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 11, 2010


This was our toughest stage so far, even if it was only 48 km (30 miles). Yesterday we reached 380 km, and with today, it's up to 428 kms (267.5 miles). If anyone is donating to the TRF according to miles, we should get double today.
It was in the low 90s with the midday sun beating down and we still decided to go out of our way to take a few pictures that we had missed yesterday. Then, I made a mistake with the Bizantine map and we ended up going in the wrong through congested suburbs: in fact, in the opposite direction.
We found a perfect bicycle path through an industrial zone, and in fact the bike lane was not needed, redundant, because there wasn't a car in sight. We're talking about the near and mid-northern suburbs of Paris, which for Parisians is no-mans' land.
I get ornery when I make dumb mistakes and the comfort index is over 100 degrees. Alan, on the other hand, could have been the author of "Don't Worry, Be Happy", and he got me through a bad moment.
It was all worth it when we got to the bridge over the Seine leading to Maisons-Laffitte, with the ML castle directly in front of us, and the green race course to the right beyond and beneath the railing of the bridge.
Maisons-Laffitte was one more example of a child-friendly track. I recall years ago proposing to the Laurel management that they should have childrens' facilities, and they responded that there was an insurance problem. Here we saw all kinds of great childrens activities, with game booths, country-fair style, clowns on stilts, and what they call "ambiance". Throw in free admission, a winning marketing strategy of France-Galop. A France-Galop insider once told me that these special treats rarely translate into higher handle because most of the newcomers only bet 2 Euros here and there. However, there is the idea of trying to restore racing as an integral part of the culture, the way it is in the Saratoga region.
Last point: Maisons-Laffitte is a woodsy horse city, and on the streets there are signs saying that horses have the right of way.
As for the betting, once again I scraped out a small profit, thanks to playing Valasyra, yet again, a horse trained by Royer-Dupré that fit the conditions perfectly. I suspect that Mr. Royer-Dupré reads the conditions books many months in advance and plans for his horses to "fit" more than any others, as if he wrote the condition book himself.
In fact, I suspect that the profits are also coming from playing only when I have discovered something, which means passing most races. I enjoy hanging out at race tracks with racing people and I don't crave to bet.
Alan also cashed in on a separate Royer-Dupré horse: R-D had three straight winners. Catch-em while they're hot.
Tomorrow is our first day off. Tuesday we'll do the "Tour de PMU" (PMU means OTB), trying to place a bet in as many PMU café-bars as possible while crossing the city. Many of these PMU bars look like vintage NY OTB. You'll get a surprising description. It won't be elegant.
Wednesday is the Grand Prix de Paris at Longchampp, Group I at a mile and a half, with probably Breeders' Cup horses vying for the big prize. We'll be there.

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