Monday, March 20, 2006

March Madness

What a great time of year! The NCAA Basketball Tournament and the Road to the Roses going on at the same time. This is the first time that I have been as interested in the racing as the basketball. As I thought about why my tastes have changed I realized that these two sports have a lot more in common than you would expect.

1) The successful Underdogs- The basketball tourney always brings a few Cinderellas to our attention. This weekend we had Bradley and George Mason. Likewise in racing, we had Like Now and Deputy Glitters.

2) The Marathon- The basketball season consists of dozens of games over months and it is years after recruiting that you see if your team is any good. The Derby preps also go on for months and it is years after breeding that you find out if you have a racehorse.

3) The Future- Some of the stars will be back for their Senior college year, some will go pro. Some of the horses will be back for a 4-year-old campaign, some will be retired to the breeding shed.

4) The Consistent Pieces- Although the basketball players change every year, most root for a particular school, or root for a particular big time coach. In the Triple Crown world, the horses change every year but the big time trainers have a following that translates to the horses. And in some cases, fans root for the horses of their favorite owners or breeders.

and of course....

5) The Gambling- You scour the point spreads on the games looking for value much like you analyze the odds on the races.

So maybe these two events are variations on the same theme. I guess it's not so surprising that I am interested in both. However, there are two clear reasons to me why the Derby preps may be better. First, it's not single-elimination like the basketball tournament. If that were the case, Bluegrass Cat, Bob and John & Keyed Entry would be done for the year. Also, we have the Preakness and Belmont ahead. The basketball folks have nothing else.

I think I have a new favorite early Spring sport!

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