Monday, February 27, 2012

Back from the land of Walt...Again


Disneyland again last weekend - went up Friday and came back Sunday morning. Gotta make full use of the Annual Passport I purchased. Stayed at Disney's Grand California Hotel & Spa and a grand time was had. This Wednesday, in honor of leap year, the park is going to be open from 6AM Wednesday until 6AM Thursday - although I have classes Wednesday going up after classes may be a possibility. Whilst some - and I'm not naming names - poo poo Disneyland it's always lots o fun. Plus it provides great cardio with all the walking - I wore my pedometer and I walked well over 6 miles each day - of course some of those calories were replinished during happy hour and dinner...

In any event, great fun.

As an added bonus I batted 100% on my Oscars prediction - yea me, I won the pool :-)

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Trying to see all the movies nominated for Best Picture before the Academy Awards - saw Hugo last eve

video

Saw Hugo in 3D last evening - Martin Scorsese has created a wonderful piece. Many people thought this was a children's film so they stayed away from it. Wrong move. It's not a children's film - it's Scorsese's homage to film making and cinema and is a true delight. Whilst the piece does have a 12 year old protagonist the film intertwines his story with that of Georges Méliès (and if you don 't know who Méliès is you should be ashamed of your lack of knowledge about early cinema). It's set in 1930s Paris and does a great job of establishing context. Also, Scorsese really shows his chops with creating a 3D film and it's no wonder this film has been nominated for so many awards. This is just a lovely lovely film worth seeing and, interesting side note, Johnny Depp is one of the producers - I didn't know that until the credits came up and was an added bonus (at least for me since I'm a big fan of Depp). Try to see it in 3D rather than not.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Anything's possible when beating the horses

ARCADIA, Calif. – No one hits the pick six on a ticket that costs only $20.

The pick six is won by big bettors that play big tickets. For the rest of us, the pick six is too steep, with too many combinations to cover. It costs too much. The losing streaks last too long.

The pick six is not a good bet, for most of us.

But horseplayers are dreamers. So occasionally, we take a stab. Who knows? Maybe today is the lucky day. Sure, it is.

The pick six Feb. 12 at Santa Anita started tough – a turf-route claimer for nonwinners of two, a filly-mare sprint claimer, and a turf sprint for statebred maidens. Geez, a bettor would need to use lots of horses – spend lots of money – just to stay alive halfway.

The carryover was $135,446; bettors wagered another $831,146. Apparently, many still consider the pick six a good bet. Fools like me say it is not, and then we bet it anyway. This story is about one such guy, a small pick-six bettor taking a $20 shot.

Restricted claiming races are a curse, and in the first leg, race 4, the bettor narrowed the nine-horse field to five contenders. There goes most of the $20. His ticket was five deep and two deep, followed by four singles. Who plays the pick six like that? What an idiot.

Leg one was a “spread,” and whenever a “spread race” includes a Marty Jones trainee, it is a good idea to include that horse. Jones works horses slowly, which inflates the odds they often outrun. Eight of the past 16 years, Jones runners produced a flat-bet profit.

Jones trained the longshot Long Legged Lovely, returning from a one-year layoff with leisurely works. She was a trainer-angle longshot in a difficult race, nothing more. When jockey Hector Berrios guided her to victory at $33.20, the pick six was off to a good start.

The second leg, race 5, was a claiming sprint for fillies and mares, with obvious favorites Classy Attraction and All the Love. The bettor used both; bet-down Classy Attraction paid $6 winning in a romp under Chantal Sutherland.

Two races into the sequence, the bettor’s small pick-six ticket was live. All he needed was to win the remaining four races with four singles. Good luck with that.

The best-bet designation on the Daily Racing Form analysis page can be a misnomer. It should be called most probable winner. “Best bet” is often a favorite at low odds, and not necessarily a reasonable horse on which to wager. But occasionally, the term “best bet” does apply. It did for leg three, race 6. The pick-six bettor noticed.

Abella, 4-1 in the program, was making the second start of her career after a respectable debut. Tom Blincoe trains Abella. Blincoe also trained her siblings Jet Set Girl and Bell Zone. Both won maiden races for Blincoe the second start of their career. Interesting.

Perhaps, Abella would follow the pedigree-trainer pattern and also win her second career start. Best bet, indeed. Abella and jockey Martin Pedroza waltzed home at a big, fat $7. The first of four singles had landed. The pick six was halfway home.

Small-ticket pick-six bettors always face a decision – use logical contenders (favorites) in each leg and hope to merely cash for any amount, or key longshot runners and go for a home run. Who doesn’t like to swing for the fences?

My Brite Caroline was an 8-1 longshot in race 7, up in class following a first-off-the-claim win for trainer Gerard Piccioni. Andy Harrington, clocker for National Turf, noted that her jockey, Corey Nakatani, worked her between starts. Harrington liked what he saw.

Analyzing a Feb. 4 work, Harrington wrote this about My Brite Caroline: “C. Nak up, filly is really going well finishing with purpose.”

My Brite Caroline was “outclassed” by the 2-1 program favorite Melissa Rose. But the odds discrepancy made My Brite Caroline a reasonable gamble. She was a sharp horse up in class, always a potent angle. Nakatani gave My Brite Caroline a fantastic ride. He saved ground, cut the corner, and won by a neck at a bet-down $12. Four down, two to go.

The Sweet Life Stakes for 3-year-old fillies was next, and anyone who saw Indigo River win her U.S. debut for trainer Jeff Mullins a month earlier on the same downhill course had to be impressed. Indigo River reproduced the win, bursting clear late under Joel Rosario to win by a 1 1/2 lengths at $5.20. Now it was five down, one to go.

The pick six is not a good bet for most players.

But here was one small bettor on a sleepy Sunday afternoon, holding a $20 pick-six play that was 5 for 5. Daily Racing Form ’s handicapping tool Formulator suggested he was on the right horse in the final race, a starter allowance around two turns.

Mike Mitchell is one of those high-percentage trainers that make one wonder – why bother with Formulator? Mitchell wins often, at all levels, with many angles. You don’t need Formulator to see that.

Mitchell’s recent maiden sprint winner Pulpit’s Express was the speed of the race. On numbers, he was the fastest horse based on a bias-aided sprint win last out. But he faced a double challenge – winners and two turns, both for the first time.

It is a tough combination. Not so tough for Mitchell, according to Formulator.

The past five years, Mitchell was 6 for 12 with maiden sprint winners stretching out against winners.

At the first click of the tote board, Pulpit’s Express opened at even-money. That is always a good sign for a Mitchell runner. The gelding looked terrific in the post parade. He was dry and on his toes. Meanwhile, the pick-six bettor quietly washed out.

Only one of the first five winners in the pick six was a program favorite. A mythical $2 win parlay already exceeded $5,000.

Now, it all came down to one horse. Pulpit’s Express was 4-5 when the gates opened, and Rosario put him on the lead. The pace slowed on the backstretch as Rosario sat still.

At the top of the lane, in the blink of an eye, it was over. Pulpit’s Express opened up. He was in front by two lengths, by three, by four at the eighth pole, 4 1/4 at the wire. It was not even close.

No one hits the pick six on a ticket that costs only $20. But horseplayers are dreamers, and occasionally we take a stab.

That is the true story of what happened Feb. 12, 2012, at Santa Anita.

It was, in fact, my lucky day.

The pick six paid $41,418.40.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

New Picasso exhibition

Man o man, I wish I could fly over and see this exhibition!


First exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso's lifelong connections with Britain opens at Tate

LONDON.- In February 2012 Tate Britain will stage the first exhibition to explore Pablo Picasso’s lifelong connections with Britain. Picasso and Modern British Art will examine Picasso’s evolving critical reputation here and British artists’ responses to his work. The exhibition will explore Picasso’s rise in Britain as a figure of both controversy and celebrity, tracing the ways in which his work was exhibited and collected here during his lifetime, and demonstrating that the British engagement with Picasso and his art was much deeper and more varied than generally has been appreciated.

Pablo Picasso originated many of the most significant developments of twentieth-century art. This exhibition will examine his enormous impact on British modernism, through seven exemplary figures for whom he proved an important stimulus: Duncan Grant, Wyndham Lewis, Ben Nicholson, Henry Moore, Francis Bacon, Graham Sutherland and David Hockney. It will be presented in an essentially chronological order, with rooms documenting the exhibiting and collecting of Picasso’s art in Britain alternating with those showcasing individual British artists’ responses to his work. Picasso and Modern British Art will comprise over 150 works from major public and private collections around the world, including over 60 paintings by Picasso.

Picasso and Modern British Art will include key Cubist works such as Head of a Man with Moustache 1912 (Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris) which was seen in Britain before the First World War, when Cubism was first introduced to a British public through Roger Fry’s two Post-Impressionist exhibitions. It will also include Picasso’s Man with a Clarinet 1911-12 (Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza, Madrid) and Weeping Woman 1937 (Tate), works which were acquired by the two most notable British collectors of Picasso, Douglas Cooper and Roland Penrose, both of whom were to become intimately associated with the artist and his reputation.

While many British artists have responded to Picasso’s influence, those represented in this exhibition have been selected to illustrate both the variety and vitality of these responses over a period of more than seventy years. This is a rare opportunity to see such work alongside those works by Picasso that, in many cases, are documented as having made a particular impact on the artist concerned; in other cases, they have been chosen as excellent examples of a stylistic affinity between Picasso and the relevant British artist. For example, David Hockney is said to have visited Picasso’s major Tate exhibition (1960) eight times, starting a life-long obsession with the artist. A selection of various Hockney homages to Picasso will be shown. In addition Francis Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at the Base of a Crucifixion 1944 (Tate) will be compared with Picasso’s paintings based on figures on the beach at Dinard which first inspired Bacon to take up painting seriously.

The exhibition will look at the time Picasso spent in London in 1919 when he worked on the scenery and costumes for Diaghilev’s production of The Three-Cornered Hat. It will assess the significance of his political status in Britain, from the Guernica tour in 1938-9 to the artist’s appearance at the 1950 Peace Congress in Sheffield. The final section will also consider the artist’s post-war reputation, from the widespread hostility provoked by the 1945-6 V&A exhibition which re-ignited many of the fierce debates about modern art that first raged before the First World War, to the phenomenally successful survey of his career at the Tate in 1960.

After Tate Britain, the exhibition will tour to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in Edinburgh. Picasso and Modern British Art is devised by James Beechey with additional contributions from Professor Christopher Green (Courtauld) and Richard Humphreys. It is curated at Tate Britain by Chris Stephens, Curator (Modern British Art) & Head of Displays, Tate Britain, assisted by Helen Little, Assistant Curator, Tate Britain.

Image shown:

The Three Dancers 1925
Les Trois Danseuses

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

How cats celebrate Valentine's Day

A friend of mine's cats (Leo and Pippi - Pippi is the female redhead and Leo is the blond male) celebrating yesterday - even they knew it was Heart's Day. How cute are they?


p.s. their "older brother" Stoli (yes, as in Stolichnaya vodka) was nowhere to be found. But he's an irritable crank and anti-social (maybe he should have been named after a better tasting vodka?) so...there you have it.  Anyway, I hope everyone had a fabulous Valentine's Day!