"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

Friday, July 31, 2009

Female horse players

I guess just like seeing women play poker, black jack, or beach volleyball, there is a grand element of sex appeal when hearing a woman say, "I'll have a $2 dollar exacta box and a $1 tri-wheel."

This can elevate the coefficient of attractiveness of any female.

It's just like the female form vs. the male form: one is quite nice in the birthday suit, but the other is abhorrent no matter the physical nature. Abhorrent!

There are any number of directions I can go with this, but I'll choose to remain tasteful.

Lake George off turf

Five scratches now for the Grade 2 Lake George since it was just moved off the turf. Turn to your program for the following numbers:

1,6,7,9,10.

Hope that was helpful.

Okay, fine, here are the names: Lady Shakespeare, Miss Keller, Strike the Bell, Kiawah Cat, and Ain't Love Grand.


Yeah, Carryover! and rain

Not only is there a near-$35,000 carryover, but it is raining buckets. What does this mean? Someone will undoubtedly hit this carryover since we will likely have five-horse fields all day. 25,000 people will hit it and it will by $114.

Twilight racing today, so first post is at 2:30.

What time does the Japanese businessman go to the dentist? Tooth-hurty.

Hardly feels like a year since I was sitting in this press box for the first time. Much better this time around despite not earning a paycheck. Very nice not to be working for a newspaper, however. I've been writing for them for five years, and I was never too pleased with the space constraints. Newspapers are like flying coach for Southwest Airlines: cheap, no legroom, and they smell funny.

Even magazines these days don't let you extend your story telling. Quite a bummer. That depends on who you are, but even if you are a big-wig, you may only be limited to 1,500 words.
At least there is not a word limit on books, to this point, and that is where my hope rests.


Thursday, July 30, 2009

Beauty

Only 26 clouds in the sky. Wait, closer to 40, but they are small and have neither the water content nor barometric pressure to do anything. Losers.

These clouds are my handicapping equivalents. They are my brothers. Sail on fine clouds, sail on my brethren.

Sooner or later I'm gonna have to start gambling. I promise. Maybe tomorrow we'll have a Pick 6 Diary: You Think You Know, But You Have No Idea.

Rachel installed as 4-5 fav

The odds maker at Monmouth must have tuned into The Carryover because Rachel Alexandra is the 4-5 morning line favorite. After all, 50 percent of Carryover voters think Rachel will win come Sunday.

Voters are split between Summer Bird and Munnings.

Weather here at the Spa is sparklingly nice.

Sorry, no Pick 6 ticket. Though, along those lines, I found in my breast pocket (huh, breast), my losing Pick 6 ticket from Opening Day 2008. I can't get that losing stink off my chest.

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday

Sun in the sky. Broken cloud cover. Today, to the best of my knowledge, will be dry.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll throw together a $2 straight Pick 6 ticket. After all, this is The Carryover. The very meaning of the title means I never hit it ... anyone else for that matter too. Which makes us siblings.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

First Rain Drops

The Spa made it through two hours of racing before the first rain drops fell. It is light, but light begets heavy.

This is the end.

We're through the looking glass people

Are we though? I haven't read Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," but I rented the movie, and I will watch it, so will you pay attention to The Carryover?

I suspect some may come here because you found my column on The Paulick Report today to be so aggravating, that you must see if I'm this annoying on a regular basis. As I'm sure you have found out by now, the answer is yes, I am that annoying.

But if I'm annoying, what does that make humidity and mosquitoes and lawyers? I suppose that makes them burdensome blood suckers, but what do I know?

By the way, it's Opening Day! I'll be checking in here and there when I have breaks from my book reporting. I've been here since 5:30 when the fog was low over the oval. Nice stuff. Tons of interviews with Mr. Hayward. We'll see if he has the lasting power to get through all 25 interviews and close the deal on this Nassau OTB mess.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Christmas Eve

T'is the night before 'Toga and all through the ... ah, whatever.

Here we go again, the Spa is ready and willing, opening its doors so we may bask in its glory. What an ego.

So I heard Saratoga may be trying to install a retractable roof over the entire grounds. Just kidding. But with rain in the forecast (when is it not?), there is, undoubtedly, apprehension swirling around NYRA executives.

I'm a bit apprehensive myself, though it has little to do with the weather. It all stems from the plight of the narrative nonfiction writer. As most of you know who follow this blog, I'm neck deep in the reporting for a book about this meet. As compelling as I feel good narrative nonfiction is, it's terribly uneasy when you are following something live because what you want to unfold and what actually unfolds are hardly in step with one another. And since it is nonfiction, I can't make anything up (duh!, but you'd be surprised).

I head into my intense "action" reporting tomorrow at 5:30 a.m. to follow my leading man Mr. Charlie Hayward as he does about 25 interviews, bang, bang, bang. Much of the character development (of all parts), I imagine, will come from external interviews that will likely have to wait until after the meet takes place, those matters that don't reveal themselves throughout the course of action.

Though what makes nonfiction of the narrative sorts so compelling and so frustrating, is that what happens happens and what is said is said. That character said that and it is verifiably true. That, in a nugget, is why I love the "nonfiction novel." Sometimes what one wants to be said or thought never happens, but on the flip side what can be mundane in fiction, can be so raw and wonderful in nonfiction.

You know it when you see it ... or read it.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Saratoga Open House

The parking lots were full. What did that mean? It meant that roughly 20,000 people turned out for four steeplechase races, local food vendors, and clowns.

Clowns are creepy at the circus. That's how creepy clowns are.

Still, horses jumped over fences while running over two miles on the turf. Rain threatened but never manifested into the party spoiler it tends to play.

All in all, there was a palpable excitement that in just a couple of days and for just a couple of weeks, thoroughbred racing returns yet again to the Spa.

Sharpening the saw

Rachel just worked in 49 seconds. Calvin Borel was watching on the rail. A nice family gathering. No OJ or coffee. Is that too much to ask?

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Travers rematch

I was reading a recent column, which, mind you, was about as satisfying as eating a bowl of iceberg lettuce. Still, while Mr. Veitch mentions that Nick Zito has a great shot in the 2009 Travers with Our Edge, the greater significance was missed.

Take a gander at this video of the 2004 Travers Stakes won by Birdstone, also trained by Zito. The two horses who hit the wire first? The aforementioned Birdstone and the Cliff's Edge, stablemates.

In essence, the 140th Travers could be a rematch of the first crop of these two horses with Our Edge (by Cliff's Edge) and the bird tandem of Summer Bird and Mine That Bird. It seems that even Birdstone's swimmers have a chip on their shoulders.

While the birds share a similar running style to their sire, Our Edge is the punk rock, death metal, leather-jacket wearing, anti-Cliff's Edge. Our Edge won the Barbaro Stakes at Delaware and he did it on the front end with Alan Garcia up. Cliff's Edge was always a stretch runner, putting in that late kick.

Now it's going to take the late kick from both Summer Bird and Mine That Bird in order to catch Our Edge. And it may not take too much energy.

There is no shortage of speed pointing to the Travers including Charitable Man, Rachel Alexandra, and Our Edge. Throw in Quality Road, who just breezed a bullet five furlongs at Belmont in 59.88, and there is serious front-end competition. This can set up well for the birds.

Just like in 2004, there will be a Cliff's Edge and a Birdstone brushing shoulders on the homestretch (among others). And it's going to take all of Our Edge's gusto to hold off the disgruntled Birdstone progeny.

And if it rains hell fire as it did in 2004 when Birdstone won, only one conclusion can be drawn.

God hates Birdstone.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Top 10 Uses for a Losing Betting Ticket

As The Carryover looks to take over the galaxy and be the first intergalactic source of horse racing commentary from here to God's merciless Fingertip of Power, we are offering more in terms of content and utterly useless information that so-called "trained professionals" steer clear of. Namely Top 10 lists. Here's another.

There are literally dozens of things to do with losing betting tickets, everything from littering the racetrack, to littering your neighborhood bus stop. Here are a few uses that I have come up since I have had my fair share of losses.

10. Dental Floss — Fold in half and this will pick out any number of food substances from apple peels to popcorn kernels.

9. Coaster — Keeps nasty water rings off that new coffee table from Ikea ... Ok, Target ... Ok, Walmart ... Fine! From a yard sale. "Did you put gum under your own coffee table?" "No, but apparently its previous owners did."

8. Roughage — No explanation needed.

7. Tissue Square — If and only if you're a 23-foot tall giant and you cut yourself shaving.

6. Writing down phone numbers of girls who will never call you back. "What does that say about me if you're writing my number on a losing ticket?" "Uh ... uh ... uh ... " "That's what I thought. Any winners there?" "You know the answer to that."

5. Showing your parents what a waste college was.

4. Teach kids how to read.

3. Losing ticket? You may be holding the synthetic racing track of the future!

2. A reminder of how bad you are at handicapping.

1. A reminder of how bad you are at everything.

Of course the last one was going to be cryptic. For me, it always boils down to that last one.

Anyone know a good therapist?

Have any other reasons? Let me know!

Monday, July 20, 2009

A Chad Brown winnah

For those of you that follow me from the Capital Region in Upstate New York, you sometimes come in for a Chad Brown update. I did this occasionally at my previous employer-who-shall-not-be-named, so I'll continue here.

Brown won the Grade 3 Jaipur Stakes with Silver Timber six furlongs on the turf in a time of 1:07.60.

Jockey Eibar Coa wrestled the 6-year-old horse through fractions of 21 and 44, but still had enough to kick clear by 1 1/2 lengths.

"I was a little worried early that they were going too fast," Brown said, "but at the top of the stretch I thought we had a little more horse. Mr. (Michael) Dubb had always liked this horse and he told me to go take a peek at him when we was in at Gulfstream. He fit into our program really well. I am not sure where he'll go next. I'm sure that there's something at Saratoga for him."

Rachel on Monday

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Assistant trainer to Steve Asmussen, Scott Blasi, was pleased with Rachel Alexandra's work Monday morning.

Atop his pony at the wire, he watched the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro breeze six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 seconds. She galloped out seven furlongs in 1:27 and change.

The work has her right on pace for her second meeting against the boys in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

Not that I am a horseman, or pretend to be, but she has got such a nice way of moving. She glided over the Oklahoma Training Track surface so quietly that one would never know that she was in the middle of a serious workout.

The best athletes make what they do look effortless. Rachel Alexandra is no different.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Why horse racing sucks

There are many, many reasons why, but this is possibly the biggest reason. Tune your ears to this fine quote from Papa Clem trainer Gary Stute, who is pulling his Arkansas Derby winner out of the Haskell to avoid Rachel Alexandra.

"That would probably be our last choice to be honest. We don't want to race against her, not if we don't have to. I mean, it's a pretty big purse and like I told Bo (owner Bo Hirsch), if worse comes to worse, even if he didn't win, as long as he hits the board, a Grade 1 placing would help the value of the mare (Miss Houdini)."

Isn't this nauseating?

"Daddy, Daddy, why isn't Albert Pujols in the lineup today?"

"Son, he's facing Tim Lincecum and he doesn't want to run the risk of lowering his batting average."

"Will we ever see him again?"

"I don't know, son. I don't know. If he hurts his elbow in the dugout, he may be retired to Three Chimneys."

Ironically enough, the most cavalier connections and horses in the business are the ones without balls.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Yeah, carryover!

$28k at Belmont.

Monmouth must say thank you, thank you, thank you!

From my days as working as a waiter at the Downhill Grill in Lake Placid, I am privy to the male culture and what women do to them. Cooks peer through the tile-sized window from the kitchen and out to the dining room and gawk at attractive women. The owner, normally sitting in front of the bar with BV and Coke, will cordially jump behind when a vixen should be served.

There's a reason why the Russian empress Catherine the Great wasn't just Catherine.

(Perhaps it had more to do with Peter the Great and being a descendent of the Romanov dynasty, but that's neither here nor there. Carryover the Great? Not so much.)

Once again the woman in the room, Rachel Alexandra, has made everything worthwhile. Life seems worth living again! The Haskell, normally just a rich table setter that lacks fireworks and panache, has the bases loaded — and I mean loaded — with nobody out in the bottom of the ninth with Albert Pujols up and Screech on the mound.

Papa Clem, fourth in the Kentucky Derby is committing. Atomic Rain, 45th in the Kentucky Derby is committing. Munnings, winner of the Woody Stephens and Tom Fool, is stretching out again (Toddy, buddy, you've got a sprinter. You trained his dad, Speightstown, give it a rest). Summer Bird, winner of the Belmont Stakes, is committing. And now Rachel Alexandra threw her garter into the ring and will be the prohibitive favorite. Saratoga's Go For Wand and Fourstardave on the same Sunday will take a hit from those in attendance who will — and should — point their eyes and ears at the screen for the Haskell.

Everyone in attendance at Saratoga should be rooting for her because her next start will likely be in the Grade 1 Travers presented by the Middle East.

Guys, stop gawking. Be cool!

Women love confidence, confidence and poise. Money doesn't hurt either, among other things.
But we don't choose these things.

They choose us.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

$1 million smackers

Rachel Alexandra is heading to the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park August 2.

Co-owner Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables announced via a press release that she will be making her next start in the Haskell.

Her connections flirted with running Sunday in the $1 million Delaware Handicap against older fillies and mares.

The spacing of races makes it evident that Rachel Alexandra will likely make her next start in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes three weeks and six days following the Haskell, though no announcement has been made to suggest this.

Rachel Alexandra breezed a bullet five furlongs in 1:01.38 over the Oklahoma Training Track Monday morning.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

We want more!

The Carryover promises to bring more cowbell! As I have said, our house architect is hard at work re-designing, re-packaging, and re-Carryover-ing content.

What can I say that will not give it away? We are talking about 100 original material. Interaction. Gambling. Comedy. Picks and a dominatrix.

Has The Carryover given away too much? Let's just say that we may have proof of Sasquatch's existence. Clue: he's not as hairy as the "media" makes him out to be.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Smooth operator

SARATOGA SPRINGS — The Grade 1 Preakness Stakes winner, Rachel Alexandra, was back at work this morning at about 6 a.m. for a five-furlong work.

With a throng of people watching, the daughter of Medaglia d'Oro covered the distance over the Oklahoma training track in a time of 1:01. Her final quarter went in 23 1/5 seconds.

Her next effort is still up in the air, but this Sunday's $1 million Delaware Handicap is an option. So too is the Haskell Invitational and the Coaching Club American Oaks.

"I'll talk to Jess Jackson (today) to eliminate the Delaware Handicap," said trainer Steve Asmussen outside his barn during the renovation break.

What he meant was that if Rachel Alexander is to run in the Delaware Handicap, he needs to know by today so that he can enter her in time. Otherwise it will be on to another race.

When asked what he thinks will happen, he responded, "I don't think anything."

The three front-running races for Rachel Alexandra this summer seem to be the Delaware Handicap, the Haskell and the Travers. All purses are worth $1 million.

"She's light on her feet, the weather brings it out of her," Asmussen said of the crisp morning. "She felt great, she did it as easy as you can do it. She went beautifully. She's a nice, fit, happy filly."

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Lazy Sunday

Not doing anything today. If this bothers you, my apologies. Today is a day of relaxation.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Crazy doings

The Carryover is in the midst of a cataclysmic event.  We at The Carryover are ready to hit the galaxy in the face with something bold and new.  The design is cosmic in nature.

Einstein said the universe is expanding.  So too is The Carryover.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Sheik vs. the Breeders' Cup

I drew inspiration for this little number while reading this story by Ray Paulick.  Had I not been so hasty, I would have drawn in a dealer, but I like to think that it was just two "friends" playing 5-card draw while one foolishly keeps upping the ante against someone with unlimited bank.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Yet another horse racing political cartoon

So here's the deal.  This one is titled "Homestretch, 2009 Preakness Stakes".  On the surface, I know some people will think it is a sexist cartoon.  But in reality, its intent is to poke fun at poor, poor geldings.

This frame is a bit sharper.  As I get better at these and get better supplies, they will only get better and, dare I say, hilarious!

Keep those votes coming!  We may have something here people.  As much as we want PEB to go on forever, someone will have to fill his void.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

A Carryover Original!

My fears were confirmed ... you can't really read it (but if you click on it, it magnifies, like magic!).  This is my first horse racing political cartoon.  I figured there is a market for this sort of thing.  There is certainly enough to poke fun at in horse racing and if you can sketch a bit, you may have something.  

Here we have Jerry Moss (left) and Jess Jackson to the right.  Moss is trying to convince Jackson to race on the Pro-Ride.  Jackson is trying to get Moss to imbibe more wine.  Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra sit in the middle, rolling their eyes thinking, "Men ... "

Have you seen early Far Sides, Calvin and Hobbes, Garfields, and Get Fuzzys?  

Don't be hatin' just yet!

QR's first drill for Pletcher

Quality Road, the Grade 1 Florida Derby winner, drilled four furlongs for new trainer, Todd Pletcher, Sunday morning.

The Elusive Quality colt went a half in 49.72 seconds at Belmont Park.

His campaign for the summer is speculative, but he could very well run in the Jim Dandy as a prep to the Travers at Saratoga.

Quality Road has much to prove after being dogged by quarter cracks leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

Friday, July 3, 2009

The Most Exciting Horse to Watch



The easy answer, or the easy horse, in this case, would be someone like a Rachel Alexandra.  She has an elegant way of going, and she has a way of making her competition look like the Detroit Lions.  That is, to say, pathetic.

But my favorite horse to watch is Fabulous Strike.  There is something to be said for the nature of sprint races, especially HIS sprint races.  Yard for yard, they are the most exciting to watch since they are over faster than a prom night encounter.  

But Fabulous Strike is different.  He goes out early.  He goes out strong.  And he can sustain a front-end beating and come out shining.  He may be the classiest front runner we have ever seen.  Name another horse that go 22 and 44 and have enough in the tank to make it to the winner's circle.  

... Go ahead ...  OK, didn't think so.

Fabulous Strike is running in the Grade II $150,000 Tom Fool Handicap at Belmont Park Sunday for trainer  Todd Beattie and if you have a 4th of July hangover, he is worth watching for 70 seconds.  

Beattie said the son of Smart Strike is tipping the scales at 1,257 pounds, meaning he's carrying weight especially well.  He's healthy and ready to, ahem, strike.

Fabulous Strike is coming off a chilling performance in the True North Handicap when he set a half-mile time of 43 seconds and fended off a well-rested Benny the Bull.  

Watch him while you can,  because there is a significant chance that he will skip the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita because of the Pro-Ride.  

Fabulous Strike, the cure for the common hangover.  That and french fries.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

No bird for Borel

Owner of Mine That Bird, Mark Allen, made a preemptive strike against jockey Calvin Borel.


After being, what Allen called, strung along prior to the Preakness Stakes, he decided to take Borel off for good so as to avoid this conflict.

Frankly, this is about ego.  I'm sure Allen felt belittled and emasculated when Borel waited until Rachel Alexandra — a once in a generation type filly — committed to the race before letting the Bird camp know who he was to ride.  

Owners are rich.  They are rich because they did things their way.  They are used to getting their way.  And when one hick trumped the other hick, well, you got a good ol' fashioned ho down.

By doing this, Allen assured himself that yes, he is in control.  Trainer Chip Wooley was never one to pressure Borel, instead taking the high road to success and making himself a star.  

Jockeys jump from horse to horse all the time.  That is the game.  Surprise, surprise.

Allen wants a commitment for the rest of the year from a jockey to ride Mine That Bird.  Who ya gonna get to do that?  Edgar Prado?  Nope.  Kent Desormeaux?  Nope.  John Velazquez?  Alan Garcia?  Tobey MacGuire?  Possibly.

The only jockey that will where cement shoes will be a B-list rider because the A-list jocks aren't going to sell their chances short should a better horse be vacant come the big dance in November.

So when another jockey jumps from Mine That Bird to somebody else, Allen will learn the hard way he cannot control a rider anymore than the rider can control him.  

When a good one comes along, you best keep him happy because Borel has a way of spoiling the party and he'll be pointing that whip the entire way.