Taking a Pass on 2022 Kentucky Derby

May 7, 2022

By Tony

Here’s a confession for all my peeps: Try as hard as I might, I’m just not feeling excited about Triple Crown season the way my predecessors Adele and Fred did. I’m sorry.

A month before I was born, back in 2019, the Kentucky Derby winner was Maximum Security. But he was disqualified for bumping into another horse in the stretch and they gave the win to Country House instead.

I joined the Cats Working crew that October. Roc and Max drafted me to fill Adele’s considerable paw pads as the 2020 Triple Crown prognosticator. But COVID screwed up the order of my first Triple Crown season and the Derby ended up being the LAST race, run in September, instead of the first one. My pick came in second, but he’d already won the longest and hardest race, the Belmont, so I couldn’t claim to know what I was doing.

Not like amazing Adele did back in 2011 when she picked Animal Kingdom and HE WON!

So, I tried again in 2021. When my top pick came in 16th, I began to wonder if I’m really cut out for horse racing. The winner of that Derby was Medina Spirit. But then HE was disqualified after they found some banned substance in his system after the race.

Sadly, Medina Spirit unexpectly dropped dead during a workout on December 6, 2021. But he died a winner, never knowing he was disqualified, because the humans took their sweet time and didn’t reach their verdict until February 2022.

As a result, Medina’s trainer, Bob Baffert, has been banned for two years from tracks on both coasts for doping horses. But for today’s Derby, Baffert managed to skirt the ban by transferring two of his horses, Taiba and Messier, to one of his former trainer associates, who was able to enter them.

After two Derby disqualifications in three years, I think The Triple Crown is morphing into more a series of rigged elections than fair races. It doesn’t matter how powerful or fast the horses are. Some human bastard with an agenda will be waiting like a spider at the finish line, hoping for some sign of “fraud” with which to take out the winner.

You can’t get excited or trust what you see watching these races anymore. If they don’t turn out the way some backroom gang of thugs planned, they’ll throw the thing into dispute until they get what they want, the horses be damned.

I feel really bad for thoroughbreds who train hard and run themselves ragged in qualifying races for the Derby. In the end, none of it matters. Their reputations and fates are in the hands of sometimes deceitful, greedy people who will dope or drag any horse’s good name through the mud to win.

Cats Working wishes all the horses a safe trip today, and we’ll be watching. But nobody’s got paws crossed for a winner, because any horse’s “victory” may be just a temporary illusion.


From the Notebook

May 18, 2021

By Karen

I’ve shifted to a Tuesday-Friday posting schedule due to my day job. Here are the bits I’ve been making note of…

Mask Update from Virginia: Today I went to the Post Office, Target, and Food Lion. The PO still had a door sign requiring masks, and everyone inside wore one. Target had removed its mask sign, but kept the social distancing sign. However, I didn’t see anyone maskless. At Food Lion, I forgot to look for the signs, but everyone was masked. I’m thrilled.

Medina Spirit Triple Screwed: The New York Racing Association suspended trainer Bob Baffert from its tracks, including Belmont, home of the third Triple Crown race June 5. So, Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit can’t compete, even if he wanted to win two out of three.

In any case, Medina will probably forfeit the Derby because Baffert let Medina receive a rash ointment containing the banned substance betamethasone. We await a second drug test to confirm the first failed test, but it’s using more of the same blood sample, so another positive seems certain.

Medina may have shot Baffert a “middle hoof up” in the Preakness. Medina led balls to the wall the whole race, only to fall a distant third to Rombauer and Midnight Bourbon in the final stretch.

So, a promising Triple Crown season will probably fizzle, with Medina Spirit a drug-convicted also-ran. Leave it to humans, right?

What’s No. 3 Worth Outside Horse Racing?: Demonic Dick Cheney’s daughter, Congresswoman Liz Cheney, a wisp of conscience that infuriates Republicans. First, she voted to impeach Trump (on 2nd try). Then she admitted he’s lying about the election being stolen, painting also as liars every Republican scumbag still spouting that bullshit. It was the first and only time I’ll probably ever agree with a Cheney.

So, Liz had to be punished. Through a weaselly, passive-aggressive secret vote, they stripped Liz of her No. 3 position in the House.

Did it ever matter? Did she get wear a special ring or something? I have no idea who No. 2 is. That position may not even need to exist because Kevin McCarthy reeks of No. 2 from constantly rolling in Trump’s crap.

Republicans Remember Insurrectionists as “Normal Tourists”: In real time, the world watched our Capitol swarmed by human Plague rats egged on by Trump to overthrow the presidential election. They smashed windows and doors, beat police, brandished weapons, smeared feces, ransacked offices and stole, and erected a gallows out front for the vice president.

We’ve been seeing video and hearing eyewitness accounts ever since about this nightmare that killed five people.

I’m waiting for Democrats to slam the lid on this garbage that it was a “normal tourist visit” NOW. Arrest the instigators who still sit fat and happy in Congress. Josh Hawley, Marjorie Taylor-Greene et al. need a little “me time” in jail to face the fact that that Trump’s out and so is gaslighting.

Israel – Hamas War: In its latest burst of impotent rage, Hamas started shooting rockets at Israel again, with predictable results: Israel’s Iron Dome is swatting the rockets away like flies, but in retaliation flattening huge swaths of what little they’ve allowed to remain of Palestinian territory.

In the U.S., it seems anything less than 100% unconditional support for everything Israel does is labeled anti-Semitism. But this has nothing to do with race or religion. It’s about oppression and human rights abuse.

Let me put it this way. Say your neighbor has a dog he encourages to poop all over your yard. This makes you angry and you feel he’s violating your land, so you start flinging the feces back over the fence into the dog-owner’s yard. One night, he responds by fire-bombing your house, destroying it and killing your whole family.

You can usually tell who’s “winning” a conflict by counting the casualties (as of this minute):

Palestinians: 212 dead (including 61 children, 35 women), 1,400+ wounded, 2,500 homeless.

Israelis: 12 dead (including 1 child).

Israel absolutely has the right defend itself from attack, but the disproportionate brutality is where I draw the line.

In a perfect world, Netanyahu and Trump would be sharing a prison cell for their lives of financial corruption and depraved indifference to human life, and we’d all be better off.


Medina Spirit on Trump: “He’s Wack”

May 11, 2021

By Tony

Trump, desperate for a social media fix after getting banned everywhere for lying, created his own website, “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump.” (No link. Cats Working is dedicated to stamping out ignorance.)

Trump spews gibberish that people may ♥ or repeat on Facebook or Twitter. We hope journalists don’t scamper after Trump down his new rabbit hole, fouling the media with his garbage.

But on Sunday Trump called Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit a “junky.”

That’s because after the Derby, Medina failed a drug test. It showed too much betamethasone, a steroid horses are given for pain or inflammation. It’s forbidden when they race. Medina’s trainer Bob Baffert has been suspended at Churchill Downs, and the world waits for results from a second test on another portion of Medina’s sample to find out if Medina has to forfeit his Derby win and give up his Triple Crown dream.

Max and Roc helped me “borrow” Karen’s phone and call Medina Spirit to get an opinion straight from the horse’s mouth…

I caught him just before he hit the road to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore.

Tony: Hi, Mr. Spirit? Do you have a few minutes to talk to Cats Working?

Medina Spirit: Cats? Working? Are you kidding? The cats prowling our stable hunt purely for sport. But they’re cool, so sure. Make it quick, though. My trailer’s almost ready to go. Call me Medina.

T: Thanks. You were amazing in the Derby. I’m so sorry they might disqualify you for doing drugs.

M: That’s some crazy shit, right? I can’t believe it myself.

T: Did you realize your people doped you before the race?

M: It comes down to this. When they show up with a big horse needle before a major race, you can either kick their balls off and earn a trip to the glue factory, or you can trust that they’re not SO stupid, they’d kill their own meal ticket, so you take the shot.

T: I get it. Why do you think Baffert would let that happen?

M: We call that guy “Baffling” around the stalls. One day he loves his horseys, the next day, we hear he’s shooting them up and getting suspended. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

T: What do you think about Donald Trump calling you a “junky.”

M: To be honest, I’m more pissed that Baffling keeps calling me a “little horse.” What’s that mean? A Shetland? A Falabella? I’ll tell you, I’ve got one thing I’d like to show Baffert any day that makes his own look downright puny, and that’s my —

T: — Horses put cats to shame in that department, too. Speaking of mushrooms, back to Trump.

M: Oh, yeah. What does Trump mean by “junky”? Was my saddle tatty? Was my jockey wearing rags? I don’t get it.

T: I think he meant “junkie,” like drug addict.

M: Oh, right. That clown never could spell. But he knows junkies. He sees one every time he looks in a mirror. And he’s not seeing an orange horse with a fucked-up mane. What a washed-up wack job. It doesn’t take even a lick of horse sense to see that. Why isn’t he in jail yet? People need to muck out his worthless opinions. When it comes to crime, Trump makes Baffert’s horse-rigging seem trifling.

Hey, look, kid, I gotta run. Literally. In the Preakness on Saturday. Against Mandaloun again. He almost beat my ass in the Derby.

T: OK, Medina. I’ve got paws crossed you win again. I hear Baffert’s watching the race from California, so it’s all on you at Pimlico. Best of luck!


Derby Leaves Cats Kentucky-Fried

May 3, 2021

By Roc, Tony and Max

Roc here… When I was a tiny kitten out west in Abingdon, Virginia, my mom always told us never to trust — or stand under — horses. “Freaks on stilts with rocks for feet” she used to call them. Since we’d never seen a horse, my littermates and I had no idea what she was talking about.

But once I came to Cats Working and learned from Adele about the Triple Crown and sat through all those races with her for years, now I know exactly what Mom meant. You never really know what’s cooking in those tiny horse brains in those ginormous bodies.

And humans think CATS are unpredictable!

Adele must be laughing her ass off in Kitty Heaven over the crappy job we did of picking Kentucky Derby winners. Karen remembers all the way back to when the late Fred used to pick the ponies. She says she doesn’t think he or Adele were ever more off the mark than we were.

Max cutting in… Speaking of Adele, I bet she’s up there on Seattle Slew’s back, whispering in his ear, “Your great-grandson Bourbonic came in 13th. Not your proudest moment, huh?”

Curlin, Bernardini and Afleet Alex, who are all living the studly life in retirement, have probably been hearing horsy guffaws around their stables over their descendents running like their shoes were on backward.

Tony… OK, OK, since I’m the new designated prognosticator here, I should be the one to tell you how it went down. In case you missed the race on May 1, you can watch the whole disgusting spectacle right here in a minute. But let me tell you a few things to watch for.

First, we are grudgingly happy for the winner, Medina Spirit, and congratulate him for his amazing race. But we were all hissing right after the race when his trainer Bob Baffert kept calling him a “little horse.” Hey, Baffert, that “little horse” made you the most successful trainer in Derby history with a seventh win. Show some respect!

On Derby Day, two of our picks were getting a lot of promising attention: Known Agenda and Rock Your World. In the end, Agenda became the relative leader of our pack, coming in ninth.

Rock Your World, who went in with second-best odds of winning, was another story. Directly out of the gate he was crowded out by Essential Quality (14) and Highly Motivated (17) and pushed to the far outside, where he remained. Rock did try to recover, but must have started thinking, “I could be in my stall with a big icy bucket of carrot juice, watching this shit on TV,” because he fell back and crossed the finish line 17th.

But by far the MOST bizarre run was by that whitish horse, Soup and Sandwich. He started from post position 19, surged to the front and maintained a steady second place behind Medina Spirit. Then something weird happened. At about 1:35 on the video, it looks like Soup starts running BACKWARD. He lets ALL the other horses pass until he’s dead last in 19th place. (Only 19 horses ran because King Fury, pp 16, got scratched). See what I mean…

Kitty hope springs eternal, so we’ll try to do better with the Preakness. We haven’t heard of any mishaps from the Derby, so at least all the horses made it in one piece, and we’re thankful for that.


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.


The 2015 Preakness Conundrum

May 15, 2015

By Adele

After watched the Kentucky Derby on May 2, my little kitty heart is in pieces — three to be exact — going into the Preakness Stakes on May 16.

I had rooted for Big Brown’s son, Dortmund, to continue his lifetime streak with a 7th win in the Derby, but he came in third, behind American Pharoah and Firing Line. Dortmund had outrun Firing Line in their previous two races, so the Line showed Dortmund what hell payback can be.

American Pharoah and Dortmund are both trained by Bob Baffert, and he has them stabled at Pimlico side-by-side, so they’re practically roomies.

Once any horse wins the Kentucky Derby, I believe it’s poor sportsmanship to wish him not to take the Triple Crown, so my fair side wants to see American Pharoah win the Preakness.

But deep down I still want Dortmund win it. Baffert says this may be Dortmund’s race because he’ll like the distance, shorter than the Derby by 1/16 mile.

And then we have poor Firing Line, who’s endured second-place finishes in his last three races against these two, yet he’s gamely trying to win for the fourth time.

All three have to be pooped, since the Derby was only two weeks ago. For the Preakness, American Pharoah and Dortmund forebodingly drew post positions 1 and 2 at the rail, respectively, while Firing Line got the far outside pp 8.

That’s the good news. Only 8 horses in the field this time. Mr. Z (pp 3) and Danzig Moon (pp 4) also ran in the Derby, placing 13th and 5th, respectively. The remaining 3 horses are new faces, and I’m not considering any of them.

All eyes will be on American Pharoah, Dortmund, and Firing Line in this year’s Triple Crown menage à trois. If American Pharoah can’t do it, then I want Dortmund and Firing line each to win the Preakness and Belmont and make it a team triumph.

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


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