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RICHMOND….. I am tired, dead tired. I just realized that while looking for an online video showing the return of brand new Triple Crown Champion American Pharaoh to Churchill Downs at Louisville, his home track, that I just watched an eight and a half minute video of a guy giving him a bath after unloading him from the van that brought him from the airport back out to Churchill. Anyway, the new Champ stayed one more night at Belmont Park after winning yesterdays race, then this morning he, along with some other horses that were being shipped back to Churchill were taken to the airport, loaded up and flown back to Louisville.
Am-Phar though was the only one that got a police escort back to the track. And from what I heard, quite a crowd gathered along the route to cheer him on as he made his way back to his “home” barn and stall. I think he will be getting a lot of specialized attention for at least a few days. I could tell from watching him that he does seem to enjoy crowd adulation and is quite familiar with the people that do his daily handling. Bonds get developed between horse and handler and it was evident as he was bathed that he was used to the routine and the fellow that was doing it.
There was talk today of Am-Phar collecting some of the highest stud fees in the history of the sport and that is probably what will happen. However, his owner, Ahmed Zayat said today that he may just run him in another handful of races this year. Boy, I just don’t know about that. If he was mine, I might take him on some sort of victory tour, but racing him again would be out of the question. A bad accident in equine racing is the end of the animal and that possibility alone would encourage me to just retire him. At any rate, next Saturday evening at Churchill there is a racing card and Am-Phar will be featured in a parade during the Stephen Foster Handicap stakes. It will be airing on NBCSN at 6pmET.
The day was a little bittersweet for me. I started watching the Triple Crown in the mid-sixties because my father was a huge fan. Growing up in Illinois he had an Uncle who had a stable of “trotters” or carriage racers and my dad built his interest off of that. He and I watched the 3 Triple victors in the seventies and then no one had won since then. He left us back in February and I know if he was still here he would have been watching yesterday and he would have definitely been smiling as broadly as I was…..
So, I’m out East and I have had a busy few weeks. Tonight I’m whupped and had to indulge in a treat for myself, so who doesn’t like good ice cream? One of my personal favorites (and it has to be high quality when I do have it) is a flavor “dulce de leche” made by premium ice cream maker, that rhymes with “Dagen Haz”. It is Vanilla with ribbons of Carmel blended in to it. This is awesome! Follow it up with a great dark roast cup of coffee! Yeah man!
The Tampa Bay Lightning outlasted the Chicago Blackhawk’s in Stanley Cup Game two action last night, 4-3, to even the series at a game apiece. The Hawks won Game one by a score of 2-1 to negate the Bolts home ice advantage. A lot of analysts and fans are stating that the game winners should have probably been reversed with Tampa taking G1 and the Hawks taking G2. I don’t know about that. Sure enough the Bolts came out flying in G1 and got a fluky, but athletic goal early in the opening period to take a G1 lead. However, in the final eight minutes of the period the Hawks did not allow Tampa another shot on goal. The 2nd period was scoreless in a kind of back and forth chess match. Then the Hawks turned up the heat early in the 3rd and put on some relentless pressure.
Tampa goalie Ben Bishop was denying the Hawks and finally the Fan Jr. looked over and said that he didn’t think the Hawks were going to score that night. I told him that with the pressure the Hawks were exerting that it was just going to be a matter of time, the Hawks can be that methodical at times. Sure enough, not a minute later they got their first score and 1:58 later they went ahead 2-1 which stood for the final. You can’t see it in the box score, but I felt that for two thirds of the game, the Hawks carried the play.
In last nights loss, I thought the factor that swayed the game for the Bolts was the average play of Hawk net minder Corey Crawford. The Hawks out-shot the Bolts and doubled them up in the faceoff circle. Tampa slightly out-hit the Hawks. I am betting that Crawford wishes he could get a second chance on the game winner by Jason Garrison. Tomorrow eve the series resumes in the Windy City, and there are questions about who will be in goal for Tampa as Bishop didn’t finish G2 due to some sort of injury which brought backup Andrei Vasilevskiy into the tilt. Vasilevskiy is a quality player though and held tough against the 5 shots he faced for the win. If the Hawks take both games at home that will position them for the series win. At 3 games to 1, I couldn’t see the Bolts winning 3 in a row from the Hawks. A split in Chi-town wouldn’t surprise me either. Can’t wait….
The joint NHL/NHLPA competition committee gave preliminary approval to a Coaches Challenge format over the weekend. This prompted some minor whining from an unnamed SXM Home Ice radio host on his weekend show. He pointed out that the average NHL game was about 2 hours and 37 minutes or something like that and that this sort of thing could add a few minutes to a game. So, what kind of intensely hyper micro-managed life are you living that you even pay attention to this minutiae? Buddy, if there was one thing I could pound into your skull it would be that you can never spend enough time at the rink, safely away from the bologna of life…. PEACE