JC / Railbird

Miscellany Archive

The Double

There are cowboys, a bucking horse, and jockey Calvin Borel playing himself in the trailer for “50-1,” the movie loosely based on Mine That Bird’s improbable victory in the 2009 Kentucky Derby, but the image that arrested me was of Bob Baffert, played by Bruce Wayne Eckelman in a role that’s definitely true to one thing — the trainer’s distinctive hair. I tweeted about what I thought was a wig:

Hold up, @HeadRacingTwit, aka Penelope Miller, tweeted back:

“Gotta tell you,” she said. “I saw the guy at BC and he had the same ‘do. Either it’s not a wig or he’s going Method.” She was right — there was Eckelman looking for all the world like Baffert’s twin — and she wasn’t the only one who remembered the actor causing doubletakes at Santa Anita.

“I think there’s a snippet of him in the @ErnieMunick #BC13 vid come to think of it,” added Superterrific.

There is: Watch Munick’s video and look for “the stunt Baffert.”

Good thing I didn’t have any money on the wig.

“I think the lesson here for us all,” tweeted Jen Montfort to me and Penelope, “is that the direction of the part really is crucial.”

The horse agrees.

Related: Churchill’s Darren Rogers recalled how that fateful call to trainer Chip Woolley went down: “I said, ‘You know you’ve got the earnings, right?’

(All GIFs taken from the “50-1” trailer.)

28 Headlines You’d Want to Click

If BuzzFeed covered horse racing:

30 Photos of Famous Racehorses Taking Naps
Video: We Can’t Get Enough of Wise Dan Rolling in His Round Pen
Everything You Need to Know about Uniform Rules
The 6 Types of Selfies Turf Writers Take
Racing Has Feelings about Congressional Hearings
11 Reasons Wise Dan Should Be Renamed Awesome Dan
Verrazano’s Very Crazy Year
The Unwritten Rules of Saratoga Everyone Needs to Follow
5 Trainers You Should Only Bet in Fall
The Fashionable Horse: Cooler Looks for All Seasons
Todd Pletcher’s Top 10 Tips for Trophy Display
Party Like an ABR Ambassador
These 37 Mo Foals Will Make You Say Uncle
The Top 10 Ladies of the Winner’s Circle
8 Things You Should Know about Brisnet Ratings
3 Amazing Walkovers You Should Do at Least Once
This Replay Must Be Seen to Be Believed
5 Tricks for Understanding Race Conditions
15 Photos that Prove Horses Have a Sense of Humor
This Trainer Is Miraculously Good at Claiming
5 Pace Scenarios that Make Bob Baffert Frown
13 Things You Don’t Know about Secretariat
Why Derby Day Is the Best Day to Get Married
The Definitive Ranking of Racetrack Cocktails
More than a Stud: 53 Stallions at Play
10 Replays to Watch with Your Cat
17 Signs You’re Hung Up on Speed Figures
This Is Why Going to the Eclipse Awards Is Absolutely Essential

(Inspired by emails about listicles with Superterrific.)

In the Archives

Sometimes Eliza McGraw just has to go to the library:

I love to turn the flapping, oversized pages of actual turf papers. For me, reading about a horse like the 1920s-era racing giant Exterminator in the same way his fans would have makes the writing that much more vivid …

Tangentially related: Among the assets of the bankrupt Thoroughbred Times are the rights to the Thoroughbred Record, which began publishing in 1895 and continued, in some form, until 1991. Bundled with the TT archives, that would make a rich trove of turf journalism for some library to acquire.

Make Yourself Welcome

Dana Byerly, aka superterrific, is this week’s Breeders’ Cup Forum subject on the Paulick Report, talking about Hello Race Fans. The whole Q&A is great, but I really like this point:

So much of the material that’s out there for new folks who want to engage more deeply with racing assumes that everyone’s goal is to become a serious, long-term player who must show a profit. That can be off-putting for folks who just want to spend some summer afternoons at their local track, having a good time whether they come home with extra money or not.

Maybe those folks will eventually want to get serious with their game or maybe racing will be an increasing part of their entertainment budget with no expectation of getting a return. I guess the short answer is “create a welcoming environment for people to learn about all aspects of Thoroughbred horse racing.”

I’ve always been pro reaching out to all segments of potential fans, regardless of whether or not they’re likely to become dedicated bettors, because without a broad base of people who associate going to the track with a fun afternoon or a delightful family activity, horse racing will struggle (more than it does) with popular support. We need the casual fans as much as the hard-core horseplayers, and we shouldn’t underestimate the interest of those more casual fans in knowing something about the game. Everyone likes to look smart at the track — even if they’re playing $2 to show.

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