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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.

Drosselmeyer in 2:31

Friday, June 03, 2011

The wheels of the track ambulance gave the railbirds a full-body mud treatment. Here's the story in the time it took Drosselmeyer to capture the 2010 Belmont Stakes.

I hate writing. I'd rather do laundry or go clothes shopping or even parlay the dentist into the proctologist. You think I'm kidding. Writing to me implies severe responsibility; writing means you cannot be hackneyed or ungrammatical. Sentences should be informative, profound, funny and, if possible, revelatory. Write what you know, they say. I know I hate writing. The dread of nonproduction ruins my sleep and narrows my already hermetic existence. Graphs, charts, Photoshop - those're fun. Writing...the best writing is the writing due right now: no extended death struggle. Red Smith said, "There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein."

So, honestly, I'm not a writer. Writers write. I write in earnest only a few times a year. I admire real writers, busy writers. This blog is written by Claiborne Farm's assistant trainer, I Stall.

Having said this, I have maintained my dignity by trying to eschew (gesundheit) the brilliant words of others to make a point. Famous quotes and sayings are constants in the status updates on Facebook. This really ticks me off - where's the work, the creativity? I mean, why should I wrack my mind for days or weeks when in no time I could just cop, for example, this admonition on funding from Benjamin Franklin. "He that goes a borrowing goes a sorrowing and, before too long, 12-step-progrommaring." Ben's face is on the hundy but he still should've used a "who" instead of "that."

Guess what. I've made a decision. I've decided to quit writing. For my health. I rarely write as it is, yet I need to stop even that. I am back to only hardcore isolated shack-in-woods-style handicapping, and all the effort that might've gone into the enervating process of writing has been funneled into the cybertreasure called Formulator. (Even remote forests have wi-fi.) Already, just by deciding to quit writing, my complexion has cleared. There is no shame in borrowing the thoughts of those whose brains outrun yours in a hammerlocked gallop. Others have already done the dirty work, the writing, either by lyric, sentence, stanza, dialogue, proverb, or just by the spoken word during an interview. It wasn't so hard, using their unapproachable wisdom for my own. And their quotes are so famous, as you'll see, that there's no need for attribution.

It's time you try and match the golden words of some of our greatest thinkers to my projected order of finish for the 136th running of the Preakness Stakes. Answers are below.


Thursday, May 12, 2011

The BSE (Best System Ever)

Thursday, May 05, 2011

This was the system to end all systems. When this system walked into the saloon, the other systems ducked for cover. Even after the race was over, the other systems cowered under the tables and behind the bar, dead silence, quivering.

This was my dad's system, Herman, and he called it The Triacronym (tri AK ronim) System. Three-letter acronyms. The letter-based OTB parlors in New York City were where my dad and I honed our handicapping chops. Sometimes - often - the chops were flops, hence the desperate invention of The Triacronym System.

Here's how it works. It's time I bring it back. I'm Big Brown for 38 in Kentucky Derbies.

OK, you start with the number of horses in the race. Every number has a corresponding letter. 1A, 2B, 3C, etc. The first letter of each Triacronym is determined by that number, and you must complete each Triacronym with two program letters of the remaining entrants. If there are five horses in the race, for example, you have to bet five $1 exacta- and triple boxes, ten bets in total, on Triacronyms that would look something like this:

ADE (Aqueduct Daddy Ernie)
BED (Belmont Ernie Daddy)
CAB (Courageous Azeri Broodmare)
DAE (Don't Aggravate Esther)
EDB (Every Doggie Beautiful)

This would cost $60. It's not a cheap system. But over the years my dad and I celebrated a few titanic scores, including one that paid for a roundtrip horseplaying bender in South Florida.

The creativity's in the second and third slots. You can choose any words you want, words that stir your soul or dominate your thoughts or news hierarchy, but the pool of letters is limited to the number of horses in each race, and you can't repeat any letters. This system doesn't need you to pick the winner, my kinda system.

The very first Triacronym was EHB (Ernie Herman Bet), sometime in the late '70s. I can't remember how that fared. Through the years, my dad always used EHB as one of his Triacronyms - unless the field had fewer than eight horses (8=H). Soon after EHB came DIB, Daddy is Best. My parents divorced when I was two, and I spent 5 3/4 days a week with my mom, so I guess my dad was a smidge insecure.

This year is a bit surreal to me. NYC OTB closed for good last December. I don't know a Kentucky Derby without a dirty green parlor. You could take the OTB out of the city, you could even take the boy out of the OTB - but you just can't take the OTB out of the boy or the takeout out of the system.

But enough politics. Here is the Triacronym System applied to this year's running of the Kentucky Derby. This will cost me $240, 20 horses, 20 Triacronyms, $12 per entrant ($1 exacta- and triple boxes). The system's a dinosaur but I'm hoping for a Jurassic Park type of comeback, 20 years after my dad passed away.

There's also no doubt my dad would've bet Mucho Macho Man to win. If NYC OTB still existed, Mucho Macho Man, 3M, number 13, would be letter M.


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