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The National Stakes, and where to lay your money

by Dear Jon
June 9, 2009

Dear Readers,

Thank you to those who participated in the Buzz Words as Race Horse Names triple crown, and for your picks for the National Stakes.

After coasting to an easy victory in the Freakness, Fog of War looked to have a lock on sweeping the triple crown. That seemed to alienate the fan base, though, and Fog of War faltered out of the gate. Unless you are a horse named "Secretariat" you will never have both fate and the fans lined up to support you.

Media Clip charged out to a commanding lead and never looked back, giving up only a few lengths down the stretch to finish with the victory. Fog of War hung in to place by a nose in a tight pack that has both President of a Different Color and Shock and Awe as the subjects of an inquiry. In the unlikely event both are disqualified, Bail Out will be awarded the third spot, although finishing in the money regardless, as this year's National Stakes have involved generous pay-outs on both the long and short odds.

In the Belmont Stakes of the actual Triple Crown, Mine That Bird continued his step-down from Derby Glory, with a third-place finish. Bird ran 1st, 2nd, 3rd in the Triple Crown, and the finish ruined Calvin Borel's chance to sweep the Triple Crown races on different horses.

Another good name for a horse comes to  mind: "Over-hyped." Now THAT's a name for a horse. I wish I had thought of that last month.

Apparently the jockey who DID win it is one of the best ever (if that is what it means to enter the Jockey Hall of Fame) and had not yet had a Belmont Stakes victory. So there was a big human interest story there, too. And he won it on Mine That Bird's cousin or sister or whatever, Summer Bird, both of them having been sired by a champion named Birdstone. This makes me think that a lot of back-story happens in the horse-racing world, and that maybe it should get more television coverage.

What is the connection between horse-racing and betting, anyway? Can we have the racing without the wagering? The Biblical Book of Ecclesiastes says that the race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but time and chance happen to them all. Summer Bird had position the entire race. Mine that Bird had to commit early. Horse racing is not about which horse is the fastest; there are all those other variables too that make betting on it a real--uh--crap-shoot, which is also gambling.

So with Media Clip winning on the Partial Observer, this seems to invite comment on news events. Here are some safe bets that can be laid on current events:

Tiger Woods appears to be all better from his broken leg/knee surgery, and is favored by Jack Niklaus to win the US Open. As far as I know, as of June 8th Brett Favre is still retired from football. I like the chances for Tiger's major win, and I like the chances that Favre will stay out of football, but I'm not willing to lay money down on either of those.

Two American reporters were sentenced to 12 years of hard labor in North Korea. Anti-immigrant right-wing groups are gaining power in Europe. And Vladmir Putin is now a journalist. My money is against Vlad covering the North Korean beat.  My money is also against a shooting war with North Korea. I also doubt that the ladies will spend 12 years in a North Korean prison. However the issue and their imprisonment may last longer than any of us hope.

In this writer's opinion a chill-out in Europe concerning the influx of Muslim populations is not a bad tiding. Muslim nations are very specific about what it means to be a citizen. It seems to me that the French and Dutch can make similar stipulations about what it means to be French or Dutch. (If you want to be both French and Dutch yet neither, you can always consider Belgium, where Europe has its capital.)

I would bet against the "black box" being recovered from the Air France jet that crashed in the Atlantic off Brazil on May 31st. If it is, it will not be useful anymore. I hope that the families of the victims are not staking their closure on the black box. Some investigations have to begin and end with the weather.

How soon before Jihadists try to undermine the good-will that President Obama is showing the Muslim world? It will not be long, and it will most likely involve Hezbollah--which lost big in Jordan's elections--and attacks on Israel.

If the vast Islamic population wants to understand the meaning of back-lash, they should take a good look at what just happened in the European elections, and do some careful thinking. Perhaps the typical Arab in the typical Arab state will be spurred to think accordingly:

"America wants to warm things up, Europeans are turning a cold shoulder. Hmm. Perhaps it is time for our (choose an Arab country's) police to choose sides and start delivering the heads of terrorists in baskets that my family will offer to weave."

It would be great if millions of Arabs and, beyond them, millions more African and Asian Muslims began to think that way, and influenced the actions of their governments accordingly. That would be great! But don't bet on it.

This just in. President of a Different Color shows in the National Stakes. Shock and Awe finishes fifth behind Bail Out. President of a Different Color looks to have a promising career with upcoming races in the Diplomatic Greeter's Cup, the State Dinner Dash, and the Arlington Cemetery Stakes.



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