Sunday, October 04, 2015


                                    MARTY'S RACE-A-DAY

RACE  3--SANTA ANITA--OCT. 4, 2015

Stakes for fillies and mares, three years old and upward. The winner to receive $60,000, $20,000 to second, $12,000 to third, $6,000 to fourth and $2,000 to fifth. Non-winners of a Graded Stakes since April 4, allowed 3 lbs. Non-winners of a Graded Stakes since October 4, 2014, 5 lbs. Six and One Half Furlongs.

Note: Horses listed in ascending order of Morning Line odds. Asterisk indicates predicted winner.  

*Taris--Kentucky-bred 4-year-old Taris debuted in Dec. 2013 with a 10-length victory at Aqueduct. Seems to have been on a short leash since then, with sporadic appearances in the East, then a single race at SA in Dec. 2014 and more recently at Del Mar (8/15), where she scored a really impressive victory as the favorite in a race that looked a lot like this one, featuring Wasted at Midnight, Uzziel and another strong runner, Baruta, who took 2nd. Gary Stevens will ride the Callaghan trainee again, and the only knock against her is the absence of more evidence to confirm her superiority. Yet Taris passes the eye test, and with her 6-5 ML, it’s clear that others think so too.      

Unforgettable U--A year’s worth of consistent activity marks this 4-year-old as a reliable sprinter but with some erratic results overall. More recently, UU, now being trained by Richard Baltas, has looked very good, with a win last time out (9/7 at Del Mar) and a close 2nd (8/9), edged out at the wire by one of today’s competitors, Ben’s Duchess. Edwin Maldonado has been a regular aboard UU, and he’ll ride her today. 9-5 ML.

Ben’s Duchess--Impressive Sadler 3-year-old has finished ITM eight straight races, including two excellent wins out of her last four starts (8/9 & 6/14), and a tough 2nd-place finish last time out (9/6), losing to one of today’s challengers, Uzziel. Joe Talamo jumps aboard for his sixth straight ride on a horse who’s never seen a dirt sprint she didn’t like. Good stalking style. 4-1 ML.

Uzziel--The 4-year-old Cal-bred spent the early portion of this year in route races with okay results, but has returned more recently to sprints. She won last time out (9/6) and has now finished ITM in three straight starts—all races featuring a cozy field of battle-tested fillies and mares who like to race fast and hard, and rarely more than six furlongs. Formerly trained by Mike Puype, Uzziel is now in the care of the Desormeaux clan, with Kent D. her exclusive jockey since March of this year. 4-1 ML.  

Wasted at Midnight--This 5-year-old Florida-bred mare set the pace last time out (8/16 at Del Mar), but hit the wall late up against two tough competitors whom she meets again today, Uzziel and Taris. With no wins since February, WAM is a study in a good horse who competes hard for the lead for about five furlongs... and then simply can’t keep up. Martin Garcia has been a steady presence in the irons and he again rides this hard-working lady, who’s been in the Richard Mandella barn since early 2014. 15-1 ML.

Saturday, October 03, 2015


                                       MARTY'S RACE-A-DAY

RACE 2--SANTA ANITA--OCT. 3, 2015 


Note: Horses listed in ascending order of Morning Line odds. Asterisk indicates predicted winner.  

Flat Footed Mama--This Baffert hopeful has spent the last six months in a series of longer races and scratches, never taking better than third and usually fading further from view. One career victory (a route race a good while ago), with all 11 career starts under the command of Martin Garcia, which implies familiarity and consistency but nevertheless has meant mediocre results. Garcia will try again. The 9-5 ML positions FFM as the early favorite in this battle of unknowns and underachievers. 

Wild Street Party--One prior race, at Los Al on 9/11, and scored a nice late sprint victory over a field of 9. Fernando Perez rides again. 2-1 ML.

*Kantina Kowgirl--With 15 starts since Jan. 2014, this aggressive self-starter always hustles out of the starting gate with purpose but rarely scores ITM. A mixed bag of shorter and longer races on dirt have been KK’s world, plus pass-around trainers (Glatt, Belvoir, Papaprodromou) and a succession of riders, including Bejarano, who won with her in Jan. 2015. Kerwin John is today’s jockey. In this company, maybe the Avis approach (”We try  harder”) can pay off. 4-1 ML.

Italian Baba--Veteran 6-year-old hasn’t won a race in two and a half years. She’s a chronic slow starter, who might be classified as a turtle, though that usually implies coming from the back of the pack late to actually win the race. Whatever life is left in the old girl, Felipe Valdez will attempt to parlay it into victory. 4-1 ML.

Beyond Lucky--This 4-year-old Cal-bred Papaprodromou mare (since July; McCarthy before that) is a Fox-style runner, the bulk of whose experience has been dirt sprints. So this is the right race, but the odds of her performing as she did in April, when TBaze rode her to a solid victory on this track,  seem remote. Even this nonplussed collection of misfit challengers should test all of Beyond Lucky’s mettle. Tiago Pereira is the jock. 8-1 ML.

Gold Locket--After three solid starts at Santa Anita early in the year, including a gutsy Mar. 22 at-the-wire winner in a nine-horse field, this 3-year-old was on hiatus five months, finally reemerging under the tutelage of Jeffrey Metz.  She finished sixth at Del Mar on Aug. 29. Another rider change means Ry Eikleberry trying to help recapture that early promise. 12-1 ML, but given the uncertainty of the field, that’s a good price for an adventurous player.  

Thursday, October 01, 2015

                         MARTY'S RACE-A-DAY

Santa Anita--Oct. 1, 2015
RACE 5--Maiden Special Weight--$52,000 Purse--Mile and 1/8 on turf--3-yr.-olds

Big Discovery has six prior races, all routes, none shorter than a mile, and the first four were on turf. Interesting horse. BD has never finished out of the money. He starts every race lagging toward the back, then responds (under various jockeys) almost like clockwork mid-race, steadily gaining on the leaders and then pushing hard to the finish. Yet he hasn't ever completely closed the deal. Mike Smith rides and maybe the slightly longer distance will pay off for this on-the-verge closer. 5-2 ML.

Broken Up has only two races under his cinch. His latest, a 1-1/16er on the turf at GGF, presented us with a patient Hound with a big urgent finishing kick that almost nipped the co-favorite Saxon Lord at the wire—and seemed to have more in the tank. Mandella trainee strives to go 1/16 further for the win with Gary Stevens aboard. Looks to have the talent, but maybe too early to trust? 3-1 ML.

Boone Docks has tried it every which way for the past year--sprints, routes, dirt, turf, East Coast, West Coast, as Hound, as Rabbit—and has finished ITM but once in 6 tries (a 3rd at Saratoga in Aug. 2015). In strictly relative terms, he's showing improvement, and he gets some needed consistency here with Santiago Gonzalez riding for the third time in 2015, but Boone Docks' penchant for getting lost in the shuffle looms a liability, especially at this distance. 4-1 ML. 

Lightly raced Carla Gaines trainee Fishel scratched out of his last scheduled race, 8/30 at Del Mar. Only previous two starts (June/July) have yielded inconclusive results, a 10th place at SA and then a better 4th at Del Mar. James Graham rides Fishel for the first time. 5-1 ML.

Paythebank's most recent races include a late-running 5th at Del Mar (8/22), a 3rd place in the slop at Del Mar (7/19), a 7th at SA (6/28) and a close 2nd at SA (5/7). The Kruljac trainee has been out and about since July 2014, through 14 scheduled starts, all surfaces and distances, a few scratches, a 4-5 month mid-career layoff, and a passel of jockeys, including Talamo, Trujillo, Garcia, TBaze and more recently Nakatani, who rides today. Nary a win through all those variables, though the horse has shown some talent and hustle on a few occasions. There IS a scenario where he might break through, wherein the reliable-looking favorite simply misfires and the second favorite proves too green. There WILL be a winner in this race, though, and Paythebank has as good a shot as any of the lesser wannabes. 6-1 ML.

Y's Passion is a virtual newbie with only two races, both sprints on the dirt at Del Mar. Drayden Van Dyke returns to ride the Patrick Gallagher colt, and with no experience on the turf, or at longer distances, he can only be a speculative choice. Yet his most recent 9/7 effort, at 7 furlongs, showed us a horse able to come gamely up to 4th from faraway at the back of a 9-horse field. It may mean nothing here, but the visual was impressive. 10-1 ML.

Radio Silent finished 7th in his only start, on 9/7. Alonso Quinonez will again take him out for a spin. 10-1 ML.

Based on his June 5 performance at GGF—a valiant 3rd, in a 1-and-1/16-mile route on turf—Junior G  Man looks like a hustler. Prior to that, in April, on the same track/distance, he scored a game 2nd place. So he's a competitor. But his one race since being acquired by Art Sherman, on Aug. 22 at Del Mar on the turf at the same distance, was a lackluster 7th place out of 9. Ty Kennedy is the jockey. Inscrutable horse here, but maybe worth a flyer as the longest shot in this race. 12-1 ML.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

On Flags, Forrest and Hysteria in the Wake of Charleston

In the wake of Charleston, my Facebook feed is stuffed full of hysteria about Confederate flags and Nathan Bedford Forrest, including reports that Nashville mayoral candidate Megan Barry wants a Forrest statue hidden from public view and Rep. Jim Cooper wants a bust of the Confederate general removed from the State Capitol in Nashville.

Sorry, folks, but I'm going to have to say no. People, you cannot erase history. If you remove the evidence of history, it does not make history go away. You cannot pretend that things didn't happen or that people did not exist or that deeds were not done. Furthermore, you cannot forbid human beings from commemorating their history (flags, symbols, etc.) or from memorializing their dead. 

I have been a Civil War freak since I was about 7 years old, when my parents gave me The Golden Book of the Civil War. Growing up in Maryland, a Border State, I always had a fascination for and curiosity about the two sides of the conflict, as well as the key issues that went back all the way to our nation's founding. Now, like it or not, hundreds of thousands of Southerners died fighting for their cause—just under a half million, per best estimates—however misguided morally that cause was in regards to slavery. That, people, is the great tragedy of the South, and that also is a part of history. What next? Demolition of Stone Mountain? The forcible renaming of Washington and Lee University? Redaction of A Streetcar Named Desire to remove all mention of the plantation Belle Reve? (In fact, the vast majority of the combatants in the Confederate army weren't even slaveholders, but that's a sad-eyed discussion for another time.)

Are you aware that Confederate monuments memorialize the dead at Gettysburg, and that the state of Tennessee's Gettysburg monument was dedicated only as recently as 1982? Shall we remove those monuments and pretend that the 23,000 Confederate casualties of the battle never happened? Perhaps we should just eliminate mention of the Civil War altogether from our history books and our public consciousness. We could simply choose to forget that nearly half a million Southerners died in that conflict, but I daresay that the descendants of those who perished have every human right to commemorate their forebears as they see fit. I also would suggest that Abraham Lincoln would've allowed the South a wide berth in recovery from the war's brutality and would've seen the need for proper grievance. I doubt Lincoln would've censored icons and ceremony. 

Yes Yes Yes: I understand why this is touchy territory. What happened in Charleston was ugly, and I have been utterly speechless about it, because, like so many others, I was thunderstruck. Truly, there are no words. 

But getting at the heart of racism in America will not be accomplished by removing the statues of dead generals or censoring the display of old battle flags. That journey is a more personal one, incumbent on each and every one of us to better our relations with all our fellow humans in every circumstance, every single day of our lives. 

Finally, history is there for the learning. Let us learn from it, and not be afraid to confront it. 

Friday, June 12, 2015

Santa Anita Park, 2011/Canon PhotoStitch by Martin Brady

Race #1/Santa Anita/June 12, 2015
CLAIMING $50,000-$40,000 PURSE $45,000. (PLUS UP TO $5,400 TO CAL-BRED WINNERS FROM CBOIF) FOR FILLIES THREE YEARS OLD. Weight, 122 Lbs Non-winners Of A Race At A Mile Or Over Since April 27, 2015 Allowed 2 Lbs. Claiming Price $50,000, For Each $5,000 To $40,000 1 lb. (Maiden and Claiming races for $32,000 or less not considered). One mile. (Turf) (Rail at 30 Feet). 

#1 Won’t Be Shaken--This 3-year-old has been regularly raced since December, usually entered in 8F routes and on dirt. Results have ranged from gutsy wire wins to abject defeats. She’s also faced some of today’s challengers previously—Abets Abet, Backstreet Lisa—and has finished well behind them. Her two turf races yielded mixed results—a 6th-place finish on May 21 at SA, and an April 19 win at Golden Gate Fields against lesser competitors. Flavien Prat is the rider. 6-1 ML.

#2 Abets Abet--Another busy 3-year-old with 14 races tallied since May 2014. Won her last outing, on dirt at a mile on Mar. 28, defeating decent competition, but Abets Abet’s resume is a mixed bag of sprints and routes, neither seeming to be an obvious strength. Also, she’s never run on turf, so today’s race poses an extra challenge. The filly should at least feel comfortable with Tiago Pereira once more in the irons. 4-1 ML.

#3 Lookin for Money--Doug O’Neill trainee has good experience on turf, and returned to Santa Anita in January off a turf win in Frisco. Alas, disappointing finishes since. She gives it another go, with a significant rider change—from Elvis Trujillo to Rafael Bejarano. 2-1 ML.

#4 Sound City--Winner of a dirt sprint Jan. 16, Sound City appears to be going against the tide in this turf miler. She has limited turf experience—1 sprint, 1 route—and the results have not been positive. A succession of jockeys have jumped on and off Sound City’s back. Now Drayden Van Dyke will ride the former Richard Baltas trainee. 12-1 ML.  

#5 Backstreet Lisa--Peter Miller 3-year-old won a hard-fought victory in a rainy muck on May 15, to cap a series  of respectable runs on dirt. The horse has a few turf rides to her credit, including an Oct. 2014 victory over a mile against a large field. Some talent here but lacks consistency. Tyler Baze rides a second time in a row following up on the recent win. 5-2 ML.
#6 Housemaker--SCRATCHED

1. Backstreet Lisa
2. Lookin for Money
3. Abets Abet 

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Santa Anita Park, 2011/Canon PhotoStitch by Martin Brady

Three Year Olds, 118 Lbs; Older, 124 Lbs
Non-winners Of A Race Other Than Maiden, Claiming Or Starter Allowed 2 Lbs. Claiming Price $40,000. Six And One Half Furlongs.

#1 Micks Miracle--D'Amato trainee has but one race under his belt (Dec. 26). The 3-year-old came into it against a fairly crowded field and impressed with a big finish and a victory. Tries the same distance today with Joe Talamo aboard, and 8-5 on the ML. 

#2 Unblunted--This 3-year-old from the Michael McCarthy barn comes off a five-month layoff. He started strong in Fall 2014 with two second-place finishes, but has disappointed since being tried at longer distances. Should be more comfortable here at 6.5 Fs but loses Talamo as jockey. Able and upcoming Flavien Prat will be in the irons. 6-1 ML.

#3 Stringent--Another 3-year-old with an impressive debut, Stringent won a 5.5 F test on May 17 and won it going away against a crowded field. He appeared to have plenty left in the tank too, which bodes well for today, when he needs to go one more furlong.  Alex Solis rides him again. 2-1 ML.

#4 K Thirty Eight--After three rookie races in early 2014, this 4-year-old was on hiatus until returning in 2015. He has won both recent starts, one at 5.5 F, the other at 6 F, and now attempts to stretch it out just a little bit more. The wins were impressive enough, and can be contrasted with the horse's unfortunate previous tendency to blow leads approaching the wire. Alas, Alex Solis can't be two places at once, and he vacates K Thirty Eight in favor of Stringent here, so Kieren Fallon will ride. 9-5 ML .

#5 Gold Chaser--The 5-year-old Gold Chaser has raced a lot recently, no less than 4 times at SA in April and May. Results are mixed but include an April 19 victory. Gold Chaser runs in decent company generally and has proved versatile enough to make good efforts in sprints and routes. He ALSO loses his most recent jockey, with Flavien Prat aboard Unblunted today. Capable Drayden Van Dyke takes over. Bit of a longshot at 12-1 ML, but if the youngsters panic, the vet might be there to pick up the pieces.  

1. Stringent
2. Micks Miracle
3. Unblunted

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

Photo Tour of Nashville's Hillsboro Village

Another leisurely stroll through Nashville's Hillsboro Village, only today I brought my camera to try to document what is old and new about this quaintly hip three-block area tucked in just south of Vanderbilt University and a little south and west of Music Row. 

My second job in Nashville was in the Village in 2000, making sandwiches and doing food preps at Provence Breads and Cafe, a charming restaurant/bakery that still does business on the westside of 21st Ave., the Village's main drag. 

Other standbys are hanging in there, in particular Belcourt Theatre, still the artiest movie theater around. Pancake Pantry continues on, catering mostly to tourists but still a lively place to get a nice (if overpriced) breakfast. 

You can still get an alcohol buzz-on at Villager Tavern, and you can smoke there, too, I believe. So that remains a good slice of Music City hardcore. And all hail Bookman/Woman, the used book shop that has been there always in my time. There's something blessed about being there with all those old and important books. 

FIDO remains as maybe the single most important outpost in the Village, a teeming coffee shop that is simply THE place to be—for studying student, laconic lovers, and artists of every type. (I have conducted many an interview at FIDO, and seen many a beautiful person there.) Plus there's the extension of the FIDO empire, Hot&Cold, right next door. Not sure what that is about, but it looked like you can get a Las Paletas (popsicle) there. 

Also still holding down a vital spot on the northwest corner of 21st and Belcourt is Pangaea, a marvelous gift shop that allows you to bring your dog in with you, so long as you provide a little advance warning. (You don't have to call beforehand; just poke your head in and let 'em know, so they can corral their own pooch.) 

One weird development is what has happened to the restaurant/brewery Bosco's. What used to be a pretty busy place—and a regular hangout for theater people—is now attempting to serve beer and also sell jewelry and paintings and scented soaps and a lot of other stuff that seems very out of place. (Good luck with that, guys and gals!) 

Still serving as anchor service spots in the Village, on the northeast corner of 21st and Acklen, are the Shell service station and the next-door Village Cleaners, which has cleaned my only cashmere shirt many times. The well-known Acklen post office is just beyond the cleaners, and it too is an important local structure. 

Of course, there are the chewy-newy establishments in the Village, like the groovy hot-dog spot with tons of hi-def TVs on the wall, plus a few boutiques that looked new to me—not that I ever really notice boutiques much. 

A few new storefronts continue under renovation, so expect some more retail energization in the Village. 

But the biggest change is the descension on the area of the 2100 Acklen Flats, a condo complex whose "urban" (or maybe "pseudo-urban" is more correct) character may take some getting used to. Still, it looks cleanly rendered and somewhat interesting, and it also has a new barbershop on its ground floor off the Acklen side. (Didn't check inside, but a low-income journalist who still has all his hair  is always looking for a reasonably priced barber.)

Enjoy the pics. They were snapped about 1:30 p.m., and yes, the traffic was snagged every moment I was there.    

Lookin' pretty!
Watering hole

Belcourt Theatre
West side of 21st Ave. 

New storefronts in process

New barber on Acklen

Anchor shops: Shell service station and Village Cleaners
New boutique

"Urban  flats" on Acklen

Lookin' healthy

Fido sister store
 A Nashville institution 
New Hot Dog Joint
Pining for Taylor
Salon with Village prices
Bosco's and Sam's on 21st
Dragon mural on Belcourt Ave. 
Sign on 21st
21st and Blakemore Ave.
Storefront doggie refreshments
Corner of Acklen and 21st, looking east-northeast