"Six Weeks in Saratoga" available! Go get it!

"Six Weeks in Saratoga: How Three-Year-Old Rachel Alexandra Beat the Boys and Became Horse of the Year" published July 1, 2011. Keep it locked here, at The Carryover or go to SUNY Press to order your copy ... right now! Or head on down to your favorite bookseller.

Praise for "Six Weeks in Saratoga"

“Going behind the scenes of three-year-old filly Rachel Alexandra’s 2009 triumph … O’Meara makes her story gallop and gleam.” — Chronogram

“The [book] is one of enjoyable promise, and as the author recounts little moments and inside conversations, he provides an intimate glimpse into the lives of the figures he covers. The narrative keeps game pace with outside literary standards and features bursts of brilliance, and I found it a refreshing change from the selection of racing-themed volumes available today. As O’Meara brings his subjects to life, you find yourself thinking this is the kind of guy whose work I want to follow.” — Claire Novak, ESPN.com

“O’Meara … provide[s] a tremendous amount of detail from behind the scenes that the reader would not have otherwise enjoyed … Six Weeks is essentially a Rachel book, but it’s told without neglecting the always rich backdrop of a Saratoga meet. That means there’s history, surprises, characters (human and equine), great racing, foggy mornings and sun-splashed afternoons—plenty of material through which O’Meara could exercise his descriptive abilities.” — Schenectady Daily Gazette

“O’Meara fell for a magical place and magnificent horse, which is a lovely malady that often befalls horse people, and with a great deal of heart he tells us how and why. You’ll never forget his Six Weeks in Saratoga, either.” — Joe Drape, author of Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen

“Brendan O’Meara tells the story of this proud horse with verve and great historical insight. Six Weeks in Saratoga marks the debut of an exciting new talent.” — Wil Haygood, author of Sweet Thunder: The Life and Times of Sugar Ray Robinson

“Brendan O’Meara’s Six Weeks in Saratoga is a victory to be savored by those who treasure good writing in general and tales of the track in particular. Horses may win races, but they also win hearts as this impressive book proves beyond doubt. A memorable, sure-footed debut.” — Madeleine Blais, author of In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle

Monday, July 23, 2012

Great Start!

By @BrendanOMeara

I always love watching a race start from here. Enjoy this 20-second clip:


Thursday, June 7, 2012

Carryover 2.0 Teaster

The following is a teaser for Horse Race Insider's Carryover 2.0 column for Friday June 8, 2012.

By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara

I wonder what is better: the foreplay of a potential Triple Crown bid, or the actual thing. Having never experienced the actual thing, in the context of this conversation, of course, I wonder what’s best. In most cases, I’d side with the former because the latter will be a short-lived climax. Within a month things will go back to normal. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning (Tobasco Cat, get goin’!). There’s something special this time around and has little do with I’ll Have Another himself. We’ve been without a Triple Crown winner not for 34 years, but ten, and ten is far too long.

Seattle Slew, the last living Triple Crown winner, died on May 8, 2002, oddly enough 25 years to the day of his winning the Kentucky Derby. We’ve been without one of the 11 icons for ten long years, no living testament to the 11 biggest freaks the sport will ever see. Freaks is the right word and a sober Kent Desormeaux once told the New York Times after easing up Big Brown four years ago, “I was talking in the jockey room, and I can’t fathom what kind of freaks those 11 Triple Crown winners were.”

Seattle Slew died at the beginning of a spree of Triple Crown threats: War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones. Could it be the Curse of the Slew-bino?
From 1973 to 2002, a span of 29 years, horse racing had a living Triple Crown winner. Secretariat died in 1989 and Affirmed in 2001.

Baseball parades around its “Best Player Alive” and gives fans a sense of lore. In my memory it was Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams, and Willie Mays. In baseball’s case there will always be a best player alive no matter the era. Horse racing’s equivalent is the Triple Crown winner.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Google the term Google

By Brendan O'Meara/@BrendanOMeara

This column also appears on the wonderful Web site www.horseraceinsider.com.

So I had to Google the term Google. Not really, though.

The past two trainers who have had a horse going for the coveted, elusive, dare I say IMPOSSIBLE feat of winning the Triple Crown have been two of the most checkered trainers. This, of course, being media darling Doug O’Neill, and babe-spewing Ricky Dutrow, Jr. It was steroids four years ago and now it’s, well, we’ll have to Google it.

Dennis O'Neill, far right, was on CNN last week.

O’Neill’s brother, Dennis, the famed man who “found” I’ll Have Another and bought him, for, like, super cheap was on CNN. You know it’s great when the mainstream press gets its hands on horse racing. Like on ESPN the morning after the Preakness, a sports caster said I’ll Have Another stormed down the backstretch to win. Back, home, who’s keeping track?

But Dennis O’Neill’s claim that he and his brother had no idea what a “milkshake” was is about as believable as Snooki having to Google the term “promiscuity.” Mark McGuire Googling “steroids,” Tony Soprano Googling “whacking,” Pete Rose Googling “gambling,” Dolly Parton Googling “implants.” (Sadly, I have more, many, many more.)
Here’s a part of what he said, “We've never milkshaked a horse," said Dennis O'Neill. "We wouldn't know how to do it."

All he had to do was stop at the first sentence. But the more he kept going the more he discredited himself. Whether they have or have not is still an alleged act, but don’t say you don’t know what it is. Heck, if all us horsey writers out here standing on our crumbling soap boxes know what it is, then horsemen who spent their lives on the backsides sure as hell know. But, hey, we’ve got a Triple Crown on the line.

I'll Have Another hitting the track at Belmont. Photo courtesy of NYRA.

I don’t think it’ll give racing the boon everyone thinks. All it will do is give people who are already into racing reason to feel warm and fuzzy, like a shot of tequilla. Should I’ll Have Another pull it off he’ll get the Sports Illustrated cover and Tim Layden will get the story. For about one week he’ll be a star but with the Stanley Cup Finals and the NBA playoffs and baseball and every other sport, I’ll Have Another will be about as successful as drawing new blood into the sport as John Locke was at initially getting the Oceanic 6 back to the island.

What would add to the draw of the Belmont Stakes would be if Bodemeister made the trip. Even with Union Rags looming as a dangerous threat, IHA and Bode are the modern day Affirmed and Alydar, Easy Goer and Sunday Silence. It would make all the more sense having former jockeys Steve Cauthen and Jorge Velasquez in attendance signing with IHA and Bode running, but two out of three ain’t bad as the ’Loaf says.

The odds are against I’ll Have Another. There’s a reason this thing hasn’t been done in 34 years. There’s a reason the past few winners of the Belmont Stakes (Ruler on Ice, Drosselmeyer, Summer Bird, Da’Tara, Rags to Riches, Jazil) won. They all had at least four weeks rest. You’d have to go back to Afleet Alex to find a horse who ran in all three legs of the Triple Crown and won the race, this after nearly doing a somersault at Pimlico.

If anything, it’ll give all the people who whine and complain about this great and maddening sport reason to cheer and hold up another because unlike every other sport, if I’ll Have Another wins, we all win. Can’t say that about the NFL, can you?

Brendan O'Meara is the author of Six Weeks in Saratoga.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Well, folks

You asked for it,  and here it is: a post. You'll just have to visit www.horseraceinsider.com on Tuesday.

Was that a psyche out? Kind of, wasn't it?

My b.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Rapid Redux

Writing about this horse. Sure, he looks like just about any other horse you might see. But he's different. They call him Rapid Redux and he shoots for 19(!) straight victories Thursday at Laurel Park. And 2.0 plays host this guy Tuesday. Get on it!

Plus, me and Good Ol' Pete are starting up a podcast called, um, Double Carryover. It will be hosted, hopefully, by my website, www.brendanomeara.com. I wanted "Smells Like BO" as the title, but I was afraid of this:

"Yeah, hi, Todd Pletcher, would you like to be a guest on my horse racing podcast "Smells Like BO"?"


Thursday, August 18, 2011

Movie Night, cont

Some great comments over at 2.0 with regards to the "Movie Night" column about "Secretariat" the movie.

Why don't you add you're thoughts about the movie either here or there. I'm of the group that believes the book was much, much better and had more to do with the HORSE. The movie, while still named "Secretariat", had more to do with Penny Chenery.

Either case, if you're a horse racing fan, you've got to go see it and be the judge, jury, and, if necessary, the executioner too.

Oh, yeah, you might as well go and buy "Six Weeks in Saratoga." I would. Maybe some day this will be made into a movie too?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Movie Night

Yes, 2.0 has a new piece up today about the movie "Secretariat" as an opiate for all the other serious nonsense that clouds the sport.

It's funny. I like the piece, which likely means no one else will. Some of the pieces I've written I have absolutely detested, but they tend to get the most comments. It's hit and miss.

Well, it's dark at Saratoga, so you might as well read my latest installment. It's your duty. Serve the Carryover!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Arrogance

I was lucky to visit the Capital OTB Channel's set on the backstretch of Saratoga Race Course and talk about the book. Tom Amello asked me an interesting question to which I gave the worse answer. He asked when I came across the subject, what arrogance did I have to pursue it?

Arrogance may have been a funny word to use, but I think I get it. Why did I feel like I could pull it off? My answer was terrible. I went into how I went to U Mass and studied journalism and it got off course from there. What I should have said was that I love story telling. I love tight frames for nonfiction and I love to see my characters in their elements. I should have said I hate hit-and-run journalism; get the quote and get on with it.

That's what this amounts to. I've been trained to love long form narrative nonfiction. That's what the answer should have been.

Live TV. Live with it.

Monday, July 4, 2011


"Six Weeks in Saratoga" officially launched a few days ago. Exciting stuff. Now that's it's out there for consumption I await the criticism, positive or otherwise.

I hope you get a chance to pick up a copy and give it a read. It was a great meet, not just for Rachel but all of the satellite activity. And I've condensed it all for you!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Please, please, please, not another Jazil

Five years ago, 2006, seems like a lifetime ago. Barbaro won the Kentucky Derby. Bernardini walloped a bunch of nancies in the Preakness. The Derby winner and the Preakness winner were conspicuously absent from the Belmont Stakes.

Let's watch it and see just how crappy a race it was. Here's your refresher:

I have to admit, Bluegrass Cat was pretty impressive in this race, but still. This was worse than a Giants-Angels World Series. This is like RC Cola vs. Mr. Pibb.

Jazil may very well be the most forgettable horse of the past five years and hence 15 Triple Crown races.

Let's take a look:

2006: Barbaro, Bernardini, Jazil
2007: Street Sense, Curlin, Rags to Riches
2008: Big Brown, Da'Tara
2009: Mine That Bird, Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird
2010: Super Saver, Lookin At Lucky, Drosselmeyer

Take a look at that list and try not to get depressed when you read Jazil or Da'Tara. Da'Tara's claim to fame might be "slugging" it out with Rachel Alexandra in the 2009 Woodward Stakes on the front end. Looking at this list, Super Saver too, seems awfully forgetable. To Jazil's credit, he did dead heat for fourth in the Derby, so he was a pretty nice horse, I suppose. But you know how there are horses that excite you and ones that just fill up the entry box? Jazil may be the Big Fundamental, the Tim Duncan, shows up, does a remarkable, unnoticeable, forgetably good job so that we may then focus on the dunk contest.

This year's Belmont nearly had that Jazil potential, to be that forgetable kind of race that turns a jewel into a mood stone.

Thankfully Animal Kingdom and Shackleford entered the Belmont and have rallied after two grueling races. Master of Hounds and and Nehro are Preakness skippers that are a lock to hit the board.

Naturally we will be delighted with this race and NYRA will be spared the apathy of 2006.