. It was the second time for The Fugue. The first time, she most likely takes the money if she doesn't get mugged. Twice!

But all's well that ends with a race that plays out just as you see it, and for me, that was the BC Mile. Za Approval is a Key Horse for me and being run down by the reigning horse of the year Wise Dan is nothing to be ashamed of. Especially when the exacta pays a generous $33 and the trifecta pays $210 for a buck. After that, I didn't care if Rudolph won the Classic. Heck, he could have been named reindeer of the year! I mean, we know he can get the distance.

Finally, congratulations to Mucho Macho Man, Gary Stevens, and the miracle that is Katherine Ritvo.

And just like his trainer, Mucho Macho Man was...all heart!

- Slew

posted on Thursday, November 7, 2013 12:51:18 AM UTC  #   
# Thursday, June 13, 2013
WARNING: Not for the faint of heart. Read at your own risk!

Hello students of the game!

I remember many years ago the DRF website...fairly new at the time, had a community where horse players could gather. A place where everyone was an expert. Everyone was a winner. Everyone was a high roller. The handles were memorable.

I'll spare you.

But one individual stands out to this day. I don't know who he was, and I cannot be sure he was on the level, although I think he was. His point of view was a simple one: racing is fixed!

AND...(this is the best part)...there is a secret language that the 'insiders' know. This racing 'code' told you, the insider, who to bet. And when. A sort of T
horoughbred Da' Vinci code
. Well, after all these years...I think I have cracked it. It is quite simple, and really, genius. Let me give you an elementary example:

It is May 5th and you are sitting in the Arlington grandstand. You look like an ordinary horseplayer. Maybe you have a hotdog on the seat next to you, your marked up DRF is in your lap, you are enjoying a beautiful May day at the track. It is 10 minutes to race 5 post time and you look at the following lineup, trying to deduce the exacta:

1 1 J Evans
2 2 Sacred Range
3 3 Rafale (GB)
4 4 Sgt. Major Ross
5 5 Cadcam
6 6 My Jokester
7 7 My Contender

O.K., so this is a shamefully easy example. While the entire racing world is throwing money at the favorite Rafale, you know better. Because you know that the secret language of racing is at work here. Your personal ticket to the winners circle. Figure it out yet? No?

My, My. As in My Jokester and My Contender. That is why they are there, folks. And this is what that guy all those years ago was talking about.
Racing's Da' Vinci code
. At work!

The 7-6 exacta paid $63.00.

O.K., you think I'm kidding...right? Here is another simple example. It is 5 days later, and you are sitting in the exact same seat because you hit that 7-6 exacta 50 times and you're not changing nuthin'! You got that same hot dog and the DRF is sitting there in front of you, open to race 8. You have spent 20 minutes figuring pace for this 1 & 1/16 mile starter allowance and you are getting nowhere. Handicapping principles are falling left and right. It is now just a minute before post and this is what you see:

1 Hungry Wildcat
2 Switching to Glide
3 Name Dropper
4 Nic the Quick
5 Musicstreet Menace
6 Codeword (IRE)
7 Silver Rock Star
8 Nolangrant'skitten
9 Part'n Parcel
10 Charging Home
11 Pedrolino
12 Paisano Creek

OK, so the exacta please? C'mon, c'mon. Nothing to do with Mickey Rivers, either. They are going to the post. NO? Wait...Then, you get it. Nolangrant'skitten & Hungry Wildcat. Must be and worth a shot.

The old feline play. As old as racing itself. When you see two felines in the same race...they don't have to be of the same type, it's a go. But you must know that cross breeding between wildcats and house cats has occurred throughout almost the entirety of the species' range. That is what make this exacta possible.

Paid $202.20!

So you see where I'm going with this? Of course, I know you are not convinced, but what the hell do I care what you think? I mean, you believed the Mayans!!! All around us are mysteries unsolved, dimensions unseen, meanings undefined. It seems to me that racing has figured out a perfect language that only insiders know, and I'm going to show you how it works. Now the exacta is only one way that the code helps those in the know take your money. But the code enables sharp players to score playing other types of wagers. I'm going to show you a daily double, once again from Arlington Park that hit on 5/18. Here are the entries for races 9 and 10. See if you can figure out what the 'racing gods' are trying to tell you:

Race 9

1 1 Age of Aquarius
2 2 Lil Miss Richie
3 3 Carolina Cruisin'
4 4 Ann Accolade
5 5 Lydia's Angel
6 6 Miss Darla
7 7 Stay Foolish
8 8 Bye Bye Bunting
9 9 Scorpiobdancing

and now race 10

1 9 She's Intoxicated
1A 11 My Place Or Yours
2 1 Sweet Harp
3 2 Three Cat Rules
4 3 Sharp
5 4 Glad It's May
6 5 Little Miss Be
7 6 Betterlegsonatabl
8 7 Spring Formal
9 8 Astral
10 10 Take What You Can

Well, maybe this time you got a bit closer. There is really only one possibility: Lil Miss Richie & Little Miss Be. I mean, you want it handed to you on a silver platter? Well...here it is: a short form English prefix daily double that paid $156.80. And you thought you needed speed figs when all you need is a Webster's dictionary!

So here were 3 simple forms of secret communication that the racing gods use to clue in those in the "know".

Now that you are clued in too, let us go back to the exacta. Here is a race from Arlington that ran on 5/26. It was race 1. See if you can figure out the exacta:

1 1 Queen of Scioto
2 2 Arrested by Duffy
3 3 Electric Boat
4 4 Let It Rain
5 5 A. J.'s Love
6 6 Queen for Life
7 7 Ancient Eyes

So this one is soooo easy. Shamefully easy. Your 5 year old daughter would know this. In fact, so many people played the 6-1 exacta it only paid $23.40. So now that you have a handle on the exacta, let's go back to the daily double. Scope it out and see if you can do it. It is race 6 on 5-27 at Arlington Park. You want to play the double. Here are the entries for races 6 and 7:

Race 6
1 1 One for Biscuit
2 2 Buddy's Bid
3 3 Exotic Wildcat
4 4 Perfect Casting
5 5 Gavilan
6 6 Bingorun
7 7 Grand Silver
8 8 Daddyspentdamoney
9 9 Denim

Race 7
1 1 Candy Bites
2 2 Hughes the Daddy
3 3 Razman
4 4 Strong Response
5 5 Card
6 6 Tallahatchie Luke
7 7 Next Speaker
8 8 Chatfield Road
9 9 Chucks Turn

See how easy it is? Sure you do! The 8-2 daddy daily double paid 72.40. That ain't chump change. And it ain't your daddy's $72.40 either.

O.K., then. So let's get one that is a lil' harder, shall we? It is a 6 furlong allowance at Arapahoe Park, and you want to play the exacta. Check out the entries. What would you play?



Not only should it be obvious by now, but they are right next to each other. THAT, my friends...is a slap in the face to the losers. Which excludes you, naturally. because you saw it right away.

Manners, manners...and ladies first! That's right. The 5-4 exacta of TTT Tiny Tina & Lil Wayne paid $66.80. Folks...size DOES matter!

Now, one of my favorites. This one is great. And it shows just how cunning the 'racing gods' can be. And just how sneaky racing's
Da' Vinci Code

We are at Belmont Park. yes...New York, New York. If you can make it here...well anyway, check this out. It is race # 1 on May 3, 2013 and you are looking to start the day with a double. O.K., so here are the entries for the first two races:

Race 1

1 1 My Bella Beauty
2 2 Currency Union
3 3 Sweet Sway
4 4 Sister City
5 5 Lurabell
6 6 Run a Dubb Dubb

Race # 2

1 1 Madgi
2 2 Sister State
3 3 Make It Anywhere
4 4 Previous
5 5 Street Beauty

So, I can hear you stuttering. No freakin' way. Right? Wrong, Chobani breath! Because the double of Sister City/Sister State paid $16.20. Not much. But then, it's New York. Why do you think they can make it anywhere?

Here is another NY special. On 5-17, a State Bred race had the following lineup:

1 1 Lumineuse
2 2 Don't Hook My Halo
3 3 Palace Dreams
4 4 Therapy
5 5 Pie's First Lady
6 6 Shake Senora
7 7 Wild Frances
8 8 McGillycuddy's Gal
9 9 Hot Rendezvous
10 10 Ready for Therapy

Now, first a hint. The hint is that it is a NY Bred race and you need to be familar with NY breeding. The next hint is the character Hugo Z. Hackenbush in the Marx Brothers movie A Day at the Races.

Got it? Yes! Both ends of the exacta were by Freud. Ready for Therapy / Therapy paid $44.80.


And how about May 30 when Bushie and Bushwacked paid $37.80!

In fact, Slew had two horses that placed and showed on 5-30 at Belmont. Slew's horse in this race was Film Shot. Here is what the results looked like:

# HORSE         JOCKEY                 WIN    PLACE   SHOW
5 Hangover      Kid I. Ortiz, Jr.      $23.60 $10.60 $5.00
6 Film Shot     E. Prado                       $7.10 $4.00
3 Screenplay    J. Espinoza                          $3.10

Filmshot and Screenplay. Are you kidding...Mr. DeMille? And do you know what the trifecta paid? How about this:

$2 Trifecta (5-6-3) Paid: $363.00


Well, congratulations! You have completed the class on racing's "secret code". As with any course of this level, you must pass a final exam to continue. I suggest you refrain from all wagering and handicapping activity until such time as your grade is a passing one. You may take this test up to 3 times. If you do not pass by then, you can still eat hot dogs but must cease all horse wagering and handicapping activity immediately and take up a new interest. Badminton anyone?

So...here goes...and good luck!

Question #1:

You are at Canterbury Park on 5/17. It is race 3. You have 17 apples, 12 oranges and $14 in your pocket. Race 2 is a cheap claimer with 7 horses. With the all button in race 2,you need 2 singles in race 3 & 4 for a successful pick 3.

Here are the entrants for those races:

Race 3
1 1 Patriate
2 2 Swiss G's
3 3 Seattle Sal
4 4 Already There
5 5 No Crossing Lane
6 6 Marathon Moon
7 7 Backtrack
8 8 King of Rhythm

Race # 4
1 1 Cap and Trade
2 2 Talk About Me
3 3 Bleu Moon Magic
4 4 Tapitintime
5 5 Talkin Bout
6 6 Amazingly Karen
7 7 Somerset Ballerina
8 8 Chile Win

The pick 3 paid $200.90. Who won the last two legs?

Question # 2

You are at Calder on 6/2 and praying for the exacta in race 2. Here are the entrants:

Race # 2
1 1 Cambiata
2 2 Jill's Reflection
3 3 Proverbs Thirtyone
4 4 Follow My Luck
5 5 My Novena
6 6 Holy Day
7 7 Karen's Wildcat

Now, be careful. This is a bit of a trick question. The exacta paid $38.40. Who do you use as an exacta box in this race?

Question # 3

Back to Calder. it is 5/31 and you are playing race #5. Once again, you are playing the exacta. Here are the horses:

Race #5
1 1 No Calcetines
2 2 Gold Man
3 3 My Big News
4 4 Treasures Image
5 5 Dangerous Brew
6 6 Financial Pathway
7 7 Luigi Q
8 8 Solicitation
9 MTO Gold Vegas
10 AE Big Bentley
11 AE Wat
12 AE Concorde County
13 AE Revere's Ride
14 AE Jim N John

The race stayed on the turf and the exacta paid $57.60. Who do you play in the exacta?

Question # 4

Here is a history question. It is Canterbury Park on 5/18. Here are the horses for race #3:

Race #3
1 1 Smokin Mojo
2 2 This Guy
3 3 Blothefeld Away
4 4 Candy Can Do
5 5 Union Buster
6 6 Star Searcher
7 7 Eighteen Wheels
8 8 Forest Colors
9 9 Dakota Smokey

You are going to play the exacta box which paid $33.00. DO NOT fall for the trap here. Which horses do you use, good buddy?

Question #5

Here is a more esoteric example of racing's
Da' Vinci code
at work. It is May 4 at Calder. You are soaking up the sunshine and looking at race 8. You got some cash in your pocket and lookin' to play the exacta. Here are the horses:

1 1 Mize the Big Cat
2 2 Well Read
3 3 Avie's Pegasus
4 4 Calpullec
5 5 Flyin Trey
6 6 Include Traci
7 7 Brave Apache
8 8 Run Smart One

The exacta paid $32.60. You had it. Which two horses did you use?


This one is a tough one, and I don't expect all of you, or maybe any of you to get it. That is why it is offered as extra credit. Here goes:

You are at Canterbury Park on 5/31. It is race 3. You have 14 cows, 3 pigs, and 27 goats,. You are playing the exacta which paid $57.00. Here are the horses:

1 1 Setnmupknocknmdown
2 2 Model Citizen
3 3 Mack's Tiger Paw
4 4 In Jeopardy
5 5 Private Warrior
6 6 Resist
7 7 Finding Candy
8 8 Evert
9 9 Common Sense
10 10 Soul Sacrifice
11 11 Wild Student

Which two horses, and in what order, made up the exacta in this race?

The horses please???

Well...time is up. All answers can be found in the DRF or Equibase results.

Put down your pencils and hand in your papers. And the next time you handicap...bring your dictionary AND Little Orphan Annie decoder ring!

It's post time!

Good luck and good 'capping!

- Slew

posted on Thursday, June 13, 2013 3:22:57 PM UTC  #   
# Sunday, May 5, 2013
The blood cannot get any blue-r.
A.P. Indy on top and Unbridled on the bottom.

The jockey can't get any hotter. He took Keeneland. He took the World Cup.
He took the Kentucky Derby.

The ownership cannot get any classier. Phipps. Janney.
Cornerstones of American racing foundation.

The trainer cannot get any better. No hype. No headlines. No glitz.
Simply Shug.

The horse cannot get any more perfect.

A simple name. The kind of name that feels like it belongs. No beginning or end.
No front, back or sides. No top or bottom.

A sphere. By definition: perfect.


- Slew

posted on Sunday, May 5, 2013 1:47:26 AM UTC  #   
# Friday, May 3, 2013
Hello All !

It was 2004 and Smarty Jones was 4-1. I could only sit and stare at odds I could not believe. If I could have, I would have taken a second mortgage out on my house and put it all on his nose. The thought occurred to me. If I could have accessed my line of credit, well...I might have.

I settled for a much smaller wager and winning was never so anticlimactic. There was in my mind, never any doubt.

Now in horse racing, doubt is a killer. But so few times in my handicapping life has there ever been no doubt. Especially when it comes to the Kentucky Derby. I don't have to go into the particulars...20 horses...outside posts...crush around the first turn...3 year old babies. And so on. And why complain about what makes the race so great?

So contrary to that race in 2004, there isn't just one horse for me. In fact, I think that of all the Derby races, this one gives me the most pause. Or at least, pause enough. Some have been all buttons with no sense of feel for anything at all. Others have just been disasters. This one...I like a bunch. But only one can win.

As I wrote after the Wood, no really fast races to go on. Slew lists Goldencents, Orb, Itsmyluckyday and Black Onyx. And just for the record, Lines of Battle. All except the last are coming out of races rated a '3'. OK, but not great. All but the last won those races. As I look around at the horses I have written about since last summer, two stand out. Orb and Revolutionary. That Calvin will be riding Revolutionary and Rosario riding Orb makes it even more interesting. If not difficult. Can it get any better than that?


I also like the way Normandy Invasion ran the Wood and wrote that I had thoughts of Empire Maker and Funny Cide reversing themselves in the Derby for an exacta that got me the dubious honor of paying for dinner. Which then leads us to Verrazano. The 'big horse'. Reminiscent of Point Given. I love a big horse in the Derby. One that can get bounced around and survive. Or do the bouncing and survive. It can be a very tough go. Big is a help. Except if you are Smarty Jones.

Then...you don't need no stinkin' big.

I have been asked what my thoughts are about the Derby. I wish I knew. I'm not a better handicapper than you and if I have an edge...it's Slew. And I share that with you so you have the same edge. But somehow, I'm asked so here then...are my thoughts:

Calvin & Revolutionary draw the 3 hole and so he doesn't have to work to get to his favorite place. That favorite place was named after him, by the way. Bravo has to try and get Black Onyx into some sort of position early or else he gets shuffled back to downtown Louisville. Trouble is, Black Onyx isn't the speed type. It isn't until we go out to post 8 and Goldencents do we have any real speed and also first timer Kevin Krigger looking to make headlines. Then all the way out to Falling Sky and Verrazano for the next speed duo and at this point I would imagine we have our first flight around the clubhouse turn.

Verrazano will be kept in striking distance down the back stretch and Garret Gomez will be looking to stick around with Vyjack. I doubt that will last too long though. Through all this, Rosario and Orb will be taking it all in. I suspect from a vantage point around the middle of the pack and begin to move on the leaders somewhere around the far turn. So will Calvin and Revolutionary.

Who will win? Got me.

But if I were to be shot at dawn and had to predict something, I would say my top four would be Revolutionary, Orb, Goldencents and Normandy Invasion. And let me stipulate something here: on a confidence level of 1 to 10...it's a 4. So: here is my plan. And it isn't the first time it has come to this for me. Which horse do I rely on?

Dreaming of Julia! And Wise Dan!

The great thing about betting this race in the 21st century is the opportunity to win it without actually picking the winner! With that in mind, I plan on playing into Derby from the Oaks AND from the two races preceding the Derby. From the Oaks, I'm relying on Dreaming of Julia to be way the best. I will play a double to the Derby with the all button as a hedge, and then add the four horses listed above to it for a real payoff. I will also play a smaller double using Silsita just 'cause Slew says so. Same strategy with the races preceding the Derby, probably using a pick 3.

Now, as to the winner. I have been on Revolutionary from the Saratoga meet. Same with Orb. Love those horses. But if anything nags at me, it is the speed of Goldencents. Also the finish of Normandy Invasion in the Wood. And the size and performance of Verrazano. I mean, I can see Goldencents going wire to wire. Or close to it. He sits at the top of Slew's list. I have to respect that.

But when all is said and done, I think ORB will win. As much a nod to the hottest rider on the planet as to the horse, his connections, and his breeding.

What does all this mean? If means I wish Smarty Jones was running. It also means you most likely have a better idea than I do.

What it really means is that I'm more comfortable picking the winner of some other race that I can link to multiple selections in the Derby. In this case, the payoffs are usually worth it and that is what I plan to do. It is the opportunity that wagering in this century gives me, as opposed to 50 years ago when it was winner take all or nothing. Well, just because you cannot decide on a winner doesn't mean you can't cash a winning ticket. Does that make me a coward?

Well, if it means having to buy dinner again...I'm all in!

It would be nice to pick the winner of the Derby!

But nicer not to have to...to cash the winning ticket!

Enjoy...Good luck...and good 'capping!


posted on Friday, May 3, 2013 3:35:47 AM UTC  #   
# Wednesday, April 10, 2013

APRIL 7, 2013

Once again the times aren't notable.

1:50.27, which is 3+ seconds off of the 1:47 track record set by Riva Ridge 39 years ago. But no track record was to be set with a 77-1 shot calling the early shots.

This current crop...at least the cream that has risen in recent weeks, doesn't seem to crave speed. But they do appear to know how to win.

I thought Verrazano ran an excellent race and Johnny V rode a smart one. Now, it will be interesting to see what his agent does as to his Derby mount.

And after he makes that decision, who will ride Orb?

Normandy Invasion also ran a very interesting race. The kind of race you might think was a prep for the big dance.

Remember Empire Maker? and a 'gutsy' NY Bred gelding by the name of Funny Cide?

Not only do I remember both of them, but also the cold exacta that followed in the Derby.

Like it was yesterday.

- Slew

posted on Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:08:14 AM UTC  #   
# Sunday, December 30, 2012
No matter where you look, the last days of each December bring with them a review of some sort. Art, science, horse racing, current events, failed apocalypse reports, who got married, who got un-married, and so on.

So I kind of thought I would join in the fun.

Here then, is the first annual (and maybe last annual) Slew in Review. I will look at a few of the horses that did us proud. And made us money. Most of the notes and original posts for these runners can be found in my blog (which you are reading).

Madame Giry - I first came to know the Madame on 6/7 in Belmont's 6th race, where she was the place horse that day in a MSW affair for the girls on the turf. I immediately put words to paper and proclaimed my love for her, writing that she was my horse of horses from the Belmont spring meet. She rewarded me with 5 straight wins including 2 at the Spa, 1 at Belmont's fall meet, and the big one at Keeneland.

The Madame helped make this a very nice year. I'm hoping for more in 2013.

Wandering Kitten - Spotted at Belmont Park on 7/5 wandering thru the stretch in the 4th race. She wandered into second place that day in impressive fashion. She was noted as a Key horse off of that race and was next spotted winning at the Spa on 8/23. She next wandered into an 11th place finish at CD on 11/3. We will be looking to see where she wanders next...

Lily The Pink - Showed her true colors at Saratoga on 8/1 in race #4 in winning a blanket finish over Divine Luck, Cerce Cay and Evening Garden. Divine Luck went on to win as a key horse out of this race on 12-1 at Gulfstream Park, while Lily went on to Keeneland and won on 10-12 as the first part of the Madame Giry 2K Pk3 that sealed my season.

Noble Tune - This melody of motion was seen cruising to a professional victory at the Spa on 9/3 in the day's opening race. Four horses came out of that race to win their next start including Noble Tune, who took a Gr.3 at Belmont. I wrote on 9/7 after his Spa win the following:

"This son of Unbridled’s Song running for the amazing Chad Brown will need to be reckoned with down the road. And that road leads no doubt, to Belmont, Keeneland and Gulfstream Park."

I failed to mention Santa Anita in that sentence. My error. He did show up there, and was the runner up in the Breeders Cup Turf Mile for 2 yr. olds. Not bad. The kid has got some chops!

* * * * * * * * * *

Honorable mention:

Zultanite - Love the name. Could have been a co-star in the Superman comics. Coming from the planet Zultan of course. Well, I just like her, and while she had some stinkers, she helped me at Monmouth Park on June 23. I was asked to accompany a group to Monmouth park that day in a sort of informal handicapping seminar. She did me proud by running behind Dancing Solo and being in the right place at the right time for a cold trifecta with Somali Lemonade. I had given out that trifecta and they all went home with money, thinking how easy this game was. Another win at Belmont on 10/18 paid well. Next year? We'll see.

Revolutionary - I liked the looks of this colt up at Saratoga and while he took some time to break his maiden - he just did that today (12/28/2012) at Aqueduct - we will watch him into the spring and summer. He will certainly mature. Will his talent do the same?

No Silent - I first posted about him way back in March when I saw him place in a maiden at Santa Anita. I loved this guy and since then he has run no worse than 3rd and if I am not mistaken, all his losses combined amount to a single length and a whisker added for good measure. This is a runner, if not a terrific runner-up!

* * * * * * * * * *

To close out this Slew in Review, I look to a few horses that Slew singled over the course of 2012. Horses that paid gobs of money, or just plain paid very well. Most had something in common: they defined what we in this free enterprise system of commerce refer to as the free market. These horses, or at least most of them, were overlays of inexplicable proportions and ignored by the investors to the point of absolute distraction in some cases.

The rules for the horses listed below are simple: they had to be the only horse Slew liked in the race. Only singles are allowed here, with one exception: the last one who was one of three. But he gets a pass.

And this section by the way, is dedicated to the guy that inspired my "How Do You Use This Crap" page on Slew's website. It refers to the only time a Slew horse should become what I am loathe call them: A pick. But when a Slew single is offering overlay odds like what these horses offered minutes before their respective races: they do become a pick. They define our beloved free market system, paid huge dividends and damned be the chalk eaters! Here we go.

Aqueduct 3/4/2012  Race #4 - Paci di Notte paid a whopping $127.00. The ML was 20-1. That is a $42.00 payout. He was ignored by the public, but not by Slew.

Belmont  5/25/2012  Race 2 - A McCoughtry paid 28.20 on a 6-1 ML. Better than double. I have no idea who this one is, but I would take the additional odds any day.

Churchill  6/24/2012  Race #8 - Halon paid $35.20 on a ML of 8-1. Again, double the ML.

Belmont  6/27/2012  Race $7 - Thomas Hill paid his ML odds at $41.60. Should have taken him when the opportunity arose. May never win again!

Belmont  7/4/2012 Race #6 - A favorite fireworks display for some Slew watchers. Monticello Doll pays $54.00 on a 20-1 ML. Same for her: she may never win again. Should have paid attention back in July.

Saratoga  9/1/2012 Race #12 - Usually a sparse crowd for this late race as most have left for dinner or to be seen at Siros. Those that stayed however, saw this Slew single - A New York Phillie - pay $74.50 off of a 20-1 ML. The pick 6 paid $155,787.00 that day. One ticket. I wonder if it was a Slew watcher?

Woodbine  9/8/2012  Race # 7 - Control was in control and paid $21.90 off of a 4-1 ML. Very nice overlay.

Santa Anita  10/07/2012  Race # 6 - D'princess was a Cinderella that day, paying $55.00 from a 12-1 ML.

Gulfstream Park  12/15/2012  Race # 8 - Joanie's Image was 20-1 on the ML but paid a whopping $109.40 to Slew watchers who bet the single. That's what happens when you spend too many hours in the sun!

And finally, how could we not include this familiar name?

Santa Anita 2/4/2012  Race #6 - I'll Have Another paid $88.60 on his way to immortality.

And so we find ourselves closing out 2012 and on our way to 2013. I would say that this year was interesting, unpredictable, wonderful, horrible, and anything else you could think of...but then why bother? It was like every other year in the history of man. Well, maybe not. Because we are still here but weren't supposed to be. I mean, did anyone (other than me) consider this:

That the guy who was in charge of making the Mayan calendar simply took a Starbucks break and got accidentally run over by whatever ran you over back in those days? Did anyone even consider that? Or is it far more plausible for supposedly intelligent human beings in the 21st century to think that a random rock, travelling through ga-zillions of square light-years (forgive me, Albert) of empty space for bazillions of eons will somehow find a direct hit on our tiny little speck of space dust we call home?

Because an ancient civilization ran out of paper and couldn't finish the year 2012?

Are you freakin' kidding me?

Well, I want those Einsteins in the next pick 6 pool I decide to play! And for the rest of you...

A happy, healthy and profitable 2013! For ALL 365 days of it...or until the Aztec calendar runs out!

- Slew

posted on Sunday, December 30, 2012 3:54:57 AM UTC  #   
# Monday, December 17, 2012
I came late into the fold of thoroughbred horse racing. My entrance was not as a 9 yr. old rail-bird, introduced to the Sport of Kings by a program toting dad, but rather by accident. My wife, who was an equestrian all her young life until a disastrous accident derailed her Olympic show jumping career, wanted to try a restaurant in Saratoga Springs.

A restaurant. In Saratoga Springs. Can you imagine?

How we came to find the racetrack I do not recall, but we did. The next thing I knew, I was caught up in the Sunday Silence - Easy Goer duels of 1989, and I was hooked.

By 1995 I was an avid fan, although where the game was concerned I was still a neophyte. Summers were now spent shuttling between home and Saratoga. The Fall was dedicated to riding the rails to Beautiful Belmont Park. And then a wonderful racehorse named Cigar caught my attention…and the attention of millions of others, by not losing for what seemed like forever. We were at the Breeders Cup that year to witness the exclamation point that punctuated a fabulous season by an incredible athlete.

Permit me a brief digression:

Occasionally, the debate as to how good he was still rears its ugly head.

To those who still wish to measure him…shut up.

You cannot measure heart. Or the heat of the light bulb when it goes on in a racehorse’s head. He was a specimen rarely seen in ANY sport, and all he did was what fans and media alike cry out for each and every year:

He carried the sorry state of the Sport of Kings on his back from sea to shining sea for two years.

End of digression.

By 1996 we had been attending the Breeders Cup each year from I don’t remember when and Woodbine was to be no exception. The small but venerable race course was a wonderful host, and the threat of a cab drivers strike deterred no one. We sat in bleachers erected for the event just around the top of the stretch. You could look into the eyes of the runners as they came around the final turn, nostrils flared in preparation for their powerful stretch run, and for the first time, I heard for myself the awesome sound of thoroughbred horse power.

The trip began with an omen which needless to say, I ignored. My wife is the one who really knows horses and horse flesh. She has provided me with many insights and winners over the years…when the mood strikes her, of course. From our early days at Saratoga - before cell phones - where she would signal me from the paddock while I stood at the edge of the second floor clubhouse and watched her with my binocs, to just the other day when she popped into the living room, took a quick look at the post parade on the TV, and gave me a $30 horse…that I did not play, she just knows from a lifetime of experience. Well, on this day, as we were checking in at the gorgeous  Royal York Hotel, she looked to her left and at the front desk standing next to us, and checking in at the same time, was Chris McCarron.

“That’s your Classic winner!” she whispered to me as I presented my American Express Card. I looked at Chris, looked at her, and promptly forgot the conversation in favor of the frequent flyer points dancing about my head. She still reminds me…when the mood strikes her, of course.

But this story is not about the stone cold silence that filled a stunned track as the Canadian sun was setting, when Alphabet Soup and Louis Quatorze finished just ahead of one of racing’s great heroes. Or about the hair raised on the back of my neck as I heard that trio leaning into the top of the stretch and reaching out in unison for that final gear right before my eyes.

It is really about Ricks Natural Star…and the ‘Look of Eagles‘. What? You have never heard of Ricks Natural Star? And you call yourself a race fan?

I won’t get into the guts of the story about Rick but it was big time in 1996. I will instead, provide you with a link to a Thoroughbred Times story I recently discovered which kind of spawned this tome. Use it.

But I will mention the ‘Look Of Eagles‘. I cannot say for sure that I knew of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 1996. As I said, I was still a neophyte. I can say for sure that I had never heard of Pilsudski and in fact, only recently was able to say his name without sounding like the Novocain had yet to wear off! And I certainly had no clue of his finish in the Arc, or of his ability to do what he did in the Breeders Cup Mile that year.

In preparation for the mile, and to get as far away from me as possible - a sullen loser up to that point in the day - my wife dispatched herself to the paddock to assess the entrants and try to help me out. As I recall, it had rained in the days prior and the ground was soft and in some places muddy. I was standing in a long line of bettors fondling the wad of cash in my pocket, looking at my form, and wondering what to do in this mile race. The cue was at a makeshift betting window in a field adjacent to the temporary bleachers where we sat. The ground squished underneath my shoes.

At some point I heard my name being called and sure enough, here was my wife running…on a knee replacement…one that was 12 years and 20 surgeries in the making…running across the muddy field towards me. I cringed with each unsure step, the mud giving way underneath her feet.

“How much money do you have?”


“Because you are going to put it all on number 7. All of it.”

She had seen that blank stare before.

“Trust me. He has the Look Of Eagles”.

The what? What the hell is the Look of Eagles?

And then I realized that my wife had seen in Pilsudski what only she could…and I could not.

My beloved Cigar. I would not have anything left to pay my respects to him, and he deserved my support after what he had done the previous year. And what about lunch?

As we slowly shuffled towards the teller she made her pitch. When my turn at the window came, to her credit, she walked away and left me to my own private torture.

“Two dollars to win on Ricks Natural Star please…”

“Anything else?” I considered the question for a long moment.


I swallowed hard and then, pulled out all the cash.

As for Rick, you can read about him at the link below. I still have the ticket. It is tucked away in the racing form I used that day. The printing has faded to nothing, as has the memory of this horse and what his selfish owner put him through. But he survived as these noble creatures tend to do, and lives in luxurious retirement without a care in the world. A deserving reward to be sure.

As to the reward for trusting the Look of Eagles, a small portion went to supporting Cigar in his quest for a second Breeders Cup Classic.

Best money I ever spent.

Of course, the winning horse was Alphabet Soup. And the winning jockey?

I forget!

- Slew

Read the story of Ricks Natural Star:

The Story of Rick's Natural Star

See the race:


posted on Monday, December 17, 2012 3:53:08 AM UTC  #   
# Friday, November 30, 2012
Hello All!

When I first started Slew back in February of this year, I posted messages on a few racing forums to get the word out. One of them was a strange place which recently was put out of its misery by a merciful sponsor who probably just couldn't stand it anymore:

"The TVG community is closing."

That was the message that greeted me as I clicked a bookmark I had ignored, with good reason I might add, for most of the year.

What took them so long?

Way back in 1994, when I began my professional software career by writing in a little known language subset on an even littler known platform, there was Compuserve. There was no internet, just Compuserve. It was via this online service that I found a forum that was frequented by some 30 or 40 developers using the same platform. They hailed from all around the world and they had  found a wonderful shared resource in each other. You might not be able to imagine that even amongst these professionals, some of what took place wasn't always pretty. Tempers could get short with stupid questions. And shorter with lazy ones. But it was there that I learned the fundamentals I needed to continue on into an arena I never imagined I could negotiate. I could not have moved forward without them.

It was also there that I met a colleague and wonderful friend from the UK with whom I am still very close. He was very kind to me in the early days and I told him if my project ever sold, I would hire him. Even with an ocean between us. It did. And I did. To this day his friendship is valued greatly and always will be. At what other time in the history of man could this have happened? In this way?


After several weeks of posting to the TVG forum I began to notice very little increase in interest regarding the daily posts. This was in direct contrast with the other two forums to which I was posting, and I began to wonder about the people who frequented the TVG online nation. Just what were they doing there? I had decided that I would try posting there for 30 days, and if there was no increase in interest in my posts, I would not waste any more of my time. Somewhere around day thirty I posted the following headline:

Go ahead...Keep Ignoring Me

A little experiment in socio-psychology. I was curious as to how many reads it would get, as I was getting about 12 - 15 for each daily post. This one should not have been any different. My thought was that if they were not interested in my racing posts, maybe a headline such as this would bring them crawling out of the woodwork. If it did, I would have no interest in continuing.

Within 2 hours, there was over 130 reads. By the end of the day, close to 200. It was then I knew that I was wasting my time, and stopped posting to the community. These people were not interested in sharing with each other the common knowledge they had, or in gaining new insight into the almost impossible task of handicapping thoroughbreds. In fact, there were more advertisements for Viagra, more backbiting, self-indulging, catty posts than information about the races.

The lineup for tomorrow's big stake was of less interest than my headline challenging the reader to ignore me. Just like a child who is told not to open that drawer, the collective online community could not ignore my post the way they had the previous 30. They just HAD to open that drawer.

What a waste.

But I did have some unfinished business and maybe I can close that circle here. One of the regular posters who also touted picks (and might very well run a fee for service site) had commented on one of my last posts that he had heard of Slew and that he heard good things about what I was doing. I did not have time to answer at first read but I did go back the next day to finish that task, only to find that my post had been removed by a moderator- I guess I was in violation of some rule -  and with it, his online name. I never did get to thank him for his comment, but I don't want to have him think I had ignored him.

So: whoever you were, thank you for the kind words. They were and still are much appreciated.

And to the rest of you...

Keep ignoring me?


posted on Friday, November 30, 2012 9:10:08 PM UTC  #