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.

Monday, July 5, 2010


COMPIEGNE, where you can't tell where the forest ends and the race track begins, an idyllic setting for racing, small homespun grandstand, classic wood and stone architecture, a festive small town atmosphere, and a feast of racing, even though a notch in class below the Parisian tracks. The World War I armistice was signed in the Compiegne forest, and when France fell to the Nazis, Hitler had the armistice revoked in the same forest. Compiegne is an elegant city with vintage styles of architecture, a living testimony of France's sense of historic preservation.
We entered this stage with 140 km (87.5 miles) and added 68 km (42.5 miles) for an accumulated total of 208 km (130 miles). But more than the miles today, it was "contre la montre" (against the clock, as they say in the Tour de France). We had to bike at sustained speed to make it from the train station at Pont-Sainte-Maxence on the Oise River to get to the first race and featured race on time, and then we had to reverse the process to catch the train to Paris from Pont-Sainte-Maxence.
The whole route was along the Oise River, and half of it was bike path, so it was a case of "scenic doping". If any doping happens on our alternative Tour de France, it will be performance dis-enhancing substances, such as red wine.
A typical scene in France is poppy flowers growing wild in wheat fields, and here, the poppy has romantic symbolism rather than its reputation for a source of dope. Only obstacle besides the clock: we took a wrong path in the woods and to get out, had to walk our bikes on a hopelessly narrow path along an electrified fence that protected a corn field from scavengers. At one treacherous point, Alan got a shock.
Handicapping Lesson
As I've been writing, American handicapping methods can be applied across the globe. Today I hit a MULTI (you have to pick the top 4 horses in any order, better than a superfecta because a longshot in fourth place has the same value as if it were to finish first). This bet is only for fields of 14 or more.
The method, which I call "the Short Form", in honor of the IRS, truly simplifies the selection and elimination process, and it works well for Tbreds, jumpers and trotters.
In this case, I got a 25-1 payoff in a simulcast trot race from Vichy. All I did the night before was find a race where most of the trainers had less than a 5% win rate, and eliminated them all, with one exception. An eliminated horse is restored as a contender if it has overachieved at today's race track.
The method works great in the USA as well, and in fact, that's where I derived it (I'll explain in detail in a longer report). But with smaller fields in the USA, I can eliminate trainers with less than a 12% hit rate. There is also a class filter, and horses that are proven losers at today's class level are eliminated.
I also collected on the quinella, where I used the two horses-for-course. I got shut out when trying to play the only American bred (in honor of July 4th weekend) in a 2-year-old field when I saw the late betting action. He won.
The body is not just a physical specimen, like, say a poppy flower. The mind has its say. After collecting on this bet, I found it much easier to cycle full speed ahead from the race track to train station two hours away.
Alan and I are doing this trip at our own expense. So far we've been able to pay for some of our expenses thanks to the horses, and if these horses work so hard to give us thrills, including the ones that lose, then when they must retire, they deserve to be spared from the slaughterhouse. It's so simple. We don't kill off any living being just because it can't work for us anymore. That's about our own humanity.
PS. Tomorrow is a longer stage and we may collapse before being able to file a report. Please stay tuned for the next report, and support the cause.

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