She's a Handicapper now..and I'm saying "Champagne, Anyone?"

She's a Handicapper now..and I'm saying "Champagne, Anyone?"

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) 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. 


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 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. 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: 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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. 


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


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. 


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. 


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!