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.

Friday, July 9, 2010


First, a correction on the kilometers / miles, which I figured too hastily when typing against the clock on a borrowed computer.
Entering Stage 4 on Tuesday 6 July, we had 204 kilometers. We added 92 (Evreux to Lisieux, the long and scenic way) on that non-racing day: total 296 km = 185 miles.
On Stage 5, (7 July) we stayed in Lisieux for the races and did not count the kilometers, even though we cycled around the town and to the track from our hotel.
On Stage 6, (8 July) we went 44 km, from Lisieux to the "Del Mar" of France, Deauville. The mileage also includes round trip from hotel to the Clairefontaine races. (See photos in previous posting.) That took us to 340 km = 212.5 miles.
On Stage 7 (9 July) we went to the other Deauville track, popularly called Deauville, and our few kms show how useful the bicycle is as a form of transportation: round trip to track from hotel, briefly touring the town, from hotel to train station, and after arriving in Paris, from Gare Saint-Lazare to our homes.
Total for day: 8 km, reaching 348 KILOMETERS = 217.5 MILES.
Longshots have been coming in and I've been making enough at the windows to pay for all hotels, train tickets, restaurants and with enough remaining for a comfortable cushion, this by betting sparingly and passing most races. The idea is to let the good angles come to you and don't go fishing for them. Like Bukowski said, "don't try".
I will summarize the details of all this betting in a later publication for hard-core handicappers, but in essence, I am proving that many American handicapping angles and methods work just fine in the most foreign of racing settings.
At Lisieux (small track trotters) it was a 21-1 winner plus quinella with the only two HORSES-FOR-COURSE in the race (I only played the Q).
At Clairefontaine, it was not a longshot but a favorite (coincidentally named Americain), who had won a graded stakes race in May of 2009 and the conditions of the race said, "horses must not have won a graded stakes since July of 2009". The conditions fit perfectly for this horse, and no other in the field, so I made an exception and played him at 3/2. I stayed out of the other races. Alan interviewed the owner, who bought the horse in the USA and plans to enter him in the Melbourne Cup.
At Deauville on Sunday, there was a quinella with the horses-for-course (Deauville fiber-sand specialist) winning at 16-1 (coming from bad turf form) and another dirt specialist that was entering a claiming race for the first time. I had both the win and the Q.
As you can see, none of these angles are foreign.
And finally, on the fiber-sand, one of only two USA breds in a baby race, a long sprint. The horse was sired by Vindication, switching from turf to dirt for his second try. There were some negatives on the horse, but when I saw the bet-down from 29-1 to 13-1, I decided that the American-dirt-speed breeding looked good and played the horse.
Horse-for-course, pedigree, conditions, all factors that are valid in the USA and abroad. Current form takes a back seat when powerful change angles, backed by statistics, emerge.
One of the all-time great international jockeys, Olivier Peslier, took time out of a busy day to talk with us. We learned that in France, a rider can volunteer a percentage of his earnings from purses to support Thoroughbred retirement. Mr. Peslier is an avid supporter of the rights of race horses to a worthy retirement. Mrs. Peslier is also involved in significant charity activities. Alan and I were honored that Peslier posed with us for a photo (see previous post).
We've also gotten great response from race track managers and personnel. The man at the entrance at Lisieux saw us ride up on bikes with our Tbred retirement tee-shirts and caps and waved us through, courtesy of the house (we had press passes but he didn't know it).
Thanks to the Paris-Turf article, people on the street salute Alan, whose picture was in the article. Our tee-shirts and caps are now generally recognized for the cause they support. Management at Clairefontaine lent us a computer and gave us a desk. We were greeted by the Deauville race course president.
We're in good shape. Especially Alan, who's hard to keep up with on the road; he could easily double the kilometers if the race tracks were only farther apart. Alan is an inspiration because I tend to be a naysayer and he always has a philosophical phrase that translates in more eloquent words to "don't worry". Perhaps his professional background in Asian art has something to do with this.
Of course, the French countryside along with the well-preserved half-timber architecture is a most natural stimulation to roll on.
Look, so far, with good weather on our side, we've been able to have lots of fun and use no energy except that which comes from our own bodies. I respect the work of environmentalists but I think they have it wrong when they talk about making sacrifices. I would argue that it's possible to have more fun by consuming less.
Finally, a note of thanks to Jennifer at the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, who sent us a tee-shirt to encourage us on the road. Jen bicycle commutes in LA, which is tougher than Normandie! How about bicycling between Santa Anita and Hollywood Park. That would be a challenge!
Racing has moved to the Paris region, where temperatures will be well over 90.

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