Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Too Close For Comfort



Watching an auto accident is never an enjoyable or pretty thing. When your wife is involved in it and it happens right in front of your vision and your house...it's doubly scary.

First off, Sonja is OK. And that is the most important thing.

I was sitting in our den at my work desk, right in front of our front window facing the street while researching information on the internet for an article I'm contemplating doing for my main website CARDINAL COUPLE.

I hear a screech of tires, look up and see a truck plow into the passenger side of a silver car that looked strangely familiar.  Holy crap! That is my car and my wife driving! She had used my car to go to a routine medical appointment earlier in the morning and was getting ready to literally turn into our
driveway when the driver of the car behind her decides to pass ON THE LEFT (driver inattention) and thumped her. He hadn't realized she was slowing down, had her turn signal on and had to hit the brakes to avoid rear-ending her.

I put on my shoes and got out there immediately. Fortunately, she was out of the car, OK and looking at the damage to our car with the driver of the other vehicle.

He realized she was slowing down too late, didn't want to hit her and swerved to avoid her...not realizing her left turn signal was on and cross-jacked her. He wasn't paying attention while driving a moving motor vehicle.

She is OK. The driver door and side mirror on the left aren't though. Thankfully, a high rate of speed was present when he hit her. It was on her side of the car and could have really hurt her or given a whiplash or crushed her.

Here's the strange, eerie part of the story. The other driver works at the local high school. My wife works at the elementary next door. After they exchanged information and I went inside to call the police, he attempts to drive off. Fortunately, he had his cell phone number on the sheet he wrote his name, insurance info and policy number on. I quickly called him and informed him that leaving the scene of an accident was a criminal offense. He apologized, stated that he didn't realize and was back before the cops showed up.

She is OK and that is all that matters.

Now the insurance game begins. Claims, arranging for towing, repair, rental...all the fun stuff. A game I don't particularly like to play.

She is OK and that is all that matters.

And, if you read this...please ignore your cellphones, etc while driving. Driver inattention caused this.
It could have been a lot worse.

Be alert out there. The life that was saved was my wife's.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Post Derby and a new star on the horizon?



It is now eight days since the running of Derby 139. Reflecting back on ORB'S win and how he did it, he was provided with the perfect trip and excellent ride from jockey Joel Rosario. Rosario came into Churchill and won at a 40% clip before he headed to Belmont. Shaun Bridgmohan has taken the meet at Churchill by storm after Rosario's departure...winning five races yesterday and looks to be well on his way to get a leading riders' trophy if the mounts stay hot and the crafty Cajun can stay healthy.

As for VERRAZANO, I am still in denial and disappointment. HE chased the early fractions in the Derby, looked to be well-positioned heading into the stretch and then applied the brakes and backed-up. I have no doubts he'll recover, recoup and have a very successful three year old campaign. He just got whipped up on in the Derby. It happens to a lot of horses...good and bad.

I caught the clip of FREEDOM CHILD'S incredible win in the PETER PAN Stakes yesterday at Belmont. I liked the son of Malibu Moon enough to include him in my exacta. Unfortunately, My Name Is Michael and Go Get the Basil couldn't finish second.

Freedom Child set the track afire in the slop...maybe a bad choice of metaphors....but so very impressive in destroying the field by 13 1/4 lengths in the 1 1/8 mile test. Stumbling out of the gate, he was briefly last, rallied under jockey Luis Saez to grab the lead before the first 1/4 mile and sprinted away from the rest of the field...galloping down the long Belmont stretch in Secretariat fashion. I was speechless. I figured that favorite Abraham would put up some kind of fight. He never did. Assumed that Fear The Kitten would come rolling at the end to make a race of it. Didn't happen.

I was looking for a "price" in the exacta and superfecta in the race. I had the winner, third and fourth place finishers.

Freedom Child is now 2-1-1 in his career in six starts. HE and Orb have hooked up against each other a couple of times. In a mile maiden special weight race over a mile last November, Freedom Child ran second to Orb by two lengths. In the Wood Memorial, won also by Orb, Freedom Child had all sorts of trouble from the get-go and finished a disappointing 10th. A race where he was held in the starting gate by an assistant starter, broke about 10 lengths behind the rest of the field and ran for purse money only...all bets being returned on him. A bad break, for sure.

There were no problems yesterday for the West Point Thoroughbreds owned monster.

Trainer Tom Albertrani had a plan going into the race:

"We wanted him to be on the lead, and luckily he was able to quicken coming out of the gate and get to an easy lead. Once I saw him on the lead like that I was pretty confident at the half-mile pole by the way he was travelling."

He now sets his sites on the Belmont Stakes on June 8th.

I hope that ORB wins the Preakness. In convincing fashion. The horse racing world needs a Triple Crown winner badly. ORB has that chance.

I will, however, wager on a chestnut horse with a white stripe right down the middle of his nose. You see, I was cheering for a party-crasher a few weeks ago. The University of Louisville women's basketball team. They finished second. I'd have no problem at all with Freedom Child finishing second in the Belmont Stakes.

I think he may have just grown up enough and learned enough recently, though, to crash the coronation and wear the prom queen's crown in the final leg of the Triple Crown. Especially if it's a rainy day.

After all, if the favorites won every race, this horse handicapping thing would be pretty simple, wouldn't it?

--Paulie

Sunday, May 5, 2013



It's over. This dizzying week of Derby activities ended last night around 11 p.m. when we finally pulled into the driveway, looked at each other and gave a collective sigh of relief.

Saturday's activities were a Derby Party. The first year at this location, a group of people from Derby's past and I decided to move the location to a son of one of the regular's house. Two car garage. Nice. Plenty of room and tents. Bonus.

52" HD TV for viewing the races. Excellent!

The crowd was decidedly younger (and much bigger) than we'd been accustom to in the last couple of years. A lot of fun, the "kids" loved making Derby and other races of the day picks and sharing them with me. I charged a sliding scale fee to listen to them.

The evidence has already been destroyed, Mr. Attorney General. As far as I know, each contestant was over 21 and in good-standing with the Kentucky Racing Commission.

It was relaxing in a way...no mass miles of walking...but tiring mentally. It was good, though...to be tucked in the corner of the garage...warm, dry and out of the wind. With my table in front of me and flanked by "the old guard" of Derby party veterans...we did work.

And partied.

Complaint #1:  Why does WAVE TV / NBC pull away from last race of the day coverage without showing the prices? It sucks. Fortunately, a young guy there with every conceivable "app" on his phone was able to get me the results, order of finish and prices within a few minutes.

Complaint #2:  The rain. It killed a lot of outdoor activities such as bean bag toss, volleyball and kept the grilling out at a low level.

Other than that, it was a blast.

This is the sixth place (with this current core group of organizers) that we've had the Derby Party over the last 25 years. It looks like we may have found a long term home. And it's an easy drive home for Sonja and I. Even in the pouring rain we had to deal with on the evening ending journey.

Today is a day of rest. A brief afternoon couples shower event. Then, it's kick back and relax and recover. Three straight days at the track and one at a party can take its toll on you.

But, what a ride! A good financial 96 hours also. Old friends reunited with, new ones made. The adventures and funny moments. Hanging with the St. Louis boys and writing for the Jersey guys. The success and disappointments. The whole aura...

I love this time of year!

-Paulie

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Saturday, May 4, 2013


Happy Derby to you!
 
Our selections for today are at www.cardinalcouple.com



THE START

Yesterday was an interesting day at the Oaks...to say the least. We walked over from the 80 Under 80 and made it  inside the Infield around 11:15 a.m. Got to see Poobah's wife Babs, and gave her a big hug. She was parking cars. Poobah was inside 80 Under 80, doing who knows what...didn't get a chance to see him.

We thought about taking the bus shuttle back and forth. It's $15 round trip this year. Between me, Sonja and Tommy Boy...that equals five beers over in the Infield. We decided to walk.

My knee held up pretty good. The usual hucksters and preachers were lined up on Central Avenue like always. I got an American flag pin. The guy wanted a donation. I saluted him and told him that I was disabled also and I kept going.

A preacher handing out pamphlets asked me if I knew where I was going in the after-life. I told him I was pretty sure either Naples or Mulligan's. He didn't get it. He asked me if I prayed. I told him I was praying for Beholder in the Oaks. I kept moving.

The usual shakedown at the gate. Searching bags, wand-waving and raise your arms and turn around. I complied fully. I wasn't "carrying" this year. No way I would have got anything in. The boys were being diligent.

Through the rowdy tunnel that leads to the Infield. The crowd got the C A R D S chant up twice. No CATS, CATS, CATS was ever heard. We emerged unscathed and headed to a nice, grassy spot in front of the giant screen in the back of the Infield. Tommy Boy stopped and got us a couple of beers. $8 for Budweiser, $9 for Heineken.

We're weren't getting toasted today.

THE INFIELD

The folks around us were very nice. Mostly from Louisville and southwest Virginia. They saw Sonja had sunblock and we shared the bottle with them. They handed her $7 for the usage. First winner of the day! She tried to give the money back to them...they told her to go buy a couple of bottles of water with it. $4 a bottle out there. I gave her a $1 and she returned later with two bottles.

Tommy and I got bets up in time for the #4 race. Sonja was holding out until the sixth. He and I started a Pick 3. We hit the first leg with the #3 horse and Rafael Bejarano on board. It made all of us happy, the folks behind us had started a "show pool" in the first race and they were still alive also with the #3.

Our Pick 3 died in the 5th.race. We both loved the #8 Bail Me Out. He ran second. We had three other horses, too. None of them was the #8. The folks behind us had the #1 and they were excited. He came third. Tommy Boy and I were off to wager again. A Pick 3 again, plus all the bets I had to place for races 6-11. I bet them early, before the lines get long.

I got, perhaps, the slowest and stupidest teller in all of Churchill Downs. I swear, I stood there 10 minutes. People were standing behind me and moving to other lines...because this poor lady just didn't grasp it. Finally, she finished punching the tickets out. I checked them after I paid, still standing there. Three of them were wrong. She got a supervisor over and he corrected them. Tom, who had finished his wagering in about three minutes, left and brought me back a beer. I needed it. Jeez O' Pete! They need more automatic wagering machines in the Infield.

YOU WANNA BET?

The #6 race ran. We all hit. Pick 3 still alive, Sonja and I had the exacta and trifecta and her win, place and show bets did well. The gang behind us hit the show pool again on the #4 horse. It was a beautiful thing.

Race #7 got the #3 Kitten's Dumplings home on top. This pleased all of us, since Sonja had it to win...and the exacta. It was in our Pick 3 and the show pool folks had it also. They were well over $200 up on the show pool and were "letting it ride".

We ran into "C.P." on a walk to the restroom. He said he had 4 cases of free beer at his spot and he'd treat us to a few. We walked to where he told us he was after the restroom break. Everyone there knew him, but the story about the four cases of free beer were bogus. They got a chuckle out of that story. We were not amused.

Race #8 killed our Pick 3. We had some good horses, but no #9...who won at 8-1. Sonja had the second place finisher. The show pool players were absolutely giddy. The #2 paid $5.00 to show and they had $250 on it. They were now up to $625. Tom and I also started a Pick 4 in the race. It died after the first leg.

Sonja left to walk and get some food before the ninth race. We had conversations with people, started a Pick 3 and talked to a guy who thought Tom was a guy who used to run a poker game each week in a house behind the old Winn-Dixie on Preston. Nope, wrong guy...

KA-BLAM!

Off they went in the ninth race. The show pool players rolled all $625 over on the #9 horse. They were going for the big kill. Unfortunately, the #9 killed the #8 shortly after they broke from the gate. The #9 did finish second...but the Objection/Inquiry lights came up after the race. Tom and I were OK...we had the winner.. #6...so we were still alive. Sonja hit two of her across the board bets and another exacta.

They took the #9 down from second and out of the money after further review. The show pool gang had been defeated. They were deflated. Why they didn't decide to grant themselves a payout after they got to $625 is beyond me.

Sonja returned with a huge Turkey Leg and a cheeseburger for me. $20. Wow...

Race 10 treated us well. Sonja with the exacta, me with the exacta and trifecta and we won the third leg of the Pick 4. We had gone up to bet a final Pick 3 as well and were alive in that. By the time we got back to the chairs...we saw Sonja talking to...

THE DRUNK GUY

The Drunk Guy was in my chair and rambling non-stop to Sonja. She had a bemused smile on her face. He tried to get up when he saw Tom and I come back, but it wasn't going well for him. I told him to stay seated. He rambled for the next fifteen minutes about everything from coal mines to karate and each pretty girl that walked by. I could tell Tom was getting annoyed with him. Tom finally said he was going for a walk. I stayed. Finally, two other drunk guys showed up and took Drunk Guy with them. The three of them wandered off into the Infield. Wobbling. Laughing.
I wonder how they're feeling this morning...

THE OAKS AND REDEMPTION

After what seemed to be forever, they loaded them up for the Oaks and off they went. Beholder stayed close to the pace, made a move on the final turn and took the lead. I was jumping up and down. She was 9-1 and it looked like no one was going to catch her. I'm hugging Sonja, Tom is screaming "Three, three, three!!" (Beholder's number).

Then, it happened. Someone was roaring down the center of the track. I couldn't make out what the track announcer was saying. I looked at the hat on the jockey. Purple. I looked quickly at my program. Purple hat. Mike Smith on Princess of Sylmar. 37-1. They got to the wire. Smith got a head in front. He won by a neck. I stared dazed at the screen. Second best. We didn't have a #6 (Princeess) in our Pick 4 or Pick 3. I sat down. Prayed for an inquiry. Didn't happen. Still, I had "unbuckled" across the board on Beholder. He paid $9.00 to place and $5.60 to show. I was happy but a bit sad...so close to the win.

Tom and I cursed our luck. We decided to unload on the final race. We loved Paul McGee's #11 Sky Girl. We bet her. We put her in an exacta and trifecta, too. Sonja was done betting. She was way ahead and sat there contentedly.

Sky Girl won for fun at 5-2 odds. We hit the exacta and trifecta as well. A good way to end the day. We packed up our chairs, went to the windows and cashed out.

The walk back to 80 Under 80 was uneventful except for the fact it had started raining as we got to the top of Denny Crum Overpass. The walk had my knee killing me. We got to the car, though...all three of us tired but glad we attended.

Happy Derby folks!

-- Paulie

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Friday, May 3, 2013


Oaks today. We have a full selection analysis over at Cardinal Couple

www.cardinalcouple.com


Thursday brought an end to Paulie's reign over Churchill. Didn't exactly "lose my shirt"...but my socks are missing. A fun day, though...in the Turf Club for the races, then to the "Post" (yes, I sang 'Gimme Three Steps) and finally Shenanigans. Sonja, Tommy Boy and I were worn out by 10 p.m. Even the St. Louis boys Vince and Alan were tired.

WE try again today. Infield today. Gotta have one afternoon of insanity. No rain!

Pics from yesterday...
A guy named Paul and some lady exchanged hats. Why? No clue..
Sonja and Tommy Boy lookin' GQ!
My lovely little dear!
Alan from St. Louis. A handicapping maniac!
Vince and Tommy Boy.
Sonja ready to punch me out while Tom watches another run second

Bartenders Angie and Christie. Love those two!









 

Thursday, May 2, 2013

WEDNESDAY TO REMEMBER



So...I decided to go to the track on Wednesday. Already been told that the job I love is ending June 28th,...unless I want to move to MEMPHIS. That isn't happening. I make the wife breakfast, I'm off the rest of the week anyway..

I decide to go to see the "boys" at Churchill.

The "boys" know how to handicap. I can't say I add much. The "boys" like me. I like them. We handicap together when we can. Eight of us were together today. We are about twelve strong at times. We go with what we have. They give me a hard time, because I'm not as regular as some of the boys. We get around it. I'm "Paulie" in this group. We have fun. We are what we are. No homophobia, preferences or prejudices here. We like the ponies. That's all that matters.

We're playing Churchill on a Wednesday. We handicap, we do OK, we're a little bit ahead after seven races. We've been upset by a few longshots at Churchill. It happens.

We re-adjust. There is a pick 4 left. Starting in the 8th race. We go to work. It is complicated. We are deep in each "leg". We talk about how much we want to spend. We decide on an amount. It is a $2 wager. It is expensive. We agree on it and toss our cash in. It wasn't gleeful .We're out a chunk of change each. We are well covered, though.

Beers and beverages are purchased. We watch the 8th. race. We are deep in horses here. We get lucky. A 13-1 shot that we've included wins. MY MISS MARY. We are alive with three races to go. We talk about a late pick three as a group and decide against it....as a group. A couple of guys decide to do it. We wish them luck.

The beers are flowing. I am having fun. Trying to keep up. I see a race at Belmont. I like the price on the #1 horse...Jaguar Pew. Javier Castellano is on board. I like him. I like 9-1 also. I have a voucher for !52.00. I go to window. I put $50 across on him. Yep, the beers are talking. I figure that the worst that could happen is I get back to about even.

He wins.

Easily down the stretch. Going away.

$21.20 to win. $7.70 to place and $3.40 to show.

I've just made my day. I am ahead. Huge. And, pretty excited.

We win the second leg of the pick 4., We should have. We had six horses. We get a nice pay from Affair toward the pick 4. We are still alive.

I run into some friends from high school after that. ..while headed to the men's room. We chat. We chat for awhile. I  go back to the table in time to see we've won the 9th. race. Star Struck pays $9.60 to win.

We are still alive.

I answer phone calls and texts before the final race. I am excited. We have four horses. I suggested the #7 horse, Pure Value, when we put the combo together.

He wins. At 6-1.

We are giddy. The pick 4 pays $12,690 on a $2 wager. We have it.

We have one of the guys who is "on file" with the track for tax purposes go cash it. No taxes taken out. We get paid and go to a trendy east-end restaurant and eat and drink champagne. We leave a nice tip.

I finally go home. I take a cab. No condition to drive.  The cabbie was cool. He even was a UofL fan. Even been to WBB games in hoops. Likes Shoni and Shelby. Will be back next year. I think I told him to look me up on media row.

Whatever.

Perfect. He got a good tip. I know where my car is.

I need to go get the car today. I will. Sonja, bemused and incredulous...will take me there.

Sometimes...it just comes together. Will it last through Thursday, Friday and Saturday?

Who knows?

But, it's been fun and good so far....this Derby Week. My head hurts and I'm up and out of bed and on here way too early. I need  to check the Cardinal Couple website. I hope like hell I don't have to do an article...bail me out, Jeff.

Wow. What a day...

-Paulie

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Oaks...folks


They released the post positions Tuesday morning for the Oaks. That's the big race Friday at Churchill Downs, for those of you unfamiliar with horse racing. It took me about 15 minutes to come up with my plays for that race.

Exacta box with BEHOLDER, DREAMING OF JULIA and MIDNIGHT LUCKY.box

Trifecta part wheel with BEHOLDER, DREAMING OF JULIA and MIDNIGHT LUCKY in the top two spots and "ALL" in third.

The exacta box I'll go at least $5 on. Probably more, if the day is going well when I get to the Oaks race. The tribox...I'll wait and see. Definitely $1...maybe more. The tri will run me $54. I think that can be doubled easily. Cheap out, you say? Just box the three above for a mere $6. I'm building in room for a possible "bomber" to maybe get the show pool. I might even look at an "all" in the place spot and the three mentioned above in win and show sports. Just depends.

Haven't looked at the rest of the Oaks card yet. You will have to go to www.cardinalcouple.com to get those jewels on Friday and Saturday. We'll offer advice on the Alysheba Stakes, La Troienne and the American Turf on the Oaks undercard Friday and the article will be up early.

Why the strong love for BEHOLDER, DREAMING OF JULIA and MIDNIGHT LUCKY?

Let's start with BEHOLDER.  This gal dominated the field in the Santa Anita Oaks (GR 1) on April 6th. Garrett "Go-Go" Gomez is one of the best jockeys in the world and trainer Richard Mandella has this filly prined and ready for a big effort Oaks Day. It may just be a matter of how much she wants to win by.

DREAMING OF JULIA destroyed the competition in the Gulfstream Oaks (GR 2) back on March 30th. by an eye-popping 22 lengths! She most likely be the favorite when they go to the post and with good reason...Johnny Velasquez will be on board and Todd Pletcher trains. If Beholder fails..."Julia" will be there to pick up the pieces. Pletcher has four horses in the Oaks. This one is by far the best.

MIDNIGHT LUCKY was barely breathing hard after romping to an eight length lead in the Sunland Oaks. She was particularly impressive in the stretch...just galloping away after contending for the early pace. She's gonna love that long Churchill stretch and could pull the minor upset with cagey Rafael Bejarano in the reigns. Trainer Bob Baffert must be respected here.

So, there you go...an early tidbit for the Kentucky Oaks. Sonja hasn't bothered to look at the race yet. I know she's a big fan of Calvin Borel,though...and Borel is on Rose to Gold in the Oaks.

-Paulie