August 30, 1981

they breathe
heartbeat, battery
hay –
they are theatre

abhorrent to the
bettor, one
jet, roar, banter
then one
beat a

another, to earn honor
on the throne

Yesterday, while poking around the internet for poetic ideas, I stumbled across a French collective called the Ouvroir de Litterature Potentielle (OULIPO), the Workshop of Potential Literature. It was my first time hearing of this group, but as someone who has always enjoyed writing poetry in forms, I found myself fascinated by the fact that they just…have taken the idea of constraint as inspiration to find the audacity to decide that something is a form, and write within that form. I dropped what I was doing, took the bus to Harold Washington Library, and checked out (or put on hold) everything I could find in their catalog about OULIPO. Earlier today, I barreled through The State of Constraint.

Then, before I lost my nerve. I pulled out a pen. I borrowed their idea of the Beau Present — writing a poem with only the letters in a name, or a matched pair of names. I chose a matched pair, John Henry and The Bart. I added my own constraint, based on the fractions of the first Arlington Million: 25.1, 50.1, 1:15.3, 1:42.2, 2:07.3. Each digit defined the number of syllables in each line. Zeroes meant line breaks.

TwinSpires Blog: Bankroll builders on the Arlington Millon Day undercard

Tomorrow’s Million Day card at Arlington is full of stakes races — but a cashed ticket on the undercard is just as good as one in a stakes race!

Over at the TwinSpires blog, I have spot plays in three of the undercard races.  Two of the plays are in juvenile maiden races — you know I love delving into and handicapping those two-year-old maiden races! — and one is in a claimer on the turf.

Take a look, and let me know your thoughts in the comments here.  Good luck tomorrow!

Picks and Ponderings: 2018 Bruce D. Memorial Stakes Preview

The Bruce D. Memorial Stakes is the only one of Saturday’s five stakes carded for the polytrack, and the only ungraded stakes of the group.  Originally run as the Straight Line Stakes between 2012 and 2014, it was renamed in 2015 to honour R. Bruce Duchossois (1950-2014), son of Arlington Park chairman Richard Duchossois.  Bruce Duchossois was involved in horse sports as well — though he made his name in the eventing world, not the racing world.  He rode Kim’s Song to the American Horse Shows Association Horse of the Year title in 1973, and served as vice president of the United States Equestrian Team Foundation.

Though the race is an open stakes, locals have done extremely well over its history.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Bruce D. Memorial Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2018 Pucker Up Stakes Preview

This race is named after Pucker Up, the 1957 Champion Older Female Horse.  Owned by Dan and Ada Rice (who campaigned 1965 Kentucky Derby winner Lucky Debonair) and trained by Jimmy Conway, she went on a tear at age four.  At Arlington, she beat her own sex in the Arlington Matron.  Out at Washington Park, she took on the boys in the Washington Park Handicap and emerged victorious.  The daughter of Olympia also took her form out of the Chicago area, winning the Beldame Handicap at Belmont that year.

Arlington has carded a race in Pucker Up’s honour since 1961.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of Saturday’s Pucker Up Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2018 Secretariat Stakes Preview

Secretariat’s Triple Crown run in 1973 ensures that he will remain top of mind as a dirt horse. Even the Arlington Invitational, his first race back after his historic Belmont Stakes, was a dirt race. However, the final two starts of Secretariat’s career happened over grass. His turf debut came in the Man o’ War Stakes (GI) at Belmont. The surface change did nothing to dull his dominance. He got to the front, and scored a five-length wire-to-wire victory. His final career start came in the 1973 Canadian International (GII) at Woodbine, also over the grass. He came from off the pace this time around, but the result remained the same: Secretariat won by daylight.

The next year, Arlington Park instituted the Secretariat Stakes.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Secretariat Stakes, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2018 Arlington Million Preview

The centerpiece of the summer meet at Arlington is the Arlington Million: the world’s first million-dollar Thoroughbred race when it was inaugurated in 1981.  Its first running is commemorated with a statue overlooking the paddock at Arlington Park: a replica of the tight photo finish that went to John Henry over The Bart.

A field of ten, including last year’s Secretariat Stakes (G1) winner Oscar Performance, will vie for their shares of a million-dollar purse.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, read my preview of the Arlington Million, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Arlington Million Recap

On a clear, sunny Saturday at Arlington, two Breeders’ Cup bids were on the line.  Though the mid-seventies temperature was moderate enough to be surreal at this time of the year, the results were not: two Breeders’ Cup bids went to horses in high-flying turf trainer Chad Brown’s barn.

In the Beverly D, a Win and You’re In for the Filly and Mare Turf, Brown sent out three — and it was DACITA who found a solid rally and held to the wire.  That was familiar territory for Brown, who has now won the last three renditions of the Beverly D., and four overall.  About forty-five minutes later Brown won his second Arlington Million, as BEACH PATROL held off a scrum of horses to take the Arlington Million.

Relive Arlington Million Day with my latest at Picks and Ponderings!

the Arlington Million: all you need to know!

Chicago’s biggest day of racing is almost here!  As always, I’ve taken an in-depth dive, and you can find my analysis right here.

I discussed all six stakes races on Saturday in depth at Picks and Ponderings, and you can read those right here:

In addition, I wrote a discussion of the full Arlington Park card at Danonymous Racing.  The stakes races are only half the card — but the first half is loaded with classy allowances and fascinating maiden races, so take a look and have fun playing Arlington all day.

Happy Million!

Picks and Ponderings: MONDIALISTE Wins the Arlington Million, but the Rest of the Day Belongs to Florent Geroux

Yesterday was the biggest day on the local racing calendar: Arlington Million Day.  The card featured six stakes races, including three Grade I events.

And, it proved an electrifying homecoming for jockey Florent Geroux.  Geroux won four of the six stakes races, including three of the Arlington International Festival of Racing events.  He also won one of the undercard races, making it five trips to the winners’ circle on the day.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and relive the Arlington Million Day action!

Arlington Million Day analysis!

Tomorrow is Arlington Million Day!  I have been on site at Arlington all week watching the horses in the morning, and handicapping and writing through the afternoons.

In addition, don’t forget to listen to the Arlington Million episode of BARN, on which Jason Beem, Paul Mazur, and I talk Million.  And, I also did a series of Periscope broadcasts from morning works, which are available on The Tournament Edge’s Twitter feed.

Good luck in the Arlington Million, and enjoy Arlington’s marquee race day!

Arlington Million Week: Wednesday

Wednesday is when Million week begins to get serious.

I have been at morning workouts all week, but today was when a steady stream of festival horses came onto and out of the track.  Over at Picks and Ponderings, you can see what I saw through the day in my photo gallery.

Over at The Tournament Edge, my latest blog entry takes a look at the fields for the Arlington Million (GI), the Beverly D (GI), the Secretariat (GI), and the American St. Leger (GIII), and starts to make some sense of how they fit together.

Stay tuned for more information and updates as Million Week goes on!

Picks and Ponderings: Dispatches from Million Week – Tuesday

Arlington Million week continues today, and I was back out at the track for morning works.

Today was another relatively light day.  Several of the Festival horses went out at 6am, too early for the Metra — let’s just say the Metra won’t be a problem from now on, and I’ll be out for the 6am Brigade starting Wednesday.  I was there in time to see a pair of Festival horses, watch a slew of locals, and observe some gallops over the training track as well.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and see what I saw this morning at Arlington!

Picks and Ponderings: Dispatches from Million Week – Monday

The week of the Arlington Million is upon us.

Just as I did in 2014 and 2015, I’m heading out to morning workouts each morning of the week.  Over at Picks and Ponderings, I posted a few pictures from my trip out there today.  It was a gorgeous morning: cooler than it has been, with plenty of breeze.  I saw one of the Festival horses, as well as a random troublemaker…who would have much to learn from Hapman, but he was trying.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings, and see what I saw this morning!