Thursday, April 30, 2015

Kentucky Derby Update: Stanford Scratched, Frammento Running

It was decided today that Stanford, a chestnut colt, and one of the sons of Malibu Moon, entered in the Kentucky Derby, would not enter the starting gate on Saturday.  His owners and trainer have decided that they don't like the colt's chances breaking from the number eleven starting post, and that he might not be ready to try a distance of one and a quarter miles.
  The horses who originally drew post positions twelve through twenty will be moved to the right by one slot, and Frammento will be breaking from post twenty, instead of Far Right.  Frammento will be under the guidance of jockey Corey Nakatani for the race.  He is a son of Midshipman, and his dam's pedigree includes A. P. Indy and Deputy Minister. His trainer is Nick Zito.  Zito states that Frammento was bred to run a distances, and the longer the race, the better he'll be.
  With the inclusion of Frammento, there will now be three Hall of Fame trainers with entries in the race on Saturday: Nick Zito, Bob Baffert, and D Wayne Lukas.
Frammento on the track yesterday, 29 April.  Photo by Anne M Eberhardt.

Assorted Critters - Photos

Marmot surprise

Spectacled owl in Costa Rica

My Kentucky Derby Picks

After yesterday afternoon's draw, I blogged the post positions, names of horses, names of jockeys, and the morning line betting odds for the Kentucky Derby.  Besides the top twenty colts in the starting gate, there are two others prepared to step into the gate in case of other entrants having to scratch out of the race.  The race is one and one-quarter miles, and all colts will carry 126 pounds.  As usual, I'll give the odd-ball views of the race, and then pedigrees and my choices...
  Of the twenty colts starting, one is a gelding (War Story); two are ridglings, meaning only one testicle has descended - Upstart and Far Right; and the rest are whole males.  Of the twenty colts, two are greys or roans - El Kabeir and Frosted; six are chestnuts - Carpe Diem, Dortmund, International Star, War Story, Mr. Z, and Far Right; the other colts are bays and dark browns.  Three of the runners are sons of past Kentucky Derby winners: Ocho Ocho Ocho is the son of Street Sense; Dortmund is the son of Big Brown; and International Star is the son of Fusaichi Pegasus.  Spendthrift Farm sires comprise seven entries: Notional is the sire of Far Right; Malibu Moon has three sons entered - Mr. Z, Stanford, and Danzig Moon; Line of David is the sire of Firing Line; Temple City fathered Bolo; and Warrior's Reward is the sire of Tencendur.  All of the colts are related to my favorite three sires.  The colts were all bred in Kentucky, with a few exceptions: Tencendur, Upstart, and International Star were New York bred; El Kabeir was bred in Florida; Danzig Moon is a registered Ontario, Canada bred; and Mubtaahij is the Irish-bred colt with the Arab owner with the South African trainer and with the jockey from Belgium.  If I were going on good looks alone, I'd pick American Pharoah, Itsaknockout, Frosted, Stanford, Firing Line and Danzig Moon.  Trainer D Wayne Lukas says that Mr. Z has a natural affinity with the Churchill Downs track.
  Mubtaahij is the only horse in the field that has raced one and a quarter miles before, and he won his races.  He has also defeated older horses.  But he's now racing in a different country, and without his usual feed (which isn't approved in the United States), on a different track.  Will he be able to continue his winning ways?  American Pharoah hasn't raced at CD before, but he has won, convincingly, on both a muddy and a fast track.  The morning odds have only three colts listed at less than 12 to 1 odds:  American Pharoah, Dortmund, and Carpe Diem.
  As I stated yesterday, there are a multitude of items to consider in handicapping and betting on a race - the horses past race history, the pedigree of the horse, the jockey, the post position, riding and racing strategy, the "feel" of the course to the horse, how the horse itself feels, how the horse reacts to the crowd and the hoopla surrounding a Triple Crown race, etc., etc, etc....      If I were just choosing my bets based on pedigree, my first pick would be Mubtaahij, followed by Ocho Ocho Ocho, Dortmund, International Star, Frosted and Itsaknockout.  Without seeing the colts before the race, just based on my research (and my own feelings) I think that Firing Line will give Gary Stevens a winning ride.  I believe that Dortmund, American Pharoah, and Carpe Diem will be burnt out with an eighth of a mile left.  I think Frosted will be in second place, with El Kabeir and Keen Ice battling for third.   -   Of course, my picks might change after seeing the colts on race day.
   Television coverage:  NBC Sports Network will televise 3 hours of racing on Friday, 1 May, including the Kentucky Oaks from 3 o'clock to 6 o'clock (EDT).
   Derby Day coverage, on May 2, will begin at 12 noon (EDT) on the NBC Sports Network and run until 4 o'clock (EDT), at which time coverage will switch to local NBC channels from 4 until 7 (EDT), with a wrap-up of events on NBC Sports Network from 7 through 7:30 (EDT).
**** Here's hoping for injury free races on both days!  And good luck, if you are betting! ****

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Odds

A full gate of twenty three-year-old colts will make the Run for the Roses on Saturday, 2 May.  There are also two Alternate Entries waiting in the wings, in case of scratches.  Here is the list of post positions, the colt's name, the jockey, and the morning-line betting odds (which were set by Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs):

1     Ocho Ocho Ocho       Elvis Trujillo         50 to 1
2     Carpe Diem               John Velasquez       8 to 1
3     Materiality                 Javier Castellano    12 to 1
4     Tencendur                 Manny Franco        30 to 1
5     Danzig Moon            Julien Laperoux      30 to 1
6     Mubtaahij                 Christophe Soumillon    20 to 1
7     El Kabier                   Calvin Borel           30 to 1
8     Dortmund                  Martin Garcia           3 to 1
9     Bolo                           Rafael Bejerano      30 to 1
10   Firing Line                 Gary Stevens          30 to 1
11   Stanford                     Florent Geroux        30 to 1
12   International Star       Miguel Mena          20 to 1
13   Itsaknockout              Luis Saez                 30 to 1
14   Keen Ice                    Kent Desormeux      50 to 1
15   Frosted                      Joel Rosario             15 to 1
16   War Story                  Joe Talamo               50 to 1
17   Mr. Z                         Ramon Vasquez       50 to 1
18   American Pharoah     Victor Espinoza         5 to 2
19   Upstart                       Jose Ortiz                 15 to 1
20   Far Right                   Mike Smith               30 to 1

AE1  Frammento             Corey Nakatani
AE2  Tale of Verve         Brian Hernandez Jr

Carousel Horses

My Kentucky Oaks Predictions

The Kentucky Oaks will be shown live on NBC Sports Network on Friday, 1 May,  at 5:49 (Eastern Daylight Savings Time).  The race's purse is worth $1 million, the distance covered by the three-year-old fillies is one and one-eighth miles, and the girls will each carry 121 pounds.  The winner of the race will take home $600,000.  There are fourteen entries in the race, plus one alternate, in case of a scratch.  All of the fillies were bred in Kentucky, except Stellar Wind, the betting favorite, who was born in Virginia, and the alternate entry, Peace and War, who is a Florida-bred.  If you look at coat colors, Shook Up and Oceanwave are greys (or roans), and there are three chestnuts - Include Betty, I'm a Chatterbox, and Stellar Wind- the rest of the field is bay or dark bay/brown.
   Mike Battaglia set the betting odds as follows:  his favorite is Stellar Wind, who had the most qualifying points, at 7 to 2 odds; he has two fillies at 4 to 1 odds, Condo Commando and I'm a Chatterbox;  Lovely Maria is listed at 5 to 1; and Birdatthewire is at 6 to 1. Mike has two 15 to 1 shots picked, Forever Unbridled, breaking from the inside post, and Puca, who starts on the outside.  The other fillies are listed at odds between 20 and 50 to 1.  I have my own favorite bloodlines that I bet on, and was stymied by the fact that all the entries, except Shook Up, have at least three of my favorite sires in their pedigrees.  Yesterday's last blog listed the post positions, jockeys, and betting odds for this race.
  I still think that Condo Commando will take the race by a nose over Stellar Wind.  Neither of these fillies has raced on the Churchill Downs track, though, and some horses just don't like it.  My dream finish would be Forever Unbridled in first, Oceanwave in second, Include Betty in third, and Puca in fourth.  Horse racing is horse racing - there are so many possibilities that it boggles the mind.  No matter how much you study past races, bloodlines, jockeys and trainers, and the horses themselves, it's always a crap shoot.  Racing luck, weather, how the horse feels, what the atmosphere is like (in both senses), whether the horse "likes" the track and the crowd should always be factored in for any race analysis...  And that's what makes picking a winner on any given day for any particular race such a fantastic feeling.  I don't bet much - but I certainly love to win!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Kentucky Oaks Has Full Starting Gate

The Kentucky Oaks restricts the number of fillies starting to fourteen.  Unless there are two or more scratches, the starting gate will be full on Friday afternoon.  Post positions were drawn this morning for the 141st running of the $1 million race; betting odds were then assigned by Mike Battaglia, as a starting point.  The race will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network.  I'll give you my thoughts tomorrow.  Here is a list of the post position, filly's name, jockey, and current betting odds:
1--Forever Unbridled, Mike Smith, 15-1
2--Shook Up, Robby Albarado, 30-1
3--Include Betty, Rosemary Homeister Jr., 20-1
4--Eskenformoney, Javier Castellano, 20-1
5--Condo Commando, Joel Rosario, 4-1
6--Angela Renee, John Velazquez, 15-1
7--Lovely Maria, Kerwin Clark, 5-1
8--I'm a Chatterbox, Florent Geroux, 4-1
9--Money'soncharlotte, Paco Lopez, 50-1
10--Oceanwave, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1
11--Sarah Sis, Gary Stevens, 30-1
12--Stellar Wind, Victor Espinoza, 7-2
13--Birdatthewire, Irad Ortiz, Jr., 6-1
14--Puca, Junior Alvarado, 15-1
AE--Peace and War, Julien Leparoux, 50-1

The Dukha - Photos by Hamid Sardar-Afkhami

The nomadic Dukha tribe of Mongolia has had an ardent recorder in photo-journalist Hamid Sardar-Afkhami; this tribe wanders across the country of Mongolia in the same way they have done for centuries.  They depend on their tame reindeer for transportation and are well known for living alongside nature without disturbing the other denizens.  I hope you enjoy these photos.


Gee, I feel like I'm a kid again - and not in a good way.  Besides idyllic times on Chincoteague and Assateague Islands during the summers, I can easily recall the Cuban Missile Crisis and being taught to crawl under desks or tables and cover our heads if we heard the missile warning;  I remember seeing my Father cry watching the news of President Kennedy's assassination; I can remember my parents taking mys sister and me to Civil Rights marches and activities; I remember the march in Selma and how profoundly upset my parents were, and them explaining why they were upset to me; I remember all the protests that followed Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and I remember hearing news of his assassination; I remember the rioting across the nation following Dr. King's death - and the violence in Baltimore at that time; and I remember the assassination of Bobby Kennedy, and how deeply shaken my entire family was by what seemed to be a one-two punch: first Martin, then Bobby.  The world seemed about to break apart, and I was frightened.
  Flash forward about fifty years.  Today I am looking at rioting, again, in Baltimore, Maryland.  I always try to think of Baltimore as a happy place - the place where my parents spent their honeymoon back in 1948.  For me, Baltimore has always meant the Chesapeake Bay, boats, seafood, sailing, and shipping; now it's yet another city disrupted by racism.  Things have been rocky for some time, and I know it started long before the media was shining a spotlight on it - but it seems the list of men killed (African-American, Hispanic, white and other races) continues to grow without ceasing.  My mind immediately pulls up the names of Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Timothy Thomas, Michael Brown, Joel Acevedo, Sean Bell, Eric Garner, Walter Scott and, now, Freddie Gray. Unarmed men, beaten and/or killed by law enforcement officers.  What is happening in our country?
  Less than two hours after the funeral of Freddie Gray, the latest victim of law enforcement officials, people were rioting in the streets of Baltimore.  Even though this young man's family was aasking for peaceful protests, if any, a few people got that adrenaline rush and decided to "push back" against authority.  I can easily understand marching and protesting with chanting and signs, I can easily understand a silent sit-in to commemorate the loss of life, I can easily understand getting upset over a huge and long-standing failure of care for those in custody.  But I cannot understand a mob mentality; I cannot understand attacking a CVS Pharmacy, breaking all the glass out of the building, stealing all the merchandise, and setting the business on fire.  The owners and employees there were not responsible for the death of Freddie Gray.  The Community Center next to a church that went up in a three-alarm blaze had nothing to do with the death of Freddie Gray.  Folks who's cars were torched on the street had nothing to do with the death of Freddie Gray. - Then, again, perhaps all of us, who sit back and watch these things happen, are, in part, responsible.  We haven't made our voices heard regarding the inequity between the races.
   I live in Boulder, Colorado.  My best friend here is African-American.  She is a part of the 1% of African-Americans who actually live in Boulder.  I don't have children of my own, but I have my husband's children from his previous marriages, and I'm happy and proud to say that two of those three kids fell in love with, and married, an African-American.  Skin color, eye color, hair color - any type of color of anything - should never make a difference in how a person regards another.  That is just plain stupid.
   I feel for the victims and the families of the victims of these crazy shootings, beatings, and deaths.  They each need to be thoroughly investigated, and punishments for those who did wrong - including any law enforcement officials - need to be meted out.  Unfortunately, none of these men can be restored to their lives.  No one knows how each of these persons might have changed the world - for the better, or for the worse.  I only know that there is no price tag attached to a human life.  Each and every life is priceless.  None of the above named men needed to die.  I can understand the anger - but anger must be controlled and used to make specific decisions; hopefully, those decisions will help change laws and procedures for the good.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Carousel Animals, Old & New - Photos

Aurora Theater Shooting Trial Begins

Another grey, cool, rainy day here in Boulder - pretty dreary, actually - and it seems like nature is mourning the loss of lives and the tragedies that happened three years ago during the Aurora theater shootings (actual date of the shooting, 20 July 2012).  The trial begins this morning, in Centennial, for the man accused of killing 12 and wounding 70 individuals.  He is pleading "not guilty by reason of insanity" to all 165 charges being brought against him.  His defense team will claim that he suffered from a "psychotic break" from reality and nothing was planned.  The prosecution will show how the accused began purchasing guns, ammunition, riot gear, and chemicals months before the date of the incident, showing that it was premeditated.  After the accused was caught outside the cinema complex, police and investigators found that his apartment was "booby-trapped" with explosive chemicals.
   The theater was showing the premiere of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises at a well-publicized and sold-out midnight showing.  Eighteen minutes after the movie began, the accused entered the theater through a back door, which he had previously blocked open.  He was dress in riot gear and opened fire on the people watching the movie.  At about the same time, neighbors reported that extremely loud music began playing inside his apartment; but it stopped after some time had passed.  It is thought by prosecutors that the accused wanted (a) a neighbor to complain to the police about the loud music after midnight and (b) wanted the responding police to break open the door when there was no response.  Multiple chemicals were rigged to combine upon the opening of the door, causing poisonous fumes and causing a flash-fire.  It is believed that the accused wished to cause as much havoc and fright as possible in both the theater and his apartment building.  A "psychotic break" leading to "temporary insanity" would not have lasted for months, which is how long the accused took to accumulate his arsenal....  And I was really happy to hear that the jury members will be offered free mental health counseling at the end of their services.
   And, today, the jury that found the Boston Marathon bomber guilty of all counts against him, will start meeting again to decide the man's sentencing...     I am really thankful that my Grand Jury stint here in Boulder does not involve anything like the trials in Boston and Centennial!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

This and That

We had a few light showers yesterday, but a persistent light rain began about 9 o'clock last night.  It's supposed to rain through tomorrow afternoon.  I'm quite pleased with it, as we need the moisture - always.  Lovey went out for a few minutes this morning, while Nedi stayed out for an hour, and came back inside completely soaked.  He immediately sat down on my note pad, and flicked all the water and mud from his paws onto my keyboard and monitor...  That is so typical of him; he is my little "mannikan."
  After the eruption of Calbuco in Chile, the earthquake and huge aftershocks in Nepal have been horrific.  I have yet to hear of anyone dying, or having injuries, from the blasts in Chile - even though clean-up crews are beginning to arrive there today, and a few people unwilling to leave may be found.  The staggering loss of lives and historic buildings in Kathmandu, along with the loss of climbers on Mount Everest, seems almost unbelievable, in comparison.  I grieve for the loss of lives, for the injuries sustained, for the loss of homes, and for the loss of history.  The loss of livelihoods in both cases is a huge loss to the people who call those places home.
  I've got to go to the library today - I'm out of new books to read again.  And I have now seen all of this season's episodes of Vikings on the History Channel.  I didn't foresee the death of Siggy, and I'd felt that Floki would eventually kill Athelstan for his "poisoning" of Ragnar.  No surprises, though, as life was so violent and short in those times.  I was surprised that Aslaug took a lover, while Ragnar was gone, but Ragnar hasn't been very interested in Aslaug since their son, Ivar the Boneless, was born.  The last few episodes seemed to make a point that Ragnar would die in France - and I couldn't believe that writer Michael Hirst would stray so far from the sagas.  He didn't; at the end of this year's installment, Ragnar, Lagertha, Bjorn Ironside, Kalf and Floki are on their way back to Kattegat and Hedeby.  Emperor Charles the Bald has offered lands, a French title, and the hand of his daughter (Gisela) to Rollo.  Rollo has accepted the offer, with the knowledge that Charles expects him to defend Paris against the Spring raids of his brother. Linus Roache, as the King of Wessex, Ecbert, has been brilliant.  I completely bought into his support of the Viking community, and was amazed by his duplicity. Knowing his character much better, I wasn't surprised when he essentially blackmailed his daughter-in-law into becoming his mistress....  I am completely taken with Ftankie McCafferty's portrayal of Sinric in the last few episodes- he's almost as loveable as Floki!  Many Vikings have fallen in battle and are now in Valhalla - I salute Thorstein and Jarl Sigfried from this season.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Sand Sculptures That Caught My Eye

Looking Ahead to Next Weekend

Six days from now, the best three-year-old fillies in the Americas will contest the 141st running of the Kentucky Oaks.  Besides being a celebration of girls in racing, in recent years Oaks day has become a rallying point for the fight against breast cancer; Oaks Day is now Think Pink Day, also.  Hats will be the rage for Friday and Saturday - but my personal concentration is on the horses.  Final nominations have not yet been made, and the Oaks is not known for having a full starting gate, like the Derby.  However, these are the fillies that are the top twenty holding points for inclusion into the Oaks:  (1) Condo Commando, (2) I'm a Chatterbug, (3) Stellar Wind, (4) Birdatthewire, (5) Lovely Maria, (6) Include Betty, (7) Oceanwave, (8) Angela Renee, (9) Sarah Sis, (10) Maybellene, (11) Eskingformoney, (12) Puca, (13) Shook Up, (14) Luminance, (15) Forever Unbridled, (16) Achiever's Legacy, (17) Money'soncharlotte, (18) Danessa Deluxe, (19) Callback, and (20) Wonder Gal.  The Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday, 1 May, and will be aired live on the NBC Sports Network.  All of the girls will carry 121 pounds in the race that covers one and one-eighth miles.
  Seven days from now, the boys will meet in the Kentucky Derby.  All twenty stalls in the starting gate are expected to be full for the mile and a quarter race.  Each colt will carry 126 pounds.  Other than Mubtaahij, none of the three-year-olds have ever raced this far.  This morning, it was announced that Madefromlucky, who was in 20th place in the points ranking, will not run in the Derby, but will be pointed at the Peter Pan Stakes, instead.  Here is a listing of the top twenty-one colts listed for the Derby, as of this morning.  I list one horse on the bubble, as he has been working for the Derby, and if another horse is scratched, he'll make the cut, and will likely run...  (1) International Star, (2) Dortmund, (3) Carpe Diem, (4) American Pharoah, (5) Frosted, (6) Mubtaahij, (7) Materiality, (8) El Kabeir, (9) Upstart, (10) Far Right, (11) Itsaknockout, (12) Firing Line, (13) Danzig Moon, (14) War Story, (15) Tencendur, (16) Stanford, (17) Mr. Z, (18) Ocho Ocho Ocho, (19) Bolo, (20) Keen Ice, and, on the bubble, (21) Frammento.
  As entries for the races are announced, along with post positions, I'll make further comments, along with presenting the morning line betting odds set by Mike Battaglia.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Calbuco Volcano in Southern Chile - The Sky on Fire

Calbuco volcano, in the Los Lagos Region of southern Chile, had not erupted in forty-two years - until yesterday.  There have been two eruptions in the last twenty-four hours, with a lava flow into Lago Chapo.  Calbuco had ten eruptions between 1837 and 1972, but has been dormant until Wednesday.  Geologists in the area were surprised by the eruption and only had minutes to give evacuation orders.  More than 4,000 people have left the cities of Puerto Varas and Puerto Montt.  The first eruption consisted of a six-mile high (10 km) plume of ash and gases.  Calbuco is an andesite volcano, and it's ash and lava contain a high percentage of fine silicon dioxide. As the ash plume spreads, water and air pollution concerns become greater.  Several flights have been cancelled, and flight plans for major airlines have been changed.  With the high silicone dioxide content in the ash, there is a worry about respiratory illnesses, as this may cause silicosis, bronchitis, and lung cancer.  Chile has had internal problems recently - first, huge wildfires near Valparaiso; then heavy flooding in northern Chile; and, now, the eruption of Calbuco.  Hopefully this will be the end of their travails for a while....
Somnolent Calbuco; photo copyrighted by Heikki Nylund

The other photos were taken by residents, journalists, and news crews - what an incredible display!