"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

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Davis nearly gets first win

Jackie Davis nearly notched her first career win Thursday at Aqueduct when she finished second in a $19,000 maiden claimer aboard Shifty Guy.

Davis will be picking up more mounts this winter at Aqueduct as most of the elite riders will be heading down to Florida to start the Triple Crown prep season. It will be then that she can really start to carve out a nitch for herself and get her picture taken.

Six Months Away

We are six months away from the Kentucky Derby. This latter part of the season is such a dull and depressing part of the year. It's especially fitting that this worst part takes place in November — the most miserable month of the year.

Sunshine may come if Curlin runs in the Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs, the same track he won the Stephen Foster over and finished third in the Kentucky Derby in just his fourth career start.

From your friend at The Carryover, remember, there are no winners in life orin horse racing, just people who lose less than others.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Most Impressive Race Award

The MIR goes to Midnight Lute.

Especially given how wide he went on the turn.

Especially given the "prep" work he had going in: one dud race and a slurry of good drills. Usually not your recipe to win a Grade 1.

And he ran on a bad foot.

The Sprint is always a great race just like the Vosbourgh, Forego or True North. It's like the 100-yard dash, excuse me, the half-furlong dash.

Thorograph report card

Since it was after the Breeders' Cup, Thorograph put up the audiovisual seminar for the BC for free so penniless moochers like myself can watch and listen.

Jerry Brown missed a bunch and that can be partly explained because of the surface. Before artificial surfaces were introduced it was just dirt and grass — though some dirt and some turf courses had their own biases and such.

With the synthetics there's Polytrack, Pro-Ride, Tapeta, Cushion track.

The thing is I heard ESPN's Randy Moss say that there were no catastrophic breakdowns and that we can owe that to the Pro-Ride. I'm not so sure you can say that Pro-Ride was the only reason we didn't see a horse snap one off.

Sure the mud at Monmouth probably did not help George Washington in the 2007 Classic. In the Derby, Eight Belles' accident was a total freak incident the likes of which a high-profile doctor in Larry Bramlage had never seen before in 30 years of veterinary practice. Pine Island in the 2006 Distaff just took a bad step the way hundreds of horses do. And at such an elite level, these horses impart harder forces on the ground just as NFL players hit harder than high school athletes.

It could be that in this year's BC the horses running were more sound and, as a result, weren't subject to catastrophic forces.

We need to remember that Saratoga — a dirt track — had zero fatal breakdowns while Del Mar — run over Polytrack — had just under 10.

For Moss to say that horses did not breakdown because of the Pro-Ride is off the mark and was an endorsement that I feel the surface does not fully deserve.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008


If we learned anything from BC weekend was that horses that like fake dirt, win on fake dirt. Horses that like real dirt, run poorly or indifferent on fake dirt.

In my estimation, were the Classic (and other races for that matter) run on the real stuff, Curlin wins the Classic by a length. His move on the far turn was powerful and he had the deep closing bias in his favor. Still, he didn't take well to the rubber and wax under his feet and the European horses who still have never run on dirt dominated: Raven's Pass and Henrythenavigator.

For other musings on the Classic, I wrote a column shortly after Frankie Dettori jumped off Raven's Pass.

Saturday, October 25, 2008


It really was a nice run.

Red Rocks stalled.

Better Talk Now was quiet.

Since we all have Curlin in the handicapping contest, Brien and I will tie for the win with either 3-14 or 4-14.

Deep Closer, baby

Midnight Lute gives me my third winner to take the lead with Bouyea.

The Juvenile and Juvenile Turf (two of my least favorite races) stunk. Nobody on our stellar handicapping panel had either of those.

BB: 3-12
BO: 3-12
JR: 2-12
NR: 2-12

I've got Red Rocks and Curlin left for the Turf and Classic.

And we are all tied up

What a move by Goldikova! What's more satisfying about her win was that a filly defeated Rick Dutrow's Kip Deville, what with all his chauvanistic banter about Big Brown never losing to a filly and other such ramblings (heard on Friday's telecast on women trainers).

I also hit the mile cold with Goldikova, Kip Deville and Whatsthescript.

BB: 2-9
NR: 2-9
JR: 2-9
BO: 2-9

Derf Cat

That was uninspiring.

Nate had Albertus Maximus, so proving my theory, looking at PP's is overrated.

BB: 2-8 (Zenyatta, Stardom Bound)
NR: 2-8 (Stardom Bound, Albertus Maximus)
JR: 2-8 (Zenyatta, Stardom Bound)
BO: 1-8 (Zenyatta)

Ladies' Classic

How about that Zenyatta? If there' s a Zenyatta pin-up calendar, I am there!

She represents my only winner of the weekend.

Here for the Dirt Mile

Just arrived at work for the Dirt Mile. I like Surf Cat. I've also liked six other horses so far in this Breeders' Cup and they have all lost in major, major ways.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Forever a Loser

Forever Together closed on tepid fractions. Rider had her in third.

Wait a While took third. That's the only thing I had correct.


BB: 1-4
NR: 1-4
JR: 1-4
BO: 0-4

Rider the Fraud

Nate, looking at only entries and no PP's, hit the trifecta straight on the Juv Fillies with Stardom Bound, Dream Empress and Sky Diva.

He is now tied for the lead with Brien and Jeff with one winner.

We're all reeeeaalllll impressed.

BB: 1-3
NR: 1-3
JR: 1-3
BO: 0-3

Wow, Chad Brown

Can you believe it? I said Maram would win by day light. Check out a few posts ago, "Chad Brown's BC Friday". Go on ...

Shoot, I said she'd lose.

Still, good for him. Mark this day that begins his meteoric rise to the top.


Only Nate had Ventura in the trifecta, though he didn't have her winning.

We are all 0-for-1.


Yes! We are off. What a marvelous run to the leaders by Ventura. You could see that white blaze uncorking off the turn to win the F&M Sprint in 1:19.20 — the fastest 7 furlongs in BC history.

This was an oddly chalky opening race for the BC with the second choice and favorite in the exacta.

Moving on.

Pur$e money

You know what's funny? The BC hands out $26 million in purses.

Alex Rodriguez makes more than that in a year.

At long last, here we are

It is Breeders' Cup Friday.

Since I don't have T.V.*, I'm at temperature-indifferent Saratogian office. Today it's mild. Though tonight it could be 80 degrees. Tomorrow it may 61.

I've got 18 minutes until the BC starts and it's killing me.

for the FM Sprint, Bouyea and Rider have Indian Blessing and Jeff and I have Intangaroo. The scratch of Indyanne grossly hurts Jeff and I since Indyanne would have been involved in a blistering speed duel. That said, I stand to break even on this race.**

* I use a television left behind by my landlord for DVD's, but I cannot watch television programs.
** See latest column.

Thursday, October 23, 2008


Carryover voters — 75 percent (!) — have said they are most intrigued by the European horses this weekend.

The people have spoken.

There was one vote for Zenyatta. That was mya vota and so constitutes 25 percent of all Carryover voters.

Chad Brown's BC Friday

Mechanicville's Chad Brown, who saddled Ginger Punch for Hall of Famer Bobby Frankel in 2007 to a win in the Distaff, has one runner of his own this weekend.

Her name is Maram and she is running in the Juvenile Fillies Turf.

She will lose.

But like most things, I am hideously wrong and proven so regularly.

BC Diary, You Think You Know, but You Have No Idea

Saratogian sports editor Brien Bouyea, sports writer Nate Rider, former Saratogian turf writer Jeff Reynolds and myself will have our picks in the Pink Sheet.

I'll do my best to keep track throughout all the races. We all have significantly different picks. We basically agree on two things: Zenyatta and Curlin.

Beyond that, it's all over the place.

BC Picks

Here they are, each and every one, all 14 races. Want a long shot that could pull a monumental upset? I'm not just going to GIVE it to you. You'll have to answer a series of riddles, each more complex than the last. Or you can just look at the ONE horse I have in bold face as that potential shocker.

Filly and Mare Sprint
Miraculous Miss
Indian Blessing

Juvenile Filly Turf
C Karma

Juvenile Fillies
Be Smart
Dream Express

Filly and Mare Turf
Halfway to Heaven
Wait a While

Ladies Classic
Music Note

Delighful Kiss

Turf Sprint
True to Tradition
Get Funky
One Union

Dirt Mile
Surf Cat
Well Armed
Slew’s Tizzy

Kip Deville

West Side Bernie
Mine That Bird

Juvenile Turf
Bettel Road
Paddy the Pro

Midnight Lute
Street Boss
Sing Baby Sing

Red Rocks
Soldier of Fortune
Spring House

Colonel John

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Big Payout

Belmont's Pick 6 paid over $500K.

5-of-6 paid over $2K.

All this talk about money makes me angry ... so ... angry. That said I wrote my Breeders' Cup column this year on how to enjoy the weekend when you don't have two dollars to rub against one another. There are 10 ways you, as well as I, can enjoy the Breeders' Cup without spending a dime at the windows. And YOU will be able to read such prose either Friday or Saturday.

Good Ol' Pete will, no doubt, be shaking his head in disgust. He need not for my neck has grown weery from such shaking in disgust at my own self for being such a lowly journalist.

I'm also going to post my picks for anyone who cares. Colonel John at 20-1 anyone? Anyone? Ah, I didn't think so.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Holy carryover!

Let's get Dr. Evil from Austin Powers to say, "One-millllion dollars."

I was speaking with Good Ol' Pete and we were saying what should or what will merit most of our attention, handicapping the Breeders' Cup or handicapping the Pick 6 at Belmont for Wednesday.

After he said that there are three maiden races for two-year-olds with one or two of them on the turf, I said, I'll pass on the carryover. No thank you.

I'll take the $4 million carryover on Thursday.

By the way ... Curlin drew Post 9, he's the 7-5 favorite.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Yeah, double carryover!

Nearly $400,000 for Sunday's card at Belmont.

If Arrrr is race caller Tom Durkin's favorite horse, then Stud Muffin would be his second. The latter won the the Empire Classic today at Belmont paying $10.

Tomorrow may be a good day to play my first Pick 6 since the end of the Saratoga meet.

What would you do?

Man up! Get a Form! Lose some money. It's the American way!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Yeah, carryover!

$121,721 at Belmont for Saturday.

Get to it!

Good Ol' Pete's BC Super

Good Ol' Pete weighed in as we are a week away from Ladies Day of the Breeders' Cup, eight days from Championship Saturday.

Pete's BC Classic superfecta bet is: Curlin-all-Go Between-all.

This is always a strange logic. What compels one to say that ahorse will finish in third besides second or fourth? He's not good enough to win, maybe someone else is coming in a little sharper, but he's still OK so you say put him in third.

I'm not disagreeing with this. It's probably spot on. Especially since there are so many wild cards (the three European horses who run on turf, Casino Drive, who knows what you get from Student Council, will they send Big Brown out on three legs?).

I'll take it one step further. Without looking at any figures I'm going to just throw out four horses I have a hunch will run real well.

1. Curlin (simply the best)
2. Colonel John (well rested, battle tested, breezed a bullet 6f)
3. Go Between (loves Santa Anita, won Pacific Classic)
4. A European horse (they're supposed to be good)

As of late I've been in this horse racing funk. I haven't been following it the way I normally do. I don't know. It's hard to explain, but now with the BC right around the bend, that excitement is back.

Heeeerrrre we go again!

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Happy humping, Brownie

A hunk of Big Brown's quarter on his hoof is gone and so too is the match up between he and Curlin.  This marks the most anticlimactic end to a racing season in years — certainly my limited memory.

Now we can look forward to Big Brown breeding more precocious yet unsound babies with a greater likelihood of wowing and disappointing racing fans for the next 20 years.   

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yeah, carryover!



I have Sunday's off, so I probably won't be blogging, as they say in the biz, but that's awfully salty and I'd take 5-of-6 off that carryover.

If only I could win the first friggin' race.

Now whar's me racing form?

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Pick 6 hit at Belmont

Some peoples hit the Pick 6 for a spicy $76K. 5-of-6 paid just under $700.

Breeders' Cup Classic could have Curlin, Big Brown, Go Between, Casino Drive and Colonel John. I'm missing a few in there, but speaking rhetorically, how good is this Classic going to be?

Carryover foul

Funny thing happened on the way to the Raceway today. I had no money.

Now, I'm more than used to LEAVING the track without money, but having no money on the way to the track blew my mind.

This is very perplexing. Bad bet, baaaad bet.

So much for the Pick 6 Diary today.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Yeah, carryover!

$40,937 at the Big Sandy.

It's been a long, long time since I did a Pick 6 Diary — You Think You Know But Have No Idea. Why not do the first one since our beloved Saratoga meet? Right? Who's with me?

In other news, Big Brown breezed on the grass at Aqueduct. If this were an era with more gamesmanship than we currently see, wouldn't it be great to see Big Brown make a grass campaign his entire 4-year-old year, ending with the Arc? His connections have always maintained that's his best surface and the way he beat a seasoned horse at Monmouth like Proudinsky makes me think that he could be every bit as dazzling on the grass.

But I am left with only my imagination to fill in the gaps.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Curlin's pro ride

The 2007 Horse of the Year drilled over Santa Anita's Pro-Ride surface, his first work since repeating in the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

It was a modest work of 52 and change ... four furlongs.

His works following races tend to be easy, so this falls right in step with that. His next breeze on the the 13th will be the one that will stamp his ticket to the Breeders' Cup or not.

Here's hopin'.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Big Day at Belmont

The Juveniles were showcased today at Belmont. I haven't actually watched any of these races so far, just looked at charts. It's like reading text out of the Matrix — all that green, vertical syntax.

Vineyard Haven, who benefited by his rivals having troubled trips in the Three Chimneys Hopeful, defeated the same colts in the Champagne.

Sky Diva won the Frizette.

That donkey Court Vision beat Gio Ponti in the Jamaica Handicap on the sod.

Wild and crazy stuff.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Happy 1 Year Anniversary

Today marks my 1-year anniversary at The Saratogian.

This also marks the beginning of Breeders' Cup Month. It seems like it was just yesterday that War Pass and Indian Blessing blew the doors off the juvenile crop, English Channel destroyed Dylan Thomas and Midnite Lute bombed down the center of the track to run down Idiot Proof and Talent Search.

Damn, the BC is awesome.