Friday, December 25, 2015

A Christmas Story



Many years ago, I lived in Indianapolis for a few years. It was a job that brought me there...out of college for a few years and way before I met Sonja. I was fairly young, full of ambition and lived life with abandon and fearlessness. I had a girlfriend, a local bar I hung out at, a group of guys I played softball and bowled with and a nice apartment with great neighbors. 

I would come back to Louisville occasionally to visit family and friends...weekend stays mostly...crashing at my parents' house for a couple of nights and driving back to Indy on Sunday night. 

I planned to come in for Christmas one of those years...the plan was to attend a Christmas Eve party and then spend Christmas with my parents...heading back to Indy the following day. We worked a half-day that Christmas Eve Day and several of us met at a local establishment after work to have lunch and a few beverages. 

I hadn't done any Christmas shopping yet. Back then, my protocol was to go out on Christmas Eve Day, buy a few spur-of-the moment gifts and then distribute them to friends in Indy...taking the rest back to Louisville for family and friends. 

After a few beverages, I said my goodbyes to the gathering and went about the process of shopping. There was a big mall near our place of work and I worked my way through it among the hordes of last-minute shoppers. I then went to visit several friends, dropped off my gifts, had a few more beverages and prepared to head south to Louisville. 

I stopped at a beverage shoppe near my apartment to pick up a few items for the drive and was casually chatting to the cashier when my eye caught a rather shabbily dressed young woman standing in the wine section. I remarked something...I don't remember what...to the cashier and she revealed she had been watching her...a potential shop-lifter in her opinion. I remember wishing her well with that and left. 

Sitting in my car, I decided to watch and see if there would be any excitement inside the shop. After a few minutes, the woman went to the door, was stopped, her bag searched and finally allowed to leave after a brief animated discussion. The woman walked outside, sat on a bench outside the store and...visibly trembling...reached into her bag and produced a pack of cigarettes. She lit one up and then put her head into her hands. She was crying. 

Something came over me. I sensed something was amiss here and exited the car. I approached her, she looked up at me, tears rolling down her cheeks and I asked if there was anything I could do for her. She wiped the tears from her cheeks and began her story. 

She was homeless. Things weren't working out with her parents. She was young and had left Chicago several months ago to live with a friend in hopes of finding a job in Indy. It didn't work out and the "friend" turned out to have bad intentions toward her. After beating beaten by him one evening she left, broke and without transportation. This had occurred several days ago and she had been wandering the streets since...with just a bag and the clothes on her body. She had been sleeping in an abandoned garage near the liquor store and asking people for food and money. She had collected very little. She was hungry, tired and had decided to steal a bottle of wine, get good and drunk and then step off a bridge down the street into an icy creek below...but changed her mind at the last minute. She said there was something that she needed to do first.

I listened to the story. I made a decision. I asked her if there was anyone she knew she could stay with. She thought about that a minute and said that her parents would probably take her back in but she was ashamed to call them. I asked her name. It was Mary. She was a beautiful 19 yr. old girl with long but matted brown hair and a cute, turned up nose. 

I had plans. I had things to do. I thought about if I was in the same position. I made a decision.

I told her that suicide was a coward's way out and if it took the rest of the day, week or year....I would not let her do such a thing. I asked her if she would like a ride to Chicago. To go home. She was surprised. She asked if I was going there. I told her I had no pressing commitments and that I would like to take her to get her some food and drive her back to her home. 

She had no idea who I was. Yet, she put her trust in me. She said she would like that. I drove to a fast-food place and told her to order whatever she wanted. We got the food, she ravenously devoured it as I got on I-65 for the three-hour drive to the Windy City.

Along the way, I encouraged her to place a call to her parents...to tell them she was coming home. She was hesitant at first but finally agreed to do so and we took an exit and stopped at a phone booth. I gave her change, she made the call...spoke for quite some time and got back in the car. She was smiling. She said they had been very worried about her and wanted her home. 

As we drove, we talked. I don't recall the whole conversation but I remember parts. She had longed freedom and independence. She had graduated from high school but was stuck in a dead-end job in Chicago and decided it was time to move on. The guy she went to stay with had been a boyfriend in the past. He had changed. She spoke about the abuse, the forced sex, the beatings and the degradation. 

When we got to the rest stop near Chicago, I suggested she maybe wash up a bit. After that, we continued on. She was a delight to talk to...and she innocently inquired what my plans originally had been. I told her that I was headed to see my parents but it could wait. She got a bit nervous as we turned onto the street where her parents lived. She asked me to stop. She had a cigarette and asked me what she should say to them. I remember saying to her something along the lines of just being honest and frank. 

We pulled in the driveway. We sat in the car. She looked at me and asked if I would walk her to the door. A cold, blustery wind greeted us as we walked the sidewalk to the front door. It opened...and a man, women and little girl came running out. Embraces followed and I watched with a feeling of satisfaction. The man approached me. A short, heavy-set man with a receding hairline. He extended a hand and thanked me for bringing his daughter home. He invited me in but I declined...thanked him but told him I had to be going. 

Mary looked at me with eyes full of tears and gratitude. She asked how she could ever repay me for the trip. I smiled and told her that just seeing the family reunion was payment enough. She asked how she could get in touch with me. I dug out my wallet and handed her a business card. 

They gathered around me and hugged me. I looked at the little girl and told her to have a very, merry Christmas. She looked up at me and said:

"I will. You brought my mommy home." 

A daughter that hadn't come up once in the trip.

I headed to Louisville, arriving at the very end of the party I had planned on attending. I told my story. I slept very well that night in my old bed at my parents. 

I heard from Mary about a month later. She was going to enroll in a community college and try to start anew. She was working part-time as a waitress at a restaurant. She wondered if I would be available for a visit. She was coming back to Indy to collect her belongings but was afraid to confront the asshole alone. I assured her that me and several big, strong softball-playing friends of mine would be glad to accompany her. 

And, it went without a hitch. The asshole wasn't even there..had left the front door unlocked. That disappointed me and my friends. We were ready to apply some "frontier justice"...

Before she returned to Chicago, I asked if she would like to dine with me. She agreed enthusiastically. Dinner at my place. We combined our cooking skills to make a wonderful meal, had a few glasses of wine and I suggested she sleep in the spare bedroom and make the drive home the next morning. She called to tell parents and her daughter. 

Early that morning, asleep in my bed...I felt a brief rustle, someone climbing in and felt an arm drape over me.

"I've decided how I can repay you for all your kindness." she whispered in my ear. 

I won't go into details. You can probably guess what happened. It was a surprise but loving, sensual, delightful and ...repetitive. When she departed later that morning, she smiled at me and said that there were few heroes in this world...but I was hers and she would forever be in debt to me. We kissed and she drove away. 

That was in the 1980's. I left Indy a few years later and returned to Louisville, where I've been ever since.

Today, Mary is married, has three more children...all four of them grown and out in the world making their way... and a husband of 30+ years who is a truck driver. She got her degree as a medical assistant and works in the office of a Chicago pediatrician. I get a call from her each year around Christmastime. She sends photos of the kids and we also stay in touch via the INTERNET. We never have seen each other again...but she has a 34 year-old son, named Paul that has Sykes-like features and looks. 

I asked her about it once...in an e-mail, whether this child was mine or not. Her response was {paraphrased...I have forgotten the original words} :

"Miracles happen. Paul is a wonderful young man. I can't say for sure whether he is yours or not...I met Jerry about a week after visiting you one day, when I was working at the   restaurant, we hit it off and we were "active" pretty quickly. Paul and all my children are greatly loved by Jerry and I. Jerry knows nothing about our night. He is Paul's dad. He knows you as a stranger who provided kindness when I was at the lowest point in my life. We'll leave it there. " 

We talked today. She expressed sorrow over the death of my mother-in-law. Her mother isn't doing too well and is in a nursing home. We shared stories. She was having the kids and her Dad come to the house. They would go visit her mom later. The conversation was heart-felt. As always, we vowed to get together soon. Someday, perhaps, we will. 

A random encounter. An act of kindness. Maybe life-saving, certainly life-changing.

We do what we can in this world. Sometimes it makes a difference, sometimes not. it is all part of the plan, the destiny and the course we navigate. Sometimes, we know not why...but...it is all connected and all relevant. 

Merry Christmas. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

BREEDERS CUP SATURDAY SELECTIONS


SATURDAY RECAP:

WE gave you six out of the nine winners in our Saturday Selections. We kept it simple and just did win wagers on our top four picks. We lost about $30 there...but Paulie and the consortium he wagered with won a PK3 worth almost $200 and a PK4 that yielded almost $800. 
 


BREEDERS CUP SATURDAY SELECTIONS 

( A Friday recap. We gave you three winners out of the four races and a nice PK 3. We barely missed the PK 4 and also had two exactas. LEt's hope the success continues today!)


OK. The smoke has cleared, wadded-up sheets of paper taken to the garbage can and I've had enough coffee (and other stuff) to float the QE II. 

With no further adieu...Paulie's PICKS for Saturday BREEDERS CUP

HANDS WINERY JUVENILE FILLIES

10 - SONGBIRD
8 - DOTHRAKI'S QUEEN
7 - NICKNAME
2- TAP TO IT

Longshot Special: 4- MA CAN DO IT..

Notes: SONGBIRD has done little wrong in her promising career and Mike Smith is "money" on a live one like her.

10-8-7-2

TURF SPRINT 

3 - UNDRAFTED
5- LADY SHIPMAN
2- BOBBY'S KITTEN
12- READY FOR RYE

Longshot Special : 2 - BOBBY'S KITTEN

Notes: Six furlongs on the turf is where this sprinter belongs and will give owner Wes Welker a chance to "make it rain" up in the Clubhouse. Dettori gets the ride. Dangerous.

3-5-2-12

FILLY AND MARE SPRINT

11 - JUDY THE BEAUTY
10 - KISS TO REMEMBER
2 - DAME DOROTHY
14 - CAVORTING

Longshot Special : 9 - SWEET WHISKEY

JUDY THE BEAUTY won this race last year and gets Dettori on board. Honestly, this is a tough race...if you've got the "pockets"...hit the "ALL" button here for PK3 and PK4. 



11-10-2-14

FILLY AND MARE TURF

11 - STEPHANIE'S KITTEN
7 - WATSDACHANCES
12- SECRET GESTURE
3 - LEGATISSIMO

Longshot special:  7- WATSDACHANCES

The top three I have selected here finished within a head of each other last time they faced...Watsdachances getting the win after a injury/objection. STEPHANIE'S KITTEN got checked hard in the stretch and with a clean trip today...she'll purr to the line first. 

11-7-12-3

SPRINT

5 - RUNHAPPY
13 - PRIVATE ZONE
10 - SALUTOS AMIGOS
8 - WIDE DUDE

Longshot Special : 2- KOBE'S BACK

Notes: 4 for 4 and Prado on board? I hope she 'runs happy' and I can get 3-1 on this one.  

5-13-10-8

MILE

9 - ESOTERIQUE
7 - TEPIN
5 - IMPPASSABLE
1 - GRAND ARCH

Longshot Special : 4 - MONDIALISTE

Notes: I could easily change my mind here and go with TEPIN but European horses do well in turf mile races and ESOTERIQUE stays just off the pace and ram-jets home in the final quarter. Good enough for me. 

9-7-5-1

JUVENILE

7 - BRODY'S CAUSE
3 - GREENPOINTCRUSADER
12 - SWIPE
10 - RAILS

Longshot Special : 5- COCKED AND LOADED

Notes: BRODY'S CAUSE looks ready and will like the short Keeneland stretch

7-3-12-10

TURF

7 - BIG BLUE KITTEN
6 - TWILIGHT ECLIPSE
4 - SLUMBER
1 - GOLDEN HORN

Longshot Special: 11 - RED RIFLE

Notes: Tough to separate these four. I'll take a stand with BIG BLUE KITTEN but any of these four wouldn't surprise

7-6-4-1

CLASSIC

2 - KEEN ICE
4 - AMERICAN PHAROAH
1 - TONALIST
3 - FROSTED

Longshot Special: 5 - GLENEAGLES

Notes: KEEN ICE did it at Saratoga over AMERICAN PHAROAH and I think the horse is still peaking. As Steely Dan says..."get back Jack and do it again."

2-4-1-3

Good luck today and enjoy the racing! 

paulie
xxxxx











Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Friday Breeders Cup Selections -- 2015



FOUR RACES START BREEDERS CUP FOR FRIDAY

RECAP: We had three winners in the four races and hit a PK 3. Narrowly missed the late PK 4. Based on that, we'll look forward to a much harder card Saturday.


Four of the 13 Breeders Cup races will take place on Friday. 

Here's who we like:

BREEDERS CUP JUVENILE TURF

(13) Cymric has ruled in European racing and the Euros do well in Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf Races. (7) Ray's The Bar was blocked in the stretch in his last while charging hard and will improve. Castellano returns and that's a big plus. (8) Airoforce took her last at Keeneland in impressive fashion and Leparoux returns as the rider. (3) Manhattan Dan should be in the mix when they turn for home and should appreciate the distance. Albarado rides well on the Keeneland Turf. 

Longshot? (12) Camelot Kitten is as good as any of these

13-7-8-3

LAS VEGAS DIRT MILE

We're trying to beat the probable odds-on betting favorite here and (9) Tapiture is our choice to do it. He ran second in this race last year and Goldencents...who outlasted him...isn't in this race . Let's take a chance. (3) Liam's Map will get the betting interests and Castellano/Pletcher look awfully tough in this spot. (8) Wicked Strong should be moving well at the end and if the speed falls apart...who knows? (5) Lea could be dangerous here also and can't be counted out. Lezcano/Mott do well at distance affairs. 

Longshot? Look at (1) Red Vine if you're getting offered 10-1 or longer. Joel Rosario aboard...enough said  

9-3-8-5

JUVENILE FILLIES TURF

A real tough call here for me between (8) Harmonize and (7) Sapphire Kitten. They ran 1-2 at Keeneland earlier this month with just a head up for Harmonize at the wire making the difference, (4) Catch A Glimpse looms as the main threat if these two falter and (10) Illuminate is a nice looking European filly that gets Frankie Dettori's services. 

Longshot? (14) Last Waltz gets a rough post position but Castellano knows the track and the horse.

8-7-4-10

LONGINES DISTAFF

(7) Wedding Toast looks to be the best, especially after her last effort in New York. (8) Curalina chased her home in that one and will probably do the same in this one for Todd Pletcher. (4) Stopchargingmaria is another Pletcher horse that will run well here. (12) Got Lucky has a tough post to overcome but rates a legitimate shot and is another Pletcher horse. 

Longshot? (14) Sheer Drama another runner that got killed by the post draw but if the odds hit 10-1 on her, I'll take a shot. 

(I loved Untapable in this race but Steve Asmussen scratched her because of a fever.)  

7-8-4-12

Bet 'em however you feel...I'll try a few exacta and trifecta combinations and PK3 and PK4 attempts. 


Good luck on these four Friday races...we'll be back Thursday with a look at the nine Saturday Breeders Cup events. 

PAULIE
xxxxxx




Friday, October 16, 2015

On Death and Acceptance


For the third time in my life...I am dealing with the death of a family member. This time it is my mother-in-law. Diagnosed with pulmonary fibrosis, her days are numbered and any chance of "beating it" are non-existent. At this point, it's a matter of when.

To see the change in Amy (or Toots...as I call her) is devastating.

The frequent gasping for breath due to her diminished lung capacity. The end of her independence and freedom to do what she wants whenever she wants. The anxiety attacks because of the fear and the physical restraints. The long hospital stay and subsequent rehabilitation process.

Death sucks this way.

I went through it with both my parents. I guess I'm prepared for it. My wife Sonya went through both of those long, slow and cruel cessations with me but this one is different. It's her Mom.

Hospice has been mentioned. She has a list of medications and treatment the length of a grocery shopping list. Home health care and breathing treatments. You get the picture.

Still, in this rapid decline and slow deterioration...there remains a fiercely independent and stubborn woman. Maybe it's because she has been on her own since the early eighties. Maybe it's because she refuses to go gently into that good night. For 35 years...she set the schedule. Now, the schedule is set by her abilities...not her desires.

 It's hard to watch. It's hard to be strong. It's hard to accept...but eventually that long train comes around the bend. That final card is played and that last light is turned off.

I worked 40 hours a week in 1998 and 2006 when my parents passed away. Drove in from Lexington to spend the final five hours of my mother's life in a hospital bed. Her final words were:

"I think I'm ready to go to the mountains."

The final thing she heard was my father talking to her on the phone. She sighed...and the breathing stopped.

My Dad's ordeal was longer and more painful to endure. A trip to the emergency room because of bowel blockage. An admission to the hospital where pneumonia and sepsis set in. An induced coma and those final hours when he was brought out of it to see if he could breath and to see if there was any recognition left. He could not and there was not.

I don't want to go that way. Hanging on, lingering on. Slowly slipping away.

And, I won't.

When that curtain is opened and I receive the news that my performance will be ending soon...I will double the efforts to live. The bucket list will be enacted. I will go out, if at all possible, with the same bravado, swagger and amicable demeanor that has shaped these almost 60 years.

I just hope that final chapter is a long time away. There is so much more I want to see, to experience.

Sykes men (my father, uncles) have all lived into their nineties plus. I want to join that club.

Paulie

Sunday, September 13, 2015

What to do...what to do?


The outcry from the Louisville football fan base about the 0-2 start is a classic example of delayed reaction and angst about a situation that didn't look pretty weeks before the season started. 

Add the following ingredients, mix thoroughly and place upon a combustible fan base until the concoction reached a rapid boil. Then, serve liberally over the heads of the so-called "journalistic experts" who portend to have visionary insights and knowledge of a football program that the coaching staff can't even figure out. A few examples:

1) Eeeny, meeny, miney...moe?

Four quarterbacks emerged from the spring practices and the rumors were that a fifth quarterback would arrive as a freshman and surpass them all. One left, the freshman eventually rose to the top of the class and now the situation is up in the air.  Clemson looms ahead and Bobby has no clue who to use. 

2) Block somebody...anybody

The offensive line is a mess. Missed blocks, failure to protect the quarterbacks, no effective run blocking...this only compounded by the uncertain status of who they might be blocking for under snap...it's a perfect storm of confusion. 

3) Tackle somebody

The defensive lost nine starters from last year and, although they have had flashes of success....allowing 30+ points to two consecutive opponents isn't a sign they "get it" yet. Hitting opponents is one thing...wrapping them up for tackles is quite another and this bunch needs to watch a few Lawrence Taylor or Deacon Jones films. 

Louisville will go to 0-3 Thursday night against Clemson...the preseason ACC pick...and it could get ugly in Papa John's. If the Cards can't get the basics in fundamentals down, the cry for "Fire Bobby Petrino" rhetoric will get stronger. 

Basketball season is eight weeks away. 

paulie 

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Sometimes the needs of the many...



It's an old quote from one of the Star Trek movies.

"Sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one. "

Spock said it to Kirk as he was dying in the radiator room. 

And so, life goes. After a great deal of thought and deliberation, I've decided to leave my full time job and care for my mother-in-law. It will benefit her, my poor, beleaguered wife and our immediate family. 

I leave behind a job that, in all reality, has turned into the worst I have ever had. Consumer relations started out to be OK, but departmental changes and policy, re-direction of duties and assignment have turned it into a nightmare. 

It's pretty bad when you dread walking through those doors for another eight hours. 

My needs are being served here as well. 

The monetary loss will affect us but it is the sacrifice needed. The department I work in is already understaffed, overworked and disillusioned. I regret leaving them but once again...

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one. 

I will still remain just as active in the Cardinal Couple website, radio show and UofL sports. Maybe more so...but the time has come for a change in the other aspect of what I do.

I worked 40+ hours a week when both my mother and father passed away.

I'm not going to do that again. 

paulie
xxxxx



Thursday, August 13, 2015

Outrage



I went to grade school years ago and it was right down the street from me. We had a principal and when they opened a new grade school when I was in the sixth grade that principal was there with us.

That's how long ago it was...there were six years of grade school.

That "new" grade school is still used today and the picture of the first principal used to hang in a frame in the lobby. 

Until yesterday.

A disturbing report has surfaced that the current principal looked at his picture, went into a rage, ripped it off the wall, held it overhead and almost hurled it to the ground. The principal handed it to a custodian and told the custodian to destroy the picture. Told the custodian to tear it into pieces and toss it in the dumpster. 

I am not making this up. 

I guess my feelings on this are ones of outrage. This was a good and caring man who has since passed away. Us kids, we called him "Uncle Fred". He would eat lunch with us at our tables. He would tell students that if they ever needed to talk to him, his door was always open to them. The kids and the teachers...we all loved Uncle Fred. He would play kickball with us and play hoops with the sixth-grade boys. He was the coach of the boys sixth-grade team that defeated seven other six grade teams and traveled to Lexington on a snowy Saturday to play a Lexington grade school ALL-STAR team in Memorial Coliseum that we beat. 

I was a guard on that team. I remember making a steal and throwing a down-court pass to my buddy Barry that put us ahead to stay. I remember hitting two free throws with seconds left that gave us a 4 point lead.  I remember shaking hands after the game with the legendary Adolph Rupp, who told me he hoped to see me play at UK someday. (He told all of us that...) I was excited. I was just becoming a UofL fan at that point of my 12 year old life but it was a lasting impression. I remember how proud Uncle Fred was of us and he had a trophy made that was in that lobby for awhile. The trophy had all 10 of our names on it and it read:

Best Sixth Grade Basketball Team In Kentucky. (Fred did not include his name.) 

The principal took the framed picture of Uncle Fred off the wall and held it over head and almost hurled it to the ground....frame and all.  

That picture hung there for 47 years. 

I got the story second-hand...I wasn't there...but I have no doubt about the veracity of it.

Outrage. 

paulie
xxxxx
SHREDDED FRED


Thursday, June 18, 2015

Trout fishing in the Great Smoky Mountains



I go trout fishing in the Great Smokies National Park maybe once or twice a year. It is something I started many years ago (Louisville men's basketball had one national title then)...to give you an idea of when I first started. I had been to Gatlinburg, met a shop-owner who knew people from Louisville that I knew and he invited me to go with him early the next morning. 

He provided the reel, the hip-waders and boots and his wife made sandwiches for us to boot. He taught me the art of casting (think metronome) tying flies and casting philosophies. The first time I caught one ( a 10 inch rainbow we released) and the ensuing struggle had me hooked. 

Charlie, my mentor, is a great guy...has lived in the area his entire life and is now retired. He goes 2-3 times a week, usually with his blue-tick hound (now Bo...he's had several since I've met him) and likes the early-morning streams...

Over the years, we've caught innumerable brook, brown and rainbows. We've hit quite a few streams in and around the Gatlinburg and Great Smokies...mostly hard-to-access, remote areas that we've taken his series of Dodge pickup trucks to. 

As I've gotten older (and as Charlie has also) our mobility isn't what it used to be. Some of the places we used to fish we now find a bit harder to get to. That was never clearer to me that when I lost my balance on a steep decline to a stream and basically slid the final 40 feet or so and ended up in the water. Charlie, always the joker, yelled "Safe!" when I finished my inglorious descent to the water. 

I still use an old but dependable Shakespeare rig and have the same hip-waders and boots that I purchased in the early nineties. Charlie ties his own flies and is always happy to give me a few when we go.

His daughter, Laura Grace, accompanies us from time to time. She is quite the tomboy type and actually played DI softball back in the nineties. She returned to the area and basically took over the shop after she learned the fine art of wood turning and Charlie decided to retire. She makes quite fine bird feeders and bird houses, among other things, that we have proudly displayed in our yard over the years. She also tosses a pretty mean line when on-stream and is the first to buy a round when the day's work is done and it's time to relax. She also tosses a mean round of darts at the Fox and Parrot and "drives all the old men crazy" while keeping a fierce sense of independence and heritage. 

Charlie is also a die-hard UT (Tennessee) fan and his love for Vols athletics also includes the women's side of athletics. He is proud of the autographed Pat Summit pictures he has.

When Mercedes Russell decided to go to Tennessee, one of the first calls I got was from "you know who". It was probably payback from when I called him a couple of years back when Louisville knocked off UT en route to the women's Final Four. 

An early morning, clear and bright....the sun creeping into a narrow valley where a bubbling, rushing stream send cold water over boulders and fallen trees. A small pool of slowly moving water. A careful toss of a fly and then the sudden jerk, spin of line and the wild dance that can occasionally result in the landing and netting of a 12-14 inch, fighting brown or glimmering rainbow. 

I do love it so. 

paulie 


Saturday, June 6, 2015

Belmont edition -- How will it go for Pharoah?



The Belmont Stakes will be run today around 6:50 p.m. and 180 or so seconds later, we'll know if we have the first Triple Crown winner since Affirmed pulled off the hat trick back in 1978.

1978. What a year...Do you remember much of 1978? Were you around then? I was still attending the University of Louisville...living off campus and working full time. I was at Churchill to see Affirmed beat Alydar and watched the other two races on TV. Back then, there was no on-line wagering and the only way to get up a bet on the race was to go to a track and do it there. Or, consult a "bookie". 

Fast forward to 2015. Once again, a horse that has won the first two legs of the Triple Crown tries to gather the final jewel. From an odds and probability standpoint, it won't happen. California Chrome, Smarty Jones, Curlin, Big Brown....the names are strewn in the past as failing in the 1 1/2 mile Belmont. 

American Pharoah, so we hear, is a incredible horse. He won the Derby in gritty fashion...holding off Firing Line and passing Dortmund in the stretch. He romped in the slop at the Preakness...Tale of Verve picking up the pieces late to get second but five or so lengths behind. 

Three races in five weeks. American Pharoah is the only one of the eight runners today that has that in his resume. He'll face a field at will come at him from all angles. Horses who ran in the Derby but skipped the Preakness. Fresh shooters who skipped the Derby and Preakness. Horses who run well on the home track...Belmont Race Course.

So...how do we make money today in this race. Our "Pharoah on top and everything else below" strategy in the Preakness paid well in the exacta and trifecta. We'll probably resort to it again...but fully expect the payoff to be less than three weeks ago. Expect to pay $49 on the tri and $7 on the exacta. I might even try a small superfecta with the four mentioned above and Tale of Verve. Not sure what that'll run me just yet. 

We'll also try a exacta box with American Pharoah, Materiality, Frosted and Keen Ice. That's only $12 on a $1 wager. We might even try that on a $1 trifecta. $24 dollars rendered there. 

We'll also try to make some hay on the undercard leading up to the Belmont Stakes. There are nine other stakes races today and straight bets, exacta, trifectas and Pick 3's and 4's could return whopping profits. 

Here are some other horses I like on the Belmont card. Good luck and remember to wager responsibly if you choose to do so: 

RACE 1

Stanford is running. He was a scratch for the Kentucky Derby. He was one of my four choices back then. He may not pay much today but I love him in this position and he'll be a single if I start a PK 3 here. 

RACE 3

Competitive Edge is another potential single. I may include Ready For Rye and Cinco Charlie in any exotics...but they'll probably be chasing Competitive Edge to the wire. 

RACE 5

He's unstoppable....unbeatable....unpassable...UNTAPABLE and he's my Best Bet Of The Day. I'll use him to start a PK 3 and across the board. 

RACE 6 

This is a toughie indeed. I like Red Rifle (named after Cincy Bengals/Texas Tech QB Andy Dalton) but would not be surprised if CALL ME GEORGE, SKY KINGDOM, MICROMANAGE or VE DAY win here. I'll use them all in the PK3 and in any other exotics I attempt. 

RACE 7

CONDO COMMANDO and CURLINA are the two I love here. I'll also toss in PROMISE ME and WONDER GAL in the exotics. 

RACE 8 

The start of the PK 4 and if SANDIVA runs like he has in the past at Belmont...they're not gonna get him. If he doesn't, I'll have BALL DANCING, DISCREET MARQ and COFFEE CLIQUE as back ups. 

RACE 9

TONALIST is a monster and his freshener got him ready for today's race. I also have loved BAYERN since I first saw him run a few years back and will toss in WICKED STRONG and PRIVATE ZONE in the PK 4. 

RACE 10

Another tough one to seperate on. I'm going deep with BIG BLUE KITTEN, TWLIGHT ECLISPCE, HYPER and FINNEGAN'S WAKE...hoping I'm still alive in the PK4

RACE 11 - The BEMNONT Stakes

AMERICAN PHAROAH to complete the PK 4 and tossing in FROSTED. 

Good luck! 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The end of Mad Men


The good TV shows...they eventually end. Some hit the rerun circuits. I still delight in watch old Seinfeld shows...the genius of Larry David and the wacky, unpredictable plots the cast would get involved in each week. Did I have a favorite Seinfeld actor? It probably would fall on Kramer. In real life, Michael Richards turned out to be a jerk...but on Seinfeld he was classic.

I know guys like Kramer. That's the beauty of it.

I remember when the sci-fi Lost In Space got cancelled when I was a boy. I was heartbroken. The robot, Dr. Smith...Will and Bloop the Chimp. Judy Robinson and the crush I had on her.

Throughout the years, other great show have come and gone. Star Trek, M*A*S*H. Laugh In and The Carol Burnett Show. The Dean Martin Celebrity Roasts. Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman and Dick Clark's American Bandstand. Name your own...I could fill up a few more paragraphs with shows I liked that demised.

Now, MAD MEN is gone and I am sad that it is. It was an era that my Dad was a part of. I wasn't old enough to understand the things going on back in the show's time line for the most part...but I remember watching the astronaunts landing on the moon with my parents in our big Admiral TV in the den.

I remember when JFK was assassinated. I was in the second grade and they dismissed us from school early. I walked to school in those days and when I walked into the house, my mom was sitting in front of the TV crying. Another good Catholic boy gone.

I worked for a few years with a guy who was a part of that crazy, corporate world of the 60's. The three-martini lunches...drinking in the office and taking a nap on the couch, smoking everywhere and office flings and romances...he had been a part of them all as a advertising executive in Chicago. Divorced twice, three kids, pack of smokes a day and drove a Mustang convertible. A friendly, opinionated and brash loser...who ended up getting fired from his job for copulating with an account manager's wife in his office and getting "walked in" on. I have no idea what happened to him after that.

Mad Men was a look at the age of innocence. Before wifi, smartphones, laptops, self pump gas stations and the WNBA. I remember the classic commercial "I'd like to teach the world to sing." and thought it was stupid. I was a teenage and full of hormonal rage. Frank Zappa, Alice Cooper and the Grateful Dead were cool. The Monkees, Carpenters and John Denver were not.

There will be other shows I'm sure I'll follow in the future. I still have The Walking Dead, The Good Wife and all 40 NCIS's to fall back on.

I will miss Mad Men. I thought about the characters that were on the show and tried to figure out which once I might have most resembled in that era. I came up with Pete...the wide-eyed kid with a impeccable background who finally grew up at the end of the series. Who knows? It was a different time.

And, I wish that Don Draper had just walked down the Big Sur beach, into the water, and just disappeared into the surf and ocean.

paulie

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Simple pays off



Sometimes simple is best. When looking at the Preakness, I liked two horses. American Pharoah and Dortmund. How best to use them was the question.

I was getting killed on the races leading up to the Preakness. Available cash dwindling...I chose a simple strategy. Take the two horses I liked, put them on top up an exacta and trifecta and put everything else below them. With the rapidly declining weather conditions, it seems logical.

A $1 exacta wheel with American Pharoah and Dortmund on top and everyone else below cost me $14. It returned $62. A $1 trifecta with American Pharoah and Dortmund on top and all underneath in second and third was a bit pricier at $98. It brought back $492 though...and saved the day.

American Pharoah is a beast. Dortmund appeared to hate the surface, especially after the rain.

The Belmont should be interesting and we, once again, see if a horse can capture the elusive third jewel in the Triple Crown.  

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Derby Picks --




RECAP:

We had a couple of scratches that we weren't able to pull out of our selections for you. Granny's Kitten in the 6th race, Stephanie's Kitten in the 10th race and International Star in the Kentucky Derby. We didn't have a lot of luck early...with just two exactas after the 10th race. The Derby did us well, though...our exacta, trifecta and Pick 3's hit. It was a nice boost that put us $60 ahead for the day and we'll take it...after our rough start. 

As for the race...International Star had what it took in that long Churchill stretch. We were hoping Dortmund's late kick would be a bit stronger...but third place is not bad and we'll hope he returns to vye for the Preakness.



HAPPY DERBY TO YOU! 

We had a so-so OAKS Day Friday on the picks. Out of the six Stakes races we selected...I had three exactas and two trifectas. No Pick 3's or 4's unfortunately. I ended up with a profit of $62.  

Sonja went win, place and show on our top four selections in each race and a  profit of $6.

Fortunately, we hit huge on the first race of the day. I liked Big Red Seven (reminded me of Chris Redman) and put him in the exacta. He won and paid $54 to win..so we got well early. The exacta was around $250 for a $2 wager. 

Today's Derby Day Stakes Races are listed below. For entertainment purposes only. of course. Good luck and HAPPY DERBY DAY! 

Race 5 - Pat Day Mile Stakes

2- Gimme Da Lute
6- Competitive Edge
5- Lord Nelson
3- The Truth or Else

Race 6 - American Turf Stakes

1- Luck of the Kitten
4- Royal Son
6- A Lot
3- Granny's Kitten

Race 7 - Humana Distaff

8- Judy The Beauty
3- Dame Dorothy
2- Thank You Mary Lou
1- Sweet Reason

Race 8 - Churchill Downs Mile Turf

8- Sandiva
5- Coffee Clique
13- Kiss Moon
12- Kitty Wine

Race 9 - Churchill Downs Stakes

2- Bayern
4- Private Zone
5- Pants On Fire
1- C. Zee

Race 10 - Woodford Reserve Turf Classic

8- Stephanie's Kitten
10- Chocolate Ride
9- Seek Again
1- Optimizer

Race 11 - The Kentucky Derby

8- Dortmund
18- American Pharoah
2- Carpe Diem
12- International Star

GOOD LUCK! 

paulieandsonja
xxxxxxxxxxxxx

Friday, May 1, 2015

Kentucky Oaks Picks


KENTUCKY OAKS PICKS

We had an OK 'Thurby' Day in our Thursday Selections. We decided to just play a $1 exacta on our top four picks for the 11 races we handicapped. We hit seven exactas, lost four. The prices weren't anything to brag about at Churchill yesterday...we ended up a $5 winner on the day. That profit equates to a down payment on one beer at Churchill...the Budweiser's were $6 per 16 oz bottle. 

We were getting Gold Room prices...a little cheaper.  

I suppose that's not bad...to bet all the races and still come out ahead...but we look to do better today. We'll mix in a few Pick 3's and Pick 4's and hope to show a big profit. We're headed to the debauchery and craziness that is The Infield today. Full speed ahead, boys! The lovely and talented Ms. Sonja joins me today and she and I had a lively discussion about a few of the picks below

Here are our six stakes races selections. Good Luck and these are for entertainment purposes only, of course. 

The Edgewood - Race 6

1- Quality Rocks
4- My Year Is A Day
8- Sweet Swinging
6- Feathered

La Troienne - Race 7

5- Sheer Drama
2- My Miss Sophia
3- Sweet Whisky
8- Molly Morgan

Alysheba - Race 8

7- Honor Code
2- Protonico
8- Call Me George
6- Midnight Cello

CARDINAL COUPLE CONTRIBUTOR JENNY IS A PART OWNER OF THE #6 HORSE IN RACE NINE BELOW
FOREST ELF WILL HAVE HIS WORK CUT OUT FOR HIM BUT WE WISH HIM LUCK! Turf Sprint - Race 9

12- Undrafted
3-  Heital
11- Something Extra
8- Good Deed

Eight Belles - Race 10

1- Callback
12- Taylor S
8- Enchanting Lady
2- Promise Me

Kentucky Oaks - Race 11

5- Condo Commando
7- Lovely Maria
8- I'm A Chatterbox
12- Stellar Wind

Good luck and we'll have our Derby Picks for you tomorrow morning. Happy Oaks Day! 

paulie and sonja
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Thurby Picks and an early look at the Kentucky Oaks



An interesting card for Thursday racing at Churchill Downs...hopefully the rain holds off. I handicapped for a fast track and firm turf. I hope I get it, or it'll be chaos.

These, of course, are for entertainment purposes (or Porpoises?) only. 

Also, an early look on who I like in the Kentucky Oaks. We'll have the whole stakes race card picked in tomorrow's entry. Post time 12:45 today. Arrive early.

Race 1 

5- Rhodium
2- Greek Life
1- Prom Theme
6- Flattering Touch

Race 2

6- Scammony
5- Nearshore
3- Redlace and Pearls
4- Little Norwegian

Race 3

6- Tanner's Popsicle
2- Quiet Ry
1- All Star Red
3- Bluffalo Bill

Race 4

1- Lookin Might Fast
8- Blingboy
4- Uneven Score
3- Forty Four North

Race 5

2- Posture
9- Good Quality
5- Bonespirngs
7- De Facto

Race 6

4- Chivalrous
1- Lemon Drop Title
7- Kings Knight
6- Tinto Mesa

Race 7

3- Big Big Easy
5- Sergios Pride
1- Kutuzov
9- Wood Machine

Race 8

3- Nileator
4- Japan
1- I'mbetterthangood
10- Tally Jax

Race 9

5- Captain Genius
1- Guns Loaded
2- Be a Hero
4- Gambler's Ghost

Race 10

1- Bugle
3- Queenie's Song
8- Candy Crush
9- Jester and Me

Race 11

7- Secret Stash
4- Midnight Escapade
2- Mauk Dirty to Me
6- Daddy's Profit

In the Kentucky OAKS on Friday, here's my early thinking...

Condo Commando has won three in a row by a combined 36 lengths. Cagey Joel Rosario returns as the rider and the horse likes to be up near the front. They may have to catch her or she'll blow by the early speed. Lovely Maria has been no worse than second in seven starts and could be there to pick up the pieces if "The Commando" fails. I'm not sold on Kerwin Clark as the rider, though.  I'm A Chatterbox will get a lot of support at the window and is 3 for 3 as a three year old. Florent Geroux as jockey is the only drawback. Stellar Wind will have to overcome the 12 post position...but had a 5 1/2 length win in the Santa Anita Oaks and Victor Espinoza had was aboard for that one and returns. As a longshot, I'm looking at Forever Unbridled...despite the rail post...she's a determined filly and Mike Smith will keep her safe and in contention. 

We'll look at it again tomorrow. 

paulie
xxxxx





Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Post positions assigned and We have a Pick



The post positions for the 141st. Kentucky Derby have been drawn and projected odds have been assigned. 

Bob Baffert's American Pharoah drew the 18 slot. That's not good for the horse that is listed as the potential favorite at 5-2. 

Baffert's other "heavy hitter" in the race...Dortmund...drew slot 8. That's real good andit's part of the reason I do think that he will win the Kentucky Derby. Projected odds on "Dortie" are 3-1.

Who knows? I'd be surprised if America Pharoah actually gets bet down to 5-2. Not with that post...

Carpe Diem, another serious contender for the Roses got PP 2. That's a tough break for Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez. Those inside posts near the rail are like playing bumper cars when they break from the gate. 

International Star drew PP 12. Not bad...not bad at all. 

El Kabier got a great spot at PP 7. Just sayin'...Calvin Borel. Won the Kentucky Jockey Club and the Wood Memorial. I'll take 30-1 on him all day long and thrice on Thurby. 

We're hitting Churchill Thursday for "Thurby" Thould be a thantastic thime at the Thurchill Dowths...

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Are these horses "live" ??



My buddy J.J. Hysell knows horses. As one of the racing handicappers for our Courier-Journal and with her website In The Money she not only picks horses...but she tries to educate the general public on why she offers the selections she does. 

She, like me, is high on Dortmund. No, that doesn't mean we've been out pounding down German Pilsner beer and are buzzed. Dortmund is an incredible horse, has been tearing up Churchill since he arrived and is huge...physically.

He is "17 hands"...an old way of measuring the size of a horse. To put it in modern-day or sports parlance...he's Gorgui Dieng or Shaq. 

Dortmund remains my pick to win the Roses on the first Saturday in May. 

J.J. also brought up a couple of horses to keep an eye on. One I agree with...International Star...and the other I have my doubts about...Stanford.

Tomorrow the Derby post position draw will be held around 6 p.m. or so and we'll analyze that and see what changes in our top five we need to make. 

paulie