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Kentucky Derby 140: My handicapping thoughts on the race

Kentucky Derby 2007

It feels a bit strange not covering Kentucky Derby on site (first time in five years) or being at Churchill Downs for some part of this weekend (first time in seven years). So here are the thoughts I jotted down when handicapping the race. (Human-interest lines don’t factor into my betting, but I suspect I’m in the minority on that one, so I included a few here.)

1. Vicar’s in Trouble—Strong sire, beat tough competition in Louisiana Derby, increasing speed figures last three races. Jockey, Rosie Napravnik, would be first female to win Derby.

2. Harry’s Holiday—Heavily raced, doesn’t have the speed, doesn’t have the breeding

3. Uncle Sigh—Out of his league, doesn’t have the speed, part-owned by Wounded Warriors

4. Danza—Won his biggest race, but got a clean trip; lightly raced; dam’s sire breeds for distance; strong workouts

5. California Chrome—Not good breeding, already raced 10 times, due for a setback, will be over bet

6. Samraat—Poor breeding, doesn’t have the speed

7. We Miss Artie—Out of his league

8. General A Rod—Lightly raced, bred for distance, competitive, may not have the speed

9. Vinceremos—Horrible last race, but it was on Polytrack; does much better on turf; bred for distance

10. Wildcat Red—Outperformed his pedigree; super competitive

12. Dance With Fate—Doesn’t have the speed, hasn’t run on dirt this year

13. Chitu—Dam’s sire bred for distance, lightly raced, has the speed, may be out of his league

14. Medal Count—Bred for distance; great workouts; coming back off just three weeks rest and raced eight days before that; poor showing on only dirt race this year, but had a bad trip

15. Tapiture—Strong jockey-trainer combo, not great speed figures, sire breeds for distance, lost to two other in field last time out

16. Intense Holiday—Bred for distance, sped increased last four races, only raced three times this year

17. Commanding Curve—Lightly raced this year, likely out of his league, doesn’t have the speed

18. Candy Boy—May not have the speed, lightly raced this year

19. Ride On Curlin—Lots of wide trips might mean he’s used to the distance–or that he’s terrible in a crowd; well bred, and for distance; three straight faster races; over raced. Jockey is Calvin Borel, three-time Derby winner, which is good for him but bad for betters as he’ll be over bet.

20. Wicked Strong—Bred for distance. speed has increased last three races, strong workouts. Boston connection.

I’m playing a few combinations, but Vicar’s in Trouble, General A Rod, Chitu, Medal Count, Intense Holiday, and Wicked Strong factor heavily on them. Wildcat Red probably would too, but I already have a $10 win bet on him at 60-1 from a future pool, so I’m covered there.

Some notes

‘Inspirato’ magazine just published my final article as a freelancer. That it was about the Kentucky Bourbon Trail will not surprise you. But it will restore your faith in humanity. Or at least good Kentucky bourbon.

Inspirato, Spring 2014

Inspirato magazine’s spring 2014 issue included my final article as a freelancer. Titled, “Kentucky Gold,” fittingly it’s a feature on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. Obligatory joke about how fun researching an article on bourbon is goes here ______________________ . Actually, it’s not a joke: it’s damn true.

Anyway, read the article on Inspirato’s website or enjoy the magazine’s hardcopy layout in this .pdf. Or, right now for a limited time, the spring 2014 issue is available for free on Inspirato’s website. The choice is yours.

I also contributed sidebars on Kentucky’s favorite bourbons, bourbon 101, the best pours from the Bluegrass State, and where to enjoy a drink or two in Louisville.

Inspirato with American Express is a private, members-only destination club. Its 180-page glossy magazine is published three times a year. It’s distributed to the club’s members, sold on newsstands, and available for iPads and Android tablets.

And thanks to Chea Beckley and Stephanie Greene at 21c Museum Hotel and Proof on Main for their assistance.

Photo: Courtesy Inspirato

Richard Marx (probably) sent me hate mail too

Richard Marx

Been meaning to share this story for a while:

In January 2010, Richard Marx pulled out of HullabaLOU, a music festival at Louisville’s Churchill Downs. Upon hearing the devastating news, I wrote an article for Louisville.com: “Sorry Louisville, you don’t have Richard Marx to kick around anymore at HullabaLOU.” If you don’t feel like selecting the link, executive summary:  it wasn’t flattering to Mr. Marx.

My article led to hateful comments from Marx’s dedicated fans (since lost after Louisville.com switched its commenting system), as well as a nasty thread on a Richard Marx-dedicated online forum (since defunct, because of course).

About two weeks after I published the article, I received this email:

Zach..That last “anonymous” post wasn’t me [a commenter on Louisville.com claimed to be Marx], but…THIS is. Turns out, having zero to do with putting you in your place..whoever you are…I have these insanely loyal and protective fans who not only post online, but then alert this kind of mindless crap to the woman who runs my website (Yep, I do have one…makes me SO cool) and then I occasionally hear about it. I’ve weathered these kind of nasty attacks for over 20 years. Mostly by over-achievers like yourself, who have “Air Canada’s enRoute” as the headline of their resume.

I was actually looking forward to playing HullabaLOU but it was just one show and I was offered a tour in China that, while only 4 shows in country over 8 days, will compensate me in numbers that would fill you with even more envious rage than you already seem to possess, if that’s possible.

Oh, yeah..I’m also still really happily married to a kind and beautiful woman after 21 years; have 3 amazing sons who are great human beings; and I still not only tour and make my own records, but write and produce with a ton of great artists for their records. I love every second. I realize it’s not on par with being editor-in-chief of Louisville.com, but…

See, like or hate my music, I have, for 20 years plus, put myself out there and given 100% to my craft. I’m a pro. I never phone it in and I’ve never taken the 30 million records and slew of hits for granted. I wrote “Right Here Waiting,” which you denigrated, not to be a hit song, but a musical love letter to my wife years ago. Luckily my friends persuaded me to record it. People all over the world sing that song to each other. I just got a letter from a young lady whose husband was killed in Iraq and the lyrics to “RHW” were his screensaver. She wasn’t the first who told me stories like that.

So…upon looking at what’s available about you…and seeing your photo…dude, your photo is so grim…all I can assume about you is that you’re a bitter man who either never got a break, or never had the talent to deserve one.

Vivian will certainly grow up to be so proud.

Richard Marx

Vivian, by the way, is my daughter. Who was then not even 1 month old.

Using the sender’s email address, renegadestudio@aol.com, I did some online research (I forget the specifics) that made it appear likely the email was in fact from Marx. It wasn’t conclusive enough though to share publicly.

Then, in January 2013, Salon.com published “Richard Marx hates my guts” by Edward McClelland. The subhead:

I made a snarky comment about the 1980s soft-rock balladeer on my blog. And now he won’t leave me alone. Really.

Well call me a hipster: I got hate mail from Richard Marx before it was cool.

Photo: Flickr/skyobrienpics

Louisville area homeowners: Rent out your home on Kentucky Derby weekend for fun and profit

Louisville, Kentucky. Derby Home Rentals.

Yes, I’ve left Louisville. But my Louisville, Kentucky. Derby Home Rental. business is still very much operating—and set to have its best year yet.

As I described in an article for Louisville Magazine, “What’s Mine Is Theirs,” the site helps Louisville-area homeowners rent out their homes during Kentucky Derby weekend. Last year homeowners made as much as $9,000 for a three-day rental.

Derby fans are already looking for homes to rent, so don’t delay.

Just $250 to advertise your home on this high-ranking website—no commissions that cut into your profits. Guidance for preparing your home and sample draft contact between you and renters us included.

For details, check the FAQ.

Looking to rent a home for Derby? I’ve got a FAQ for you too.

Kentucky governor Steve Beshear: Thanks for being a bigot and proving me right

A conversation I’ve had numerous times in recent months regarding Kentucky governor Steve Beshear:

Progressive friend who lives outside of Kentucky: “I’m really impressed with your state’s governor and his support of Obamacare.”

Me, a former resident of Kentucky: “Don’t be. In the five years I lived in Kentucky, healthcare benefits for state employees got worse and more expensive each year. And there haven’t been any raises in at least five years for state employees either. Beshear just sees Obamacare as a way of lessening the state’s financial obligations.. Also, he’s super conservative on other issues that matter to you.”

Progressive friend who lives outside of Kentucky: “Oh.”

Today, after Kentucky’s attorney general announced he would not appeal a federal judge’s ruling that Kentucky must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, Beshear declared that

  • he would appeal the decision
  • he’d use private counsel to do so

In his speeches, Beshear likes to evoke “Kentucky values.” In this instance, those principles sadly mean using an impoverished state’s money to defend discrimination.

But, hey, at least Beshear’s actions today proved me right.

Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty is making big progress

Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death PenaltyToday’s New York Times published an editorial titled “Kentucky’s Egregious Death Penalty,” calling on the state to abolish capital punishment.

Since 2009, I’ve overseen the Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty‘s online presence and am on its board of directors. Here are KCADP’s blog posts that highlight Kentucky’s progress towards eliminating capital punishment, beginning with the American Bar Association’s findings from its two-year assessment of the state’s death penalty, which it released in December 2011:

To read more about my work with KCADP, please visit my consulting page.

Photo: Courtesy Kentucky Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty

Louisville.com has its second-best month ever

Louisville.com (me = editor-in-chief) just finished its second most successful month ever, bested only by last May (a month when Kentucky Derby-related traffic usually gives us a huge spike).

Visits in February 2012 increased 53 percent compared to February 2011 and 22 percent compared to January 2012 (and for those of you not familiar with the Gregorian calendar, February is also a shorter month). Thanks to the site’s writers and readers!

What excites me most is that this growth is not the result of a few articles striking search engine gold, but rather steady traffic day in, day out—which means we should be able to maintain it.

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