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Sunday, 22 April 2012


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I have a preference for the Belmont Stakes, it's where the good are separated from the great.

Incredible racing footage Mike. As a former motocross racer one has to understand the if the front tire of one bike hits the rear of another said rider with the front tire goes down quick. Trust me I know. These guys were within inches of doing so and at much higher speeds than we hit in the dirt.

I had an offer to try road racing but but to be honest I was bit bit Shicken Chit.

Nice Muybridge homage to accompany the text. :)

meandering slightly off topic: i rode by a stable this morning. saw a number of young women/girls riding or otherwise mucking about with the large odoriferous mammals. never see any young men/boys. just girls. wondering if my sample set is just too small or is obsessing over horses a girl thing?

The moto GP link: fantastic.

See this, too:

It's not 'racing,' per se. But, it's a beautiful tribute to the history of international auto racing — Ferrari, in particular. Luscious imagery. And, the sound.... Turn the speakers up.

That Rossi-Lorenzo battle is the stuff of legends !

It reminds mind somewhat of the Villeneuve-Arnoux duel at the Dijon F1 Grand Prix in 1979 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Nxwn3OHkEw).

"If you haven't ever seen this, prepare to be...thrilled."

Why? I gather from the blather of the talking heads that somebody did something important, but I can't tell who, when, or what... Not knowing the sport, track, or personalities I have neither context, nor frame of reference.

Other than a very slight interest in NASCAR (you take a boy out of the South, but not the South out of the boy), racing in any form pretty much leaves me cold.

For the Flash-averse, a direct link to Vimeo for the first link: http://vimeo.com/32756097

Thanks for sharing that. I've never seen GP motorcycle racing before.

I attended the 2006 Indy 500; it took me most of the race to figure out what was going on (those cars are barely a blur when they zip past) but Hornish's comeback from the penalty was thrilling. None of us could figure out where he came from; we all though Marco was going to pull it off.

re: that photo by Adam Coglianese

Muybridge was right.

I used to watch the 500s (as it was back then) back in the Gardener, Schwantz, Rainey, Mamola era, but I can't remember a tussle as audacious as that one. Thanks Mike.

Thanks so much Mike for the Rossi/Lorenzo battle. Truly awesome! Human beings can be so great by sometimes giving apparently more than their all. It was indeed thrilling to witness.


Too funny! As I write this, I just finished a tour of Churchill Downs about an hour ago while here with my wife.

Our tour guide commented about Hansen and the others tonight during the tour.

Mike, thanks for remembering our little horse races here in Kentucky. As a long-time resident of Lexington and an infrequent visitor to Keeneland, I must admit to also knowing very little about thoroughbred horse racing. I do attend Derby parties on the first Saturday in May, but the real parties where the horsey crowd rubs fetlocks with the rich and/or famous occur the night before the Derby on horse farms surrounding Lexington. The actual Derby horses are safely tucked in their stalls about 90 miles west in Churchill Downs.

Here’s a riddle to impress folks at your Derby party: How many horse usually run in the Kentucky Derby? Answer: None. A horse, of course, is not a horse until it is 5-years old. Only 3-year old colts and fillies can run in the Derby.

Another fun fact is that all thoroughbred horses (and colts and fillies) turn a year older on Jan. 1, despite their actual birth dates. This makes breeding a real timing nightmare (pun intended).


As for Hansen's 2nd place showing at Keeneland, he may have been a bit agitated. Hansen first appeared on the track with his white tail dyed blue in honor of the University of Ky basketball team winning the NCAA national title. The racing stewards, however, were unimpressed by the blue-tailed Hansen and ordered the color removed, causing a delayed start to of the race.

I imagine having one's tail blued, then unblued could be a bit unnerving. So if Hansen can avoid a similar distraction on Derby day, perhaps he can have a better performance.

Thrilling bike race indeed! If only motor and bike racing was more often like this, instead of hours of no change in the lead. And of course, if you were at the track, you would have been lucky to see just one of those amazing passes.

What is a natural sport? How about those ball sports that are a form of tribal warfare - surely they touch a primitive (natural?) part of our brain? They certainly stimulate primitive behaviour. And if you like thrilling lead changes, catch a close game of Australian Rules Football - on a good day, the lead can see-saw many times in the dying moments of the game. Very thrilling, especially in a stadium of 50 to 100,000 excited people.

I. guess you missed the recent stories about the HBO series "Luck" being cancelled (and why) and the NY Times expose on horse racing. "The sport of kings" takes a terrible toll on the horses and jockeys.

Here's a great photo from a race at Brands Hatch I bet Mike will enjoy. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/earth/earthpicturegalleries/9217323/Animal-pictures-of-the-week-20-April-2012.html?frame=2194495

Great lap Mike. Sometimes there is a palpable air of something special happening and this was one of those occasions


Prepare to be thrilled?

IoM TT. Nothing else comes close.


On board cam:

I would limit your definition a bit... a natural sport is where the end result depends entirely on the athletic ability (or at the very least the gear involved is virtually identical across the field of athletes - so that rules out motorsports, sailing and much else but retains cycling) and the athlete isn't judged only in comparison to others (win/lose) but to an absolute measurement (such as time, distance).

So you end up with swimming, running etc. and out goes horse racing, any sort of fighting, figure skating.

Not that I don't appreciate a spectacular race such as Rossi - Lorenzo, Americas cup or any horse race. It's just that it's impossible to compare achievements across various races, much less across various eras. So you end up with endless arguments whether Secretariat, Barbaro or some other horse is the best of all time, or Tyson vs. Ali, or some other pointless comparison like that.

Run the horses against time or have everyone use an identical car/motorcycle and then see who's the best (though that still wouldn't make motor racing a natural sport in my mind).

The motorcycle race had me "white-knuckling" the chair in which I sat while I viewed it. Thanks for the link.

A question. Nikon, in its glowing news release about the new 3200 digital camera, uses this in a sub-head:

"Stunning Images to Last a Lifetime"
Nikon says nothing about HOW they will "last a lifetime." In dog years? People years?

Will they? Do they? I keep seeking the permanence factor in digital discussions compared to film. Just curious.

@Jerneij, I take your point, but I'd put heavy money on Man O War taking out Ali (g).


Jernej - Swimming, running, etc. are almost always actually staged in the same way as horse racing. It's a competition just that day with that field. Sure, they track world records, but with different technology, training methods, and fields, you still can't really compare across eras.

As far as sports that require equipment, I'd bet that cycling has just as much variation as sailing and motorsports.

Very fun gp race. I used to dream about becoming a motorcycle racer when I was a kid, following Kenny Roberts, Fast Freddie, Eddie Lawson and others. Never went anywhere, and not sure "all out" is what I'm best at, at least with motorized vehicles. I went to one of those fast go-cart places a few weeks ago with my brother and daughter. We had a blast, zipping around at 35-40 mph, taking corners at what felt like amazing g-forces. Towards the end of the first race one leg was seriously cramping and I was ready to just observe. One race later I was truly too tired to go any more. By the third race my daughter was the fastest of the three of us, but she had a 90 lb advantage...

Thanks for the IoM TT videos, Don. It's the first time I've seen a full lap just on the bike cam. I was watching for the next bend; which way and how sharp, and what's just after it?

I've been riding for 34 years but what these guys do is completely out of my league.

Curse you, Mike! I thought I'd got the motorcycle racing bug out of my system (I haven't raced in almost 20 years) but that video has me, to use an equestrian expression, champing at the bit! Fortunately motorcycle roadracing is even more expensive than photography, so I'm probably safe.

BTW: For those whose interest is piqued, the World Superbike Championship generally has closer, more exciting racing than MotoGP these days. The series comes to the U.S. (Miller Motorsports Park in Utah) during the last weekend in May.

What a nice portrait of the jockey! Maybe the subject is just excellent, but somehow I find the image nails simultaneously the smallness and physicality of these men.

re. Hansen: I was unaware flying horses have been legalized in racing. Seems unfair, but it must make the events much more interesting!

Gotta love any sport that's done in less than a minute. Compare and contrast to, say, baseball or golf.

Rick D,
Not quite a minute. The all-time fastest Derby was clocked by the great Triple Crown Winner Secretariat, arguably the greatest thoroughbred ever (although he was not the greatest sire). He did it in six-tenths of a second under two minutes, a record which has stood for a staggering 38 years.

The race is sometimes called "The greatest [or best, or most exciting, etc.] two minutes in sports."


The field for this year’s KY Derby could be the best since 1957, when “The Shoe”, riding the great Gallant Man, momentarily eased too soon because he misjudged the finish line, giving Iron Liege the win, with Round Table and Bold Ruler close behind. Bold Ruler then took the Preakness, Gallant Man won the Belmont Stakes, and Round Table became racing’s king-of-the-turf.

So here’s my 2012 KY Derby fantasy: It’ll be Hansen and Take Charge Indy winging out fast on the front end, with Gemologist and most of the others packed in 2-4 lengths behind, Union Rags next, then Dullahan and Bodemeister trailing the field. Gemologist will take command at the quarter pole, but Union Rags will close on him from the outside and draw even by the eighth pole. They’ll battle head-and-head to the finish, and the win will go to the horse with the lucky “bob”, or to the rider with the best stick. A foul claim is likely, and a dead heat’s possible. If betting, exacta box these two horses.

Now we all know that races seldom unfold per fantasy. The 1978 Affirmed and Alydar triple crown series was an exception, and circumstance (a.k.a. “racing luck”) can mock the best intent and strategy. But pace is a key consideration in any serious attempt to predict the winner of a horse race, and sometimes you just get it right.

What's most shocking about Secretariat's Derby win is that every 1/4 mile split was faster than the previous one. He accelerated for 1.25 miles. That horse was one awesome freak of nature.

I think I just set a personal best for breath holding! Wow!

After 30 years of living in the DC/MD area I finally went to Laurel Park in 2010 and had a great time shooting. Have since been back with my camera club and photo class http://www.flickr.com/photos/davemullen/sets/72157629228683216/ where we spent a lovely Thursday afternoon trading lenses and shooting away. Horse racing is an amazing sport to shoot, alas, as a dying industry I've found I often have much of the track to myself. Thirty seconds of action shots followed by 30 minutes of environmental shots, lunch, and for those so inclined, betting (one of the few vices I've avoided). If there's a race track anywhere nearby I highly recommend it!

“ A lot of people go through life doing things badly. Racing’s important to men who do it well. When you’re racing, it... it’s life. Anything that happens before or after... is just waiting. ”

Michael Delaney (Steve McQueen) in Le Mans, one of my 3 favorite racing movies , the other two being Downhill Racer, and A Man And A Woman.

Just this weekend I watched a similar motorcycle race ending. The difference is amazing (#79).


Hi Mike,

Thanks for the info. The only horse race I've attended was quarterhorses in Pocatello, Idaho, and that was like watching drag race—don't blink or you'll miss it. Pretty darn fun, actually, and quite the cast of characters at the track.

Rossi can be magic . . . . I just hope he can find the 'rabbit in the hat' in the Ducati. Another epic Rossi pass? Look for the time he rolled past Stoner in the dirt through the Corkscrew at Laguna! I'm a huge fan of moto racing (SBK, MGP, AMA, all of it) and admire Horse racing, though I'm woefully ignorant about it. Nothing like a horse . . .

re: David

Any sport will advance over the eras due to improvements in training, dedication, nutrition and so forth. However in swimming (slightly ignoring the era of full body suits now banned), long jump or running, it's still entirely down to the athlete. Yes, you compete against others but that's just for show (and motivation for athletes). That's also why we'll never know just how good Michael Phelps or Mark Spitz really were. Nobody can start so many times and come very close to their best (imagine Bolt competing in 8 events with trials, semifinals and everything included and you might start to appreciate just how massively out of this world Phelps & Spitz are. Both of them could compete (and likely win) in practically any event they wanted but it's physically impossible to do it over such a limited amount of time.

But ultimately, in sports like these, you're racing against your personal best and that's what matters unlike sports where judges, engines, materials or equipment design and other variables outside your control can decide the outcome.

Cycling... wasn't really talking about classic road racing (too much depends on the team and orders from above) but time trials, ultra distance marathons or circuit racing where the variations between bikes are largely irrelevant to the performance.

@Dave Mullen, when I've gone shooting at Keeneland, our local track, I always end up with many more people shots than horse or racing shots. This was particularly true the day Keeneland inaugurated the Queen Elizabeth II Cup race and the queen was kind enough to show up.

The Senna movie is great, especially if you know who he was. I followed him during all his formula 1 career. I will never forget the day he died. I taped the broadcast from some japanese network on my satelite dish. I still have it.
Once, qualifying for Lotus, his times were so good that Peter Warr, team manager, told him he could step out of the car, nobody was going to beat him. After a few minutes, seated on the car, eyes closed, he says he is going out again, he thinks he can make a certain time. He goes out and makes it, to the thousand of a second, exactly. That was Ayrton Senna. I don't have too many heroes, he was one of them.

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