The melody of Maryland, My Maryland was borrowed from a German folk song called O Tannenbaum, whose melody was borrowed from Charles M. Schulz’s O Christmas Tree, whose melody was borrowed from the biblical O Finkelstein, whose melody, of course, was borrowed from O Monzonite, that neanderthalic ditty about mist and stones. I asked the Library of Congress if I could borrow the rarest of recordings, and, WOW, its similarity to Maryland, My Maryland is not only eery, but nosey and toothy as well. (O Monzonite).
For nearly four decades Ernie Munick has been giving his heart and mind to thoroughbred racing. He is a writer, a vlogger , a musician, but most devotedly a handicapper and horseplayer. He can be seen twice a week on the NYRA Network's RACEDAY, and his videos for the Breeders' Cup can be found by clicking here.
So, borrowing is OK. But if you borrow without permission, you must attribute, or at the very least allude. For instance, in 1986 I wrote of a meek thoroughbred, who in deep stretch turned certain victory into pathetic defeat, that he "hung like a chandelier." Since then, the phrase has been appropriated many times with neither attribution nor allusion. Zero props. This is not OK. No one's ever said, "Ernie, may I use "hung like a chandelier?" or "Ernie, may I kind of glow in the lingering craftiness of 'hung like a chandelier'?" No one ever asks. They just take. This deserves immediate burial under the three-eighths pole at Aqueduct.
Me, conversely, I have asked and received permission from the National Bartenders Association to use, this one time, for the 2012 Preakness, the Oldest Bartender's Trick Ever: Give every customer a different horse, and one person is likely to come back and tip you. If you do this repeatedly, you will increase your tips. The Trick is absolutely bulletproof, still. The idea is to make every horse sound unbeatable. By starting them with a Tossed Salad (telling them the horses who have no chance, even for the superfecta), I guess I'll be using a modified version of the Oldest Bartender's Trick Ever. I can't share with you my heavy-pocketed clients, but here's what I'll be telling them, in hushed tones, after the Tossed Salad.
The Tossed Salad
Tiger Walk, Pretension, Zetterholm, Daddy Nose Best, Optimizer, Cozetti. Tossed.
The Five Sure Things
Bodemeister, bang, zoom, gone. Loosey goosey Landaluce. If I'll Have Another challenges Bode early, he's fried. If I'll Have Another shadows him, above his natural cruising speed, he'll peter. There isn't a horse in the crop who could do what Bode did in both the Ark and the Derby - especially the Derby. That pace was too hot for heat. He's not that big of a horse, Bode, but there's no one in this group who can boogie with him for nine-plus furlongs. Not even close. Before the speed poppage of 1982, trainer Butch Lenzini told jockey Cowboy Jack Kaenel to "break good and find the wood." Jack and Aloma's Ruler obliged. Mike Smith aboard Bode might employ a different strategy, though, the same he used with Lion Heart, floating Smarty Jones wide on the first turn. But Bode's better than Lion Heart and I'll Have Another's no Smarty, so better Mike keep a straight line. Bode's on the right end of a LOSE/WIN/LOSE/WIN/LOSE… pattern. Baffert will wear the Susans yet again and then, unfortunately for New York, he'll point his son's namesake for a race that fits the colt like Speedos, the Haskell. He cannot lose on Saturday.
I'll Have Another will beat Bode by twice the margin he did the first time. I'd advise against eye-balling Bode a la Canonero (Eastern Fleet), Slew (Cormorant) and Rachel (Big Drama), in favor of the stalking strategy of War Emblem (Menacing Dennis) and Shack (Flashpoint). Obviously, Bode will be three handfuls till headstretch, but, at that point, the only horse ever to win the Kentucky Derby with a nasal strip will dig down with an underrated heart and deliver us the second of the three straight Jewels we so desperately need. Some say I'll Have Another has enjoyed three consecutive perfect, traffic-free trips. Special, agile horses make perfect trips. You can put him anywhere; he is mature beyond his years. Heck, he even tolerated Creative Cause's incessant cheeriness on the flight to Louisville. I'll Have Another, perfectly named, cannot lose on Saturday.
Went the Day Well, NY, NY, is ready to Funny Cide this field. His trip in the Derby wasn't as brutal as Rags', but his excuses are legit. "Welly" was steadying almost immediately and repeatedly, was steadied again and bothered around the first turn, then rallied very wide before closing fastest of everyone. He way outran my pre-Derby statement, that there's only one Animal, and that dirt might be his third best surface. Did you see him play-training in the thick open brush of Fair Hill? There there's a happy Classic-meant horse who's peaking in the masterful hands of a future Hall of Famer. Bode and I'll Have Another can lean on each all they want. And, just in case, expect Teeth of the Dog to keep the early pace honest. Welly will be there to pick them all up. He cannot lose on Saturday.
Creative Cause needed to get out of Louisville. He just doesn't love Churchill Downs. He also needed to be noise-toughened; the mad Derby atmosphere has prepared him for his best race since the San Felipe, when he wore down Bode despite carrying five more pounds. CC projects for an ideal second-flight trip. With less pace and fewer runners in Pimlico, he can keep Bode and company in his crosshairs without having to extend early to stay close - the exact circumstances of his best performances. You can't keep a good man down, or a good horse, and both the supremely talented Joel Rosario and Creative Cause are sitting with big odds on the performances of a lifetime. They cannot lose on Saturday.
Teeth of the Dog is cresting for a trainer who deserved better in Kentucky. Michael Matz, like Graham a traditionalist with a patient agenda, has gradually raced this guy into preparation for the big time. Teeth of the Dog has position speed that was severely compromised into the first turn of the Wood Memorial, when Joe Bravo was forced to ease back from that piling front end. While this might've discouraged a lesser thoroughbred, he troopered on for third with a finish that said, NEEDED IT. Bravo's ride on Little Mike at Churchill was so Hall of Fame it hurt, literally (cost me 31 grand by not using him in the Pick 4), and Matz will find that winning a Classic with the second string is almost as tasty. This here's your real Pimlico Special. He cannot lose on Saturday.