A Cat’s 2019 Preakness Picks

May 17, 2019

By Adele

Stewards who threw the Kentucky Derby to 2nd-place finisher Country House flushed this year’s Triple Crown season down the toilet, but I’m pressing on to the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico on May 18.

Since the Derby, many in the racing community have worked up a righteous lather to justify humiliating Maximum Security by disqualifying his legitimate win. You’d think Max ran the race with switchblades on his shoes and cut every horse who dared get too close.

Adding further insult, Max’s jockey, Luis Saez, got belatedly suspended for 15 racing days for “failure to control his mount and make the proper effort to maintain a straight course.” Yeah, whatever.

A typical suspension is about three days, so Saez is appealing it. But as it stands, the Belmont Stakes on June 8 is conveniently one of the dates he’s forbidden to ride.

Max’s owners have filed a federal lawsuit against the Derby stewards and members of the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, claiming his disqualification was unconstitutional because the Commission denies due process by claiming stewards’ decisions are final. Apparently, other states, like Louisiana, don’t share this “stewards are gods” stance.

But since neither Max nor Country House are in the Preakness tomorrow, all this human acid reflux is moot.

The Preakness field is only 13 horses. Let’s hope the track dries out (it’s been raining all week), they all keep to themselves and run straight as arrows so those stewards don’t get their panties in a bunch.

War of Will — whom Max allegedly tangled legs with to cause a massive chain reaction, the stewards alleged, that affected nearly every horse EXCEPT Country House — will be in post position 1 under the same jockey, Tyler Gaffalione. He ran 7th in the Derby, but is the second favorite with 4-1 odds. With Max out of the picture, this is War’s chance to show us he can do it.

Also running again is Improbable (new jockey, Mike Smith, 5-2, pp 4). He was one of my picks for the Derby and came in 4th, so I hope he places.

My pick to win is Alwaysmining (Daniel Centeno, 8-1, pp 7). He wasn’t in the Derby, but has won his previous six races, so he’s accustomed to being out front. And, he’s trained by Kelly Rubley, who would be the first female trainer to win a Triple Crown race.

Alwaysmining (Photo: Jerry Jackson, Baltimore Sun)

The only other horses back for more are Bodexpress (new jockey, John Velazquez, 20-1, pp 9, ran 13th in the Derby) and Win Win Win (Julian Pimentel, 15-1, pp 13, ran 9th in the Derby). The rest of the field is fresh horsefaces.

BONUS: Here’s WaPo’s long-time horse racing columnist Andrew Beyer’s take on the Kentucky Derby and why disqualifying Max based on what might have happened rather than what actually went down was dumb.


Maximum Security: the Kentucky Derby’s Hillary

May 5, 2019

By Adele

The rainy, muddy Kentucky Derby yesterday was certainly a sloppy mess on every level.

But let me begin by saying I don’t hold Country House responsible for the disgrace his human handlers gleefully heaped on Maximum Security. I’m sure had Country realized his jockey, Flavien Prat, is a conniving weasel, he’d have thrown Prat off before they reached the starting gate and walked away in disgust. Instead, Country has to live with being the only horse ever to have the Kentucky Derby handed to him without winning.

Watching the “disaster” unfold in replays (because no commentator made a peep while it was happening) was like déjà vu to the 2016 election. It didn’t matter how competent, able, and ahead the best “horse” was, forces conspired to put someone else in the Winner’s Circle with the “roses.”

I always thought the purpose of horse racing is for horses to get in front of each other. Maximum Security did that to the field right out of the gate. That he and his jockey, Luis Saez, finished looking like they’d romped on grass instead of through a quagmire was testament to how well they stayed in front.

Here’s a photo of the finish line…

The horse in the red sash to the right is Maximum Security. The horse with the yellow sash in relatively distant second place is Country House. (For the record, his odds were 65-1; he’d only won one race in six previous starts.)

Perhaps figuring he had nothing to lose, Country’s jockey Prat cried foul and claimed Maximum Security “interfered” with other horses, even though he and Country were on the outside, uninvolved. Here’s what happened…

Coming into the stretch, Maximum Security veered right, which he was able to do BECAUSE NO OTHER HORSE WAS THERE.

The horse closest behind him was War of Will, who had veered out from post position 2, and then Long Range Toddy, who had veered well in from post position 18.

War of Will ultimately came in 7th, and Long Range Toddy came in 16th.

Did you see how Max mauled those two horses so badly in that split second that they both essentially threw in the towel? Neither did I.

Meanwhile, Country House was prancing along free and clear, but didn’t have enough race left to overtake Max.

The best horse won, and deserved to win. Max was undefeated with four previous wins, but the stewards kicked him to 17th place in the Derby. They claim his side-stepping threw off virtually ALL the other horses and ANY of them could have magically outrun Max if only he’d stayed out of their way.

If that isn’t some of the vilest, most disgusting horseshit I’ve ever heard, I don’t know what is.

OK, maybe Donald Trump tweeting that Maximum Security lost because of “political correctness.” That moron’s too stupid to realize that “winner” Country House is the Derby’s Donald Trump.

The sports talking heads are doing their utmost to make Max’s behavior heinous to justify the bullshit decision, pretty much saying he could have caused a pile-up and gotten everybody killed.

Well, no, he couldn’t have, because he pulled considerably ahead in the next instant and left the others behind to wallow in the muck.

Now any jockey who doesn’t like the way a race turns out can raise a stink and cross his fingers. Stewards can comb through any replay until they find some justification to throw the race — because they always can. The participants are HORSES. They just RUN. They don’t give a shit about human rules. When it’s muddy, anything can happen.

For the record, I picked Maximum Security to win before any humans were taking him seriously, and before Bob Baffert said he was the horse to watch. Just sayin’.


A Cat’s 2019 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 3, 2019

By Adele

People, between us, I’ve had a good run with the horses and thought last year was my last year. But since I just sailed through my 19th birthday on April 11, I’m happy to be here to kick off another Triple Crown season with the 2019 Kentucky Derby.

(Maybe Karen can forget how much she hates Trump while we watch the “greatest two minutes in sports” together.)

The odds-makers’ favorite was Omaha Beach, who got scratched the other day when his cough turned out to be an entrapped epiglottis. He had minor surgery this morning to remove a loose flap of skin in his throat and should be fine in a few weeks, but he’ll never wear the Triple Crown.

This leaves Omaha’s jockey, Mike Smith, also out of the Run for the Roses. Smith won the Derby last year on Justify and was hoping do make it a double.

Today, Haikal (Jockey Rajiv Maragh, odds 30-1, post position 11) got scratched because he has an abscess on his left front hoof. Since no more horses qualified for the Derby, only 19 will be running, and the 10 horses that were to Haikal’s left will shift over one post position so nobody runs against the rail.

Omaha Beach was trained by Bob Baffert, that guy always in white who looks like my Mini-Me, but Baffert has three other horses to spare, including the humans’ new favorite Game Winner (Joel Rosario, 9-2, pp 16), as well as Improbable (Irad Ortiz Jr., 5-1, pp 6) and Roadster (Florent Geroux, 5-1, pp 17). If one of Baffert’s horses wins, it will be his sixth Kentucky Derby and tie him for trainer with the most wins in the race’s 145 years.

A Japanese horse came over this year. Master Fencer (Julien Leparoux, 50-1, pp 15) is considered the fourth best horse in Japan, and the only horse willing to make the long trip.

As for my picks, Improbable does look pretty good. Of five previous races, he won the first three and came in second in the two most recent. It’s time he chalked up a third-place finish.

Spinoff (Manny Franco, 30-1, pp19) is a long shot, but he’s never run slower than third, and he placed behind By My Standards (Gabriel Saez, 15-1, pp 4) in his previous race, so maybe Spin’s got an axe to grind. I’d be happy if he placed.

Maximum Security (Luis Saez, 8-1, pp 8) also looks promising, undefeated with four previous wins under his saddle. He’s my favorite to win.

But I can’t ignore Game Winner. He won the first four of his six previous races, and most recently placed behind Omaha Beach and Roadster. If he’s in the mood to race, he could be a problem.

The way Baffert likes to run his own horses against each other so much seems a bit twisted. I’ll bet he stirs up a lot of shit-talk in the stalls back at the stables.

As always, keeping paws crossed that all the horses cross the finish line safely. And may the best horse win.


A Cat’s Picks for the 2018 Kentucky Derby

May 4, 2018

By Adele

It’s time for another Run for the Roses at the Kentucky Derby on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

You can watch it on NBC from 2:30-7:30 p.m. ET. It’s all yak, hats, and juleps until the “most exciting 2 minutes in sports” happens at 6:50.

I had a hard time picking a favorite until I learned that Bolt d’Oro is a half-brother of Rachel Alexandra on his father’s (Medaglia d’Oro) side.

If you’ll remember, I was a Rachel groupie back in the day. Among her 13 career wins, in 2009, she crashed the Preakness and beat all the boys. These days Rachel devotes herself to pedicures and motherhood.

Bolt d’Oro pulled post position 11 and his odds are 8-1. He’s having a jockey switch to Victor Espinoza, and I’ve got paws crossed it doesn’t rattle him and he doesn’t notice his most recent jockey, Javier Castellano, sitting on Audible (pp 5, 8-1).

Bolt has unfinished business to settle with the Derby’s current favorite, Justify (pp 7, 3-1, jockey Mike Smith).

On April 7, Bolt and Justify both ran in the Santa Anita Derby. Justify pulled off a 3-length win and a 114 BRIS for speed.

(BRIS is a point scoring system for Kentucky Derby eligibility that Brisnet.com started six years ago. 114 is the highest score ever.)

Bolt came in second with a BRIS of 110, which also broke the record of 107 set by Audible just few weeks earlier.

So, this Derby is Bolt d’Oro’s big chance to make Justify find out what loser dust tastes like.

Bolt will come out of the gate right beside his half-brother, Enticed (pp 12, 30-1).

But Justify has the job of outrunning THREE half-brothers. Their father was Scat Daddy, who suffered a career-ending tendon injury in the 2007 Kentucky Derby, and sadly died at age 11 in 2015.

Justify’s bros are: Flameaway (pp 4, 30-1), Mendelssohn (pp 14, 5-1), and Combatant (pp 20, 50-1).

The horses I bet my fish flakes on to place and show are any of the half-brothers and offspring of Curlin, 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year. They are: Good Magic (pp 6, 12-1), Solomini (pp 17, 30-1), and Vino Rosso (pp 18, 12-1).

Solomini has been known to bump others (specifically, Instilled Regard, pp 15, 50-1) and got himself kicked back from first to third place in that race, so he may have to watch himself.

Vino Rosso may have the edge because his jockey, John Velazquez, won the 2017 Derby on Always Dreaming.

As always, may the best horses win and may they all cross the finish line safely.


A Cat’s Picks for the 2017 Preakness

May 20, 2017

By Adele

Since Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming is running in the Preakness for his second jewel of the Triple Crown today (5 p.m. ET, NBC), this kitty would never pee on his parade and wish him not to win. He’s starting in post position 4 with jockey John Velazquez, and he’s the humans’ favorite with odds of 4-5.

The next horse I’ll be watching is one of my Derby picks, Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 6). Nobody’s talking about him as a serious contender, so he could be plotting to take the lead like a ninja and stun everybody. He’s had a jockey switch, and will under Mike Smith this time. His jockey in the Derby, Javier Castellano, will be aboard Cloud Computing in pp 2.

We haven’t spoken, but I would think Gunnevera is pleased with this development, since Castellano helped him come in 7th in the Derby.

My third pick is Classic Empire (odds 3-1, pp 5) with jockey Julien Leparoux. He was the humans’ favorite in the Derby, but finished 4th. I think he deserves a little glory this time for sticking with it.

Only 10 horses are racing, so the field won’t be too crowded. The weather at Pimlico is supposed to be cool, in the 60s, and cloudy, with no rain and a dry track. Basically, perfect conditions for the horses.

It so happens that my horses will be side by side in the middle of the pack in post positions 4, 5, and 6. The last horse who won from Always Dreaming’s 4 slot was Curlin in 2007.

As always, may the best horse win and may they all cross the finish line safely.


A Cat’s 2017 Kentucky Derby Picks

May 5, 2017

By Adele

It’s that time again! The 143rd Run for the Roses gets underway Saturday, May 6, on NBC at 2:30 p.m. ET, with post time at 6:34. This kitty will be cheering for my favorites, although I confess that, during my research, no horse really jumped out and grabbed me from the full field of 20.

Classic Empire is the humans’ favorite (odds 4-1, post position 14) under jockey Julien Leparoux. On February 4, he ran 3rd after his Derby competitors Irish War Cry and Gunnevera, but it was discovered post-race that Classic Empire had a foot abscess, so his loss may have been a fluke.

He does come well-connected. His father is Pioneer of the Nile, who finished 2nd in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, and his big brother is American Pharoah, who ended the 37-year Triple Crown drought by winning the Kentucky Derby, Preakness, and Belmont in 2015. Classic has run six previous races and won them all except his one 3rd-place finish, so I can see why hopes are high for him. But you know me. I never look a gift horse in the mouth. Classic last ran on April 15, so he may be a little tired.

Another big human favorite is Irish War Cry (odds 6-1, pp 17). He’s a son of Curlin, who was named Horse of the Year in 2007 AND 2007 (much to Big Brown’s disgust). His jockey is Rajiv Maragh, and he’s won two of his three previous races, but lost by 21 lengths to Gunnevera in the only race he ever blew.

Now, on to MY favorites. I’m not too picky about the order they cross the finish line, but I want their dust to be what the other 17 eat…

Tapwrit (odds 20-1, pp 16) I like just because. He’s trained by Todd Pletcher and won the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. But he ran 5th in his most recent race on April 8. His jockey is Jose Ortiz. His father is Tapit, who ran 9th in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. I know this pick seems totally wacko, but just trust me. I have a feeling.

Gunnevera (odds 15-1, pp 10), who already has a history of messing with many of his Derby competitors, is another one I’m watching. He’s run 1st, 2nd, or 3rd in four of his five previous races, winning most recently on March 4. His jockey is Javier Castellano.

And my solid favorite is Patch (odds 30-1, pp 20) because he’s the serious underdog. Another Pletcher horse, Patch injured and lost his left eye in a mysterious stable accident he’s never explained. He’s running on the far outside, so all the other horses will be on his blind side. Will that give him greater concentration, or will he bump into somebody as his jockey, Tyler Gaffalione, tries to maneuver him closer to the rail?

Patch’s father is Union Rags, winner of the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Patch has won only one race in his previous three, but came in a close 2nd April 1 at the Louisiana Derby, so there’s hope.

The Kentucky Derby is always the most exciting race of the Triple Crown because ANY horse has a shot at glory, so my tail is fluffed with anticipation. As always, we at Cats Working wish all the horses to be healthy and happy on race day and cross the finish line safely.


A Cat Interviews Exaggerator

June 10, 2016

By Adele

No, the Exaggerator isn’t Donald Trump. He’s my 2016 favorite horse. I managed to pull strings for some cat-on-horse time before his last and longest Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes on June 11 (NBC, 5-7 p.m. ET).

In case you’re tuning in late, Exaggerator ran second to Nyquist in the Kentucky Derby, but then handed Nyquist his first-ever defeat in the Preakness.

We Skyped while the Ex Man rested up before the big day. (Shhh! Don’t tell Karen I stole her iPad!)

Adele: Are you bummed Nyquist won’t be racing? Everybody was hoping one of you would pull off two out of three Triple Crown wins.

Exaggerator: Yeah, that would have been a crowd-pleaser. But Nyquist ran a fever after the Preakness, so I’m glad his peeps showed some horse sense and let him rest.

But if Nyquist had run again and I won, I’d be remembered as “The Horse Who Missed the Triple Crown by 1 ½ Lengths.” That would have pissed me off, so I guess it’s all for the best.

Adele: After the Preakness, I heard your dad Curlin was handing out cigars at Hill ‘n’ Dale between his stud appointments. He called you a “chip off the old hoof.” After you ate Nyquist’s dust in four previous races, he’s proud you finally gave Nyquist a taste of your tail.

Ex: OK, I’ll admit, that felt great. Dad’s my inspiration, and filling his shoes ain’t easy. He was 2007 Horse of the Year, you know.

On the other hand, I did outrun him in the Derby because he came in 3rd. We both won the Preakness. He lost the Belmont by a head to a filly named Rags to Riches. If I end up losing, at least it won’t be to a girl.

Adele: Just watch out for Cherry Wine. He almost smelled victory in the Preakness, and he’s trying again at Belmont. Do you have a strategy?

Ex: Horses don’t do strategy. We leave that sneaky stuff to the jockeys. “Hug the rail or go wide? Hang back or set the pace? Whip or no whip?”

All we want to do is cross the finish line in one piece and get those little maniacs off our backs. You never see horses take racing too seriously. We don’t cry foul if we don’t come in first, or pick a fight with some horse who bumped us. Team mentality is for sled dogs and Clydesdales. We thoroughbreds just want to do our own thing, which is to run like the wind.

Adele: Cats aren’t into teams either, but Max, Roc, and I squabble just about every day. If I had hooves like yours, they’d both be dead.

Ex: You’re pretty tough for a fluffy white kitty. Remind me not to get on your bad side.

Adele: Just don’t step on my tail and you’ll be fine. You’re running again against two other horses I liked, Suddenbreakingnews from the Derby and Stradivari from the Preakness. If they were to place and show right behind you across that finish line, it would be my personal trifecta.

Ex: Thanks, Adele. I’m happy in post position 11, and they say I’m the favorite, so I’ll run this one for my feline fans. Keep your claws crossed!


%d bloggers like this: