Saturday, June 7, 2008

The Conversation

(A brief exchange between myself and a disappointed racing fan regarding Big Brown's failed bid to win the Triple Crown )

Text Message received on Sat. 6/7 at 6:42 PM
Bullshit. That horse is a coward.

Can You Imagine?

What Is Big and Brown and Green All Over? (Not This Horse)

I have never seen a horse (or a man, for that matter) win the Triple Crown in my lifetime. I've seen a few horses take the first two legs and stood amidst the drunken and boisterous crowd of 120,000+ on a cloudy day in 2004 when Smarty Jones threw his bridle in the ring only to fall short.

The last horse to successfully navigate the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness and the Belmont Stakes in succession was Affirmed in 1978. It's been a while. But, today is (supposed to be) the day. And Big Brown is supposed to the horse. BB's biggest challenger, Casino Drive, has been scratched due to injury and the field doesn't seem up to the caliber of Big Brown. As long as he can get clean out the gates you have to think that he's got this one in the bag. In the Kentucky Derby he seemed like he would have won by a greater distance had the race been long and, well, this race is longer.

Still, I vaguely remember tottering trackside when Smarty Jones looked sure to seal the deal only to be caught from behind by Birdstone down the home stretch. Smarty lost by less than a length. Can a stalker (one of the horses like, say, Denis of Cork, whose strategy is to hang back and then try to steal the race with a finishing kick) steal this race. Without Casino Drive in the race will Big Brown go to the front too early (which some people said Smarty Jones did) and open the door for a late burst from a less-than-distinguished field who plays the track smarter?

Post Time: 6:30 p.m. (get your bets placed by then)
Television: ESPN coverage all-day long, ABC coverage starts at 5 p.m.
How To Get There: Drive (in your car), Train (take the LIRR from Penn Station)

The WWOD? Betting Guide:
$2 Exacta Box: Big Brown, Denis of Cork
These are the two name-brand horses left in the race with Casino Drive out. You want to "box" this bet (meaning you pay twice as much) so that you win as long as they finish some combination of 1, 2.
$2 Win: Big Brown
There is zero money to be made here for anyone but the biggest of whales (track-slang for big spenders) because BB is such a huge favorite. Still, if this horse wins you want to be able to say that you bet on it. Heck, if he wins I'll probably just keep the betting slip as a souveneir.
$2 Win Denis of Cork
If the pace or some other trouble costs Big Brown the race than Cork seems the likeliest horse to capitalize.
Upset Special: $2 Win on Icabad Crane
Going off at 20-1 from the far post position. Icabad is the home-state colt that finished third in the Preakness. His breeder owns (or is somehow connected) to Gallagher's Steakhouse in Manhattan and the jockey rode Afleet Alex to victory in the 2005 Belmont.