Belmont Picks

An almost Happy Belmont Day to you.  Less than twenty-four hours until the betting starts, and I figured why not put myself out there with some picks.

Belmont Morning Line Odds

American Pharoah is the fan favorite, the likely winner, and so there is no surprise the morning line odds have him at 3/5.   Not a lot of money to make there on a win bet.  If I remember anything from last year, California Chrome’s owner went a bit mad about how difficult it is for a horse to run in all three legs of the Triple Crown.  Slightly good news for the AP is that he’ll be going against just seven other horses.  Only Tale of Verve raced in the Preakness, coming in 2nd; but five others have been resting since the Derby.  Madefromlucky raced in niether of the Triple Crown races, most recently running 1 1/8 miles at the Belmont on May 9th, which is six days before the Kentucky Derby.  Needless to say the other horses are more rested than American Pharoah, and if the pay out is at 3/5 it is not a worthwhile bet.  I wouldn’t put a straight win down on American Pharoah unless the odds are at least 5/4.

Recommended bet is going to be an exacta or trifecta if you can find something else worthwhile.  Todd Pletcher is the trainer for Materiality and Madefromlucky, and he has crushed the Belmont in the last decade so there has been a lot of talk about him.   Frosted came in 4th at the Derby, a race much closer than the Preakness; and the 2nd and 3rd are sitting this one out.  At 5/1, he is predicted to be second in betting behind American Pharoah–had a good run in april, but I see no reason why Frosted is considerably more likely to perform over some of these other horses.

Mubtaahij is an interesting horse, he has been raced a lot overseas already and has won a lot, but it is not comparable.  At the Derby he took 8th, and Keen Ice took 7th, yet Keen Ice is 20/1 and Mubtaahij is 10/1. If the 20/1 odds stick on race day, I’d put a place bet on Keen Ice given the large pay out.  Maybe an exacta with American Pharoah.

Frammento looks just awful in this race, hasn’t won much, 11th at Derby, and 30/1 is generous.  Wouldn’t bet on this horse unless odds drop to 40/1.

So, my final recommendation, go for the trifecta box with American Pharoah and picking two out of Materiality, Frosted, and Keen Ice.  Going to watch odds on race day and adjust accordingly because the horses to some extent have equal shots at performing well–will take a shot at the ones with the largest payout.

Favorites in Your Face from 2014

I’ll bite.  I’ll share with you what 2014 licks I was humming in my head,  what I was tapping my foot to, and what I was singing loudly at my dashboard.  Adding to previous posts, here are my favorite albums of 2014.

Disgraceland – The Orwells

Don’t know where I found this, most likely songza, but this found its way into my Spotify.  Music genres never die, even if they fade from the pop charts, and so garage rock lives in these young lads.  This album is rocking, energized, even when the lyrics get mellow or twisted.  All that good, simple alternative rock mixing tempos and guitar solos to make a handful of almost great songs into a great album.

Dirty Sheets official video:

Everything Will Be Alright In The End – Weezer

How many albums did you pay for this year?  Seriously.  I bought one, downloaded it, burned on to a compact disc, and sang loudly at my dashboard.  Burned another compact disc, and put it in my wife’s dashboard.  Favorite tid bits on this album include the hard hitting first track: Aint Got Nobody.  Track 7, Da Vinci Code, perhaps because it is classic corny lyrics over catchy rock melody.  Track 8, Go Away, pulls off the his/her duet nicely.  Also, The last three songs form great instrumentals.

Here is the only official music video I could find: Back to the Shack.

. . . and that’s it.  Two albums.  There was other good music out there. But I can’t say I listened to other 2014 albums more than three times in their entirety.

Last of all, WA’s list had 1989 by Taylor Swift.  I probably would’ve heard more than two tracks if it was on Spotify or anything streaming.  Where does one listen if you have to buy?

Book Review: Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, by Corin Hirsch

Before pilsners and whiskeys were the tried and true choice of Americans, those in the New England colonies put their lips around a wide collection of concoctions to keep things loose through the day.  In Forgotten Drinks of Colonial New England, Corin Hirsch explores not just what we used to drink but how we drank it.  And drink we did.  Bitters before work was a morning ritual, cider at each meal was thought to keep one hydrated while avoiding polluted water, and if there wasn’t rum in your cup each night then good luck keeping pace with the national average.  Hirsch writes that when the Revolutionary War began, “colonists older than fifteen each drank 3.7 gallons of spirits per year . . . [and that by 1790] that figure had swelled to 5 gallons, in addition to 34 gallons of beer and 1 gallon of wine.”  That is roughly 3 shots a day, a beer, and then wine on fun days.  Not to mention the cider, which was consumed as water.

Flip, drink of choice in many taverns.
Author’s photo: Flip, drink of choice in many taverns.

The assortment of drinks at the town ordinary (tavern) was driven by availability.  Apple trees provided cider when the European hops wasn’t an option, and rum became a staple when people discovered that the molasses from Caribbean sugar cane production could be used for libation.  Everything from twigs, berries, pumpkins, and roots were used to make bitters and ales, and then mixed in with drinks.

Hirsch’s book includes dozens of recipes to ensure readers are experiencing history and not just learning about it.  Head over to the package store and stock your cupboard with dark rum, ale, cider, bitters, and brandy, for these are the foundational ingredients in many of the drinks.  With winter approaching, those preferring a warm beverage should grab some apple brandy and honey and fix yourself a Hot Toddy, raise a tankard of flip made of hot frothy ale, egg, rum, and nutmeg, or just mull some wine on the stove.  Just about everyone will be enlightened and thirsty after opening Hirsch’s book.

So, next time you are tippling with friends, go ahead and try something new that is old.

Sports in the Courts: Jeff Wilpon answers the allegations

It has been seven weeks since former Senior VP of Ticket Sales for the Mets, Leigh Castergine, accused her former boss of discriminating against her for being pregnant and unmarried.  The team’s Chief Operating Officer, Jeff Wilpon, was accused of numerous disparaging comments.  Today, Wilpon and the Mets filed their answers in federal court in response to Castergine’s complaint.  You can read Wilpon’s answer here; the answer filed on behalf of the Mets makes the same response.  The same law firm is representing both defendants.

Wilpon’s response in short, “[none of it is true].” Above all, Wilpon denied that Castergine was harassed or treated differently because she was pregnant.  Specifically, he denies the quotes attributed to him by Castergine: “[I’m] old fashion and thinks [Castergine] should be married before having a baby” and “don’t touch her belly and don’t ask how she’s doing; she’s not sick, she’s pregnant,” or the more odd, “I am as morally opposed to putting an e-cigarette sign in my ballpark as I am to Leigh having this baby without being married.”

Along with denying that he mistrated Castergine, the court filing allowed Wilpon to respond to the allegations that the team suffered at the helm by poor ownership, and that it alienated fans.  Not surprisingly, Wilpon denies this as well.

It is somewhat bizarre that Wilpon and the Mets denied everything, given the specific accusations of Castergine.   What to expect next?  Well, more money from the Mets organization for the legal fees of Wilpon.  If the parties don’t settle, discovery will take months if not years.