11/14/2007 1:03PM

PC Fun and Games

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Things you can do, besides bet, on your computer:

Ebaylogo
*It may not be as precise as a Beyer Speed Figure (BSF), but the eBay Memorabilia Index (eMI) provides a pretty accurate snapshot of where America's leading racehorses rank in both the public consciousness and the straw polling for Horse of the Year.

A search of the auction site reveals the following number of memorabilia items currently up for bid for each horse listed below. I parsed out the non-racing items from each horse's totals, to exclude things like a misspelled curling iron that came up under Curlin and a bunch of Disney "Rags to Riches" outfits for Cinderella dolls.

55--Curlin
35--Street Sense
25--Rags to Riches
6--Hard Spun
3--Midnight Lute, War Pass
2--Any Given Saturday

And just to keep things in perspective:

223--Secretariat
180--Seabiscuit (not including copies of the movie DVD)

Speaking of eBay, as reported in this link from Equidaily, the Fair Grounds used the online auctioneer to sell opening-day clubhouse tables for Thanksgiving dinner, which fetched up to $515 each.

*I know I'm late to the party on this one, but those similarly unaware should know as I only recently learned that YouTube has become a treasure trove of historical racing footage. Just go to their homepage, type into the "Search" box the name of a famous race (or its principal competitors) you want to see, and there's a decent chance you'll find that someone has uploaded the video. You can then relive, for better or worse, Great Moments like this one (click the two arrows below to let the suffering begin):


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Brainspa

*I recently installed a PC game called "Brain Spa," which promises to keep your mind from atrophying as geezerdom inexorably approaches. Your time at the spa includes eight games meant to stimulate areas of mental activity in the fields of Memory, Logic, Language and Perception.

For me, the games in the first three categories were a breeze but I found to my dismay that I am utterly hopeless at the two "Perception" games. In one you have to match up identical garments flying by on a dry cleaner's motorized rack, and in the other you compare two or three toys rolling off an assembly line and must quickly decide if they match or if any of them sports a tiny defect or discrepancy. I can't even crack the idiot-level "Top 10" scores that come pre-installed.

What are the implications of this for improving one's horseplaying? Some handicappers, such as Dave Litfin, argue that pattern-recognition is one of the most important aspects of the game. Could an inability to match objects or find the subtle differences between them be handicapping this handicapper?

If so, Exhibit A would be selecting Street Sense to win the Breeders' Cup Classic instead of Curlin. I could have gone either way and there probably was an emotional component to my choosing the wrong path: When you pick your first Derby winner since Strike the Gold in 1991, you're a little reluctant to get off him. But I bought into the whole idea that this was going to be just like the BC Juvenile and the Derby -- Street Sense comes off a half-try Polytrack effort to run the race of his life -- without spotting the defect in the parallelism. That evidence came this summer in the Jim Dandy and Travers, where Street Sense was winning but without showing the same level of talent that he did in the Juvenile, Derby and Preakness. What I missed, in retrospect, was that he was no longer an improving and developing horse.

I'm not saying that the Classic was a wholly representative race for Street Sense -- he obviously was spinning his wheels in the slop the entire final furlong, and he probably would have been second with his best effort on a dry track. Nor am I discounting the historical importance of his unique trio of victories in the Juvenile, Derby and Travers. But for all the progress that Curlin made from Derby Day to Classic Day, Street Sense ultimately made none, and that was on display at Saratoga twice, at least to those with stronger powers of Perception than mine.

Frank O'Gara More than 1 year ago
I found this Blog on a Google search for Sunday Silence. I believe we saw far too little of him on the track. And way to little of his off spring. Still Sunday Silence captured our hearts on and off the Racetrack. The greatest Sire of all time was taken far too early.
NYPlayer More than 1 year ago
Some things were just not meant to be. So it was with Street Sense in the Classic. Hindsight is always perfectly clear though, and I won't be fooled into thinking that going against Street Sense was the right thing to do, no matter what I suspected about his development, or what anyone's perceptions were. Street Sense ran as fast as he needed to in order to win the Dandy and the Travers. And since I buy my data from an analyst who does not allow flawed visual perceptions to sully the scientific endeavor of measuring speed, I realized that the Travers win was just as good the Preakness effort. The first signs of poor form manifest themselves in September at Turfway, but for me it was far too late, as I gather you'd appreciate. Those with "powers of Perception" as you say (obviously more wise than you or me), perchance were these the same Powers that declared Street Sense's Juvy romp the result of a bias and not to be trusted? Had I listened then, I would not have reaped the bounty of a generous futures bet, placed with a certain tranquil confidence in January, when this upstart and youthful analyst parlayed a portion of his BC winnings in eager anticipation of the first Saturday in May. My earnest prayer is that those Powers finish their days to the utmost, misguiding as much of my wonton competition as possible.
doglover More than 1 year ago
This is a bit after the fact, but I have a question about DRF ratings for turf conditions. After days of pouring rain, the Monmouth turf course was rated "soft" on Breeders' Cup Saturday. There is an even more severe rating -- "heavy" -- but I've never seen it used for an American course. If Monmouth wasn't "heavy" -- and the conditions were certainly far more water-logged than on days when I've seen other courses rated "soft" -- what would it take for a U.S. course to get the "heavy" designation? Could it have been worse?
Duane Holder More than 1 year ago
Yuwipi, I am so happy to hear there are fans of his still out there. I grew up with him calling races at Ellis/Churchill and still think there was none better..despite Prince Thou Art...Secretatiat's Belmont was true emotion and showed his love of the sport. Good memories.
Hammer More than 1 year ago
Great video. I enjoyed re-living that race.
easygoer More than 1 year ago
Man, you had to post the Preakness, didn't you. Not the Belmont? The Travers?
pat More than 1 year ago
I started you-tubing about 3 months ago...have replayed Forego beating Honest Pleasure and Dance spell at least 8-10 times...also love the early ruffian races where you could just see how beautiful and powerful she was..
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
Best Race Ever at the Spa? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oCuJjhBBCSs (I only started in '66 so I wasn't around for the Jaipur-Ridan Travers which is apparently NOT available at youtube.)
EJS More than 1 year ago
I try to avoid arguments like this, but I have always maintained Valenzuela's ride on Sunday Silence was among the greatest ever. And rewatching him, pin Easy Goer (who by the way was the last horse I ever allowed myself to fall in love with)against the rail, refusing to let Easy Goer extend into his natural stride, confirms this opinion, Great choice of a race to share with us. And floppy dog. thanks
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
Thanks to You Tube, at any time you can go watch all of Secretariat's races. The 1970's, the ultimate decade of racing. Sec's Belmont and the "tremendous machine" race call. He turned racings biggest blow out into one of racings greatest calls! The ability of race callers to create excitement, without any possible scripting, while calling all the horses, is an amazing talent. Chick Anderson was awesome.