Saturday, April 28, 2012

Paintings I Like, pt. 78

Pablo Picasso, Nude With Folded Hands, 1906.  Oil on canvas, 61" x 37."

This picture was in "The Steins Collect" at the Met; an exhibition which is really kind of a strange combination of a sleeper and blockbuster.  There are lots of marvelous but relatively small scale paintings, some of which are quite unassuming, that have really hung around in my memory - the total impact of the show is really larger than the sum of its parts.  I've been twice, and I feel quite sure I'm going to make at least one more visit.

I always think of Picasso as a draughtsman first and foremost; his color generally lags behind, and he never reached the heights of his friend and rival Matisse in the latter category.  But this picture, with its highly compressed range of values and hues is just so great, the edges melt into a kind of warm cloud of pink and orange - it's like a Rothko with a naked girl nearly hidden right in the center.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Paintings I Like, pt. 77

Henri Matisse, Portrait with Curly Hair, 1907. Oil on Canvas, 22" x 18."

Boy With Butterfly Net, 1907. Oil on Canvas, 70" x 46."

The Steins Collect at the Metropolitan has some really nice surprises, not the least of which were these two Matisse portrait's of Michael Stein's young son Allan.

The portrait is generally not something I'm overly interested after the mid-nineteenth century; the psychological aspects of faces and postures are for me almost always in competition with the innovations in color, space, light, and the other pictorial concerns that dominate European painting from Impressionism until World War One. Not so with these two pictures, however - maybe it's that kid's crazy red mop, so perfect a subject for Matisse, that makes the emotional and pictorial sync up so well in this picture. The arresting frontal portrait is almost like a full-color mug shot with a mischievous expression to match.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Blue Tails and Other Subjects

The last of the big Kentucky Derby Prep races went off yesterday; The Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland (shown above) and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park.

The Bluegrass was witness to a little controversy; the apparently flamboyant Dr. Kendall Hansen, whose Derby-bound colt is also named Hansen (what a coincidence!), thought it would be chic to dye his white horse's tail blue. The track stewards were not amused, and ordered him to wash it out while testing the dye-jar for illegal racing drugs. It's just as well, because his horse would have looked silly coming in second as a blue-tailed favorite. Dullahan closed from ten lengths like a steam-engine to take it.

Down in Hot Springs Arkansas, Bodemeister made it look damn easy in the Arkansas Derby, leading all the way, then cruising away by open lengths in the stretch. Bodemeister's graded stakes earnings were a little light coming in to yesterday's race, but the purse money from this convincing win essentially guarantees his spot at Churchill in three weeks.

Tune in to No Hassle at the Castle for exciting Derby coverage on the first Saturday in May!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Grid List on NY Arts

Grid List at Allegra LaViola received a very nice review on the fine NYArts site - special thanks goes out to painter/writer/thinker Jason Stopa.

Saturday, April 7, 2012


It seems like it's been a long time since I walked away from the track a winner. Oh, wait a minute - it doesn't seem that way, it has been a long time. So today was a good day, even though my Wood Memorial pick lost by a neck!

Alpha made a game stretch run in the Wood, but speed was holding up extremely well on the main track at the Big A, and Gemologist delivered. This was good news for Todd Pletcher and Team Gemologist, because without today's purse money, he would not have had sufficient graded stakes earnings to qualify for a Kentucky Derby slot next month.

Also of note: Out in southern California, I'll Have Another upset heavy favorite Creative Cause in the Santa Anita Derby, winning that one by a nose. Look for both in the gate at Churchill on the first Saturday in May.

The last of the big G1 prep races are next Saturday: The Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland and the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Tune in to No Hassle next weekend for video and results.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Time for the Wood!

I can't believe it's already time for my favorite race of the Aqueduct meeting: the G1 Wood Memorial! It's going to be 61 degrees and sunny at the big A tomorrow. Hooray!

Two of the horses that have made most of the experts' ten-most-likely-to-win-the-Derby lists are going to be there: Alpha (shown above winning the G3 Withers at Aqueduct in February) and Gemologist who has 4 wins and no losses, including a victory in the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last fall. Gemologist has been installed as the morning line favorite at 8-5 and Alpha is the second choice at 5-2. I'll be backing Alpha.

Gemologist would be my clear choice if there weren't a horse called The Lumber Guy (you have to love that one) in the #8 slot. Gemologist is pure speed - a wire to wire type. I love to bet this type of horse at Aqueduct, and I probably might still have have considered it if he had the rail spot. But The Lumber Guy is also an inveterate speedball, and I think he and Gemologist are going to wear each other out before they get to the stretch.

Alpha is just the type of close-up stalker that tends to benefit from this kind of speed scenario. And if the odds hold in the neighborhood of 5-2, I would consider that to be a square price for that horse.

If you're a lover of longshots, I might call your attention to the horse in between Gemologist and the Lumber guy: Tiger Walk. He's a kind of plodding closer, but if there's enough speed in this race that just about everyone else, with the exception of Street Life, could get caught up in the excitement and wear themselves out. Big pace meltdowns open the door for outsiders, and at 15-1, Tiger Walk offers a nice price for the risk. As I mentioned, Street Life also fits that profile, but 4-1 is way too stingy, and unlike Tiger Walk, Street Life has no graded stakes experience.

So here's how I see the triple

1 - Alpha
7 - Tiger Walk
6 - Gemologist

Also tomorrow: Creative Cause is the heavy favorite in the G1 Santa Anita Derby, coming off his powerful win in the San Felipe Stakes last month. Tune in to No Hassle at the Castle tomorrow night for video and recaps.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

More Kentucky Derby Preps

There were two big Kentucky Derby prep races this weekend: The G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park yesterday, and the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds today, shown above. Both yielded upsets, the latter much more so than the former.

Down at Gulfstream Park, presumed Kentucky Derby favorite Union Rags just couldn't get up in time as Take Charge Indy, with three-time Derby winner Calvin Borel aboard, took them wire to wire at 7-1. In Union Rags' defense, jockey Julien Leparoux changed his mind a few too many times about what lane to take in the stretch. That strategy is going to get him nowhere in the 20-horse cavalry charge on Derby day.

But in New Orleans, heavy favorite Mark Valeski just couldn't catch Hero of Order at - get ready for it - 99 to 1! Make sure to listen to the bland confusion of the announcers in the post-race report in the video above. His owners bought our Hero for the princely sum of $3,000. As of this morning, his lifetime racing earnings were $57,277. As of this evening, that figure was increased by $600,000. I love this game!

Tune in later this week for the big No Hassle at the Castle Wood Memorial race analysis.