"The University of Illinois is also in turmoil. The university sports an Interim Chancellor, an Interim Athletic Director, and an Interim Football Coach; the game will be played at Soldier Field, making this an Illini Interim Home Game."
Most of you may not care at all or might even think it's a dumb thing to be excited about. But to me and a few others on here, today is one of (if not) the greatest days of the year: The Kentucky Derby (aka the most exciting 2 minutes in all of sports)! I will not be there in person (I've only had the honor once a couple years back), but today will be filled with much hat wearing, food eating, bourbon drinking and coverage watching in my comfy A2 home.
Coverage on NBC Sports starts at Noon, then switches over to NBC at 4pm with the actual race set for 6:24ish. It looks like it's going to be a nice, clear 70 degree day in Louisville, so no need to pick your horse based on one who's "mother was a mudda." As of right now, the runaway odds on favorite is California Chrome at 2 -1, with Wicked Strong far behind him at 7-1 and Danza at 10-1. This is a bettors' field if there ever was one. Depending on what happens with the odds during the day, if California Chrome doesn't meet expectations, there's going to be some big payouts for a few folks. Live odds can be found here.
My wife and I made a bunch of bets already (on twinspires.com for anyone still looking for a legit online betting site), but my main ones were on Wildcat Red and Intense Holiday (WPS for both and a box exacta). My wife has a different strategy and bet on Tapiture and Danza because she essentialy thinks they are the prettiest horses in the field. So, what events do you all have today ans which horse(s) are you betting on (or just rooting for)?
The day started with a present.
Well, two actually.
I was in Lexington, Kentucky Friday night for my daughter's
Sunday graduation from the University of Kentucky (but still a UM fan, her room is decorated with Michigan Daily articles about Wolverine wins) and Sunday derby at Churchill Downs.
I was watching the Tigers-Chisox game on my laptop, through the slingbox, getting more and more sleepy, one on for the Tigers in the bottom of the 9th, trailing 4-3 when I closed it up and set it down on the floor and crashed.
I woke up Saturday morning, picked up the laptop and turned it back on. In a series of jerky pictures, the Tiger batter swung and the right fielder ran toward the wall and – the picture froze.
Damn, that looked like a home run! Better check ESPN.com.
The first present: “OSU recruit decommits over sex offender” is one of the top links on the home page. Gotta click thru on that one!
Must be a follow up on Ace's Friday story about the registered sex offender, pictured with three recruits on a trip to Columbus. The guy who followed up with tweets to the recruits.
Sure enough, it is. The one of the three who had actually committed, un-committed.
You can't make it up. What parent won't feel confident sending their precious son into Urban Meyer's care now.
When I clicked over to the Tiger game result, I found out the ball was, indeed, a walk off home run.
* ** ** *
This was my second Derby; the first being 1986, back in my
drinking days. I remember starting the day caressing the commode, worshipping at the altar of the porcelain goddess, or whatever they call it these days. And feeling terminally hungover for hours.
Then trying to cure that with a mint julep, which tastes like the last five times you got sick all mixed together in a souvenir glass full of sugar.
This time would be more fun.
Both graduating daughter and her older sister (three UM degrees) had already left with their Mom. At 3:30 a.m., as, in the morning. As in, arrive at the track at 5:00 a.m.
The gates do not open until eight. But, having learned from the veteran Joe, here for his 36th consecutive Derby, that, this is what you do when you are on the infield and want to be right at the fence for the races.
Which we were.
I was in the second shift, with a couple of friends who made the trip for the first time.
My wife and daughters had done the same drill last year, so they had firmed up the plans with Joe, where to park, who was running to the third turn corner to stake out our territory, et cetera.
I drove the hour and a half into Louisville. Part of the time, my friends were reading something to me out of the paper about the race. About which, I had studied not at all.
Go through the names for me, I said.
Horse owners have to register a name, which has to be unique.
Can't have another Secretariat running around out there. Only one name on the list stuck out for me.
“I'll Have Another.”
The old tapes came up again, back at Animal House, back in the day.
So much fun.
So many adventures with T-Bird and Nanook of the North, the Yooopers. One in med school, out of high school, back when UM had that program, the other, headed for law school.
The painful battle for the med student who washed out, then out of the marriage to his high school sweetheart after two daughters and a son, and all the arrests and job losses and illnesses and injuries and disapperances interspersed among stretches of clean time.
Then the long expected word. October, 2011. Congestive heart failure, the email said. Yeah, the ex-wife said, it is easier to take as a cause of death than the truth.
The lawyer was dry for a long time, couple of decades, I think.
I knew something was up, but not exactly what. He returned to the Upper Peninsula after law school; but had not returned my occasional phone calls.
I googled his name to tell him T-Bird was gone, and found a story of him in court for stealing client money.
Then, another email from the med student's ex. The lawyer was gone too. December 1. C.O.D. also called “congestive heart failure.”
I'll have another.
So, figured I would bet $2.00 to win, for each dead friend.
We found our way to the area of the Louisville, uh, sorry, Papa
John, football stadium.
Headed toward the track, we thought.
Saw three young ladies, with the requisite hats, and asked them which way to the horses.
We're not sure, said they.
We're Northwestern students.
I pointed to the maize M on by blue baseball cap.
Well, we got to the one gate that allowed entry with chairs and
coolers, just as the second (of 13, the Derby being #11) races, concluded, which we gleaned from cell phone contact with the advance party inside.
What a throng.
All ages, all sizes, all shapes.
We could barely see the entry gate, as the line started at the
intersection some distance away.
Well, that is, one of the lines.
There appreared to be a feeder stream aimed directly at the gate,
a couple hundred feet from the intersection where we stood. We had to make a 90 degree right turn to get in.
And, another line aimed right at us, which had to make the corresponding 90 degree turn to their left to get through.
When I say line, I don't mean, line. I mean, at least 3,000 people proceeding at an undiscernable pace. The guy next to us said he had already been waiting 2 hours.
And the morning thunderstorms had given way to a blazing hot sun.
Just to make things perfect, two small groups of fanatics bracketed the feeder stream with homophobic conclusions yelled through megaphones, which were a mere sidelight from the signs, and exhortations to keep your women at home, ironing and washing dishes, and, not talking.
A continuous tirade delineating all the ways we were going to hell. The crowd reaction varied and cycled through catcalls and derisive
responses all the way to pre-riot tension.
Constables were there to preserve order.
There were, however, no race officials of any description advising of
the precise procedures required to get in to the track. Nor was anyone making any attempt to organize the lines, steer them in any direction, say, well, anything, like, cash only for infield admission, no ticket needed..
I've never seen anything like it.
Later we figured the early storms and rain forecast had caused folks
to leave later.
One elderly lady plunked down in her unfolded chair right in front of us. Her assumed husband looked 85 if he was a day. Someone produced a water bottle, and we wondered what they were doing here.
This was a half hour into our wait, and we had progressed less than 50 feet.
Every few minutes, the old lady would rise, the old man would scoot the chair forward a few inches, and the old lady would sit down again.
Of course, they were being passed left and right by others in the crowd as we were pressed in behind them.
Next thing I know, she is smoking a cigarette.
End of my sympathy.
Next time I look up, she has scooted ten feet ahead of me, the
other side of a big trash bin.
An elderly gentleman to my left tries to toss his empty beverage
container into the bin, and, overshooting his target, hits her right in the ass.
There is a God.
I made a reconnaissance trip around the back of the feeder stream that led to the gate, and someone official, who advised everyone was steered through the security checks, before they could get to the gate, whether the credit windows, or the cash gates.
Ah, I at least now know something.
Turning around, I cannot help but notice that the megaphone wielding fanatic on this side, screaming about sinners, must weigh in at a minimum of 350 pounds.
I resist the urge to inquire of him whether gluttony isn't still one of the seven deadly sins.
Making my way back to my friends, I passed next to a Buckeye going the other way. In full game regalia, hat, jersey, buckeye nut necklace.
I doubted anyone had read him the sex offender story yet, so I just said, Hi!.
Momentarily stupefied by the depth of my two letter remark, or maybe the UM hat, or, maybe the combination, he mumbled Go Bucks.
As we made the turn, now a mere first down from the destination, I executed the plan for me to cut through to buy us three tickets, while my friends checked the coolers and chairs.
As soon as I was out of sight, which was not far, all the security guards jumped up on tables or whatever and started taking pictures of everyone.
Then they all yelled: No more checking! Again and again and again. Having waited nearly two hours to be checked, it took the crowd a
while to absorb the impact of this announcement.
I continued with the strategy, pulling out $150 cash for 3 tickets, ony to be told, there are: no tickets. Each person pays $50, which is shoved into a box, and slides through the turnstile.
Interesting skimming possiblities there. How do you verify the attendance count?
However, my immediate problem was to get back from the place that had been my goal for, forever, and find my friends.
I found them, told them I would go in first, and pay for them from inside.
A female officer gently told me I could not stand next to the cash box behind the ticket taker. Uh, that is, money grabber.
I stated that sounded like a rule that made enormous sense and she took the $100 bill to pay for my friends when they finally got to the front.
Now, make the cell call to my oldest daughter to advise that we were finally in the building.
She met us at the other end of the tunnel that goes under the track from the entrance.
Now, if people watching is your thing, you have to do the Derby.
Six foot eight guys dressed in full jockey uniforms, cap, silks, riding boots.
People in all sorts of horse outfits. People is suits, puking on the grass. People exhibiting all the symptoms of a closed head injury. People with “Derby Virgin” buttons taking ten minutes to make a bet at the window. The Mayor of the infield.
And so on.
We finally arrived at our seats after the 6th race.
Hey, I was not going to bet much anyway.
Saw Joe the Derby veteran napping with his exposed belly, which I
perceived to be crying out for an ice cube from the cooler. I sated this desire as quietly as possible, so as not to wake up the rest of his body.
It must be told he was wearing his MSU hat.
He looked great, considering he is fighting the big C.
We swapped sports stories and tried to avoid the drunks, one of
whom was leering at my soon to graduate daughter. Too bad she can't show him some of the targets from her trips to the gun range.
When you go to the Derby, all your friends give you money to place their gets. My wife has developed an ingenious system for placing the various bets the races.
You get a blank envelope, write the number of the race, your bet, the amount, and the horse's number on the outside, and put the exact change for the bet inside the envelope.
Whoever runs to the window, then puts the betting slip in the appropriate envelope, and all is done quickly, and, the records are in order.
I had stuck a preview of the race, in my gear, and had read it during the tortuos wait outside.
I determined to go with Gemoligist with perfectas and trifectas and whatever.
I then had $10 left, so put $2 on the 8th, 9th and 10th races on the choices one of our group who had been picking winners.
That left $4, of my small budget, which I put on I'll Have Another, the big underdog, to win, remembering my earlier decision.
On my last trip, in 1986, from the same vantage point, you could see the horses round the turn, but it took awhile to find out the results, because the noise in the infield overwhelms the stadium announcer.
Now, they have a large video screen across the track, so you can see all of the race, including the finish.
Son of a gun, I'll Have Another pulls it off.
In memorium, T-Bird and Nanook.
Well the first Saturday in May is upon us as of tomorrow and that means the annual Run for the Roses is here.
I realize the great majority of this board probably doesn't care but I have to imagine there's at least a few other degenerates like myself who enjoy bettin' the ponies. This is your place to discuss with your fellow M brethren what you think will go down in the fastest 2 minutes in sports (outside of Denard running the 2 minute offense of course).
I think Trinniberg will get out front early and set a blistering pace through the first 6-7 furlongs before fading. Hansen and Bodemeister will be right behind him slightly off the pace. I don't think Hansen has the distance anyways but even if he did I don't think he'll be able to resist the temptation of trying to keep up with Trinniberg early, further burning him out before the finish line. If Bodemeister breaks well he has a chance (duh, he's the favorite) but I don't know if he can rate off the pace like he'll need to to win this race. Bode will want to go early because of Trinniberg and Hansen, and his rider will want to hold him back and save something for the longer classic distance of 1 1/4 miles. This will waste valuable energy for Bodemeister, though, he may just be good enough to win it anyways.
This frantic early pace sets up the race perfectly for a middle of the pack stalker or a deep closer from the back. Anytime you have 20 horses racing on a track meant for 14 things are going to get crazy and luck will play a big part. I like Gemologist and I'll Have Another's outside post positions because they'll be able to settle in nicely coming into the first turn and not get caught up in the mix inside. If they can be placed favorably I like their chances for a stretch run as stalker types.
Union Rags is probably the best horse in this field and if he gets the right trip should win the race. However the right trip is tough to get in this race as it is, much less with starting from the 4 post. This leaves his connections an interesting decision. Try to get in a good stalking position early but risk being bumped and closed off, or, sit back early if the horse isn't fighting and try to come from further off the pace than they'd probably like. I don't know what they'll do, but he's a horse that can win this race from either scenario if it breaks right for him.
Daddy Nose Best has been the hot training horse this week and it seems like he's setting up for a real good race.
Dullahan is a deep closer who I like but he's been much better on grass and synthetic surfaces - I just don't know if he likes dirt all that much, and being a closer, he'll have plenty of dirt being kicked in his face the first mile of the race.
Alpha had a bad trip in the Wood Memorial and still almost beat Gemologist, but he missed a critical work due to an infection after that race and he starts from the 11 gate, which gets loaded 1st with the 1, and he has had gate issues in the past.
Creative Cause has been very consistent but lost a shoe shipping and hasn't trained well this week. He's still very capable, but I don't like seeing things "not go to plan" the week leading up to the derby when everything has to fall into place perfectly to win.
El Padrino will go off at longer odds just because of a bit of a dud in his last prep race the FL derby, finishing 4th. I don't put too much stock into that. He's a good horse, and can come from the back late. If it's raining, I'll have him involved in more tickets, his Mudda was a mudda!
Wow I can't believe I've typed all this and I've barely broken down half the field. Sorry for so TL;DR - I've got Derby fever!!
I'm sure I'll change my mind 5 times before actually placing my bets, but, currently I have it...
I'll Have Another (12-1)
Daddy Nose Best (15-1)
Union Rags (9-2)
El Padrino (20-1) (you can't bet on 5th place but I couldn't decide between him and Gem)
Tomorrow is the first Saturday of May which means it's time for the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby. Triple Crown season is one of my favorite portions of the sports calandar. I've attended The Preakness (pure madness) and the Belmont Stakes (classy) and one day hope to attend the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
There are some great names in this year's field. Stay Thirsty, Pants on Fire (Tressel's Horse?), Master of Hounds, and Mucho Macho Man to name a few.
Nick Zito's horse Dialed In is the current favorite at +300. Uncle Mo was next in line but has been scratched as of this morning. The experts seem to think it's a wide open race. Current odds can be found here:
The weather is calling for a chance of thunderstorms all afternoon. It could be a muddy track:
Covers.com is a gambling advice web site that I use frequently. They are attacking the Derby from a number of different angles on the front page of the site. They give you the top 5 long shot bets here:
Do any MGoBloggers bet the ponies? Has anyone attended a Triple Crown race? Any thoughts on the field for tomorrow? Enjoy and good luck to everyone.
The 136th run for the roses is today. I have Super Saver at 8-1, its hard to bet against Calvin Borel. Who do you have?