Friday, April 30, 2010

Paulie's Picks, The 2010 Kentucky Derby

Last night I went to Len Friedman's famous "Sheets" seminar on the Kentucky Derby, an event I attend annually. The "Sheets" (a xeroxed pack of spreadsheets) are a special set of cryptic speed figures that take into account the many variables and vagaries of the track, and have a strong following. Len also knows many of the top trainers and jockeys, and the peculiarities of each individual racing strip around the country.

So what was his big insight into the 2010 Kentucky Derby? He had no idea who was going to win. He collected $25 each from myself and a bunch of other guys for this pearl of wisdom.

In all fairness to Len, this race is a tough nut to crack. Every horse is kind of slow, so you have to grade them all on a curve. The favorite and second choice in the morning line are laden down with asterisks, both highly beatable. I think a longshot is going to win, but which one? There are 18 horses in the race with odds of 10-1 or higher, with a few at 50-1 (remember Giacomo in 2005 and Mine That Bird last year?).

First, here's why I think the two short-priced horses probably won't win: Lookin at Lucky, the morning line favorite (since Eskendereya was scratched) is a good-looking horse, but drew the number one slot, right on the rail. He's a mid-pack kind of horse, so after about 10 seconds he's going to find himself behind a wall of horse butts and might not emerge until after the race is over. Sidney's Candy, the second choice at 5-1, is a super-speedy front running type who drew the number 20 slot, which means he has a long trip over to the rail if he wants an early lead, and a whole bunch of other horses in the race are going to be seeking the same spot. I'm of the opinion that the front runners are going to poop out in the home stretch and the horse with the best position and smartest jockey is going to steal this.

So first I tossed all the horses who were speedballs, Like Sydney's Candy. Then I nixed the turf horses. I cut the one girl horse (sexist, I know). Then I looked through to see who hadn't run in a grade one race as a three-year-old. Here's who was left, with their odds:

2 - Ice Box, 10-1
3 - Noble's Promise, 12-1
6 - Stately Victor, 30-1
13 - Jackson Bend, 15-1
16 - Awesome Act, 10-1
17 - Dublin, 12-1

This is still a big list, and I'm probably going to mix up a bunch of exacta's using these numbers, possibly keeping Lookin at Lucky in the mix in case his jockey can find a buttonhole to sneak through.

But this doesn't answer the burning question, what is the No Hassle at the Castle pick for the winner of the 2010 Kentucky Derby? Since it's so wide open, I'm going to make a call that's a bit sentimental (this kiss of death for your bankroll) and that would be Stately Victor, because his dad is my favorite horse of all time, the 2004 horse of the Year, Ghostzapper. Stately Victor is shown at the top of this post winning the 2010 Bluegrass Stakes at 40-1.

I know it's not It's not a very authoritative or scientific pick, but hey, at least I didn't ask you for 25 bucks.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

2010 Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Morning Line

The post position draw for the 2010 Kentucky Derby was held today; below are the entrants with their gate numbers, followed by the names of their jockeys, their trainers, and their morning line odds.

Tune in on Friday for the big No Hassle at the Castle race analysis. The race is the 11th at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 1, at approximately 6:24 pm, and will be broadcast on NBC sports.

1 - Lookin At Lucky, Garrett Gomez, Bob Baffert, 3-1
2 - Ice Box, Jose Lezcano, Nick Zito, 10-1
3 - Noble's Promise, Willie Martinez, Ken McPeek, 12-1
4 - Super Saver, Calvin Borel, Todd Pletcher, 15-1
5 - Line of David, Rafael Bejarano, John Sadler, 30-1
6 - Stately Victor, Alan Garcia, Mike Maker, 30-1
7 - American Lion, David Flores, Eoin Harty, 30-1
8 - Dean's Kitten, Robby Albarado, Mike Maker, 50-1
9 - Make Music for Me, Joel Rosario, Alexis Barba 50-1
10 - Paddy O'Prado, Kent Desormeaux, Dale Romans, 20-1
11 - Devil May Care, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher, 10-1
12 - Conveyance, Martin Garcia, Bob Baffert, 12-1
13 - Jackson Bend, Mike Smith, Nick Zito, 15-1
14 - Mission Impazible, Rajiv Maragh, Todd Pletcher, 20-1
15 - Discreetly Mine, Javier Castellano, Todd Pletcher, 30-1
16 - Awesome Act, Julien Leparoux, Jeremy Noseda, 10-1
17 - Dublin, Terry Thompson, D. Wayne Lukas, 12-1
18 - Backtalk, Miguel Mena, Tom Amoss, 50-1
19 - Homeboykris, Ramon Dominguez, Richard Dutrow, Jr 50-1
20 - Sidney's Candy, Joe Talamo, John Sadler, 5-1

Monday, April 26, 2010

First Production Stills from Big Red Biopic

Above are the first production stills to be released for the upcoming biopic about the Michael Jordan of racehorses, Secretariat. Diane Laine plays breeder Penny Chenery, John Malkovich plays trainer Lucien Laurin, and Otto Thorwatch plays jockey Ron Turcotte.

I'm frankly a little ambivalent about Walt Disney Pictures' ability to make a convincing movie about horse racing in the 1970's, and the middle pic with Diane Laine in Scarlett O'Horror drag does little to put my fears at ease. Don't get me wrong, though, I'm going.

Click here to see Secretariat in the astounding, amazing, unbelievable, 31-length win in the 1973 Belmont Stakes, making him the first triple crown winner in twenty five years. It happened twice more in the '70's - Seattle Slew did it in 1977 followed by Affirmed in 1978. There hasn't been a subsequent triple crown winner in 32 years.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Eskendereya is Out

The 2010 Kentucky Derby Morning line favorite Eskendereya, shown above crushing the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park earlier this year, will not be in the gate next Saturday because of a swollen ankle. He looked swell crushing the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct a few weeks ago (despite the slow fractions), but now it appears top trainer Todd Pletcher is going to have to wait at least one more year for his first Derby Win.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Conversation with a Student, pt. 3

Here's the latest installment of an extended conversation I've been having via e-mail with an especially bright student of mine who's very much interested in the semiotic analysis of art. Click here and here to read parts one and two.

Sean, 4/15/10:

Hi Paul,

I'm reading some essays written by Joseph Kosuth now and wanted to share this quote with you:

"Expressionism, as an institutionalised style, by focusing on the individual artist in a generalised way has become the least expressive art of our time. It is the preferred art form for the artists who have the least to say because they count on the institution of Expressionism to do their talking for them."

We were talking about what happens when the revolutionaries take over the palace and I thought this was an interesting addition to that discussion.


Paul, 4/16/10:

You can substitute virtually any style since Impressionism in that statement and the same would be true. The real irony for the current landscape is that a dominant motive today is institutional critique. To paraphrase Kosuth, institutional critique is an institutionalized style.

At some point, another style will topple institutional critique and the process will begin again, as it always does, but this case is somewhat unique. Art that takes the questioning of art as its primary motive looks and feels particularly weird as an establishment style.

Here's a funny side note to all this:*

Talk soon,

[*This is a link to an NY Times piece about people groping the nude performers in the Marina Abramovic retrospective at MoMA.]

Paul, 4/16/10:

One more thing: Here's a short piece I wrote about this a while back:

Sean, 4/17/10:

Hi Paul,

Thanks for the diversion [the article about groping at MoMA] - that was interesting. I have come across in the course of my research reading a lot of reference to a tautological or self-reflexive art all of which hint at some sort of wall that contemporary art has hit. Also, on the limitations of semiotics and colour,* I just read an essay by Kristeva which might be of interest to you.


[*in class I had indicated that semiotics really comes up short when it comes to the analysis of color in art. There are a relatively small number of color names available to describe the enormous range of colors available to the human eye.]

Paul, 4/17/10:

That's an excellent observation, Sean; art that feels the need to continually critique itself is a lot like a hamster wheel, unable to move forward. I'd like to believe that it means something will happen soon, but it's been such a long time now. That Kosuth stuff you're reading is all from the late '60's and early '70's, yes?

What's the name of the Kristeva piece?


Sean, 4/17/10:

It was a book about his retrospective in 1993 I believe. Kosuth has this point about how placing an object within an art context makes it art and that also got me thinking about the Marina Abramovic show. There is something strange about setting up a retrospective of performance art. Kosuth's retrospective of installations was pushing at it - how he had to retake the photographs of the text in the new setting given that space had become a contextualising element. There is just something very inauthentic about a retrospective of performance art, almost like resurrecting a corpse and the sense I got was art as spectacle.

The Kristeva piece is called Giotto's Joy in her book Desire in Language.


Paul 4/17/10:

Conceptual art, performance art, earthworks, and to a lesser extent video all at least in part typified the Marxist critique of art coming out of the '60's; the idea that art should take a form that was resistant to being collected and "museumized." Of course, all art that is endorsed by the tastemakers completely bypasses those concerns. The thing that is most surprising is the complicity of the artists; Kosuth in his retrospective, Marina Abromovic in hers. It seems a little disingenuous to me.

Interestingly, Tino Sehgal had a rhetorical way around this thorny issue in his recent conceptual/performance exhibit at the Guggenheim. He said that dematerializing art was not about avoiding museums or collectors and that an artist should be able to make a living (apparently, you can buy the privilege of staging one of his performances six times for $250,000). His concern was about the sustainability and waste of materials. By tying it into contemporary concerns he was able to take something quite old and make it seem new. He was also able to avoid the low-level hypocrisy of the afore-mentioned artists who claim to critique art institutions.


Sunday, April 18, 2010

No Hassle at the Facebook

OMG, Paul Corio is now on Facebook, lol! Friend me and I'll friend you. (:

Friday, April 16, 2010

Little Wise Guy Scores!

Little Wise Guy, 2009. Acrylic on canvas, 36" x 48."

In yesterday's 8th race at Aqueduct, Little Wise Guy, the horse after which the above painting was named, came from off the pace in a six furlong sprint to nose out the favorite and score at a robust 7-1! Hooray!

I should have bet $1,000 to win!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

My friend Michael Brennan has a new web site, and it's looking quite sharp. The address is

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 53

Edouard Manet, Corner of a Cafe Concert, 1878-80. Oil on canvas, 39" x 31."

This is another painting I saw for the first time on a recent trip to the National Gallery in London. The eccentricity of the space and composition is owed at least in part to the fact that Manet worked on the picture for a while, then chopped it in half and added canvas to the right side - the seam is plainly visible in the picture. The left side of the painting resides at the Oskar Reinhart Collection in Switzerland.

The Impressionists admired the older Manet immensely. He never showed at any of their exhibitions, preferring instead to enter paintings into the more official and respectable salon, but by the late 1870's the Impressionists' colors started creeping into his palette. Manet's two very different color approaches are on display in this picture: the center has the blacks, greys and earth tones taken from his beloved Velazquez, and the blue smock, the orchestra, and especially the bottom-lit stage have the light colors and broken brushwork of Monet and early Renoir.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

The Critics Agree

I saw the 2010 Whitney Biennial today, and I'm in agreement with the prevailing opinion: It's a little less horrible than usual. Bravo!

But seriously, I wonder how much longer they're going to keep doing this show - it seems like it's pretty much out of gas.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Paintings I Like, pt. 52

Joseph Mallord William Turner, Rain, Steam, and Speed: The Great Western Railway, 1844. Oil on canvas, 36" x 48."

I know I've said this before in relation to Turner, but I just can't imagine what these extraordinary pictures must have looked like to the average (or above-average) viewer in 1844. The fact that John Ruskin championed him so energetically shows a highly unusual amount of foresight.

I feel a strong attraction to painters who were stylistically alone in terms of time and geography. This isn't necessarily referring to people who were ahead of their time, but who simply had a particular way they wanted to make paintings, and either resisted or were oblivious to the various pressures of the conservatives, the avant garde, the general public, the prevailing methodology of teaching, and collectors, patrons, and dealers. Along with Turner, I put Bonnard, Morandi, and El Greco in this column.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Aqueduct Results, 4/3/10

Cashed a few, lost a few, cashed a few more, lost a few more. In the last race, Tom Kitten zoomed out of the fog to beat So Scott, and Professor Paulie finished in the red. But it's only a game!

Presumed Derby favorite Eskendereya trounced a small field to win the Wood Memorial by ten lengths (video above). It looked great, but those fractions were slow, slow, slow - he's going to have to show quite a bit more speed on the first Saturday in May, and be able to hold it for a mile-and-a-quarter.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Paulie's Picks, Aqueduct, 4/3/10

Tomorrow is the biggest day of the year at Aqueduct; the running of the G1 Wood Memorial, New York's premier Kentucky Derby prep race. The presumed derby favorite, Todd Pletcher trainee Eskendereya, is the odds-on favorite tomorrow.

There are three other graded stakes races besides the main event: the G3 Bay Shore, the G3 Excelsior, and the G1 Carter Handicap. The trouble is there are only six horses in each race (seven in the Bay Shore, but two are a coupled entry). This has been a real issue in racing for the past few years - filling out the gate in the big races.

I really shouldn't complain, though - there's fewer wrong horses for me to choose. Here are Paulie's picks for tomorrow at Aqueduct:

1st race:
3 - Cash Value
4 - Western Decision
10 - Lady Apple

2nd race:
4 - Rock Yard
5 - Friendly Wager
7 - Calvello

3rd race:
4 - Cantrushperfection
1 - Ricoriatoa
2 - Obligingly

4th race:
5 - Cajun Jet
8 - Stormin Bolt
7 - Ezzy

5th race:
9 - Gerard Loves Beer
8 - Smokin Conrad
5 - Pegasus Ena

6th race:
8 - Awesome Bull
7 - Judicial Leader
2 - Thunder Reigns

7th race, The Bay Shore, G3:
4 - Hurricane Ike
1 - Eightyfiveinafifty
2 - Raynick's Jet

8th race, The Excelsior, G3:
3 - Nite Light
4 - Goldsville
5 - More Than a Reason

9th race, The Wood Memorial, G1:
3 - Eskendereya
5 - Jackson Bend
4 - Schoolyard Dreams

10th race, The Carter Handicap, G1:
4 - Musket Man
5 - Munnings
1 - Digger

11th race:
11 - So Scott
8 - Strings and Arrows
1 - Tom Kitten

Tune in to NBC at 5:00 to watch the Wood. The program is one hour, so I'm assuming they'll also show one of the other graded stakes. Check in at No Hassle at the Castle tomorrow night for results.