"Six Weeks in Saratoga" available! Go get it!

"Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year" published July 1, 2011. Keep it locked here, at The Carryover or go to SUNY Press to order your copy ... right now! Or head on down to your favorite bookseller.

Praise for "Six Weeks in Saratoga"

“Going behind the scenes of three-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 triumph … O’Meara makes her story gallop and gleam.” — Chronogram

“The [book] is one of enjoyable promise, and as the author recounts little moments and inside conversations, he provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the figures he covers. The narrative keeps game pace with outside literary standards and features bursts of brilliance, and I found it a refreshing change from the selection of racing-themed volumes available today. As O’Meara brings his subjects to life, you find yourself thinking this is the kind of guy whose work I want to follow.” — Claire Novak, ESPN.com

“O’Meara … provide[s] a tremendous amount of detail from behind the scenes that the reader would not have otherwise enjoyed … Six Weeks is essentially a Rachel book, but it’s told without neglecting the always rich backdrop of a Saratoga meet. That means there’s history, surprises, characters (human and equine), great racing, foggy mornings and sun-splashed afternoons—plenty of material through which O’Meara could exercise his descriptive abilities.” — Schenectady Daily Gazette

“O’Meara fell for a magical place and magnificent horse, which is a lovely malady that often befalls horse people, and with a great deal of heart he tells us how and why. You’ll never forget his Six Weeks in Saratoga, either.” — Joe Drape, author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

“Brendan O’Meara tells the story of this proud horse with verve and great historical insight. Six Weeks in Saratoga marks the debut of an exciting new talent.” — Wil Haygood, author of Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

“Brendan O’Meara’s Six Weeks in Saratoga is a victory to be savored by those who treasure good writing in general and tales of the track in particular. Horses may win races, but they also win hearts as this impressive book proves beyond doubt. A memorable, sure-footed debut.” — Madeleine Blais, author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

That was the last race

Until maybe, maybe the Gotham in March. But most likely the Wood Memorial.

Times-Union turf writer Tim Wilken said before he left Belmont that this was probably my last race of the year since I'm not going to Breeders' Cup. Lucky for Tim, he is. I think that's great that his paper has the funds and that he has the opportunity to go out to lovely (so I hear) Santa Anita.

It was odd. I said that, yeah, this is my last race until the Wood Memorial, four weeks out from the Kentucky Derby.

Shoot.

New Column up

Got another column up on the right about Curlin's Gold Cup from my day at lovely Belmont Park.

There is a minor error that leads me to believe that none of my stuff ever gets read by the people who put it in the paper.  I make reference to the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2004 and 2008.  It should be 20o4 and 2007.   That is all.

Enjoy it?  Hate it?  Indifferent?  Let me know.

Slide show to come

I'm going to be posting a slide show of Curlin's final morning at Saratoga soon.  There are some great images of the horse prepping for his final drill over the Oklahoma track.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Yeah, Curlin!

I'm not one to show too much emotion, but as I watched Curlin down the homestretch, I was pounding the railing.  

Yeah, Curlin!

Llllllame



Mauralakana, I salute you and your half-assed bid to catch Dynaforce in the Flower Bowl.  In so doing, you blew up my Pick 4 ticket on the first friggin' race.  

You truly are the queen of queens.

Pick 4 Pix

Going out on a dangerous limb here.

Flower Bowl: Mauralakana
Vosbourgh: Fabulous Strike
Hirsch: Grand Couturier
JCGC:  Wanderin Boy ... just kidding ... Curlin, of course.  

$2 straight ticket.  If it hits, it will pay $11.  I don't know, but it's not too farfetched.  

New Poll Question!

Already 100 percent of Carryover voters think Curlin will run in the Breeders' Cup Classic.  What do you think?

The JCGC

Hailing from Belmont Park right now.  I'm hoping to catch Curlin become just the first North American horse (very important distinction) to reach the $10 million mark.  He stands a great shot at doing.   I think he's going to fire a big one.   The Woodward was better than it looked.   It was also his first race in seven weeks.  He comes in here on four weeks rest, a steady work tab at Saratoga and should be sharp as a razor.  

I have $3 in my pocket so I may have to do a late Pick 4.  First gambling exploits since Travers Day.  

Hey hey

All right all right all right, got the new Curlin column up over in the column bar.   Go ahead and check it out.  I'm going to see if I can get Saratogian photographer Erica Miller to let me put up the photos she took from that morning on here.  Maybe a little slide show?  Huh?  Would you like that?  I knew you would.  Demanding blog readers ...


Monday, September 22, 2008

Last Breeze

Greetings.

It's been a while since I posted, so there's no better time then to kick start this week by jiving about Curlin. I was at the Oklahoma training track this morning for Curlin's final Saratoga workout of the year — and possibly life. He drilled four furlongs in 51 and change. Nice and smooooth.

He leaves Tuesday morning at 10 a.m. for Belmont with Scott Blasi, Felix (groom), Pancho (pony) and J Be K.

I have been cleared (believe it or not!) to go down to Belmont to cover the Jockey Club Gold Cup to see if Curlin will surpass Cigar's career earnings record. A win will make Curlin the first North American horse to have won over $10 million. Steve Asmussen's 10 percent for Curlin will have netted him $1 million. Not too bad considering Blasi does all the work.

This week I'll have a "morning in the life of Curlin" piece as well as a profile on Cigar. The "morning of" piece will detail my day Monday morning in dealing with the "media frenzy" that was the five of us and NYRA's security officials having a conniption.

We're not going as bonkers as we did over the Woodward, but we're putting some muscle into this. It's a hitter's count, so we're still looking to put some good contact on this one.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've Got a Problem

Now this deals with my last column, The Top 10 Moments of the Saratoga Meet.

I left out Commentator's gate-to-wire win in the Grade 1 Whitney.  I also left off Tom Durkin's Arrrr calls.  

So I had two problems with myself with regards to the column.

There are many, many problems I have with myself that we have neither the time nor the interest to go into.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Go Spa!

In a great argument against the synthetic surfaces we need only turn to recent numbers of the two prestigious summer campaigns run at Del Mar and Saratoga.  Del Mar had five fatal breakdowns during racing (three in training) and Saratoga had ZERO.  (Saratoga training numbers were not published)

News flash:  Del Mar is a Polytrack.  Saratoga runs on a "cheap" surface made by God himself — dirt.  

God can make one helluva racetrack.  Now, if the Jehovah's witnesses had this pitch at my doorstep I may consider offering them some lemonade.  Instead they are treated like unwanted trick-or-treaters. 

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Horse Racing's Big Solution

Get Erin Andrews!

Trust me, there is no bigger fan of ESPN's Jeannine Edwards than myself. Over this summer I had the pleasure of being within 10 feet of her in the winner's circle at Saratoga. You know when you check out a girl too often and she finally catches you? She promptly moved 20 feet away.

Hey, if you want to save horse racing, you need Erin Andrews on the air.

If the freaking spelling bee can get her, why the hell can't horse racing?

Brownian Motion

How about that Big Brown? Gate to wire, on "good" turf, against older horses for the first time in his career.

If I had to rank his five most impressive races in 2008, it would have to go like this:

1. Kentucky Derby
2. Monmouth Stakes
3. Haskell Invitational
4. Preakness Stakes (best race visually)
5. Florida Derby

On a completely unrelated topic, I saw the funniest bumper sticker today. It said this:
GO LEMMINGS! GO!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Indian Blessing Champion Three-year-old filly?

At first glance, Proud Spell would be the 2008 champion three-year-old filly with wins in the Kentucky Oaks, Delaware Oaks and Alabama. But Indian Blessing has a trump card hidden in Bob Baffert's tack room — the Vosbourgh.

Should Indian Blessing run against older males and win against the likes of Fabulous Strike, Abraaj and Bustin Stones, Indian Blessing will have thrown down the hammer in a major way.

Trainer Larry Jones has expressed zero interest in sending Proud Spell to the Breeders' Cup. Baffert intends on running Indian Blessing in the Filly and Mare Sprint.

A win in the Vosbourgh and Filly and Mare Sprint will wrest the title away from Proud Spell. If Indian Blessing wants it, she's going to have to tear it away from Jones, Gabriel Saez and Proud Spell.

Possible? Yes. Likely? ...

If she does it, I'll owe you a Coke.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Slow goings

This is a trying time of year for the horse racing fan. There just isn't a whole lot going on. When ntra.com hasn't had a new headline in over 24 hours, you know the season is in a lull.

That said there is certainly some intrigue this weekend with Big Brown making his debut against older horses in the $500,000 Monmouth Stakes ... on the sod. Big Brown blew the doors off Saratoga a year ago when he broke his maiden on the grass. His 2008 debut was meant to be on the turf, but rain moved it to Gulfstream's maintrack.

Trainer Rick Dutrow has always maintained that Big Brown is turf horse to the core. He doesn't even need to run with bandages on the grass, but on dirt he tends to run down. Had Big Brown's allowance not been rained off the turf, Dutrow planned on running him in the Bluegrass before the Kentucky Derby instead of the Florida Derby-Kentucky route.

Either way, I'm intrigued to see him step up in class. For his three-year-old season, he HAS been the class with every other sophomore stepping up to him. With seasoned turfers like Shakis and Proudinsky taking their shots, it will be Big Brown's biggest test since, well, the Haskell.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Lost

Without the construct of the Saratoga meet, I feel a bit lost.  My bearings are off and I don't know where true north is.  

What is true?  Can it be achieved?  If the Breeders' Cup is true north, then yes, it can be achieved.  
Doesn't it feel good when an IEAH horse loses.  That's the beauty of when Court Vision runs, you always know he's going to lose.  I like Kip Deville and all, but seeing him finish off the board in the Woodbine Mile was amusing.  You hate to have to hate the horse because of the silks above him, but what are you going to do?

Sunday, September 7, 2008

IB Scratch

This was a smart scratch, IB standing for Indian Blessing.  Trainer Bob Baffert seems to be pointing her for a sprint at Presque Isle Downs.   This is smart because if Indian Blessing is going to make the biggest waves it will be as a sprinter and this race is run over a synthetic surface. 

She's my pick to win the Filly and Mare Sprint.  Sure there's Intangaroo, Miraculous Miss and Dream Rush, but Indian Blessing is the total package at six furlongs.

Friday, September 5, 2008

War Pass retired

The Blood Horse has reported that the 2-year-old champ War Pass was retired.  He is on a van to Lane's End where he will have a stallion career and breed precocious little War Passes for the  next 20 years.


Thursday, September 4, 2008

A Third Helping of Curlin

Curlin will make his next start in the prestigious $750,000 Grade I Jockey Club Gold Cup on September 27.

"We are thrilled our fans will get their third consectuive chance to see this champion in action in a historic stake at a NYRA track," said NYRA CEO Charles Hayward. "The centerpiece of Belmont Park's Fall Championship Seaosn, the Jockey Club Gold Cup figures prominetnly in the credentials of so many great hroses, among them Curlin, who stamped himself as a champion in last year's running."

Past winners of the JCGC are Forego, Funny Cide, Bernardini, Damascus, Affirmed and Citation.

This is a likely indicator that Curlin will not run in the Breeders' Cup Classic run over the new Pro-Ride surface at Santa Anita. Though this has not been confirmed.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

My Curlin Woodward Column that was not posted online

This ran in the Saratogian, but was never put on the web.

Unless you’ve been living under a very, very big rock — wait, boulder — you know that Curlin is running in the Grade I $500,000 Woodward Stakes today.

All the flags hanging up through town and my endless toting of the 2007 Horse of the Year are some of the more obvious clues that he is up to something potentially special.

The chestnut son of Smart Strike schooled in the paddock Thursday afternoon prior to the first race of the day. He stood in Stall 12 with a hot walker and assistant trainer Scott Blasi. Two security guards with Stonestreet Stables polo shirts stood guard just beyond. NYRA’s peace officers were scattered throughout the paddock and onlookers both in and out of the paddock gaped at this magnificent animal. He then moved to Stall 5 where he will be saddled later this afternoon.

How often do you get to see that?

NYRA also is going overboard with the promotion of this race. It had caught some degree of flak for not promoting his effort in the Grade I Man o’War at Belmont Park. In its defense, Curlin was not even licensed to race in New York until three days before the race so NYRA could not, in good faith, promote the horse should he not be allowed to run.

That said, we now have “A Fan’s Guide to Curlin: The Next Big Red.”

Standing in a profile, there are boxes pointing to various parts on Curlin’s body describing his uniquely athletic features. Coat: gleaming coppery-red, indicates peak condition. Tail: fiery-red tail nearly sweeps the ground. Rear legs: rear legs act as springs. Stride: Stride is significantly longer than the average of 25 feet. Height: At just over 16 hands, he is shorter than Man o’War and Secretariat, but it is his long body that sets him apart.

What I found particularly amusing were the comments to the side of this fan’s guide.

“Magnificent!” — John Scheinman, Washington Post.

“A monster!” — English jockey, John Murtagh.

“Grand!” — John Pricci, Horseracinginsider.com.

“A head-turner.” — Jim Cornes, Dubai Racing Club.

“What a horse!” — Maryjean Wall, Lexington Heraled-Leader.

“An intimidating presence.” — Jim Squires, At the Rail, New York Times.

It got me thinking. I have it on good faith that there were some other quotes and comments that didn’t quite make the cut for one reason or another — and not for lack of exclamation points. I was able to dig them up unbeknownst to the NYRA press staff.

“He’s not really THAT good.” — Rags to Riches, 2007 Belmont Stakes winner.

“Yeah, what she said.” — Red Rocks, Man o’War winner.

“Hey Curlin, while you were in Dubai, guess what I was doing? I was busy covering two mares a day. Hope you had fun.” — Street Sense.

“Big deal, I have a Preakness trophy as well.” — Funny Cide on the Saratoga backside.

“Quit ducking. Big Red? More like Big Baby ... babe.” — Rick Dutrow.

“Who?” — Big Brown, last place finisher in 2008 Belmont Stakes.

“I knew him before he got famous.” — Helen Pitts, former trainer of Curlin.

“Win TWO Breeders’ Cup Classics and I’ll talk to you.” — Tiznow.

Who knew there were so many haters? You wouldn’t know if you saw the throngs of people watching him walk around the paddock Thursday. People took photos and some applauded. Curlin got a little jumpy but eventually settled down and continued his walk out of the paddock and back to his barn three furlongs away.

Speaking of comments, I found two more in my research.

“One hot piece of tail!” — Brendan O’Meara, The Saratogian.

“Thank God he’s not a gelding!” — Jess Jackson.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

300+ dark days

That's depressing, huh?

Quality racing goes on every day so maybe this is a good opportunity to try figure out synthetic surfaces.  Breeders' Cup Day, if anything, is a day to make some serious, serious cash.  

I'd give you pointers, but you know my track record.  

A PREVIEW OF THINGS TO COME

I'm going to try and smuggle The Saratogian video camera out of the office and do some video handicapping pieces for The Carryover with Good Ol' Pete.  It should be informative and halfway amusing.  We're also thinking of doing mini-PTI type segments where we argue/discuss certain talking points about horse racing.  Role Play, Pete you are Richard Dutrow, Jr. ... 
Brendan, you are D. Wayne Lukas' donkey Silver Edition ...

Either way, it should be fun and the 12 of you that read this mildly entertaining blog should be, at the very least, mildly entertained.

Monday, September 1, 2008

Victory

Got the donut.  What a way to end the Saratoga meet.

So, when the meet was announced that it came to a close, many reporters age 55 and up, clapped for its conclusion.

Covering the best athletes in the sport is a miserable existence.  The complaints are ludicrous.  You know, I'll be honest with you.  I can't afford to turn the heat on in my apartment in the winter.  I can see my breath and these guys are complaining about an 11 race card?  

I think people really need to realign their compasses.  For those who read this, I may anger and/or alienate myself, but frankly, it makes me sick.  

At the very least, I'll give them something else to complain about. 

Donut

C'mon! I want the bagel on the last Pick 6 of the meet. I don't even want to hit this last one. 

Do the right thing. 

0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6! 0-for-6!

Humph

We're a whole lot of Barney ... Rubble, trouble!

Oceans 11 reference.

Final Saratoga Pick 6 Ticket

Well, this is it.  If there are scratches, I haven't looked.

R6: Higher Incentive
R7: Lyke a Hurricane
R8: Tejida
R9: Steel Light
R10: Munnings
R11: To Tell the Truth

There it is.  0-for-6?  5-for-6?  It doesn't matter.

So it's come to this

It's Day 36.  

It's a welcome number for some people, but for me it's depressing as hell.  For reasons that would anger The Saratogian's readership, I'll refrain from details.  I'll just say this: imagine your favorite sport that you could cover objectively and you get to watch and be among the game's elite.  That's horse racing for me, so anything less is bathetic.