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 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 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!

The Tournament Edge: Locally Linked Arlington Million Contenders

In my latest blog for The Tournament Edge, I take a look at a few possible Arlington Million contenders who have links to Arlington.

These include the defending champion, a last-out Grade I winner, as well as two Million Preview day winners.  One may be vulnerable and underlaid.  One looks, a week and a half out, like one of our best domestic hopes.  The other two, though…could they be live price horses?  It may be early, but it is not too early to start thinking.

Head over to The Tournament Edge, read my latest blog, and start getting ready for the 2016 Arlington Million!

Picks and Ponderings: Arlington Million Day Recap

Saturday was the biggest day of the Arlington summer meet: the Arlington International Festival of Racing.

It was a banner day for the locals, as Illinois-bred horses won two out of the six stakes on the day. The Pizza Man became the first Illinois-bred to win the historic Arlington Million (GI), and Recount extended his perfect record over the Arlington main track with a gritty victory in the Bruce D Memorial Stakes.  Furthermore, trainer Patti Miller annexed her first career graded stakes win when Mizz Money won the Pucker Up (GIII).

Over at Picks and Ponderings, we have a full look back on Million Day.  I recap the Secretariat (GI), the American St. Leger (GIII), and the Pucker Up (GIII); Paul Mazur looks at the Arlington Million (GI), the Beverly D (GI), and the Bruce D Memorial Stakes.  Head over there, and relive a great day of racing!