If I Were a Billionaire...

Posted by Brian Skirka on Thursday, July 28, 2011 6:35 PM
Comments (9)

I just have a sense that the day is coming.  Maybe it has to do with my recent string of horrible handicapping.  Maybe it’s the heat going to my head.  I don’t know what it is, but I just have an overwhelming feeling that I am going to become extremely wealthy extremely quickly. 


Oh, please let that me the case!!


Imagining that I am swimming in money gets me excited…yeah I guess that would be an obvious statement.  But it’s not excited in the sense of owning a huge house, or being able to go fishing on my huge yacht everyday, or being able to make fun of all my less-wealthy friends. 


I’m more looking forward to owning horses and naming them whatever I want. 


Perhaps some of the following would make the cut:


Van Nostrand (from Seinfeld)

Monchomba (from Seinfeld)

Thispeachissubpar (from Seinfeld)

Baba Ganoush (this classic, pungent Middle Eastern spread is best when refrigerated for three hours prior to serving.)

Burma (from Seinfeld; officially the Republic of the Union of Myanmar is a country in Southeast Asia.)

Don’tyoumeanmyanmar (from Seinfeld; see above)

Hitbyablimp (from…Friends)

Everydayballoons (from Seinfeld)

Movealongbetty (from Seinfeld)


I don’t care who you are, that’s just funny (although I will admit that some prior knowledge of Seinfeld would help you appreciate the humor more)!


Big week coming up.  Let’s have some fun.  Back on Thursday to talk Resorts Casino & Hotel Haskell Invitational.


Brad Thomas’ Sunday Samplings 


Sunday, July 17


Race 1 – Masterful, old-school foundation building by trainer John Tammaro, III here bore fruit when frequently tepid-finishing My Honey B went fast early and kept right on going through the wire.  The mare sprinted in her first two starts of the year, had more rest here for her third-off-the-layoff try than she had when second off the bench, and worked longer and sharper than normal before stretching out to the kind of two-turn route that produced her lone previous victory.  Traditional handicapping rules apply to Tammaro’s stock and they run well when common sense says they should.


Race 2 – Shannon Uske swept the daily double with 4-year-old firster Certifiable.  The powerfully-built colt ran like he can come right back to succeed in higher-priced conditioned claimers and has decent grass breeding on both sides.

            Uske is a hard worker who gives 100% on everything she rides.  Her clients tend to be skilled, veteran trainers who are high-quality professionals and people.  By association and accomplishment, the same clearly is true of Uske.


Race 5 – Second-timer Jamzdeanfnklsteen showed vast improvement at 5-1 dropping to maiden claimers and switching to jockey Paco Lopez for master trainer Scott Volk, who won two on the day and had four victories and three runner-up finishes for the three-day weekend.  In addition to Jamzdeanfnklsteen, Volk scored with two big dropdowns, on a second-off-a-layoff horse, and finished second by a nose off a 208-day break.  Simply put, he can do it all.


Race 6 – He was well set up, but Kentucky shipper Sea Gaze won with such easy, sustained acceleration that a big step up into a very aggressive spot could be warranted for the Steve Asmussen-owned and trained gelding.

            Third-off-a-layoff 4th-finisher Biohazzard put another building block on his foundation and could be ready to drop into a non-winners-of-a-race-in-six-months spot.


Race 7 – When Holmedancer didn’t want to play early, Donya, second off the trainer Ed Coletti $20,000 claim from Christophe Clement, was free to wing clear at a quick but uncontested clip.  The filly has a scopey pedigree and room for additional improvement.  As for the pace scenario here, three speeds might equal a duel, but two expected front-runners often translates to someone changing their style.  6th-finishing Holmedancer lost ground and raced against a strong inside grain.


Race 9 – Was Primary Witness just so darn good running down a loose, soft-fraction, and even-money pacesetter in Gunfighter or was the latter exposed as suspect going two turns against a quality foe?  I bet the correct answer is a little bit of both, but only the future endeavors of the two competitors will provide the definitive answer.  You want cut-and-dry answers?  Well play Russian roulette with a rubber-faced dart.  This is horse racing and it’s all about gray areas, tough calls, and risk assessment.


Race 12 – Runner-up Big Red Wonder dropped back in for a tag and was tons the best.  She was done in by a hard, three-wide duel that drained her with ground loss and from fighting an inside turf bias.  She can right the wrong stepping back up into a maiden special weight group lacking a killer.

            4th-finishing Quincy Lee likely will prove best on the Monmouth turf when limited to the one-mile distance.  She was much too wide here to succeed at eight-and-one-half furlongs.


*          *            *            *


It’s not just that Blind Luck is really good and seems to win all the photos.  Or that her come-from-behind style is Zenyatta-like.  What she’s really about is doing what a top-class race horse – in the traditional sense – is supposed to do.  She actually seeks out tough spots, runs all across the country, competed right through sore feet earlier in the year (when horses in other barns would have been put away for months or retired), and thrives at the classic distance of a mile and a quarter.  Indeed, the give and take concerning a Saratoga start for Blind Luck and rival Havre de Grace is more about the latter’s camp likely preferring more rest and a shorter distance than it is about general gamesmanship.  As for the two-pound weight difference between the two in the Deleware Handicap: Yes, it was unfair.  And no, it didn’t matter.  Blind Luck and part-owner and trainer Jerry Hollendorfer deserve a special Eclipse Award of Merit for reminding the racing world of how campaigning a top horse is supposed to be done – and for proving that the old ways truly still can work in the modern racing game.  Now, let’s start weighing regular Eclipse Awards towards horses who accept challenges rather than running away and hiding in their stalls.


*          *            *            *


The upcoming lasix restrictions for Breeders’ Cup races and the recent proposal to limit its use at Frank Stronach-owned tracks are worthy goals worth aspiring to, in the long-term, by the entire racing industry.  However, lost in the momentum, as it all too often is in this business, is the best interests of customers who must live in the here-and-now before they can survive into the future.  Does it really work for them to play by one set of rules most of the time and then have to guess about what horses and humans will best deal with a great unknown at a series of elite races and at a relatively small group of tracks?  Yes, big change takes time and the ball must start to roll in isolated spots before it can go everywhere, but the great theorists need to come up with a more practical plan that embraces all the game’s interests – now and in the future – rather than just their current crusade.


*          *            *            *


Kenny Peck is my friend and also my colleague in videos sponsored by Daily Racing Form and Monmouth Park.  Still, I wouldn’t lie for him.  So, when I say that he’s as good as any handicapper around, I really mean it.  And students of past performance know that I don’t throw such praise loosely.  Peck will be appearing on Friday evening, July 29 at McLoone’s Woodbridge Grille at the Favorites off-track wagering facility in Fords, NJ.  He’ll be talking Resorts Casino Hotel Haskell Invitational, undercard contests, and racing in general.  He’ll also be eating the garden salad.


There is a buffet dinner and a cover charge – call 732-512-5025 for details.



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  • Brian

Brian Skirka graduated from Rutgers University in 2007 with a degree in journalism. He currently works for Monmouth Park’s marketing and publicity departments and is in his fifth year working at the track. In the past, Brian’s work has also been published on and