"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, June 25, 2010

Zoloft

Horse racing is depressed.

That cannot be confused with ‘depressing,’ though that is often the case, Ernie. Think about it: What other sport’s media commentary is so mired in ‘what the sport can do to get better.’

Poor sport. Perhaps all it needs is a friend, a willing ear, a pat on the back, a shot of Jack, a gaming summit!

There has been lots of talk at the New York Gaming Summit. Most of which seems somewhat boring and acting like the ice in a tumbler of good scotch: chilling and watering down the product with every waning second.

But one such note, that your very own John Pricci writes about in his Morning Line column, that expanded gaming is tantamount to the success of horse racing in New York.

Read it here at Horse Race Insider.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A Triple Crown Retrospective: The Magic Number

So, Todd was saved, Baffert got lucky, Mott got drosselmeyered.

I could end it there and it would be infinitely more entertaining, but I'll go on.

Much has been made, and for that matter, has always been made, that when the Derby winner loses the Preakness, or the Belmont following a Preakness win, that changes to the Triple Crown must be made.

The races need to be shorter!

That's right, let's breed even faster animals with no stamina and watch quarter horses run for home.

The races need to be farther apart!

The TC is supposed to be hard, maybe if owners and trainers ran their horses with greater frequency they would be more equipped and better trained to race on shorter rest. If a Triple Crown you want, train for it you must.

If I may, I have two major suggestions that will bring the Triple Crown back from Affirmed's gnarly hooves. If we can implement both that's fine, but one or the other WILL yield a Triple Crown winner without ruining tradition.

1. No more new shooters.

A horse can only run in the Preakness Stakes or Belmont Stakes if he/she ran in the Kentucky Derby. This keeps the playing field level. Any trainer who takes a crack at the Triple Crown will at least have a horse that is on a similar level of fatigue. One can run the Derby, take off the Preakness, and come back for the Belmont. That's fine. The Derby is the gate keeper.

2. Limit the field size of the Derby to 14 horses.

Take a look at the fields for Secretariat's 1973 bid:

Derby: 13
Preakness: 6
Belmont: 5

Affirmed:

Derby: 11
Preakness: 7
Belmont: 5

Citation:

Derby: 6
Preakness: 4
Belmont: 8

This isn't always the case with all the other Triple Crown runners. War Admiral ran against 20. But the average Derby field size of all 11 TC winners is 13.45.

How many slots are there on the original gate? Fourteen.

Big Brown wins the TC if he's not breaking from Post 20.

Twenty horses create a whole lot of traffic and problems for a horse to overcome. By knocking down the field size you don't detract from the spectacle of a stampede. Watch the Breeders' Cup Classic. That's 14 horses and looks damn exciting to me.

Knocking the field down to 14 will also make for a better race and the horses in the gate will be the ones who deserve to be there.

And, more importantly, will likely house the first Triple Crown winner in decades.