"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

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Other Other Bird

So Summer Bird won the Travers. He was dubbed "The Other Bird." The Original Bird is still in the Stakes Barn that houses horses with the intent of running. With Summer Bird's impressive win the slop this past Saturday, he made sure that Mine That Bird is now the Other Other Bird.

You see, not only did Summer Bird likely cement champion three-year-old colt, but by not running, Mine That Bird lost it without a fight. If that horse could talk he would be one pissed off gelding. "Gimme a lozenge and I win in that muck."

Chip Woolley had to be feeling bad for himself when he saw the Saratoga main track turn to goop. His little gelding would have skipped over that surface and would have been Top 3, maybe even Top 2, maybe even Champion Three Year Old.

Oh, well. With that, Mine That Bird plans on slipping out of New York early Tuesday morning. I will be there at 3 a.m. in the hopes that I get to see him huff out of here as anonymously as he came to Kentucky four months ago as a 50-1 shot.

Friday, August 28, 2009

The Toughest Race on Earth to Handicap

That goes to the King's Bishop.

There are nine horses and I feel six of them can win the race. I'm a big fan of turn backs, and boy, do we have some salty turn backs.

Big Drama, second in the West Virginia Derby, has been pointing to this race for a month and is at a distance he should slurp up.

Flat Bold, fourth in the Jim Dandy, is turning back from nine furlongs and two turns, to seven furlongs and one turn.

Despite the Odds, a Mike Trombetta colt, is turning back from 1 1/16 miles to seven furlongs. Has a nice record over an off track and love that 473 Tomlinson should we have a muddy/sloppy track tomorrow.

Munnings, the likely favorite, has been tearing it up since his allowance win at Churchill on the Oaks undercard. Ran a game third in the Haskell around two turns, but he is a one-turn monster and looks scary here on the turn back.

I suppose you have to mention Vineyard Haven as a turn back in this spot, but he has been a no-show for Godolphin after he was purchased for an estimated $12 million a year ago. I don't see this horse being a factor.

My long shot in here is Despite the Odds. Speightstown colt. 20-1 morning line. Yep.

Be careful of Capt. Candyman Can coming late. If he gets a better ride in this race than he did in the Amsterdam against Quality Road, he could make for a thrilling finish.

Travers Flight Patterns

I downloaded my PP's for the big day tomorrow, that being Travers Day, of course. I fully intend to bet for the first time all meet. Looking forward to that, so that is what got me thinking about the Travers itself. Why not take a look at how the race will likely unfold and give you a winner? Why not?

There are seven horses and there is one true speed horse in here and his name is Our Edge. This Cliff's Edge colt has been training his eyeballs out over at the Oklahoma track. His last two bullets being 59 and 2 and 46 and 3. With Alan Garcia in the irons, Our Edge will fall out of the gates and be alone on the lead. His dad finished second in this spot five years ago.

The second flight of horses gets interesting. Kensei, winner of the Jim Dandy, will be taken into the clubhouse turn in either second or third under Edgar Prado. Charitable Man, touted as a speed horse, hasn't been on the lead since he broke his maiden on Aug. 10, 2008. He won the Peter Pan at Belmont rating in second. He will keep Kensei company to his inside.

The Belmont Stakes winner, Summer Bird, will fall comfortably into fourth or fifth. Kent Desormeaux had him up on the pace in the Haskell, but that was a product of the track and tactics executed with the BIG MAMA in the race. His dad won this race five years ago.

Quality Road, the morning line favorite, will be a wild card with regards to pace. He can be on the lead and he proved with his stumble out of the gate in the Amsterdam that he can sit three lengths back. That would put him in company with Summer Bird. If he breaks keenly, he may be up closer. Breaking from Post 4, that gives him an advantage to be close but not too wide.

Warrior's Reward, with Calvin Borel up, will skim the rail and save ground. You'd be hard pressed to find another jockey who has won more races on the dirt at 1 1/4 miles than Borel lately, so Warrior's Reward gets a big edge in ground saved. Borel won this race two years ago.

Hold Me Back, the Giant's Causeway colt who runs on synthetics and grass, is a deep closer and will never be a factor.

For clarity's sake, here is the flight pattern:
1. Our Edge
2. Kensei, Quality Road, Charitable Man
3. Summer Bird
4. Hold Me Back, Warrior's Reward

So there you have it. Oh, a winner.

1. Warrior's Reward
2. Summer Bird
3. Kensei
4. Our Edge
5. Quality Road
6. Charitable Man
7. Hold Me Back

I'm giving a big edge to horses that I see as saving a lot of ground.

I have a particular rooting interest in this field, but I'll keep that to myself.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fishy business

Yesterday, after Mine That Bird had an inspiring workout in preparation for the Travers, trainer Chip Woolley had his Derby winner scoped.

Things looked good. The surgery was a success. He didn't aggravate it while exerting himself.

But what struck me as odd was that owner Mark Allen, looking like his motorcycle got a flat tire, loomed over the "press conference." Next, Woolley said that they planned on scoping him AGAIN the following day and that if anything went awry they would not enter him.

Scoping on back-to-back days? Especially when he was clean as Mister? To me, this suggested that they were looking for an excuse not to run him in Saratoga, namely Mark Allen was looking for an excuse to skip the Travers.

Mine That Bird apparently lost 50-60 pounds following his third-place finish in the West Virginia Derby. He has since at Saratoga and put the weight back on. He was training well and his mood and attitude were sharp and attentive.

It's too bad. He was pointed to this race at a distance he should relish. He is the only horse to win a race at 10 furlongs. The race will still be great with Charitable Man, Hold Me Back, Kensei, Quality Road, Our Edge, Summer Bird and Warrior's Reward. But without the Derby winner, the Travers now seems like tarnished silver or a dull steak knife.

The protocol surrounding his absence from the entry box was fishy and the result was crushing.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thanks for your continued loyalty

Dear Readers,

The Carryover wants to thank its readers. You are a small, but loyal band of brothers and sisters and I want to extend a note of gratitude.

Now, if my friend, The Rooster, would get off his tookus, we'd have an extended platform through which to broadcast our signal.

Till then, thanks again, and keep you eyes ... on the stars!

Rachel's fractions

Here are Rachel Alexandra's fractions for her six-furlong workout Monday morning over Saratoga's main track:

24.27
36.23
47.86
59.60
1:11.84
out in 1.25.58.

If that isn't jaw-dropping, read them again.

The Carryover's Brendan O'Meara may be on television Wednesday

Thanks to a chance meeting with Tom Amello of Trackfacts, a television show on the Capital OTB Network, I may be going on the air to talk about "6 Weeks in Saratoga."

Mr. Amello, an English teacher, and I had an inspiring conversation about narrative nonfiction and when he asked what I was doing he informally invited me on the air, tentatively scheduled for Wednesday.

I've always had more of a radio face, but I'll take it.

Carryover on the cusp

The Carryover, using state of the art Blackberry technology, broke the Rachel to the Woodward story before anyone this side of Mars. As for what happened on the other side of Mars, that is up for speculation.

This is all the more reason for The Carryover's 13 readers to stay put. You will have vital information before anyone else. That way when other people with the "credible" news outlets break the story you can say, "Well, I already knew that."

"What! How?"

"The Carryover."

"Poppycock!"

Rachel to Woodward

After stablemate Kensei drilled a half mile in 50, and Rachel Alexandra went six furlongs in 1:11.84 it became clear where each would go: Kensei to the Travers and Rachel to the Woodward.

More later.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Ice slick

Summer Bird's trainer, Tim Ice, called an audible Saturday morning sending his Belmont Stakes winner to the Saratoga main track at 5:30 in the morning instead of the prescribed 8:45 time that was set for a number of days.

Too bad it was so early because the time suggests it was thing of beauty to watch. The son of Birdstone covered five furlongs in 1:00 4/5 seconds. So all signs are a go for the Grade 1 Shadwell Travers Stakes a week from today. He galloped out in 13 and change.

A number of reporters waited outside the stakes barn at 8:30 expecting to see the chestnut colt come out with his blue checkered blinkers.

Instead there was nothing. Sneaky, sneaky.


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Mr. Jackson, come oooonn!

This is like waiting for the last day of school. Like waiting for Christmas. Like waiting for the eighth day of Hanukah. Like waiting for your parents to leave on an extended visit.

Where the hell is Rachel Alexandra running and what the hell is the delay? My feeling is that principle owner, Jess Jackson, is playing a joke of sorts. He holds the keys. He has the ball and we're all waiting for him to come outside so we can play a stinkin' game of kickball. I really want to play some kickball!

(23-1 horse won Race 7 ... Como se dice double carryover.)

If Stonestreet's Dashing Debby wins the Adirondack this afternoon, the winner's circle is going to look like a mosh pit without the death metal. The Pope gets this kind of following. No one gives a you-know-what about how Dashing Debby, should she win.

I can see the stock stories now: While Jess Jackson won a race with his juvenile filly Dashing Debby, it's his other filly everyone wants to know about ... You get the picture. Boorrring.

Maybe Mr. Jackson wants the largest stage possible and if so, I have some suggestions.

1. Fly in on a helicopter.
2. Replace Calvin Borel with Gilbert Godfrey.
3. Announce where Rachel Alexandra is running AND come out of the closet.

There. Then all will be right again. Or will it? This post just got socially awkward.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Mine That Bird to have surgery

Trainer Chip Woolley called a press conference at 11:30 a.m. outside the Stakes Barn at Saratoga Race Course to announce that Mine That Bird, the Kentucky Derby winner, came back from his morning workout with an entrapped epiglottis after a routine scope.

The son of Birdstone will be heading down to the Ruffian Equine Medical Center this afternoon and will be operated on first thing Tuesday morning.

He is not expected to miss the Travers Stakes, or at least that is the hope.

"It's enough that we're going to take him to the city to do the surgery on him," Woolley said. "The doctors think he'll be good for the Travers. Something like this is day to day. We will not run him if he is not 100 percent."

A trapped epiglottis is a condition where a piece of tissue develops over the epiglottis thus blocking its movement over the windpipe. Recovery time is negligent, meaning Mine That Bird will be back in his stall late Tuesday and will be walked and galloped within a couple of days.

News of this came a day after Belmont Stakes winner, Summer Bird, was said to be on a two-day walking regimen following his workout Saturday morning.

Things that make you go, hmmmm

The connections of Rachel Alexandra, as usual, were mum on the topic of her next race.

Trainer Steve Asmussen said no race has been ruled out, but her workout this morning in the fog at the Oklahoma Training Track would suggest otherwise.

She drilled 5/8's of a mile in 1:00 and 1/5 seconds. What does that mean? That most definitely eliminates Saturday's Grade 1 Alabama Stakes run at 10 furlongs. Nobody drills that long and hard for a race five days away. That leaves the Travers, the Personal Ensign, or the Woodward. For those that think she will run in the Pennsylvania Derby, you need to get your oil changed.

Rachel's track record — or more accurately, Asmussen's training regimen — suggests a lung-expanding work of 5/8's or more comes two weeks out from a target race. On June 15, two weeks before the Mother Goose, Rachel drilled six furlongs in 1:12, followed by a half the following week. Result? Mother Goose romp.

Two weeks before the Haskell, Rachel drills 5/8's in 1:01 and 4, followed by a half the following week. Result? Haskel romp over males.

And now she's on the precipice of a two-week target of either the Travers or Personal Ensign. She just drilled 5/8's. The presence of Quality Road may scare off Kensei which leaves only one other Stonestreet horse worthy of this race.

You do the math.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Have fun with that double carryover

This has the recipe for a triple carryover here at the Spa.

The first three legs are for maidens. That says it all, doesn't it?

I'm not sure I'm going to waste my time putting together a fake ticket. It erodes my patience.

Certain folks are complaining about how the card was, er, carded. To that I say, "Don't bet."

Simple solution, right? That $263,000 carryover is awfully tempting. It's times like these I wish I carried cash. It's times like these I wish I had cash to carry.

Hmmm ... Let's put together a straight Pick 6 ticket. If you have two dollars to blow, I'll give a reason not to buy coffee, three packs of gum, or Journal Register Company stock.

Race 6: Junaluska
Race 7: Trippo
Race 8: Choice Play
Race 9: Redefined
Race 10: My Man Lars
Race 11: Judge's Pride

Have fun with that. That is not chalky.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Only three once

Where, oh, where?

Ever since the Kentucky Oaks, the question is, 'Where will Rachel Alexandra run next?'

No time has the question been more powerful and the answer more sought after than now. Reason being she's beaten the 3-year-old colts twice and lapped the sophomore fillies. What is before her are older horses who have made an extended tour of duty in this game of racing. This would leave the door open for the Woodward or Personal Ensign. Some feel that she has to beat a field of older horses to win Horse of the Year and that the Woodward is the way to do it.

I agree she has to beat older horses, but the Woodward is not the race to do it. Well, it is and it isn't.

It is because it is run at nine furlongs, the distance she so easily handled while blitzing the Haskell and stomping the Kentucky Oaks.

It isn't because she is only three years old once and that means that the Travers is an option for this year and this year only. It can also test her ten-furlong legs should she run in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, the race that would give her Horse of the Year, hooves down.

The history of the sport is a none-too-ignored aspect of Jess Jackson's thought process when strategizing campaigns of his grand horses. Rachel's sire, Medaglia d'Oro, won the Travers, so 1 1/4 miles is in her top side. Her running style will allow her to clear the field and angle to the rail to save ground. The track, too, will be fast giving her an added lift (should she need it). The extra furlong puts less emphasis on a good post position, a major difference between the Woodward and Travers. There is a greater chance to be caught wide on September 5 heading into the clubhouse turn that would otherwise be avoided on August 29.

What will be more taxing? Nine furlongs against older horses or ten furlongs against lesser colts? It is a most interesting query, is it not?

Still, the Woodward will be here year in and year out for her. The Travers is here only once.

Run in the Travers, for history, for money, for prestige, before it runs away forever.

Funny exchange

Yesterday I'm walking back from the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and I come across a hawker selling tip sheets. He says, "Feel like a winner today?"

I say, "Never."

My new poster

This my latest purchase. I need a frame and I plan on putting it right above my desk to remind me that effort is futile. The caption, in case you cannot read it, says, "At some point, hanging in there just makes you look like an even bigger loser."
This will go right next to my other two posters "Ambition"
and
"Failure."

This gives you an insight into the twisted, and sometimes perverse, mind of The Carryover.

Here at The Carryover we believe that Optimism is the enemy. We capitalize Optimism and make it proper, because we must treat it as a live being, one that can, and will, create pain and should therefore be slain.

Show me a funny man and I will show you a tortured soul, right or wrong.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Hall of Fame

The Hall of Fame inducted six new biological entities — some of which were human.

Chris McCarron opened with an amusing speech, ending by plugging his North American Racing Academy. It was funny. I went to U Mass with his daughter, Erin.

Bill Nack, one of the best sports writers to ever lay ink to paper, gave another deserving tribute in the long line of eulogies for the late Joe Hirsch. I never met Mr. Hirsch, nor read any of his work, but the consensus is that he is a legend, the best there ever was; this from accomplished writers.

Eddie Maple, Bob Baffert, Janet Elliot, Tiznow, Ben Nevis II, and Silverbulletday were enshrined in what was an entertaining — though sometimes long — tribute to the deserving horsemen, horsewomen, and horses.

Mike Kane, director of media relations for the Hall, summed it up best, when he introduced all the living members of the Hall in attendance to stand, "Ladies and Gentlemen, I say this every year. Before baseball, before basketball, before football, there was horse racing, and these are our legends."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Readership melting

Strangely, Carryover readers are visiting less and less during what should be the most traffic-laden time of year, that is, Saratoga.

Here at The Carryover, we try and fill our pages with insights every two days or so, offering a touching array of hilarity with fringe sincerity. Could The Carryover be losing its edge? Has it lost its credibility because someone doesn't have a "job." Or is it that with so many avenues to feed one's attention, why would anyone tune into a horse racing blog with condom ads and rampant pessimism?

If pessimism is a donut, consider The Carryover the vanilla glaze. And the bad handicapping tips the sprinkles. And the extra weight you end up carrying the dissatisfaction with reading The Carryover.

Dammit! See!

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Got an extra $2,304?

I'm taking my first handicapping plunge of the meet with today's Pick 6. Naturally I don't have the capital to go forth with this ticket, but if I had liberty and cajones to do so, this would be it.

Race 5: 4, 6, 7, 9
Race 6: 2, 3, 5, 7
Race 7: 5, 8
Race 8: 2, 3, 10
Race 9: 1, 2, 4, 5
Race 10: 3, 8, 10
Cost: $2,304.

I used the NYRA program, not the Racing Form. I'm doing this little experiment to see if I could have any success playing the Pick 6 if money were not an issue. If the success rate is high enough, then maybe one day, one day, I will play a ticket of this type with the hopes of it returning something in the neighborhood of ... $2,304.

Alive after the first leg with a 3-1 horse. I'm lacking the patience to remain at the track, so I'll check in from wherever I spend the rest of the afternoon.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Time to geld the Woodward

The older males are boring. You're boring everyone. Just when there is a decent horse, Well Armed runs a dud. Just when a stud surfaces in the Whitney, Bulls Bay promises to avoid Rachel Alexandra.

Maybe if we emasculate the older division, we can shame them into being better. My God, the Woodward is looking like a ridgeling.

Rachel Alexandra seems Woodward bound, certainly if she wants to ice Horse of the Year. With Zenyatta running on the west coast with that win streak of hers, her connections find that Horse of the Year will forever be outside her grasp in 2009 unless she beats Rachel, 13, 14 in a row or not.

Seventh Street, a Goldolphin horse, was all right in the slop to win the Go For Wand. Cocoa Beach was steady on the turf, and Music Note is, well, who knows where Music Note is. As it stands, the best horses are all ladies and they may as well all enter the Woodward and make it the first race open to all sexes with no males in it at all.

How funny would that be? Talk about holding your girlfriend's purse while she samples scented soaps at Bath and Body Works and sips her Orange Julius.

There are rumbles that Colonel John will run in the Woodward, and most likely Macho Again will try ... again after his runner up effort in the Whitney. Who knows, maybe if Asiatic Boy can keep his temperature in line he could try the Woodward too. But with such a weak division of older males, more than one filly or mare in the Woodward will make for the best race.

Should this happen, we may be in the rare position of saying that the boys are taking on the girls.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Two Weeks Deep

Hard to believe, but the Spa closes four weeks from today. That's a bit disconcerting, but there is still plenty of racing and plenty of reasons to keep tuning into the Carryover.

I've been busy, so with that in mind, it is not that I have ignored the Carryover out of apathy. There is plenty to say about Zenyatta, Commentator, and the Triple Crown race winners. That, for the time, will have to wait.

The reporting I've been busy with is coming along well. I've spoken with Calvin Borel's peers about him and followed Calvin, Mr. Charlie Hayward, and Nick Zito around the Spa putting a lot of miles on my shoes. I welcome this because my suits have become a tad too tight across the midsection (how so when I have no money to eat? eight pounds to go.). Lots of walking, quite literally, lots of footwork.

Stay tuned and keep the faith here at The Carryover!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Tip of the fedora to TAP

I really want a fedora. Love the look, and if I had one, I would tip it in trainer Todd Pletcher's direction for the job he has done with his talented colt, Quality Road.

Think about it.

This colt, prior to his possibly-record setting win in the Amsterdam, had not raced since the Florida Derby in late March. Quarter cracks to his feet took him from being a Kentucky Derby favorite for then-trainer Jimmy Jerkens, to a lame horse on the shelf.

Then, for reasons unknown, owner/breeder Edward P. Evans takes Quality Road and puts him in the hands of Pletcher to right the ship. Talk about pressure. But, like having too many good starting pitchers, this is good pressure to have. Still, to be handed a Grade 1 winner with the hopes of getting him to the Travers when he so disappointed his owner by skipping the Derby, is no light task.

Not only that, but Pletcher's outside-the-box notion of returning a horse slated for a 10-furlong race late in the summer with a 6 1/2 furlong graded sprint was cavalier. For months he geared the horse to a sprint, knowing full well that in the end he would be trying to go a mile and a quarter. This goes to Pletcher's skill as a horseman and the challenges he is willing to shoulder. It also goes to his ability to see a target date, work backwards, and consider all viable options: time away from goal, the taxation of the effort, the field, etc.
Given his soundness, which is, of course, an issue, Quality Road is Travers bound. He is the likely second choice to Rachel Alexandra should she run come August 29. The Travers could have the Derby winner, Preakness winner, Belmont winner, Haskell winner, and Florida Derby winner. Are there any more important 3-year-old races?

Over the past few months, it was forgotten just how good Quality Road was and is, and the way Todd Pletcher handled this colt should have the connections of Mine That Bird, Summer Bird, and, yes, Rachel Alexandra, a bit nervous. Nervous that Pletcher he did the unthinkable in prepping in a sprint for a classic, and nervous that he could very well win the damn thing.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Wow

What a filly!

Monsooooooon!

The Go For Wand was run torrential rain. Seventh Street was going backwards in the end, coming home in 15 seconds to win the Grade 1 in a time of 1:51 and change.

Yesterday's Jim Dandy, run at the same nine furlongs, was won in a time 1:47 and change by a three-year-old colt. That's what the slop will do, right?

Funny giveaway today at the Spa, nice giveaway, but a funny one. It's the Alabama Stakes hat, given away on a day when the Go For Wand was the big race. I can understand giving the hat away, I would just give it away on Alabama Day.

Does that not make more sense?

But maybe that is what NYRA wanted us to think, fooling us into think that they would be so trite as to give away a hat of a stake on the day the stake was run. This would be logical in terms of every day dunderheads like myself. It would take a real maverick to suggest the hat giveaway on a day the race was not run.

Kind of like having a funeral on a sunny day. That's creative ingenuity.

Prepare for a downer

photo courtesy of despair.com, I say courtesy, but they never offered this to me, rather, I just took it, which would jive with their style

>:-(

There's no real trigger to this. Maybe it's the rain or the ever present stink of failure. But it is my feeling that with 29 years under my belt — half of my life expectancy — I have come to one lucid observation. This is because I have spent all of my 29 years, in some form of another, expressing nothing but the most fruitless mediocrity, and that is on a good day.

Should I have children, which, for their sake, I hope I do not (Ms. Carryover may agree on this note), I will tell them that, no, you cannot become president of the United States and no, you will not be a professional athlete. Aim low, spawn, aim low.

Our culture certainly is obsessed with celebrity and wealth. Count the books on how to become a millionaire and you will have wasted yet another day of mediocrity that you will never get back. This may not be so bad because, and I guarantee, there is another day of mediocrity ahead of you. Trust me. (What's 29 times 365?)

Perhaps it is this American Dream concept, that we can somehow rise above our caste to riches we've only read about. Perhaps it is called the American Dream because that is all it is: a dream. And dreams, we all know, are not real.

Which ultimately leads to disappointment and a life unfulfilled. My God, if we do not rise above our caste and become president or a pitcher for the Red Sox, then by our most humble of definitions, we have failed, again, again, and again.

Ambition that leads to failure procures a hefty chip on ones shoulder. Goals, failed goals lead to anger. Anger then leads to the question, "How on earth did I get so bitter?"

When someone much smarter and more powerful told me I wasn't good enough, I once felt the need to prove them wrong. How wrong I was. Listen when people say this. They are telling the truth!

What did playing sports teach me? One lesson: the best guy does not get the job.

I was born into mediocrity, tried and failed to get out of it. There you have it, not good, not bad, just painfully average.

And just like my favorite Web site on Earth, we can increase success by lowering expectations.

Oh, where, oh, where will Ol' Kensei go?

Did Kensei look good or what winning the Jim Dandy?

He looked so good that one might say, "He's ripped, roaring', and ready for the Travers. Nnnnnnot so fast. There's a big race today taking place at another track with another horse in another state of another sex who holds the keys to the Travers luxury sedan, or backside golf cart ... you choose.

Kensei is owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables, the same Jess Jackson who owns Rachel Alexandra.

As an aside, maybe the Kensei Jess Jackson is the bizarro Jess Jackson who says "goodbye" upon greeting, sleeps during the day, and drinks decaf and alcohol-free win. Further reporting is necessary.

Rachel holds the trump card and the scenarios are as follows.

1. Rachel wins, and the next logical race is for prestige and the "writing of her legacy" in the Travers.
2. Rachel wins, beats the boys for a second time, and the connections say, "What more do we have to prove," and skip the Travers.
3. Rachel loses, but Jess Jackson wants a rubber match against the boys in the Travers.
4. Rachel loses, and Jess Jackson deems it fit for Kensei to get a shot at the Travers.
5. Rachel and Kensei face off in the Travers.

Trainer Steve Asmussen already said that there is no way that the two Stonestreet horses will not face each other, so that is not a viable option.

Jackson has been vocal in that he would love to see Rachel run at Saratoga and that he would love to see Rachel take on Mine That Bird and Summer Bird in the same race. Mine That Bird and Summer Bird are heading to the Travers, so that leaves just one option for Jackson and his leading lady.

I've got a friend, an unattractive friend, who has a much better looking, more athletic older brother. Friend will never be as tall as his brother, be as successful, be as athletic, well, just be that good. Poor, poor, friend. I think I'll call him Kensei.

But what about Kensei, the disenfranchised younger brother, cast into the shadows, the overachiever who can't compete for the love of his parents? Does Rachel get first dibs on the mashed potatoes too at the Sunday dinner? I bet she gets new clothes while Kensei gets Curlin's hand-me-downs.

Kensei could run in the the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby run at nine furlongs, the distance he so dominated on Saturday. Or wait even longer for the $750,000 Super Derby, also at nine furlongs. So he's got options, just not sexy options.

The fact of the matter is if it wasn't for Rachel, Kensei may very well be a super star with the lion's share of the mashed potatoes.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

What a day

Tons of people at the Spa. There's the Jim Dandy. There's the Diana. My stars, what an afternoon!

My Princess Jess nips Forever Together and Warriors Reward wins to give Calvin Borel his first win of the meet.

That one's on the house.