Saturday, June 6, 2009

Game 55 Redux: Day At The Dog Horse Races

Let's try this again. After getting washed out yesterday, the Yanks and Rays will kick off their series today when the weather will be much nicer. From a strictly selfish standpoint, I was somewhat happy that last night's game was called early. I had tickets for last night, and will be there today as well, so the last thing I wanted to do was drive in the rain and NYC traffic during Friday rush hour, pay $19 to park, then get rained out or have a game last until 1 AM, then drive home and do it again in the morning. I'm not at all complaining about going to games, but that would have been less than ideal. I've sat through a ton of rain delays the last few years it seems. The early cancellation saved me some driving.

Switching gears for a second, today is also the Belmont Stakes, the final leg of horse racing's Triple Crown. The Sport of Kings was once amongst the most popular sports, if not the most popular sport, in America. I'm by no means a horse racing fan or expert, but I love watching the Triple Crown races, the most exciting two minutes in sports. I'm not really even a gambler; I'm just intrigued. I like watching a one ton animal move that fast. I like watching the drunken spectators go nuts. I like laughing at how funny the jockeys talk before they return home to their gorgeous wives. I like the possibility that something horrific may happen. 2007 was Barbaro; 2008 was Eight Belles; we're running out of time for this year.

The Yankees recently had several loose connections to the world of horse racing. Joe Torre, Don Zimmer, and Jim Kaat all dig the ponies. Hank Steinbrenner has been very involved in the family's thoroughbred business. Torre, Zim, and Kaat are all gone from the Bronx now, and Hank thankfully appears to be under some sort of gag order, so today I'll be your Yankee horse racing expert. Pick Mine that Bird. It's a no brainer. As of this writing he's going off at 2 to 1, but it doesn't matter if it's not a high profitability bet. I don't see anyway he loses this race. He put on a show at the Derby, and if the Preakness were two lengths longer he would have overtaken Rachel Alexandra, who isn't even running today.

Given the relatively weak field and Mine that Bird's knack for coming off the pace, I just see no way he loses. At a mile and a half, The Belmont is the most grueling leg of the Triple Crown. Many a good horse has fallen victim on its home stretch. After leading most of the race, Real Quiet lost the Triple Crown to Victory Gallop by a nose at the wire in 1998. In 1973 Secretariat won by an astounding 31 lengths in a record 2:24, one of the dominating performance in racing history if not all of sports. You couldn't even see another horse when he crossed the finish line. I don't think Mine that Bird will equal that, but I don't expect the rest of the field to even be close to him.

The aforementioned 1998 race is the closest I've come to seeing that elusive Triple Crown. We won't see it this year either as Mine that Bird and Rachel Alexandra split the first two legs. But, in an unorthodox, if not unprecedented, fashion, jockey Calvin Borel (a jockey since the tender age of 8) won both races. With Rachel Alexandra out today, Borel is back on Mine that Bird and has the chance to win the Triple Crown as a jockey. I hope he does it, and you should too if only to listen to his ridiculously amusing Cajun accent during his post-victory interview. I'll likely be driving home at post time, but I'm thinking of stopping at the OTB on the NY-CT border to watch the race. As I found out on Derby Day, horse racing does not translate well to radio.

Back to baseball. The Yanks and Rays send two thoroughbreds to the mound today in CC Sabathia and David Price. It seems as if the Yankees have had many of these lefty-lefty match-ups already this year. Price is the consensus top pitching prospect in baseball. Since making his Big League debut against the Yankees last September 14th he's been lights out, posting a 2.35 ERA and 29 K over his first 23 innings. The Rays really should have him pitching the eighth inning.

CC has been cruising of late, so this should be a good pitchers duel. CC hasn't pitched in a week due to Wang rejoining the rotation and yesterday's rainout, which is a bit concerning, but the big fella should be alright.

Meanwhile last year's Cinderella team is turning into a pumpkin, playing .500 ball and in fourth place. Dioner Navarro, B.J. Upton, and Andy Sonnanstine are all struggling. The double play combo of Aki Iwamura and Jason Bartlett is on the DL, with Iwamura out for the year. Pat Burrell, Scott Kazmir and Troy Percival are also on the DL and all have been brutal while healthy. And unfortunately Eliot Johnson is in AAA Durham, so there will be no revenge for Frankie Cervelli this weekend.

Once again, I'll be at the game, but for those of you watching on TV, don't be looking for Kim Jones on the pre-game. She'll be on Long Island, getting ready to break from Gate 11 sometime around 6:27.

In honor of today's day at the races here's some vintage Lowell George era Little Feat and "Day at the Dog Races". I highly recommend you listen to some Feat and I strongly suggest you don't listen to anything from after Lowell died. Since this one's an instrumental, there will be no lyrics today. Enjoy.


  1. Haha, brilliant Kim Jones reference!

  2. 1). Thanks Joe, I'm glad someone like my Kim "Why the long face?" Jones remark.

    2). Did I say Mine that Bird? I meant Summer Bird. Don't ever take racing or any other gambling advice from me.

    At least now I don't have to pretend that I know anything about racing until the first Saturday next May.