Monday, July 30, 2007

Saratoga Trip No. I

All business was conducted and accomplished in a whirlwind trip to Saratoga. Paintings and giclees delivered to appropriate venues, sidewalk reserved, apartment secured, got drunk on genuine Guinness, visited and stayed with friends and photographed early in the morning at Oklahoma. All within 24 hours and then it was off to Middleburg, Virginia. So much to show and tell - I promise to update throughout the next week.

curlinOne highlight of my morning at Oklahoma was photographing Curlin cooling out after returning from the track. If I'd been sharp and not so concerned with catching the golden light filtering through the trees for reference photos, I'd have followed the TVG cameraman around and caught him on the track.

oklahoma training trackHe has the demeanor of an older professional racehorse. Very calm and confident. Usually it's a struggle to keep these three-year-old colts on the ground without killing themselves or others.

He's good looking but I have to say there was nothing stately or grand about him. However, you still know you're in the company of potential greatness and viewing an entry into the history books.

saratoga springsKudos to Street Sense for hammering the Jim Dandy. Trainer Nafzger is pointing him to the Travers. Looks like I may need to re-think intentions for my painting of him. What a relief.

steve asmussenCurlin's trainer Steve Asmussen in a golden light.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Rainy and Cold in Saratoga Springs

calico catI'll be relieved to escape the oppressive heat of Central Florida for upstate New York. However, when I tuned into the Weather Channel this morning, a storm was 'a brewin' in the northeast with the temperatures forecast only in the sixties. Brrrr, I do have wimpy Florida blood after all.

saratoga springsAs I prepare for the trip, my heart gets agoraphobic in regard to my cats. Even though a friendly cat-loving house sitter has been arranged, well, they're my joy. Mind you, I'm the kind of human who lies stiff and motionless in bed so as not to disturb their sleep. I pine for them while I'm gone and will actually forgo some potential traveling fun in order to get home sooner. My babies have mysterious, mesmerizing power over me. In times of stress, aggravation and overwork, they have the uncanny ability to make me smile. That, my friends, is priceless.


"Disturbia 1,2,3"

Saturday, July 21, 2007

A Pin-Toe!!!!!!!!!!

saratoga race track

Okay, it's corney, stupid and beyond silly, however, I just spent the last week thinking like an eight-year-old. It does make me yuk.

It's back to Saratoga this year. I skipped last year as I was overwhelmed with commission work. Still busy but I long to get back. Besides, I have a new venue to show my originals which I'll discuss more about later. Heading north this coming week to deliver. How could I stay away for so long? I've made wonderful friends and connections. Besides, it will be a welcome relief to get out of this Florida steam box.

It'll be a quick trip to deliver paintings and visit good friends. On the way home Michael and I might do a bit of gallery schmoozing in Virginia and North Carolina. Speaking of Virginia, we just watched Red Giant win the Virginia Derby and pay $76.00!

travers stakesNext month it'll be back up to Saratoga again for the Travers Stakes. We're renting an apartment for a week during which time I'll paint out on the sidewalk in front of Soave Faire on Broadway. I get very little work accomplished but I really get a kick out of hanging out and chatting with passersby. They pose for pictures with me and it's a hoot. The last year I was there (2005) the numbers of the two first finishers in my painting were the Travers exacta. Some people made a big deal out of it, like I'm psychic. Whatever, the fun never stops.

Speaking of the Travers, Street Sense worked 5/8ths this week in a bullet 57:40. Fingers crossed on his comeback. We've got some copyright issues to work out on that painting of him before I can begin marketing giclees.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

A Riddle For You

Q. What do you get if a horse steps on your toe?

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Big Blank Very White Canvas

Nothing more intimidating that walking into the studio and facing a very large, very white, blank canvas. This is the canvas for a mural commission to be installed on a yacht still under construction. It will consist of horses running and splashing through shallow water on a beach.

Moral support from good company helps me to ease into the project.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Funny Cide Retired

Warms the cockles to hear of a great horse like Funny Cide being honorably retired. His story is most interesting, but even more so is the story of his group of owners, Sackatoga Stables. Funny Cide has his own website which describes in short outline form his career and connections. I suggest a very interesting read by Sally Jenkins, et al, Funny Cide: How a Horse, a Trainer, a Jockey and a Bunch of High School Buddies Took on the Sheiks and Bluebloods...and won.

Michael has suggested to potential investors who'd like to get their feet wet to familiarize themselves with the Sackatoga Stables story. Pooling your money with a some friends, no one gets too hurt on losses and the fun factor remains high.

In 2003, the year Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby, Michael and I strolled upon Funny Cide's own gift shop in Saratoga Springs, New York. Oh, there was every imaginable piece of merchandise from t-shirts to clocks proudly displaying the chestnut's images. We bought a six-pack of Funny Cide beer and gave a few bottles to friends for souvenirs. One bottle still holds a place on our bookshelf. Talk about marketing.

Barclay Tagg stated that Funny Cide will become a stable pony. Now I know Robin Smullins is a good horsewoman, but I wish them both luck with that endeavor. First of all, don't let him near the gate, especially if the bell will be in use. Secondly, don't use him to break off workers, he'll be determined to breeze right along with them, maybe even out-working them.

Friday, July 13, 2007

New Painting

Street Sense Winning the 2007 Kentucky Derby"
oil on canvas 16"x20"

Bess Sanders, owner extraordinaire of Gallery Central in Hot Springs, asked me awhile back to do a painting of the sheer exuberance portrayed by Calvin Borel when he won this year's Kentucky Derby. She attended the Derby and, with excellent seats at ground level going into the clubhouse turn, witnessed first hand all the joy. "Joy" seems to be a word directed at me from certain individuals this year - hmmm, I should take note. But lest I digress...

I had reservations due to the short attention spans prevalent in this industry. I'm concerned that Street Sense may be an "also ran", especially with all the attention garnered by the filly "Rag to Riches". Which means this painting won't sell. Michael says I'm not giving Street Sense the credit he deserves. Hopefully, the Travers Stakes will squelch any uncertainties. However, it's still history and Calvin is a great story unto himself. And besides, Bess knows her clientele and Calvin is one of the perennial leading riders at Oaklawn.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Snake Venom, Not Oil

As if horse racing isn't suffering from enough image problems stemming from rampant drug use within the industry, allegations plague another top international trainer. This time the illegal substance is cobra venom, yes, cobra venom. Investigators conducting a barn search of Patrick Biancone discovered a bottle labeled "toxic" which later proved to indeed be cobra venom.

A wonderfully frank and informative article by Andrew Beyer explains this blight on the racing industry regarding drug use among the top echelon trainers. As I've mentioned before, six of the top ten trainers in horse racing have served suspensions due to various drug infractions within the past year.

The venom blocks the nerves that transmit pain sensation to the horse's brain. With pain being the body's warning system to impede further assault on an existing injury, the system is short-circuited and the horse runs onward with a potential disaster in the making. Not only is the horse in peril, so are the riders.

I've stated that drug use in racing is an extremely complex issue. There are no easy answers for this subject. In this case I'm specifically speaking of race day use, not therapeutic. We're dealing here with a totally illegal drug, not an overage on an allowable substance. Racing must step up and take a resolute stand on a disgusting, growing problem.

If baseball and other major professional sports can take a no-nonsense, zero tolerance approach to illegal drug use by it's players, why can't horse racing? It glaringly obvious that American horses can't compete well when traveling to foreign countries with strict anti-drug use regulations.

These are living, breathing animals. This callous manipulation of the "rules of racing" at the deadly price of not only the lives and well-being of these magnificent animals, but also the jockeys who are subjected to terrible risk as well.

When the "cheaters" are eliminated - and let me suggest that the blame doesn't fall exclusively on the trainers - only the truly sound, fit and talented athletes will prevail. Consider the roles played by the veterinarians AND owners in this shameless practice. How did Biancone obtain the cobra venom? This is supposed to be a strictly controlled substance available only for research purposes.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Our of Hand Artists Premier

artists salonOur artist's salon, Out of Hand Artists, held it's first reception last Thursday at the Bank of America building in downtown Ocala. This is our first exhibit together as a group and the artwork is strong and impressive. We literally threw this show together in record time as the opportunity presented itself yet required a hasty response. All members followed through with promised tasks on time. Nancy Moskovitz's blog goes into greater detail.

As a result, I'm looking forward to exhibiting with the group at more formidable art venues in the future.

bank of <span class=l. to r. standing: Kelli Money Huff, Carlynne Hershberger, Nancy Moskovitz, Merrill Anderson, Lorna L. Effler, Moe Hahn. sitting: Jessica Miller, Margaret Watts, Sharon Crute, Mary Verrandeaux