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!


A Cat Gloats Over the Preakness – a Little

May 22, 2016

By Adele

It’s not often I take a victory lap when one of my Triple Crown prognostications pans out, but this time I can’t help it. I totally nailed it.

Yesterday, EXAGGERATOR OUTRAN NYQUIST AND WON THE PREAKNESS!

Before the race, only one of the talking heads on NBC agreed with me. They were all rooting for Nyquist.

OK, I have to admit that Cherry Wine snuck in out of nowhere and actually finished second but, if you’ll review the comments on my previous post and see where I responded to a demand from a Cats Working reader well-known to Roc as “Grumpy,” I boldly predicted that Exaggerator would outrun Nyquist and Stradivari, in that order. And that’s exactly how it went down, with Nyquist and Strad coming in 3rd and 4th.

There’s no doubt about it. I’ve still got the gift. Even if I do say so myself.

I’m doing my best to wrangle an interview with Exaggerator before the Belmont, so stay tuned.

PS: We were all deeply saddened to learn that actor Alan Young died on May 19 at age 96. He was the best friend of our all-time favorite horse, Mister Ed. Fortunately, Karen has the entire 5 ½ seasons of the show on DVD (available on Amazon) so we can get our Ed-and-Wilbur fix whenever we want one. You should try it. Even 50+ years later, Ed is still hilarious and often astute in a timely way.


Preakness Stakes: A Cat Torn Between Two Horses

May 20, 2016

By Adele

I regret to report that my favorite in the Kentucky Derby, Exaggerator ran second, missing the wire by only 1 ¼ lengths. He’s back for the 141st Preakness Stakes at Pimlico. (On NBC Saturday, May 21, post time approximately 6:45 p.m. ET.)

My second Derby pick, Suddenbreakingnews, came in fifth, which wasn’t too shabby, but he’s sitting out the Preakness.

Nyquist was the Derby favorite and he won it, flicking his tail in Exaggerator’s face for the 4th time and maintaining his unbeaten record. The Derby was Nyquist’s 8th win in a row. Can he make it nine in the Preakness?

Only 11 horses are running this time, and only Nyquist, Exaggerator and Lani also ran in the Derby two weeks ago. Lani came in 9th. At the Preakness, Lani will be in post position 6, odds 30-1.

For my treats, Exaggerator (pp 5, odds 3-1) and Nyquist (pp 3, 3-5) are the two to watch, because the Ex Man needs to avoid losing a 5th time to Nyquist or risk having it called his career.

Since Nyquist has a shot at the Triple Crown, I wish him the best. But I’ve got a thing for Exaggerator, and he’s got a score to settle with Nyquist for the honor of the Desormeaux stable.

You see, Exaggerator has a stablemate named Swipe (not running in the Preakness) who has also lost multiple times to Nyquist, coming in 2nd FOUR RACES IN A ROW.

So, if ever a horse had a target on his rump, it’s Nyquist, and the Preakness is Exaggerator’s best chance to serve him up a nice, big, cold plate of revenge.

Other than that, the Preakness is crawling with kids of Uncle Mo. In addition to Nyquist, there are his half-brothers, Uncle Lino (pp 2, 20-1), Laoban (pp 8, 30-1), and Abiding Star (pp 9, 30-1).

Keep an eye on Abiding Star. He’s the second most experienced horse in the field, with 11 races under his saddle. He’s won the last 5, so he’s definitely on a roll, even though his odds indicate not many agree with me.

The least experienced horse may also bear watching. He’s Stradivari (pp 11, 8-1), with only three previous races to his credit, but he won the last two.

Fellowship (pp 10) is the most experienced overall, with 12 races, but he only won two.

As always, we’re keeping 12 paws crossed that all the horses run a good race and cross the finish line safely.


Good Luck at Belmont, American Pharoah

June 5, 2015

By Adele

There’s no point analyzing or speculating on the third Triple Crown race, the Belmont Stakes, Saturday, June 6. We’ve got a horse within a whisker of being crowned for the first time since 1978, and I’m not going to jinx it.

It may bring good luck to actors on Broadway, but the one thing you never, EVER say to any horse before a big race is, “Break a leg.”

Now that American Pharoah is on the verge of making history, they’re emphasizing the fact that he’s the great-great-great grandson of Secretariat, who happened to be born not too far from here, in Doswell, Virginia, in Caroline County.

And my colleague Max never tires of reminding me that he was born in Caroline County. However, we don’t know, and he doesn’t remember, if he was brought to Richmond from a kill shelter or if someone found him dumped on the side of the road. (Considering how annoying he is, I suspect it’s the latter.)

And I never tire of reminding Max that Caroline County is the final resting place of Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston Marathon bombing creep’s big brother, because nowhere else would have him, even to throw dirt on him.

But I digress…

Firing Line and Dortmund are skipping the Belmont after failing to outrun the Pharoah in the first two Triple Crown races. The field will consist of only 8 horses, and only one (Madefromlucky) didn’t run in either of the previous Triple Crown races.

American Pharoah is the only horse to run all three, so he’s the least rested before the longest (1-1/2 miles), most grueling race. He’ll be in post position 5.

On his first spin around the Belmont track earlier this week, trainer Bob Baffert said Pharoah ran the wrong way, but he seems in fine spirits.

Cats Working wishes American Pharoah the best in winning the Triple Crown, and may all the horses cross the finish line safely.


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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