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.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


We entered Stage two with 104 km or 65 miles. Cycle to the Gare du Nord train station (4km), bikes on a train to beyond the congested suburbs, get off at the village, Orry-la-Ville, cycle through two fresh forests, Coye and Chantilly, descend to a pond with a castle, and climb back up to eventually cross magnificent dirt horse-training “avenues”, just before arriving at the race course (14 km). Reverse the process for the return and it ends up as 36 km (22.5 miles). New total: 140 km (87.5 miles).
Chantilly is not just a race track. It is pure history. Chantilly’s first race card dates back to
1834. On the “backstretch” the horses gallop by “the Great Stables” (1719-1740), perhaps the most beautiful horse stable in the world, certainly better than the housing we humans have in Paris. Today this castle-like structure with its Versailles-style gardens, serves as The Living Museum of the Horse.
Once the horses pass this furlong-length masterpiece (a rainbow of silks flowing by cream-colored grainy stone), they round the turn in front of the elegant Chantilly Chateau (begun in the 16th century but mostly rebuilt in the 19th century). The horses enter the long stretch, and the head-on shows the castle in the background.
The spectacle itself is well worth it, but you can also play the horses at Chantilly. Alan played the horses on July 4 and won four of five. He was on fire. We had to leave early so he didn’t play the sixth, and his horse lost. Anything he did or did not do came out right. (I was able to hit two of three, as well.)
Alan had started out the day with positive energy, having seen a great article in that morning’s Paris-Turf portraying our cycling project, which eloquently raised the issue of Thoroughbred retirement. This was already a big victory for us because every trainer and owner reads the Paris-Turf and we had successfully presented the issue (our thanks to Alain Stromboni, the young journalist who so aptly synthesized our ideas). As a result of the article, we were interviewed by the French racing network, Equidia.
But you may ask: how can an American player step in and handicap French races. This trip serves as a test for my hypothesis: that good handicapping is universal and transferable from one racing culture to another.
One example is Alan’s 9.80 winner in the second race, for three-year olds. NAABEGHA, trained by Freddy Head, had shown early speed in his only two-year-old race, quitting in the stretch of that mile event. Strangely, for his 3-year-old comeback race, Head stretched the horse out to a mile and 3/8 and he failed to make a move in the stretch.
NAABEGHA then shortened up to 7 furlongs and finished second at 40-1. No matter where in the world you play the horses, overachievers often come back to do well in their next race. The colt had overachieved when shortening up in distance, so the stable had him race at yet a shorter distance, 6 furlongs, and that’s why Alan played the horse.
It was what we call a pattern match. Identifying objective patterns is an artistic talent, and I make a connection between Alan’s work in the world of art and his success in the art of handicapping.
Unfortunately for me, when Alan made this discovery, I had been involved in press box public relations, so the horses were already in the gate when Alan explained the pattern match.
My two winning plays were both horses whose off-track odds had plunged to half (still good odds) when averaged with the late on-track wagering. Both had handicapping angles in their favor, but you can always play the game of finding a positive angle for nearly every horse in a field, so for me it was the toteboard corroboration that pushed me to the betting window.
In conclusion, the pattern match discovered by Alan, would make sense in Hong Kong, Australia, the USA, Chile, and anywhere else that Thoroughbreds line up for their magnificent spectacle.
And this was Chantilly, which can stand proudly with the Pyramids or the Great Wall of China as one of the seven wonders of the world.

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