Danny Brewer

 

The Sports Brew
by Danny Brewer
 
Danny Brewer is a member of the College Football Writers Association, United States Basketball Writers Association, Turf Publicists of America, a voter in the National  Thoroughbred Racing Association national poll, and has covered Rutherford county high school sports since 1993. He can be contacted via e-mail – sportzbrew@comcast.net 
1405, 2020

The Day a Hillbilly Almost Hit The Pick Six

May 14th, 2020|0 Comments

Of course we love the sport of Thoroughbred racing for many reasons. Here is a short narrative documenting some of those reasons.

The speculation on the sport is very intriguing. Some may be overwhelmed by the many different wagers on the menu, but the bottom line is back a horse and get paid. The pick six is the Dahlia Llama of wagers as you try and forecast the first place finishers in the final six races on the card. You can play multiple horses in each race, but that can lead to a very pricey gamble. Sometimes it can be hard to hit back to back races, so six in a row????

The attractiveness to a wager like this is two-fold. First of all, the payout can be quite handsome. Secondly, being right about something is always nice, so strutting your stuff six consecutive times…yeah baby.

I am fortunate to have a betting buddy. Guy is pretty quick on his mental feet, being an investment councilor is his day job. Hmmmm, imagine that. I have long told him putting his clients in the handicapping market can yield big returns on an investment…or not. And these days the ponies may yield a little more…at times.

Got a text from him Friday morning that said Thursday’s pick six ticket at Gulfstream Park yielded a $14,000 payout. We needed to get in on that action so he suggested a low budget play. Here is where it gets good.

First two race winners were favorites and I had them both. These multi-race wagers are difficult to hit when you go low risk with your ticket and hopes are you are at least alive long enough to let the excitement build.

I’m a believer in the omens of horse racing as it relates to life, always have been. The third leg had me taking a middle of the road shot. Favorites do not always win and playing the chalk all the time can lead to a torn up ticket. So when my selection, Arithmetic, came home first at 8 to 1 I immediately thought heck yeah… things are adding up!

So now that we are half way home with a live ticket, I’m feeling good. If nothing else, at least we were half right. Then came race 9. Jockey Luis Saez put his horse in the race early and rode him to a convincing win. The runner was named Jesus’ Team…Holy mother it’s divine intervention!

So here we are staring at the fifth leg of the pick six still with a shot at glory. My councilor’s selection shot up the rail and was first to the wire in 5 fast furlongs over the Gulfstream grass. Name of the horse…R Happy Ending…WOW!!!

Five winners in a row and the last three had come out of the Tarot card deck. What the???…The next twenty minutes were filled with anxious moments and dreams of glory. We were three deep in the last race and as I watched the tote board on my computer screen I saw we had the two favorites and still another as well. It was as much about being right as it was the potential payout…or not…but still the old blood was pumping for sure.

As the final race went to post I was cautiously optimistic. This may have been a maiden claiming race to some, but to me it was the biggest one of the day. The horses broke clean and the opening furlong of the 1 mile turf race saw our runners all in the top three. Covering ground with ease, they maintained position with the others a few lengths back. As they turned for home we still had the top three spots. Front-running Florado gave way and was passed by Quiet American. This was good as the Joel Rosario ridden runner was our 12-1 shot!

With my heart racing as if I were the one running, our American was still in the lead in the final sixteenth. Wait a minute… an outsider was coming with huge strides!!! I pleaded “Hold on baby hold on!”

In the final two jumps Noble Alma got up to win by a prevailing head…She was not on our ticket. This Helen of Troy had wrecked our empire. Befallen by a female (of course it was a race for fillies ), we were designated to the close but no cigar category.

With the adrenaline still pumping I realized what I already knew. It was one heck of a ride and just playing the game really is part of the fun. Me and a good friend got to enjoy some camaraderie and we shared some smiles afterwards even if we weren’t splitting the $2622.22 payout. Ahh yes, the sport of kings can crown you…if you let it.

1405, 2020

Calhoun has a good one… by my standards

May 14th, 2020|0 Comments

 

 

 

 

So, you read the headline and wonder “what’s the definition of good by a hillbilly turf writer’s standards”? For that matter, does a hillbilly turf writer even have standards?

The answer to those questions are yes, the bar may be low but he does have standards and yes, this Bret Calhoun trained runner is answering the “good” questions without any help from a hillbilly.

By My Standards has turned in a couple of big performances in 2020 and ran himself right into the mix of the best older horses in the country. Currently ranked third in the National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll for older horses, this four-year old son of Goldencents has been nothing short of outstanding this year. Three wins in three starts has run his racing record to five wins, two seconds, and a third place finish in nine career starts.

The latest trip to the winner’s circle came on May 2 in the Oaklawn Handicap. Facing a stellar field, By My Standards ran just off a solid early pace and powered home to a 1 ¾ length victory. Running with confidence, Calhoun’s charge turned in the biggest performance of his career when all eyes were on him.

“That was obviously his best performance to date,” observes his conditioner. “He shipped in to a track he’s never ran on and beat the deepest field he’s ever faced.  Runing closer to the pace than normal, he showed us another dimension. We expected a top effort because he had been working so well and to Standards credit he delivered in a big way.”

By My Standards display of immense talent actually began over a year ago. Since winning a maiden race at The Fairgrounds on February 16, 2019, the only break from the gate that did not land him in the winner’s circle was the Kentucky Derby (11th place finish). Before that first win, however, his handlers were doing a little head-scratching. What was thought to be a talented son of a two-time Breeders’ Cup winner always seemed to be coming up as the brides maid with two seconds and a third in his first three starts.

“I will admit I was a little discouraged before he broke his maiden,” says Calhoun. “We thought he was a really nice horse, but he was not getting it done on race day. After that third start when he didn’t win I think he knew he was under achieving. We could see a big change in his mental approach. Suddenly the switch flipped and he learned how to win. Figuring out how to put horses away and run to his potential has lead him to the winner’s circle in five of his last six races.”

Owned by Allied Racing Stables, By My Standards was a $150,000 purchase as a two year-old. In the higher levels of the sport that can be somewhat of a modest price. Now having banked over $1.2 million in on-track earnings, by anyone’s standards he has been a great investment.

“(Bloodstock Agent) Josh Stevens did an excellent job of picking him out,” says Calhoun. “I am especially proud of him for what he has achieved thus far as what some consider a modest purchase price. I will say at one time, having a horse in my barn that costs that much would have been super high for me. Fortunately we have done some things right over the years and have been able to raise our level of play. Competing against the best competition with a horse that is perceived to be of lesser value is always very rewarding for me.”

With a hot horse on his hands, Bret Calhoun is now faced with the coaching decisions every trainer wants. How to keep your contender on the right path as he runs toward the riches of Thoroughbred racing is the quandary. Right now there is a short term plan and long term goals.

“We are targeting the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs on June 27”, observes the Texas native. “It really makes the most sense for us because it is a top flight race that offers a berth to the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He gets to run out of his own stall at a place he calls home much of the year. We don’t have to ship and the Classic is our year end goal. What happens in between is yet to be determined. Right now we just want to let him freshen a bit and figure out how to get him to the Breeders’ Cup at Keeneland in November.”

Any questions about this race horse By My Standards will continue to be answered in the coming months.

2211, 2019

Raiders run to victory

November 22nd, 2019|0 Comments

On a wind blown afternoon Middle Tennessee State football coach did not have to think about the game plan a lot. Rick Stockstill made up his mind, and then he ran with it.
Homecoming 2019 saw the Blue Raiders (3-5) get a much needed win as they pummeled Florida International  (4-4) 50-17. Rolling up an eye-popping 471 yards rushing, MTSU literally ran away in the second half as they outscored the Golden Panthers 36-0. This was the third highest rushing total in MTSU history as three players (Asher O’Hara, Terrelle West, Jayy McDonald) topped the 100 yard mark.
“I am really proud of what we did out there,” says Stockstill. “I got after them pretty good at halftime and they really responded. We’ve got a lot of character in that locker room and a lot of pride.”
Middle Tennessee is on the road November 2 when they visit North Carolina-Charlotte. The next home game for MTSU will be November 16 when they host the Owls of Rice University.