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Mountains and Molehills - The Sequel


Mark Patterson


Thu, Jun 2, 2016

* It's common for thoroughbreds to be lauded as "graceful" and "athletic." But I've never seen a (sober) human stand up, lose balance and topple backwards. And what other animal stumbles like horses do? Or can't run in a straight line?

* Oops. He did it again. Did anybody else wince at Trevor Denman's awkward preamble to Goldikova's BC flop? Obviously rehearsed-and a tad defiant- so cal's finest all but proclaimed his intention to call it as a one horse (mare) race. An apology for slighting Blame (exactly why, again, was Zenyatta STILL voted h.o.y.?) during the previous year's classic would have been more appropriate. The guy just doesn't get it. ANYthing can happen, and anyBODY can win once those gates open. That's why we have announcers to begin with.

* Stripped of data and price shopping, what is handicapping but a try at seeing the future? I've long suspected (no kidding) that exceptional horseplayers can make like Dick Halloran and shine (as Stephen King would say) just a little.

* You can't stop riders from discussing stategy. First amendment rights don't stop at the door to the jockey's room. A line, however, is crossed when riders sharing an agent pilot opposing speeds and decide earlier in the day that one will stalk and the other send. Even if both jocks do their level best to win, pace fixing is race fixing. That's one reason, by the way, that scandal is courted when any agent hustles more than two (2) riders.

* The 5-k a pop plunger I dubbed 'Mountaineer's Mad Bomber' has figured out what constitutes an ironclad chalk here. And it's smart for anyone making big bets at small odds to plop down early. But when part of the wager is cancelled late and was never intended to ride, the win pool needs chlorine.

* A recent foray to an offtrack betting parlor reminded me why I switched to computer wagering: 30 smartest guys in the room, all shooting each other cocky gunslinger looks. None of them, by the way, looked all that psychic to me.

* I can live with Jay Hovdey's knocks on Rapid Redux, but when the elitest drf scribe snidely implies that cetain mid-atlantic tracks have looked the other way as sinister plots were set in motion to fill the horse's races, well, them's fightin' words. Look, nobody is saying that suspicious late scratches haven't tainted the streak a little. Still, does Hovdey think every entry on his cherished so cal circuit is made in good faith? Yeah, right. No conniving behind those 5-horse fields. Nosirrrreeeeeee. Might want to check with Doug O'Neill on that, Jay. Just a suggestion.

* Yes, 'The Darkest Mile' was an allegory for the drugging problem that's engulfed our beloved sport. And the corpuscles Wallachian Prince (presumably) consumed represent-well, you get it. The tale is archived here. Check it out.

* Let's fess up. Don't we all look for the pacesetter about two seconds after cracking the form on a race? I mean, could lone speed BE more overbet these days?

* Are dreams about horseracing EVER pleasureable? Seems like my bet always breaks like it has boulders for feet, or stops to a walk and blows a big lead. And I can never find the cashiers. I mean... ahh.. humm.... how weird is THAT?

* I was once consulted by some sheets purveyor concerning the mountain-main's run-ups and peculiar pear-shape. Apparently, their pre-trakus agenda was to measure the circumference of each respective path. Responding to my well-meaning assertion that my home track's notorious tendency toward lane-bias might render such calculations meaningless, the guy curtly offered that they don't believe in "that stuff." Really?? How's that workin' out for ya, dude? Bought that villa yet?

* "Gee Wally. Whitey and Gilbert say that Rapid Redux is a big faker cause he always wins the same kinda races." "Aw, forget those guys Beeve. You're not sposed to know exactly how good a starter/ alw horse is. I think that's maybe the fun of it."

* Other sports should emulate the formats racing uses for both pre and postrace info.True, baseball boxscores remain the gold-standard-for encapsulating a single contest. But a form cut reflects an entire CAREER. And a chart displays all the facts, maam, with a punchy narrative tossed in to boot.

* Shame on the growing acceptance of horse slaughter. Yep, I know people need to eat, and that Arnold Ziffel is an atom splitter compared to Mr. Ed. But there is just something too noble about the beast.

*Shouldn't rule-abiding owners and trainers kick and scream when some 2/5 dropper beats them and gets protection claimed? Bettors, after all, have no dog in the fight, and what difference does it really make to management? Nope. Protection claiming amounts to horsemen hurting horsemen.

* In case you didn't know: 116 (bug allowance aside) is now the minimum assignable weight in this state. Believe it or not, that INCLUDES sex and age allowances. Let me get this straight, ok? A whopper with fries outranks the right of three-yr-old fillies to get fair concession from older males?

* Just for the record: Denman in his prime remains the best caller I've heard, and I much admire Hovdey's talent.

* Agents expect their brethren to submarine them. It's the code of the condition book. More insidious are trainers who make mounts contingent on a rider switching agents-usually to a pal. It's unpreventable, but just wrong. Not that agents never convince owners to change trainers....and the beat goes on (dun dun dun..dun dun ta dah dun).

* There are two voices in each player's head. One proclaims after every winner that losing-even a single bet-is an unfortunate part of the past; the other predicts doom after each loser. I've known for decades that they both lie. But I still listen. Every time.


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