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« December 2021 | Main | June 2022 »

January 28, 2022

TrackNotes: Back To The Future

We have the first big race of the year. After which, the top horse on the planet will retire.

Will Bob Baffert ever go away? Churchill Downs Inc.: It's just what they do. Dickie D. dead. Cliches can shape your biorhythms. Double-teaming justice. You look just like. We asked one person, me.

We have the 6th annual Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Grade I, nine furlongs Tapeta, 1-1/8 miles, $3,000,000) from goofy Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, Florida on Saturday.

Knicks Go, the super gray who humans have designated the world's best racehorse will proceed directly to the retirement cake and coffee just after this race, which he won last year to kick off a sensational 2021.

Trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Joel Rosario, the 6-5 morning line favorite stumbled to fourth-place finishes in the Saudi Cup and next out in the Met Mile at Belmont. Seems like ancient history.

The six-year-old followed that up with triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures and wins in the Cornhusker Handicap, Whitney, Lukas Classic and the Breeders' Cup Classic. He won the Breeders' Cup Mile in 2020. His ace in the hole is that he plays, gets the lead usually right away, opens up, runs away and wins by daylight. He led at every call in his last four. Good cop-bad cop, is he that good, or is he just that much better than who he has faced?

He drew the one-post for the notoriously short run to the clubhouse turn, where many others figure to try severe lane changes, which could cut off Knicks' and send him to the middle or back. Which he's not used to. And, you read that right. They're running on the Tapeta artificial surface, pronounced ta-PEE-ta, new to Gulfstream this season.

Will Knicks Go and the others even like the track? That could be a betting angle as you try to beat him.

Todd Pletcher's Life Is Good (7-5) is Knicks' chief competition in what some writers are stupidly calling a virtual match race, although it could be.

He comes in off wins in the Kelso Handicap and the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile. Irad Ortiz Jr. rode those two races after Mike Smith pulled his usual "no sweat, I got this" in the Jerkens Mile last August and was taken off the mount. Mike, Zenyatta was a long time ago. The Jerkens was a big key race as the top three all went on to win their next. LIG also won the San Felipe and the Sham at Santa Anita early last year.

It is tough to see any of the others winning this, as we scan and see mid-90s Beyers, or worse. so I'll be relegated to perhaps picking a bomber for Place, and that's not much fun.

Take a look at Always Shopping, 7-5, in the La Prevoyante. Regal Glory is the 2-1 favorite in the Pegasus Filly and Mare Turf. Colonel Liam, 3-1, leads the Pegasus Turf. And what's with Channel Cat, 12-1, who takes a cutback in distance for this?

Bob's Due

I'm not optimistic.

As we speak, the New York Racing Association is holding hearings on the suspension of trainer Bob Baffert.

As he has a right to do, he and his lawyers are nitpicking. You'll recall Baffert was banned from New York racing after news of his Medina Spirit's positive test for the corticosteroid betamethasone after last year's Kentucky Derby. Baffert sought and got injunctive relief after arguing that. as NYRA is basically a New York state government agency, he was denied due process. Now he's getting it.

And the Kentucky Horse Racing board has finally scheduled a hearing into Medina Spirit, which will ostensibly determine if the horse should be taken down from his Derby win and the purse, and if Baffert should be banned there.

The importance of this is that if any state racing authority bans a trainer or jockey, other racing jurisdictions most often honor that suspension.

We can hope.

Arlington's Audacity

Thank goodness the Illinois Racing Board told Churchill Downs Inc. to get that shit outta here. You never know.

CDI argued recently that even though it has abandoned horse racing in Illinois, it should still be allowed to operate its off-track betting parlors "while it searches for another site in the state for a new racetrack."

Arlington president Tony Petrillo had the audacity to say its request was in keeping with its "commitment to thoroughbred racing in the state."

Aptly, board commissioner Alan Henry called a horseshoe a horseshoe: "What I see in these requests seems an awful lot like the farmer who sells his prized Holstein, then expects to still get paid for some of the milk it produces."

The board voted 5-5 to reject the request.

Why five votes in favor?! Probably because IRB staff recommended the request be granted, and you know how politicians like to say "Our lawyers told us . . . "

Luckily, Hawthorne Race Course will be acquiring four of Arlington's OTB sites; they will need IRB approval to take in the other five.

Sadly, there is no indication of any OTBs being established within the City of Chicago.

But wait, the Louisville Larcenists are also happy with just stealing the money.

CDI has more than $750k in recapture money it has accumulated. Recapture is the deal Illinois race tracks have to distribute percentages of account deposit wagering and off-track handle depending on which track is running live and which track is dark through the year.

Traditionally, that money is funneled back into purse accounts for all.

Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen's Association president Chris Block is now trying to correct another injustice in the serpentine corridors of Springfield. Chris, look out for that bag of money CDI's lobbyists left outside the boardroom!

Dick Dead


Arlington Park grand poobah Richard Duchossois has died.

The BloodHorse praised the dead guy's "commitment to quality." Yes, the physical plant was immaculate, enchanting, wondrous. But he never, ever brought top-quality racing to Arlington Park on any consistent basis, even to the point of isolating the track from the prevailing emphasis on dirt racing in America. The greatest horses ran on Arlington's dirt before he got there.

He sold much of it to CDI in 2000, and then completely cashed out in 2017. He always seems to get his, as Neil Milbert writes. But in the world of Thoroughbred horse racing, he's no hero of mine.

Beam Bears Up

I heard a rumor, and the Tribune has practically confirmed it.

I heard that immediately when the rear tires of the plane carrying new Bears coach Matt Eberflus touched the runway, the hatch flew open and the momentum carried Eberflus all the way to Lake Forest.

HEY, it says so right in the headline! He hit the ground running!

Bears fans' biorhythms are already highly tuned. Like in training camp. "Bears rookie feels like a veteran." "Justin Fields' favorite breakfast." "Johnny Emcee-El healed, explosive, ready."

In this article, you think well, that's just the headline writer. OK, fine, but c'mon.

"They're detail-oriented and communicate well," Brad Biggs writes of the new Ryan and Matt - hey, even Mousketeers get replaced. How does Biggs know? Didn't Pace and Nagy also collaborate so supremely?

And look at the second part of the headline: "That will make changes easier as they work to reboot the franchise."

We learned this from Star Trek Scotty in the '60s. A reboot is a restart of the same old operating software. It's a good thing for computers - until the OS is so obsolete you're forced to upgrade.

Maybe the second part of that headline is right, in a way the booster Trib didn't intend!

DUI Danimal

I'm not a lawyer, or a Hall of Fame football player.

But why did Dan Hampton get off so easy after what some reports say was his fourth alcohol- and driving-related bust, this time in Indiana.

Was it the idea the prosecutor got a guilty plea? Hampton promised to be a good boy? They felt bad for him because he couldn't find a better vintage than a gallon of Carlo Rossi red, which isn't too bad as long as it's cold? Well, it is Indiana.

I'm not pounding my chest here. I speak from personal experience. How in hell did Hampton not lose his driver's license altogether? Because his offenses were in different states?

They pulled my license so fast my head is still spinning after 34 years. I got lucky. First, I didn't get killed and didn't hurt anybody else. Then, I made my way to Manhattan and then back here to downtown Chicago. I don't need a car, don't want a car, and a car would ruin my finances. I adjusted. If I wanted a license now in Illinois or any other state, the first thing any DMV would do is call Illinois and check me out. And I'd have to jump through some hoops, including insurance.

Hampton got off easy because he's a former football superstar? What about his sponsor, Chevrolet?

Hey, Danimal, if your agent has the brains, he'll ask Chevy to strike that line "Put on your big boy pants and tell 'em Danimal sent ya" from your macho truck commercials.

Your big boy pants don't fit anymore.

Waddle Radio

In the After Awhile People Look Just Like Their Dogs Department, why do all the on-air personalities WMVP AM 1000 sound exactly like Tom Waddle?

I'm serious. Reminds me of a guy in college who, after a few drinks, talked like that to be cool. Hard to describe - it's a fanboy lilting, meaning-to-be-authoritative, weak-timbre. Then they start talking about Back to the Future. "You haven't seen Back to the Future XX: We Ran Out of Future?" Waddle-esque! Matt Nagy had a lot of that, especially after a Bears win.

But Waddle played the game, so he gets a pass.

I do have to give one of the early evening boys credit. After the Bears announced their coach, he complained that people like him will no longer have the 50 tons of candidate speculation to talk about anymore.

Full disclosure, I can't get The Score on my AM-FM radio-cassette in my house. And I'm not going to hassle with the stream.

Games People Play

Speaking of game shows, a sport in my mind. Why does the team of the contestant on Family Feud who wins the qualifying question always choose to play?

I'd like to see the analytics. When there is anywhere from six to eight answers, it seems like they never get them all and all the other family has to do is answer one question to steal.

It's like Bears. They need eight yards, they're only capable of five, but they're still on the show.

I enjoyed the brilliance of Amy Schneider on Jeopardy!, but it got boring. She usually lapped the others by the first round and Final Jeopardy was always anticlimactic. But if she's as savvy as Ken Jennings, she might make a career out of this.

I knew that guy was going to get beat the next day.


Tom Chambers is our man on the rail. He welcomes your comments.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 4:49 PM | Permalink

The Beachwood Radio Sports Show #388: More McCaskey Malpractice

We end the podcast much as we started it. Including: Same Process, Same Results; Bulls Eye; Blackhawks Down; Soccer, You Bet; and much, much more.

Beachwood Radio Network ยท The Beachwood Radio Sports Hour #388: More McCaskey Malpractice



* 388.

3:24: Same Process, Same Results.


50:30: Bulls Eye.


57:31: Blackhawks Down.


59:27: Soccer, You Bet.




For archives and other Beachwood shows, see The Beachwood Radio Network.


Comments welcome.

Posted by Beachwood Reporter at 12:58 PM | Permalink

MUSIC - Chief Keef Changed The Industry.
TV - Vizio's Best Product Is You.
POLITICS - UIC: Soda Taxes Work.
SPORTS - More McCaskey Malpractice.

BOOKS - All About Poop.


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