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kentuckyderbyhomerental.com is now louisvillederbyhomerental.com

Louisville Derby Home RentalAfter discussions with Churchill Downs Inc., the URL kentuckyderbyhomerental.com has changed to louisvillederbyhomerental.com. (For six years, I’ve owned and operated Derby Home Rental LLC, which helps Louisville, Kentucky-area homeowners advertise their homes to rent during Derby weekend.)

For the next year, the old site will have a message directing visitors to the new one. It’ll take a little bit for search engines to digest and process this switch. We had record traffic last year—9,840 visits and 41,108 page views—and I will monitor the site’s search engine status and work to continue that growth.

Relatedly, my email address for that business has changed to zach@louisvillederbyhomerental.com.

Also, at no additional cost to advertisers, I’ve added accounts for the site on

Every home will now be advertised on those networks as well as louisvillederbyhomerental.com. Please follow us on those pages. Thanks!

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

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.

Watch me eat a cheeseburger! On TV!

Secrets of Lousiville Chefs Live, Mussel and Burger Bar

A short while back I was the guest taster on an episode of Secrets of Louisville Chefs Live (it’s called live because it’s taped in front of a studio audience, as opposed to Secrets of Louisville Chef’s which is filmed on location at area restaurants). I get to sample Mussel & Burger Bar’s, um, mussels and burger around the 16:15 mark.

Thanks to hosts Kevin Harned and Tim Laird, as well as Dan Davidsaver, a producer at New Local TV, for the invites. This episode aired earlier this month on WAVE 3, Louisville’s NBC affiliate.

I have a new, full-time job. It’s travel news/travel buzz editor at MapQuest.

MapQuestDidn’t want to bury the lede there.

After nine years and a month of freelancing, this morning I accepted a permanent, full-time position as travel news/travel buzz editor at the AOL-owned MapQuest.

A heartfelt thank you to all of my freelance clients and colleagues over the last nine years! It’s been wonderful working with you. Also, both Eater Louisville and Louisville.com are hiring to replace me. Please get in touch if you’re interested in either position (highly recommend them both).

My new position with MapQuest is based at AOL’s offices in Dulles, Va., a Washington, DC suburb. According to MapQuest’s LinkedIn profile:

As a top 20 website, MapQuest helps more than 40 million people per month, providing tools for Internet and mobile users, developers, and businesses. Long known as a leader for maps and directions, the new MapQuest is all about the journey; helping you explore, discover and navigate your world.

Needless to say, I’m thrilled to have this opportunity to work with AOL and MapQuest.

Photo: Courtesy MapQuest

Vote for Damaris Phillips to be the next ‘Food Network Star’

Damaris PhillipsLouisville’s Damaris Phillips is in the finals on Food Network Star. If she beats out the other two remaining contestants in Sunday’s finale, she’ll get her own show on the Food Network. Obviously having a local chef hosting a national TV show would only be huge benefit to the Louisville’s food scene.

She could use your help though. Please vote for her at star.foodnetwork.com. You can vote 10 times today and 10 times tomorrow.  Doing so shouldn’t take more than a minute. Thanks!

Photo: Courtesy Food Network Star