Why We're Doing This, and How You Can Help

What would inspire two men, ages 65 and 59, to take on 11 racetracks in 21 stages and 25 days over 1,000 kilometers...on their bicycles?

The way we see it, Thoroughbred race horses have contributed to the very meaning of life, so they too deserve to retire with dignity and not be sent to the slaughterhouse just because they now do six furlongs in 1:16 instead of 1:12.

As American expatriates living in Paris, we have decided to ride our own Tour de France--riding from racetrack to racetrack across France--during the 'real' Tour de France to raise money for Thoroughbred retirement. But we need your help.

We invite you to follow our journey, and if you'd like to sponsor us, just click on www.firstgiving.com/trf or on the Sponsor Us link below.

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation currently cares for over 1200 unwanted horses. When you sponsor us, we are helping them in their mission to save ALL unwanted racehorses.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


The luck factor II. Today, several things happened which might reinforce the view that luck runs in cycles. The track was Enghien, for a second visit. On the way there was a magnificent "trompe l'oeil" (fool the eye) mural. This was the third time I'd passed the corner at Route D911, but the first time I realized that two of the four apartment façades were not really windows with people in them but painted windows with painted people in them.
Bad luck 1: the camera screen flashed "warning, battery exhausted" so there's no picture.
Bad luck 2: my belt broke, and walking with loose pants, I realized that I have lost a few pounds on this trip.
Bad luck 3: they gave out "Wheel of Fortune" tickets for people entering Enghien. With two tickets there was a 50% chance of winning a prize, but the guy just before in the line won a leather bag, and our two tickets both struck out.
Bad luck 4? Well, maybe, but I believe it's just a question of probabilities. In the first simulcast race at Vichy, for 2-year-olds, I saw a wonderful opportunity for a MULTI score, since I felt that Gina Rarick's second-time starter had an excellent chance to finish in the top four of the 14-horse field, at 48-1! And Rose of Egypte did make it to fourth.
(In the MULTI, a 48-1 in fourth is of equal value to a 48-1 in first, since it's a 4-horse quinella and not a superfecta.)
I played with a 5-horse box, and I ended up with four of the first five finishers (but not the third place finisher), so I missed out on a big score.
No, this is not bad luck. In the long run, if I can sustain this level of handicapping, then the MULTI will continue to be a profitable bet.
The handicapping lesson of the day: Classical handicapping and statistical handicapping are equally valid for picking winners. However, the betting public practices classical analysis much more than statistical handicapping, so the average odds for classical choices are much lower than for statistical choices. Two of my three right choices were longshots based purely on statistics (and unlikely picks with normal handicapping), including Gina's horse. My third successful choice was a lower-odds horse that was partly statistical and partly based on classical handicapping. The horse that I did not include was marginal for both statistics and handicapping. The payoff for a 5-horse box was 491 Euros, and for a cold 4-horse box, was 2,457.
Rather than lamenting "bad luck", I felt good that my own brand of handicapping had come so close. And once again, Gina proved to be an overperforming trainer. If I ever own a horse, she'll be the trainer.
For my improved awareness of statistical handicapping, my thanks go out to Ed Bain and his wife Susan Sweeney, who are also a supporters of Thoroughbred retirement. Ed, with the indomitable support of Susan, has developed a new brand of past performances which largely contain meaningful statistics. Ed Bain is the only professional player I know whose approach is based almost entirely on stats.
I managed to make up for the "bad luck" with a win in the fourth race MULTI at Enghien, in a trot race.
The kilometers for this stage included a round-about return trip through the island city of Ile-Saint-Denis, which from a helicopter would look like a giant split-personality eel in the Seine River, with the first half all green (parkland) and the second half composed of industries and public housing. One of the bizarre cities in France.
Today's 28 kilometers brings the total to 936, or 585 miles. We will definitely go over the 600-mile mark for the last stage tomorrow: a re-visit to Maisons-Laffitte.
We may fall a little short of the thousand kilometers, primarily because of so much time spent at the races, but we have largely fulfilled our pledge to visit 13 different race tracks by bicycle in the exact same period as the Tour de France, and our km total respects the "spirit of the commitment".
We are thrilled about the generosity and commitment of so many who have supported the cause that our odyssey represents. Lots of good people who love horses and racing simply do not know about this project, so please spread the word.mc

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