Tuesday, May 31, 2011

So Close

For any of you fellow Sportspersons who watched the 100th Anniversary running of the Indy 500,you were probably similarly shocked by the ending. J.D. Hildebrand, a "Rookie" at Indy,was coming around the final turn and about to win the race when he got too high on the track and slammed into the wall. I could not believe what I was watching. Here is a driver about to win his first start at Indy....misjudging his speed and track position and crashing just before winning. He still managed to limp across the finish line on 3 wheels for a 2nd place.
This incident is illustrative of many of the truisms of life and sports: Yogi Berra's statement that "It ain't over 'til it's over" and other adages such as "almost doesn't count" and "don't count yer chickens...." and "haste makes waste>"
Indeed. Hildebrand had the race all but won...he only needed to throttle back and not try and pass wide. Instead, he tried to pass, lost traction, and slammed into the wall. I felt genuinely sorry for Hildebrand on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Horse in the House

This is the kind of stuff that happens around the Sportsman's lodge on a fairly regular basis. Here we have one of my daughter's friends with a miniature pony in our mud-room.
The horse that my daughter takes care of has been very lonely of late. So, the owner purchased a miniature pony to hang out at the barn and provide companionship. The pony, "Tucker" is a sweet little guy...and smaller than my hunting dog. The girls walked Tucker up from the barn and brought him into the house. So, when I arrived home from the office my kids announced: "Horse in the House!"
Last night was a great crab feast at Sambo's in Liepsic, Delaware and tomorrow is Race Day...Indy 500. Tomorrow night and Monday night we will watch the adult hunter-jumper class events from our box at Devon and in between we'll be following the NCAA Lacrosse games on T.V.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend-Vintage Indy 500

For any of the small cadre of deeply bored readers who perused my gibberish last year around this time, you may recall a post on the Indianapolis 500. I attended the race with my College buddies from 1989 thru 1996. We had some serious fun and saw some serious racing and drank some serious amounts of beer.
This Sunday is race day. Known as "The Greatest Spectacle In Racing," this 500 mile race is a true test of both human and mechanical endurance. The drivers must survuve 200 laps around the 'Brickyard" and get to the end with a functioning race car and enough gas to finish. I'll admit that the race loses a lot of excitment and allure in the Television rendering, but for true fans, it will have to suffice.
This year is the 100th running of the race and in homage I present some vintage pictures of racers and racing from the past. From the singing of "Back home again in Indiana" to the checkered flag, this is an All-American event which all Sportsman should experience in person at least once.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Devon Horse Show

The following is from the website of the Devon Horse Show:
In 1896, the Devon Horse Show started as a one-day show. Now, years later, it has become the oldest and largest outdoor multi-breed competition in the United States. It is internationally recognized, USEF-A rated, and one of the most exciting events to happen in our area. While it draws top competitors from around the world, the show continues to reflect the local traditions and lifestyles of the Philadelphia Main Line.

In 2010 Devon has become just the fourth American horse show to be honored with the designation as a USEF Heritage Competition. This award is reserved for those competitions that have been in existence for more than a quarter century, promoted and grown the equestrian sport, and made a contribution to the community outside the gates of the horse show by achieving, maintaining and promoting the equestrian ideals of sportsmanship and competition.

Devon was also recognized for the second consecutive year by the National Show Hunter Hall of Fame as the Horse Show of the Year. Devon has captured this national title over fifty percent of the time it has been awarded.

The Show starts this Thursday and goes day and night until Saturday,June 4th. I posted about the tone and traditions of this classic Main Line event last year. Once again my family is excited to attend several day and evenings sessions to watch Hunter-Jumper competitions and the premier event:The $100,000.00 Gran Prix of Devon.
In between there will be 5 gaited horses, carriage driving, the Bud Clydesdales and every form of competition equitation one can imagine. There will be cocktails in the box seats and the kids winning junk at the Midway games,Labs and Lacoste and Lily clad vixens,Preppy Main Line denizens and hard core Barn rats from Kentucky and everything in between.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Philly Boxing History

On Saturday evening at a venue in Canada, a 46 year old Philadelphian named Bernard Hopkins stepped into the ring seeking to make history. 12 Rounds later, this favored son of Philly became the oldest boxer ever to win a major title...besting the previous record holder...George Foreman. Hopkins beat Jean Pascal by unanimous decision and out-boxed the younger man throughout the match.
This athlete can be an inspiration to those of us over 40.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Rest Easy Sweet Dixie

The Last Battle
If it should be that I grow frail and weak,

And pain should keep me from my sleep,

Then will you do what must be done,

For this, the last battle, can't be won.

You will be sad I understand,

But don't let grief then stay your hand,

For on this day, more than the rest,

Your love and friendship must stand the test.

We have had so many happy years,

You wouldn't want me to suffer so.

When the time comes, please, let me go.

Take me to where to my needs they'll tend,

Only, stay with me till the end

And hold me firm and speak to me,

Until my eyes no longer see.

I know in time you will agree,

It is a kindness you do to me.

Although my tail its last has waved,

From pain and suffering I have been saved.

Don't grieve that it must be you,

Who has to decide this thing to do;

We've been so close,we two, these years,

Don't let your heart hold any tears.

Author Unknown


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Heartbreaking Decision

My heart is heavy and I am deeply melancholy this afternoon. After much deliberation my wife and I have to face the imminent need to "put down" one of our dogs. "Dixie" is pictured above about 15 years ago peering out the screen door of our old house waiting for me. She is sitting right next to our daughter. Nearly every evening when I got home, both the kid and the dog would report to the screen door of the kitchen in our first house and wait for me to come inside.
My wife and I adopted Dixie from the Chester County S.P.C.A. when she was 8 weeks old. I put many hours into training her and she is a well behaved and smart dog of great disposition and gentle temperment. Over the years we had many wonderful walks and hikes at Valley Forge park and in the woods at Rolling Hills Park. She walked off-leash at my heel and obeyed each and every command. I could put her in a sitting "stay" and walk 100 yards across a field...and she would not move a muscle until the command: "Dixie,COME!" She would then rocket across the open space between us and sit at my feet waiting for her reward: a piece of pretzel or biscuit. My kids have grown up with her and she is loved by all.
Sadly, she is now 16 1/2 years old. A combination of degenerative arthritis and muscle wasting has made her bascially incontinent and unable to get up or walk. Hence it is now time to acknowledge her dignity and comfort and carry out my last act of love as her master...I am literally tearing up as I type this. Tomorrow we have an appointment and it will be brutally hard but it is the only option.

Radnor Hunt Races

The entries for this Saturday's running of the Radnor Hunt Steeplechase races are now registered and official. The brother of one of my hunting buddies has a horse entered in the first race: Michael Moran is saddling Short Shrift in this race. Ridden by Jockey Xavier Aizpur, and trained by Jack Fisher, I suspect this entry will be a betting favorite in this 2 3/8 mile "maiden" race. Fisher is a top flight trainer who is enjoying great success this season, Moran is a savvy owner with a good eye for timber jumpers. After all, he owned McDynamo, one of the most successful steeplechase horses in recent times. Jockey Aizpuru is no slouch either.
Race fans are hoping that the weather inproves as we have not seen the Sun around here in ages. The recent rains will however make for a nice soft course that is easy on the horse, even if there are a few sloppy spots.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Shotguns and the Prom

My daughter had her Senior Prom this weekend. Several weeks ago she asked if she and her friends could hold their "after-prom" party down at the Farm in Delaware where my Waterfowl Club is located. It seems she and her friends did not want to do what most of the crowd was doing after the Prom....going to Ocean City,NJ. I agreed and thus found myself at my Waterfowl Clubhouse on Saturday night with 10 High School Prom-couples. They were all nice kids and well behaved. They played pool, danced,ate copious amounts of Doritos and pretzels...and I perhaps consumed some adult beverages. I was the lone "chaperone" and elected to stay mostly out of the way. They stayed up until nearly 5 A.M. and I was at my post until the last one drifted off.
The unique facet of this after prom outing came the next morning. I rousted the crew and took them to the field to shoot some clay pigeons. Except for my two daughters( younger one came down with me to enjoy the party) none of the kids had ever shouldered a shotgun. I gave them all a safety lecture and set up the thrower. There was a lot of missing going on...but as I gently coached the kids they started busting a few and it was wonderful to see their sense of accomplishment and delight when they hit one. They all really enjoyed the experience. My daughter posted on Facebook something to the effect of: "What other after Prom party involved shotguns and clay pigeons!"
I took the whole crew out to a Breakfast Buffett at the Smyrna Diner then loaded them into my wife's Suburban for the ride back to the Main Line and my Sunday lacrosse coaching gig.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Major League Costumes

When I was a kid going to Phillie's baseball games with my old man in the early '70s, the crowd was not dressed up in Jerseys and team T-shirts as a rule. Perhaps a hat here or there or a team warm-up jacket on the random fan. It was not as it is today, an endless row after row of men, women and children in "authentic" team jerseys and team T-shirts. For the most part, the "back then" fans were dressed in normal street clothes. One would see plenty of suits from the business men and attorneys who came to the ballpark right from the office. Most fans were just in everyday clothes...not always stylish but not expensive team colors either.
In today's ballpark, nearly everyone is in their team get-up. This is a stark contrast to the 40's thru 50's when the crowd at a ballpark was in a suit and tie...as shown in the photo of Municipal stadium above.
I am simply at a loss as to why a middle aged man feels the need to wear a $199.00 "Official" team jersey to a ballgame. Is it a vestige of tribal urges to belong to the group? Is it not enough to be at the game cheering for your hometown 9 in order to display your allegiance. Do we need the fat Red Sox chick showing her nasty team tat above her crack? What about her Yankee counterpart "Fat-Boy." What message are these fans sending?
My buddy Linc has a favorite rule when it come to fans wearing the team outfit to a game. It goes something like this: "If you are old enough to be licensed to operate a motor vehicle in your state, you are too old to wear a COSTUME to the game." After all, wearing your Phillies hat and Jersey or similar Sox or Yankees or Mets togs, really is tanamount to wearing a costume. It is something better left to grade schoolers. We discussed this rule with ADG from Maxminimus when he was visiting Philly and boozing with us and he heartily concurred and even offered a few corollaries.
As an exception exists to every rule, I offer the tantalizing Yankees fan above...she can root for my team or the hated Yanks or whomever she likes....and what a nice counter point to nasty Sox Tat-girl.

For this weekend's sporting pursuits I am proud to mention that my son is starting Varsity attack today against the big rival in Lacrosse...so I am out of the office early to watch the game....in a suit by the way...

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Steeplechasin' and NASCAR

At times I have referred to Steeplechase racing as "the NASCAR of horse racing." While spectators at Steeplechase races neither go for the wrecks nor relish them, wrecks are fairly common. Some auto racing fans love the wrecks and I can admit to my personal excitement in 1989 when attending the Indy 500 and Emerson Fittipladi pulled an inside move on turn 3 which sent Al Unser,Jr. into the wall right in front of my seats.
But when we see a horse tumble at a jump and the jockey launched like a sling-shotted G.I. Joe, we gasp and hope for the best. These photos show the bang-up that occurred at the beginning of the Virginia Gold Cup race this passed Saturday. Thankfully no one was seriously hurt...horse or rider. But this accident underscores the excitment and inherent danger in Steeplechae racing.
A few years ago at the Pennasylvania Hunt Cup Races there was a nasty tumble at a jump right in front of our tailgate. My daughter Courtney, who rides, works caring for horses and is a dedicated equestrian and horse lover, burst into tears. It was hard for me to explain what was happening in a manner that would allay her fear and sadness. I did my best. The injured horse was loaded into an equine ambulance that day. I learned later from a trainer friend that the horse was put down due to injuries. The jockey was hospitalized.
This weekend the Steward will call "jockeys up" at the Willowdale Steeplechase in Willowdale, PA and next weekend the Radnor Hunt races will entertain a crowd of about 25,000. Here's hoping for safe trips for all jockeys and their mounts.

Photos from Nat'l. Steeplechase Assn.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Radnor Hunt Races

A week from this Saturday will find the Sportsman and his crew at the Steeplechase races in Chester County. The running of the prestigious National Hunt cup and it's $75,000.00 purse is a highlight of the day at Radnor and the best trainers and jockeys will be present challenging for the cup and the cash. This past weekend featured the Virginia Gold Cup and the Winterthur Point to Point. National Steeplechase Association website reported on these 2 races as follows:

Bon Caddo wins Virginia Gold Cup by 13
Merriefield Farm’s Bon Caddo took command in the late stages in the $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup and drew away to a 13-length victory at Great Meadow Race Course in The Plains on Saturday, May 7. Augustin Stables’ Radio Flyer was the only other horse to finish 86th running of the timber classic after three horses were eliminated at the second fence.

Ridden by Blair Wyatt, Bon Caddo won his second race of the year in two starts. He had won the $35,000 My Lady’s Manor timber race in Monkton, Md., on April 16. Trained by Dawn Williams, the ten-year-old Bon Point gelding ran the Virginia Gold Cup’s four miles in 8:25 on ground rated as good.

EMO Stables’ He’s a Conniver struck the top rail of the second fence at tumbled with jockey Jody Petty. More Fascination and Delta Park, following behind him, attempted to avoid He’s a Conniver and lost their jockeys. None of the horses or jockeys sustained serious injury.

Gum Tree Stables’ Uppercut was left on the lead and ran in company with Radio Flyer, with Bon Caddo stalking them. Uppercut pulled up at the final fence, leaving the race to Radio Flyer, ridden by Robbie Walsh.

Wyatt had plenty left in reserve with Bon Caddo, and they drew clear to a relatively easy victory. With $66,000 in 2011 earnings, Bon Caddo assumed the lead in the year’s timber horse standings.

Music To My Ears in Winterthur Bowl

Anna Stable’s Music To My Ears pulled away in the stretch from Morning Star Stables’ South Monarch to win the $20,000 Winterthur Bowl by 1 3/4 lengths at the Winterthur Point-to-Point Races on Sunday, May 8.

South Monarch, winner of last year’s Winterthur Bowl, jumped the final fence with Music To My Ears, but the 13-year-old Irish-bred gelding had plenty in reserve and came home to a clear victory under Robbie Walsh. Owner-trainer Alicia Murphy’s Major Price finished third, and Robert A. Kinsley’s News Flash took fourth.

Trained by Richard Valentine, Music To My Ears ran the 3 1/4 miles over timber

Friday, May 6, 2011

Sport of Kings and More Lacrosse

Yesterday's lacrosse events featured my Son's Middle school game. I was a spectator. This was followed by his Ashbee League game. I was a coach.
During the Middle school game he netted a sweet goal on a nice feed from his fellow attackman....cranking a blistering overhand shot into the back of the net. He also took a stupid penalty...one which I predicted several seconds and several steps before he committed the offending act. I know how the kid plays by now. His coach reamed him for it...I discussed it with him later.
My good friend and fellow coach Steve snapped the picture of my kid posted above...he is the pursuing player in the green "Dragons" jersey.
After game one, we hustled to the car and drove to West Chester for game 2. During this game the kid executed a nice left handed drive and scored with a left-hand shot. For any who have played the game....you know just how hard it is to train yourself to play with your off hand side. It is one thing to be proficient...it is another to have the confidence to use the off-hand in a game scenario. Once again, I was a damn proud dad.
So now we are on to Derby weekend...with a pause for a desperate game 4 of the Flyers vs. Bruins tonite. Derby day will find me at a well presented annual Derby-party over in Radnor with some friends from the Horsey set, my lovely wife, a few wagers and a well crafted Mint-Julep in a frosty Pewter Julep cup. I openly wish I was going to the Race...one of those things I mean to do one of these days. Perhaps I can crash JMW's seats next year.Read her Derby writing here from a real Kentucky Bluegrass girl: http://jmw-aplacetodwell.blogspot.com/2011/05/derby-day-its-almost-here.html

Sunday...Mother's day and all that that entails....Happy Mother's day to all you Mom's out there...Go Flyers.

P.S. For those interested parties...degenerate horse players...or just JMW: I like Archarcharch and will bet WPS on him. I also will be on Calvin Borel on a 10-1 shot and probably wheel Mike Smith's mount into an exacta or Trifecta as well. Good luck to all players.

P.S.S. Kid scored 2 more goals today...he is on a tear...and the Flyers crapped out and looked bad doing it...Go Phillies...oh yeah..they lost too.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Iconic Main Line Sportswoman

Perhaps you have seen the film "The Philadelphia Story." Perhaps you know that the heroine of the film, played by Katherine Hepburn, was based on Helen Hope Montgomery Scott. But do you know what a truly fascinating woman Mrs. Scott really was?
Vanity Fair magazine dubbed her: "the unofficial queen of Philadelphia's WASP oligarchy."
Educated at Foxcroft, the young Hope Montgomery was an accomplished equestrian. She was an avid foxhunter and later became director of the U.S. Equestrian Team and helped build The Devon Horse Show into the best show in the nation.
After her marriage to Edgar Scott,they lived in the 50 room mansion "Ardrossan." Mrs. Scott famously managed a prize winning herd of dairy cows on the estate.
As a young woman, Hope danced with the Duke of Windsor at El Morocco in New York and partied with Josephine Baker in Paris. She was elegant and at the same time down to earth.
I was lucky enough to train dogs on her estate one Autumn and met her at that time. She was clad in muddy boots and an old barn jacket and was disarmingly gracious and warm. She was in her early 80's at the time but had the spark and charm of someone much younger. We talked about dogs and livestock and the pheasant hunts that used to take place on her estate.
Her gracious nature was exemplified by her willingness to open her home for use as a venue for charity functions. Her tireless support and activity to build and improve the Devon Horse Show is another example of her philanthropic ideals.
When Mrs. Scott passed away in 1995 she took a bit of the "old" Main Line with her.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Chris Pronger - Mean, Nasty & Tough (HD)

Turning from Bin Laden and back to sporting issues, our Flyers looked like crap on Saturday and ruined the afternoon of many in the Delaware Valley.
We hope for a better result tonite against Boston and the player featured in this video can certainly play a big role. Pronger is one of those guys you hate as an opponent but love when he is on your team. I personally have always enjoyed his handling of the media.

Hunting the Ultimate Prey

I was certainly surprised by the news late last night. We had been at the Radnor Hunt Races Preview Auction at Brushwood Stables. Upon returning home we were met by the news the U.S. forces had finally hunted down the loathesome arch-criminal Bin Laden....and dispatched him with a hail of automatic weapons fire. I salute the Navy Seals and others involved with this operation...and hope some of the 9/11 families feel a sense of closure and justice.
However, I am not sure how I feel about the revelry and celebration displayed in the news this morning....