Monday, May 31, 2010

Belmont Results, 5/31/10

Man, I like looking at winning tickets, don't you?

Quality Road looked like an animal taking down the Met Mile, but come to think of it, he is an animal. Trainer Todd Pletcher also scored his very first Met Mile victory, hot on the heels of his first Kentucky Derby. Congratulations, Todd!

Here are the charts from today's card at Big Sandy, and video of the Met Mile should be up later tonight.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Paulie's Picks, Belmont, 5/31/10

Memorial day is, of course, the unofficial beginning of summer, and many people celebrate by going to the beach. But me, I like to head out to Belmont Park for the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap, affectionately known as the Met Mile. Shown above is the extraordinary Ghostzapper crushing the 2005 Met Mile in the last race of his storied career. Man, I like that horse almost as much as I like Karl Marx and Titian. Ghostzapper is now a B.O.S. (Big 'Ol Stud) at Adena Springs Farm in Kentucky, where he receives the handsome sum of $150,000 per rendezvous.

In this year's Met Mile, trainer Todd Pletcher, who just captured his first Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, is sending out Quality Road, who looks like a beast on paper. I'll be using him as an anchor in the late pick four, maybe a couple of pick 3's, and if I'm feeling frisky, perhaps a run at the pick 6. Here comes the summer!

Here are Paulie's picks for tomorrow's card at Belmont Park:

1st race:
6 - Coach Gravy
1 - Dunvegan
2 - Citizen Balley

2nd race:
5 - Love and Havoc
8 - Butterfield Road
1 - Ommadon's Answer

3rd race:
8 - Mind Boggling
2 - Last Mistake
3 - Virtues Under Fire

4th race:
7 - Christmas for Liam
8 - Biloxi
1 - Miner's Reserve

5th race:
6 - Jack on the Rocks
4 - Driven by Success
1 - Speight of Hand

6th race:
5 - Vivant
3 - Officer Flirt
9 - Mordecai Jones

7th race:
3 - Royal Lord
1 - Key Victory
8 - Smart Selection

8th race:
6 - Who Is Lady
7 - Cap the Thunder
4 - A Word to the Wise

9th race, The Sands Point, G2:
8 - Negligee
4 - Check the Label
5 - Khancord Kid

10th race, The Metropolitan Handicap, G1:
7 - Quality Road
3 - Musket Man
4 - Warrior's reward

11th race:
3 - Lisa Jean
2 - Rennina
10 - Strategic Missile

Tune in tomorrow night for video and results.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Friday, May 21, 2010

Dennis Bellone at Engine Company 216

Dennis Bellone, 2010.a01, 2010. Oil on canvas, 89" x 75.5."

Dennis Bellone, 97.3, 1998. Oil on canvas, 72" x 60."

There's a certain kind of abstract painting that looks quite easy to make, but is in fact the hardest to carry off. Dennis Bellone wields the offhand gesture with grace, confidence, and a sense of playfulness, and if the chronology of paintings in Dennis Bellone: Paintings 1990-2010 is an accurate record of his development, it also shows increasing mastery.

Viewing a single gesture not buried in a forest of related marks is something like seeing an artist naked - there isn't anything to cover the truth about his mark-making ability and contrivance sticks out like a sore thumb. Bellone's marks have the kind of freshness that is generally reserved for children's drawings or doodles made while talking on the phone, except that his can be several feet in length, involving the entire arm instead of just the wrist. Subtle drips of transparent, fluid paint leave behind the evidence of gravity, so it's possible to trace the marks with the eye from beginning to end. Even when the paintings consist of a relatively small number of lines, shapes, and colors, there's still lots to look at.

And the reason there's still lots to look at is the strong orchestration of vast amounts of white space. The highly activated in-between spaces in Bellone's pictures share top billing with his confident gestures, although this isn't evident at first glance. It sometimes functions as ground (as expected), but other times as atmosphere, or erasure, or in the case of the two most recent pictures, as light. 2010.a01 (yes, that's the title) was my favorite picture in the show, and here the intervals of ground were radiant, projecting light through yellow and green lines in the center of the picture. The lines themselves, particularly the four on the right, have a perspectival quality which reinforces the illusion of projection. The fluid areas of red in the lower right and green in the upper left show a soft, painterly space that recedes and countervails the forward moving tendency of the white ground/light and the lines, and these watercolor-esque spaces seem to secure the picture to the support as the center billows out. Wow!

I also very much enjoyed 97.3 (the title, not a radio station) for it's shear nerve. The entire center of the picture is blank save for the evidence of a large-scale erasure, which transforms into a subtle cloud. Traces of the forms that were erased are somewhat clearer at the bottom, and the top is occupied by a green line that looks conspicuously like the ears of some hastily conceived cartoon dog rising from the mist. It was funny and ballsy, but that wouldn't have meant a thing if it wasn't also an excellent picture - I could (and did) explore that expanding cloud in the middle of the canvas for a long, long time.

Bellone has internalized much from Matisse and the late, Musketeer-era Picasso, and delivers it with freshness, highly personal quirkiness, and a kind of insouciant mastery which I found quite impressive. The show is at Engine Company 216, is presented by Lisa Jacobs Fine Art and Non-Objectif Sud, Inc., and stays on view until June 6th. The gallery is open from Thursday to Sunday from 12:00 to 6:00, and is located at 11 Scholes St. in Brooklyn. I highly recommend it.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

"Sanctuary" by Ross Neher at 210 Gallery

Ross Neher's architectonic, all-over abstractions offer a wholly different take on Modernist/Mondrian-type grid painting. While those early 20th century abstractionists sought to suppress the fictive space of painting and instead emphasize the "truth" of two-dimensionality, Neher aggressively courts a recessional reading, using one-point perspective to project the individual cells of his grid back into space. The net effect is that of architectural renderings; the paintings can be read as banks of windows that look out upon an indeterminate landscape while not losing their identity as frontal abstractions which identify closely with the shape of the support.

And to what end does Neher reclaim the so-called illusionistic space that earlier abstraction sought to minimize? It offers a perfect staging for the painter to explore the nuanced rendering of light and atmosphere, which is in my view the real content of these pictures.

Out of the eight paintings in the show, seven are monochromatic, comprised of tints, tones, shades, and gradations of a single color. In these pictures it's easy to imagine that the architectural armature has no local color at all, that it's simply plaster-white or cement-grey, and all the color in the painting is a result of a bath of colored light, coming from the upper left and refracted through a hazy atmosphere. The facets of Neher's window-frames catch this diffused light at various levels of intensity and shadow, and the color in the rectangular openings slowly trails off in a disciplined gradient which often mingles with the grid elements in a close value fog on the right side.

Describing it in this way makes it sound a little like an exercise, but it's not. Immersive color has strong psychological and emotional impact, and Neher's hazy light can be spooky, romantic, mournful, nostalgic, intense, or serene; it varies from picture to picture. I liked every painting in the show, but the two standouts for me were "Dark Sforza" (pictured above) and the pulsating "Blue Aruna."

"Dark Sforza," factually gray but perceptually velvety black, evoked the stern mysteriousness of Reinhardt, but without all that intransigence; it maintained a sense of playfulness, which was a common aspect of all the works in the show. It also had a feature that I always admire - it was extremely dark in value but didn't feel heavy, mainly because of the play of soft light and the subtlety of the surface. In the hands of a lesser painter, black can weigh a ton (and that's not good). The electric "Blue Aruna" was the only picture in the show in which the light didn't look like it emanated from a natural source. The neon, night-club blue seemed to radiate out from the picture as opposed to falling across it. The expansiveness and aggressiveness of the blue made the painting feel much larger than its modest scale would suggest.

These pictures are analogous to Monet's Cathedral at Rouen series; exploring the fugitive effects of light as it dances across a putatively unchanging structure. As solid and immovable as the stone building is, it doesn't only look different under different lighting, it is different - perceived color, while transitory, is factual at the moment of perception, as factual as a stone structure, and painting as a medium has the unique ability to capture and freeze those moments. Like Monet and the Venetians, Ross Neher is one of a small number of painters that truly understands color as a structural element in the organization of pictorial space, and not simply a surface quality of the the forms in the painting.

The show is called "Sanctuary" and will be up until June 13th. 210 Gallery is located 210 25th St. in Brooklyn, and is open Friday to Sunday 12:00 to 6:00, or by appointment. I highly recommend it.

Also of interest to the painter and devotee of painting is Neher's book, "Blindfolding the Muse," which I read shortly before the show opened. It addresses the plight of painting in an era when the visual aspects of art are deeply subordinated to conceptual concerns - it was written in 1999, but might as well have come out last week. It's highly readable and well-reasoned, and available from the big online sellers.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Lookin at Lucky!

Super Saver Poops Out

There'll be no triple crown for this the 32nd year since Affirmed did it in 1978 - oh, well. A nice close by Lookin at Lucky, though!

Video later tonight.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Paulie's Picks, The 2010 Preakness

I have a handicapper's natural aversion to playing favorites, but I must say I like Super Saver's chances of snatching the second leg of the Triple Crown. I could see it happening two ways:

If there are heavy thunderstorms tonight in Baltimore (which is in the forecast) and the track is still wet at post-time, then no problemo; Super Saver handled the mud extremely well in the Derby and broke his maiden by seven on the wire in the slop last fall at Belmont.

If the storms are light tonight and the sun dries out the track tomorrow, then the Pimlico strip's bias toward front runners will benefit the other Super Saver; the one that loves to get loose on an early lead. There are no other pure speed horses in the race, so under these conditions he could conceivably skitter away gate to wire. I can see the classy mid-pack closers making an unsuccessful bid, and the order of finish looking like this:

8- Super Saver
7 - Lookin at Lucky
6 - Jackson Bend

If the track is wet, I'll put Paddy O'Prado in the place slot, move Lookin at Lucky to show, and drop Jackson Bend. Boring, I know.

But this is not to say there aren't a couple of intriguing longshots to throw into the exacta and trifecta pools. Here are a couple of the wise-guy horses I'm going to use on my gimmick tickets:

Schoolyard Dreams used to be a speed horse, but since February they've raced him like a mid-pack closer and had little success. It's hard to say if this was a decision made by the jockey and trainer or the horse, but if the track is fast and they can rev him up for and early lead he could sneak off with this at 12-1.

Yawanna Twist is a Rick Dutrow horse, and he's always got tricks up his sleeve at varying levels of legality. Here in New York, I take a good luck at whatever he sends out to the track, and I'll do the same in Baltimore. Plus you're getting 25-1 there.

Post time for the 12th race is 6:12 pm, and NBC Sports begins coverage at 4:30 pm. I'm not sure what they're planning to talk about for an hour and 42 minutes, but I'm sure it will be fascinating. Tune in tomorrow night to No Hassle at the Castle for video and results.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

2010 Preakness Post Positions and Morning Line

Post positions were drawn today for this Saturday's Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore. Super Saver is looking to move one step closer to becoming the first horse to win the triple crown in 32 years, but Lookin at Lucky is lookin for revenge after his disappointing performance as post-time favorite in the Kentucky Derby.

Below are the post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning line odds. Tune in on Friday for the big No Hassle at the Castle race analysis, but expect revisions on Saturday if the weather is rainy.

1 - Aikenite, Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano, 18/1
2 - Schoolyard Dreams, Derek Ryan, Eibar Coa, 12/1
3 - Pleasant Prince, Wesley Ward, Julian Leparoux, 15/1
4 - Northern Giant, D. Wayne Lukas, Terry Thompson, 30/1
5 - Yawanna Twist, Richard Dutrow, Edgar Prado, 25/1
6 - Jackson Bend, Nick Zito, Mike Smith, 20/1
7 - Lookin at Lucky, Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia, 4/1
8 - Super Saver, Todd Pletcher, Calvin Borel, 2/1
9 - Caracortado, Michael Machowsky, Paul Atkinson, 18/1
10 - Paddy O’Prado, Dale Romans, Kent Desormeaux, 3/1
11 - First Dude, Dale Romans, Ramon Dominguez, 15/1
12 - Dublin, D. Wayne Lukas, Garret Gomez, 10/1

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Soopa Doopa!

Calvin Does it Again!

Super Saver turned out to be a true mudlark, trainer Todd Pletcher won his first Kentucky Derby, and the ragin' cajun Calvin Borel (pictured above) has done something no other jockey in history has done - he's won the Kentucky Derby in three out of four years. He won on Mine That Bird last year and Street Sense in 2007.

Video later tonight.

Derby Update: Messy, Messy

It's pretty soupy down there in Louisville after all the rain they've had - I'm taking a hard look at Super Saver, who broke his maiden in the mud. Apparently I'm not the only one; he's dropped from a morning line of 15-1 down to 8-1.

Derby Day: The Plot Thickens

An already puzzling Kentucky Derby looks like it's going to be complicated by an additional X-factor: the track might be a swamp by 6:30. Yikes! Time to check for mudders and possibly upgrade the turf horses.