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Local swimmers go for trifecta

Posted By · July 28, 2010 at 5:51 pm

From reporter Mary Milz:

I like to run marathons.  Some people ask why would ever want to do that?  Jim Barber and Victoria Rian swim marathons (open water events six miles or longer.)  I found myself asking them the very same question.  Why?

 Victoria, an IPS teacher, didn’t think twice.  ”

Because it scares me to death.” 

Yeah, me too.  Twenty miles in the open sea – saltwater, surf and sharks.   While the Monon has its moments, it’s nothing like that. 

Victoria continued, “By trying to get over those fears, maybe it will help me with the rest of my life.”

 Jim, who’s done the English Channel and Long Island swims, earns the Triple Crown of Swimming with Catalina, a feat only 34 others have achieved.

 I swim some and struggle to finish a mile.  At least with running or biking, you can talk, listen to music or take in your surroundings. Swimming is so solitary.  The thought of pushing through the water for two hours let alone nine or ten is hard for me to imagine.  How do you stay motivated?

Victoria told me she focuses entirely on what she’s doing – her breathing, her strokes, her kicking.  Jim said sometimes he’ll be listening to music on the way to the pool or lake and a tune sticks in his head and he’ll be singing it through.  Other times he works through a problem. 

The two log about 40 miles a week when training for a distance swim.  As Jim swims about three miles an hour – that’s roughly 13-14 hours a week in the water.  Wow.  And did I mention that Jim is 50, married and a father of four?   He may be a bit slower than he was 20-years ago but he’s no less determined (and no doubt a lot faster than many a swimmer half his age.)

I’m in awe of people like Jim and Victoria.   They found a passion (in swimming) and they go for it, and in doing so they demonstrate that we’re all probably capable of doing more than we realize.  I’ll be among those cheering from afar when they hit land in LA.

On a different note – some of the accompanying photos show the work behind the story.  Photographer Jacob Jennings had the challenging task of capturing the story from a dock and the front of a pontoon boat on a hot, sunny and very muggy day.

I don’t know enough about light and color balance to explain the difficulty of shooting on water with the sun directly overhead, but I can tell you Jacob went the extra mile to show Jim and Victoria in action from several different angles. 

He got down to water’s edge, even immersed a small camera in the water to catch eye-level shots.   Also, thanks to Lisa Sidner for motoring us around Morse.

Categories : 13 Sports Blog
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Rough start to the Brickyard

Posted By · July 25, 2010 at 1:56 pm

The 17th Brickyard 400 is underway and it hasn’t been pretty.

Indianapolis Colts’ tight end Dallas Clark dropped the green flag to get things going and it hasn’t been very pleasant since. Seven cars were involved in an incident in Turn 2 and cars are still feeling the effects. Not only have several of the cars involved been in and out of the pits, but so have most of the other cars in the field for everything from tires to tweaks to capping off the fuel tank. Numerous cars have had overheating problems and Max Papis even had his car catch fire and end his day early.

Speaking of rough, this crowd is pretty sparse, even considering the expectations of a small crowd. Economy, heat or whatever might cause it, there is still a ton of bare metal in the stands this afternoon.

Though that didn’t seem to take anything from the pre-race atmosphere, and in fact, may have enhanced things a little, giving a bit more room for fans (and media types like me) to move around and experience IMS.

Back to the race, we’re now 37 laps in and have found a flow and Montoya is off and running again. And with that, he pits to check a handling issue. Keep it to 55, Juan.

Lap 69: Things aren’t so hot for two-time defending champ Jimmie Johnson coming off a caution flag for debris, he’ll start 22nd. Greg Biffle, who had run down Montoya for the lead heading into the caution, won the race off pit road and held onto the lead as the race nears the halfway point.

Lap 81: We’ve got an official race. Or at least I’d figure we do by Indy 500 standards. Either way, we’re past the halfway point. The new tires have helped Montoya from being demolished by Biffle, but the 16 car is still slowly opening up his lead. Montoya’s Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray is in third.

Lap 100: Another round of pit stops and Montoya, who pitted first, has regained the lead, but Biffle is back on his heels, within a half-second. Jamie McMurray is third, ahead of Clint Bowyer and Kevin Harvick.

Lap 121: History will have to wait for Jimmie Johnson. Starting from the outside of Row 1 a little over two hours ago, Johnson’s crew got caught in a long repair during a caution and went a lap down. Prior to the yellow, Johnson was the last car on the lead lap.

Through it all, Montoya held onto his lead, then battled Biffle for the lead on the restart, with McMurray sneaking into second.

Lap 132: Another driver has had his attempt at history deflated. Jeff Gordon blew a tire late in the race and was forced to pit under green, dropping him a lap off the lead. Meanwhile, Montoya’s lead is up to almost 3 seconds over McMurray and Biffle, who are battling for second.

Lap 138: Another caution for debris – for the second time, it involves a large piece of metal, apparently – will tighten up and shuffle the field. The top six drivers reportedly put on just two new tires for the final 22 laps. Montoya might have come out on the short end, taking four tires and lining up in seventh coming out of the pits.

Tony Stewart continued his climb to the top, getting out of the pits in second spot, behind McMurray and ahead of Kevin Harvick, Martin and Kurt Busch.

Lap 149: Montoya’s day at Indy has ended prematurely again. After leading the most laps for the second straight year, the #42 car got loose in Turn 4 and hit the wall, then was struck by Dale Earnhardt, Jr. at the entrance of pit road.

Kevin Harvick took the green flag as the leader, but was passed by McMurray headed into the final 10 laps of the race.

Jamie McMurray holds on for the historic win at Indianapolis.

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It’s always sunny at IMS

Posted By · July 25, 2010 at 7:54 am

Despite clouds and even some rain showers for the (EARLY!) morning commute, the sun is shining bright and promising to wreak havoc on IMS today. It’s going to be a(nother) steamy one!

After hanging around last night to make sure a line of storms didn’t do too much damage to central Indiana, the alarm came awfully early for this web guy to get back to the corner of 10th & Meridian for the ride to the Brickyard. It’s a quick turnaround and an early day, but if you’re going to cover a race at IMS, the three hours between caravans from the station can mean a lot of missed opportunities.

So here I am.

I feel a little more out of my element covering the Brickyard 400 than the Indy 500, probably part by being more of an open wheel guy, but also even an abbreviated May schedule gives you a chance to get more familiar with the names and faces in the cars, even at the back of the field.

Speaking of the back of the field, the field for this year’s (This Space For Rent) 400 at the Brickyard is bookended by former Indy 500 winners. Juan Pablo Montoya will start from the pole and, by all signs over the last 52 weeks at this track, have as good a shot as any at winning. In the last spot is 1995 500 winner Jacques Villeneuve, a late entry and an even later qualifier.

You want predictions? No clue. Montoya *should* win, Jimmie Johnson probably *will* win, the hunch says a breakthrough for the old fella Mark Martin (ran very well last year and qualified solidly this year), which means someone else will likely end up with the win.

Stay tuned to this blog throughout the day as I document the day at IMS. And don’t forget the Eyewitness News team on Twitter, as well!

Brickyard morning photos

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Low tide for Google Wave?

Posted By · July 19, 2010 at 11:10 pm

Is it just me, or is Google slipping? While it used to be that Google’s newest offerings would be anticipated almost as much as the next iPhone fix, they seem to have fallen flat of late.

Right about the time the Twittersphere was exploding, Google Wave hit the virtual shelves. It seemed like it had potential, especially for a TV station web site looking to spread its social media wings a little. Information on any number of stories could be shared on an “as it comes in” basis, with viewers injecting their own ideas, updates or opinions. And it could be left active for hours – or even days – to let others join in and catch up.

Though it has since gone public, its early use of invitations (Google’s preferred means of forced popularity) meant that while the user base might have been small, it also would likely be dedicated and users would tie their Wave account closely to their personal identity, hopefully leading to honest, reasoned dialogue.

Yes, it could have been awesome.

But the Wave never seemed to hit the shore. I toyed with it amongst friends and aside from the “Wow!” factor, it seemed difficult to go back and follow later. And that was just 60 or so “posts” between four or five people. I couldn’t imagine the maze of conversation between dozens – or hundreds – of viewers.

Also, there was the bane of the Web for all-time – cross-browser slapfighting. Excited to bring my new Wave account to work months ago, I found that the Internet Explorer-based newsroom wouldn’t fly with Google Wave without extensions. An elimination of part of an already small user base is not a good thing. If needed, I could probably twist some arms to get a Wave-acceptable browser installed at my desk. But would IE-loving users follow suit? Seemed like too much hassle for an experimental run.

I thought maybe I had just let technology pass me by a little and that, while I thought Google Wave had fizzled out, it was actually thriving in some corner of the Web. Apparently, that’s not the case. Clicking through Mashable, the social media bible, they hadn’t even touched a Google Wave story since January, and hadn’t written new since November. Not good news for Google Wave.

So what about you, web-using public? Have you caught the Wave? I’d love to hear about your thoughts and experiences. 

Next week: “Has Google Buzz lost it’s sting?” and other bad social media puns.

Categories : From the Web Desk
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Four more years! Four more years!

Posted By · July 11, 2010 at 11:36 pm

In a flurry of yellow cards and a well-placed 116th minute volley, the World Cup is over. As an at least casual soccer fan, I’m a little saddened, but I think I’ll get by, and by next week, not even realize that soccer is still being played, which seems like a horrible thing, considering the decade and change I spent playing the game spring, summer and fall in my youth.

I enjoy the game, can pick out the parts of an otherwise snooze-fest to make it exciting, but I still just don’t “get” it, at least not in the way soccer fans…ahem…”fútbol fans” want me to. As the tournament neared an end and I paid more attention to each game (really, who needs to watch Paraguay and the Ivory Coast in a round robin game?), the more I got annoyed with the announcers. And not the British gents they had leading the broadcasts. In fact, they can make even the worst pass in the first minute of the game sound sexier than Cindy Crawford in 1986.

It’s those darn Americans.

To hear John Harkes insist on using terms that only die hards would understand at first listen (admittedly, the die hards made up 95% of the viewing audience) just made me cringe. At one point, he called a shot on goal, “the final delivery.” Really? I’ll give you “pitch” (field) and even maybe “booking” (red/yellow card), but “the final delivery”?

C’mon John. Your ancestors (or somebody’s ancestors) fought the British off twice so we wouldn’t have to use those words. In fact, by the time we pulled them through the second World War, we should have insisted that they Americanize their soccer lingo.

“Oh, silly Winston. We don’t need need your money for putting the Germans in their place. But could you PLEASE just call it a ‘field’?”

Not that changing a little vernacular will make more people watch a Columbus-Salt Lake MLS game in mid-April, but it would make one month every four years just that much more enjoyable. In fact, unless the United States wins the World Cup, then holds all its players hostage on MLS teams and decides to use its defending champion powers to hold a World Cup every six months with $1 hot dogs and domestic drafts at every game, I don’t think it will ever get the audience the fans clamor for.

And I’m not holding my breath that a World Cup win is coming anytime soon.

Every year since the U.S. hosted the Cup in 1994, we’ve heard about how “they’re bringing a team that could make noise.” And every year, it’s tails between the legs and back home. Even this year was an exercise in “Whew!” England handed the U.S. a tie…errr…”draw” and, while there was plenty of questionable officiating that kept lesser opponents in the next two games, they were still that – lesser opponents – and one of them had to be beaten by, we’re told, the greatest thing since Mike Eruzione invented sliced bread.

It’s just not flying, America. But keep on reaching for those stars.

Negativity aside, I still enjoy the World Cup and hope America can at least get through to the quarterfinals in 2014.

Also, this year’s World Cup gave me one of the most memorable experiences in my life. A couple weeks ago, I went to Japan for a little more than a week. In that time, the Japanese national team had two games scheduled in the World Cup. I thought that it was a “cool” enough experience to watch their first game with the family we stayed with, I had no idea what the second game would hold.

With a 12-hour flight looming at 3 p.m. on a Friday, my wife surprised me by agreeing that watching Japan play Denmark at 3:30 Friday morning would be something we just couldn’t pass up. The half day on a plane only sealed the decision.

So, after a 7 a.m. to midnight whirlwind around Tokyo, our third day in that magnificent city, we got packed up for the trip home, refreshed and hailed a cab at 2:45 am. While the hotel-recommended bar turned out to be a dud, a man unloading a truck on the street proved to be our savior. (As I’ll probably write in a future blog post, as nice as anyone may tell you the Japanese people are, triple it.) He pointed us to the area of Tokyo called Roppongi, just a bit up the road (though another automatic $7 cab ride) and a place where we had gotten a taste of nightlife our first day in town. We knew we were in the right place when the cabs started backing up behind pedestrians making their way across the street to any number of bars.

We hopped out, figuring the growing crowd at Legends Sports Bar (how’s that for feeling at home?) would complete our experience. We had bought Japanese soccer shirts earlier in the day, so we couldn’t be mistaken for Denmark fans and we were welcomed with open arms into the “family.” (Remember: Triple it.)

The time difference is what did the trick. I don’t know that I could have committed to going to a bar in the States for a U.S. game at 2:30 in the afternoon, but at 3 a.m. in a foreign country, it felt perfect. That is, until my wife turned to me midway through the first half and said “Um, it’s daylight.” Looking back at our pictures from the night, it really is a bit bizarre how much brighter the post game photos are from the start of the…ahem… “match.” (Damn you, Winston Churchill!)

Anyway, Japan won fairly easily, 3-1 and advanced to the Round of 16 for the first time in two World Cups and the second time ever. You’d have thought they won the whole thing. While I have my own videos of the celebration, someone from across the same bar posted video of the final seconds of the win on YouTube.

As if that wasn’t enough, a trip to find breakfast got even wilder. Really, they just won the right to lose the next game (in heartbreaking, penalty kick fashion, mind you) but these fans weren’t going to let the moment get away. The intersection becomes a mosh pit when the crosswalk turns green, then breaks up in a nice, orderly fashion when the “don’t walk” sign pops up. The same person also posted video of that craziness.

Moral of the story? If you’re ever in a foreign country when their team is playing in the World Cup…GO! Do not hesitate. Even if you’re not a soccer fan or even a sports fan, trust me, it’s worth it. Even my wife, who thought it would be cool to go just as an experience, ended up with her face painted and chanting every time Japan touched the ball.

No, really. It was awesome.

And I slept the whole flight home. Mission accomplished.

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Let’s go racing…no, wait

Posted By · May 30, 2010 at 1:26 pm

After a fantastic-as-usual opening ceremony (national anthem audio issues notwithstanding), engines roared and the field took off.

Then stopped.

For the second year in a row, we had a crash before the honorary starter could shake hands, put the flag away and find some shade. Davey Hamilton spun and found the wall inside turn 2. So Jack Nicholson dropped the green again and we’re back at it.

It took a moment to get my bearings, as the ABC broadcast appears to be about a half lap behind the race outside my window here in the media center. As cars whizzed down the front stretch, they were approaching turn 3. Explains how I could watch the caution flag come out for the Hamilton crash.

Now, it’s Bruno Junqueira’s turn, also in Turn2. The speed demon of the second day of qualifying (and the sexy darkhorse pick because of that) is also out of the race. What a couple of years it’s been for Bruno at Indy.

So we’re down to 31 cars before my seat gets warm. I really hope this isn’t a trend, for the sake of the race.


We’re through Lap 20 (though the average speed of the race is under 140 MPH, if that tells you about how many of those were actually under green) and lookie here… Tony Kanaan, who qualified with about 45 minutes left in Bump Day, then moved back to 33rd when he switched cars, is up to 16th. Now THAT would be a story.


First pit stops hit around Lap 37. All the leaders, then just about everyone else pitted, then the course went yellow. Scary moment in the pits for Will Power as he took off with the fuel hose still attached.

Dario leads Graham Rahal, Power, Danica Patrick and Alex Lloyd under yellow at Lap 41, though I believe at least Rahal and Patrick still have to pit. (I was right. Danica pits and drops to 20th, Rahal only falls to sixth and Power had to come back into the pits and falls to eighth.)


Back to green. Lap 51 now and it’s an interesting mix in the top half of the pylon. Dario and Helio are still 1-2, but Rafa Matos is in third, with solid, no-frills, as expected Ed Carpenter and Townsend Bell are fifth and seventh, respectively.

Go back a bit and Tony Kanaan is still climbing and now has help. He’s 12th, immediately behind teammates Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marco Andretti, with another teammate John Andretti two spots behind. A good spot to be for Andretti Autosport to make some ground.

Will Power made a third trip through the pits moments ago and has fallen to 25th from his front row starting position and Bertrand Baguette and Hideki Mutoh have also lost several laps with issues.

Jinx! John Andretti is black flagged for a block of Dan Wheldon on the front stretch. He’ll drop to 25th, just ahead of Vitor Meira and Sebastian Saavedra.


Lap 69, chaos in the pits! Rafa Matos lost a left rear tire (the only one he has, in fact) and turned it into the pit wall. Everyone appears to be okay and Matos is back out on track. Scott Dixon braked hard to avoid Matos and appeared to kill the engine. He got pushed back to his pit box, re-fired and got back out, but not after a huge drop in position.

More significantly for Tony Kanaan fans, could this incident have shown Lady Luck is getting ready to reward TK for his patience? Matos (and his tire) were headed across pit row toward Kanaan’s car, but made hard left turns and the No. 11 car got through free and easy and into fourth place. Any other time in the last four years, I’m betting that tire gets TK. Is karma being funny for the funny Brazilian?

Back green on Lap 72.

Back to yellow on Lap 73.

Rafael Matos hit Turn 1 hard and backwards. Out of the car and appears to be walking fine.


Vitor Meira became the latest crash victim around Lap 105, getting high in Turn 2 and smacking the wall. A sad end for Vitor, but remarkable that he was back in the field this year. An excellent recovery for Meira after crashing hard in last year’s 500.

Tomas Scheckter took over the lead during the caution, having pitted right before Meira’s crash, but Franchitti took it back on the first lap back green. Tony Kanaan has climbed to second.


More pit stops coing. Wilson, Scheckter and Kanaan are among the first in, out with no apparent issues. Marco Andretti takes over second behind Franchitti for the time being.


Team Penske had a horrible stretch around the Lap 146 mark. Starting with Helio Castroneves stalling his car in the pits, en route to a 20+ second stop, followed by a 13 or so second stop by Will Power, then topped off by Ryan Briscoe crashing hard and sliding down the front stretch.

Dario Franchitti has resumed the race lead, followed by Andretti Autosport teammates Marco Andretti and Tony Kanaan. Tomas Scheckter and Townsend Bell round out the top 5 at Lap 152.


Rookie Sebastian Saavedra crashed on Lap 162. Saavedra, who also ran the Indy Lights Freedom 100 on Friday, made the field while waiting for an MRI at Methodist Hospital last Sunday following a practice crash on Bump Day. He got in when Jay Howard and Paul Tracy discarded their times in an effort to qualify faster, but failed.

Mike Conway, Justin Wilson, Castroneves and Graham Rahal chose not to pit during the caution period and have taken over the top 4 spots.

One by one, those four peeled off for fuel, leaving Franchitti back in the lead, ahead of Kanaan and Wheldon, when Kanaan needed to pit, a spectacular final lap crash by Conway allowed Franchitti to cruise to victory.

Conway touched wheels with Ryan Hunter-Reay coming out of Turn 4, sending his No. 24 car flipping in the air and into the catch fence on the outside of the track. Hunter-Reay also hit the wall in the incident and finished 18th.

Franchitti became the 17th driver in Indy 500 history to win multiple races.

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Two sides, same coin

Posted By · May 23, 2010 at 1:17 am

There’s a lot of chatter going on about whether the new qualifying format is a good thing for the Indy 500 or not. (In fact, I’ll wait to type more until you go cast your vote on the matter on the WTHR homepage. Go ahead, I’ll be here.) The new “Fast 9″ format was kind of growing on me until Helio threw up a 227.OMG! on his first run. Game over. That’s like a baseball team scoring 10 in the top half of an extra inning game. Sure, someone *could* knock him off, but as the day’s best kept trying (including an impressive afternoon by Alex Tagliani), it was obvious that #3 was going to be on the pole again.

But aside from that, what about the rest of the day? Admittedly, I only watched the first dozen or so qualifying runs before my wife yanked me off on a quest for hostas and hanging baskets (which was actually not a bad time, but it wasn’t hanging out in the sun at 16th & Georgetown by any stretch of the imagination), but I couldn’t help but reflect on the “what-ifs” of the rest of Saturday.

How different would this year be if it were last year?

Immediately, most will point to Tony Kanaan’s crash as the head of the “cons” list regarding the new qualifying. But as much as I hope beyond hope that TK wins one, if not several, 500s before his time in a car is up, maybe his situation is overshadowed by a couple feel good stories that the new qualifying created.

At the top of that list, I think, is rookie Bertrand Baguette. While he could easily be bumped from his 24th spot in Sunday’s qualifying, what a fantastic situation for a rookie to be in – and one who many thought may be kept outside the bubble by his lack of oval experience, at that – now only having to worry about getting back in the car if nine drivers top his qualifying time. There are some big names left to hit the track and find some speed, sure, but Baguette has to be sleeping a little easier tonight.

Speaking of rookies, who would have thought *both* Ana Beatriz and Simona de Silvestro would qualify in front of Danica Patrick? Even with Danica’s troubles the first week and a half of practice, you had to think she would, along with the rest of Andretti Autosport, get it together enough to put in a solid qualifying spot, if not get into the Fast 9 mix. Instead, Saturday turned into a rocketship of nerves that culminated in a very public, very emotional moment for Patrick.

I don’t think it’s fair to decide on whether or not this year’s schedule tweaks are good or bad, based on one year. In the end, whether they qualified two or 32 cars on Saturday, Sunday is Bump Day at Indy and when the sun starts to sink below Georgetown Road, the fun will begin and we’ll have our 33 drivers ready to go next Sunday.

And I can’t wait.

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Super Saving the day

Posted By · May 7, 2010 at 12:34 am

In 2004, my then-future (now current) father-in-law decided he had to go to the Kentucky Derby once in his life. That was six years and five trips ago. For me, Saturday was the third time and you know what they say about third times and charms.

First off, the Derby definitely is something everyone (and definitely every sports fan) needs to do once. The thrill of picking a winner, even if it’s just $2 at a time, is one thing. Doing it with thousands of your suddenly-closest friends is quite another.

Not into betting?

The people watching alone is worth the $40 general admission fee. Toss in an overnight monsoon and every patch of mud in sight becomes an instant slip-and-slide, be it intentional or not. Curiously enough, even the “forgettable” actions of a few are easily covered over by the atmosphere.

And while TV will show shot after shot of men in perfectly-tailored suits and women in crisp, clean, vibrant dresses (with matching hats, naturally), the true experience is in the infield. Maybe it’s just because that’s the only Derby experience I know, but I can’t imagine the prim and proper protocol of the grandstand can be much more enjoyable. Sure, you can see all/some/more of the race “live” than you can in the infield, but for the most part, we’re all still watching it on TV screens – and I can do it while not worrying about getting a little mud on my shoes.

Now I don’t make a trip to the Derby to get quit-my-job rich and, in fact, it feels a little silly to celebrate a $2.60 win on a $2 win bet, but hey, it’s winning. And it’s 60 cents more than I had 2 minutes earlier. So I take a modest sum into the weekend (Friday, Kentucky Oaks Day, provides similar thrills with a moderately more “family” atmosphere, even in the infield), chalk it all up as a donation to Churchill Downs, and see how much I can win back.

In my first visit, that wasn’t much. I forget the numbers, but I remember coming back with some half-empty (and soaking wet) pockets, figuring I had at least enjoyed the experience. Last year, I paid a little more attention, picked up a few tips on betting smarter and better (trifectas are only worth it if you box them, usually, and even then, only rarely). So I nickel and dimed (almost literally) my way to winning back about half of what I spent. Several $2 place bets were the winner there, along with an uncanny run by No. 7 horses that seemed to finish in the money in every race on Oaks Day.

This year, there was a new goal. I watched the fabulous-but-now-canceled Animal Planet show “Jockeys” to learn a little bit more of which jocks to look for and paid a bit more attention to the races on the “Derby Trail.” In one of those early races, I watched a horse named “Ice Box” come from out of nowhere to win the Florida Derby. He was going to be my breadwinner at Churchill Downs.

Friday was a toasty day with just enough wind to make you not quite miserable, at least until you realize the sunburn your lack of sunscreen planning is going to make your week itchy and flaky and – yuck. I started off the day on fire, hitting the first three races “across the board” and up about $10. Unfortunately, just as quickly, the running total in my race day program turned into a series of frowny faces. By the time Kent Desormeaux rode his horse past defending Horse of the Year (and winless in 2010) Rachel Alexandra, I was headed to the ATM, ready to up my daily limit.

I dipped a toe back in the black in the next couple races, by which I mean I won about $2 for every $10 spent, but got hammered just enough by Desormeaux to take him out of my plan for the day’s big race, The Kentucky Oaks.

With Blind Luck a 5-6 favorite at post time, I didn’t see any sense betting her straight up with my hard-earned, yet measly, George Washingtons, so I paired her with four horses in an exacta wheel. Then I took Desormeaux’s horse out, because of the aforementioned hammering, and he promptly finished second by a whisker. (Do horses have whiskers? Certainly they’ve got some kind of nose hair, right?) Two more dollars would have won me about $60 on that race.

As an unhappy camper as I could be, I kept my money in my pocket for the day’s final race, but blurted out “8-1-10 trifecta” as the horses loaded into the gate. And wouldn’t you know, that $6 boxed trifecta would have brought home another $60. Instead, I was headed to the hotel with some serious wounds to lick.

Derby Day brought rain. Tons of rain. As I’m sure you all noticed, it was a bit muddy. We skipped the first five races because of all that, opting to stay as dry as we could as long as we could (which wasn’t long) and save a little money for the big race.

It worked.

After some very minor “earnings” in the first five races I bet, it was Derby time. I usually go big with a couple horses, including a $20 win on my boy Ice Box and a total of $30 on Super Saver, mostly because of the amicable, mud-loving, rail-riding jockey, Calvin Borel. Watching him win the 2009 Derby aboard Mine That Bird in the mud and muck at Churchill, and hearing good things about his horse’s prep for the race, it seemed like a good bet.

Boy was I right.

That $30 bet turned into $160+. Then I remembered I had him in the “Oaks/Derby Double,” picking the winner of both of the weekend’s big races for another $56.60.

Then the big one came. With the rainy mess and no clear cut favorite, half my Derby betting turned into blurting out numbers in trifecta and superfecta fashion, trying to turn a buck or two into a house payment. As I sat there knowing I hit two “big” bets, I flipped through my betting tickets like a 9-year-old looks through baseball cards. As if I had found a card of my favorite player, I saw it. Somehow in the flurry of randomness, I had bet $2 on a Super Saver-Ice Box exacta, bringing my total for the race over $350. The trip, including dinner for four on the drive home, was paid for.

Yet despite all that, there was still room for regret. Had Ice Box completed his magnificent dash from near-last to second, my take would have about doubled and covered next year’s “I have to do it once” trip.

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