Saturday, February 17, 2007

Handicapping the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes Race

Republican Politics, American Style
Published February 15th in Dublins Metro Eireann Newspaper
By Charles Laffiteau

Welcome to the latest instalment of the “Sport of Kings”, thoroughbred racing fans. Today we are coming to you live, from the site of the 2008 United States Presidential Sweepstakes race, which is held every four years at different racecourses around the country.

This year’s purse is the largest in the history of the world’s richest thoroughbred stakes race. The handlers of these horses had to put up an estimated 25 million dollars apiece just to get their racehorses entered into one of the two preliminary races, the Grade II Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes and Grade II Donkey-Ass Stakes. Given the crowded field in both preliminary races, this will also be the most expensive race for the Presidential Sweepstakes crown in history, with total expenditures likely to top one billion dollars before we announce a winner in the final race of the 2008 season.

The winners of the two preliminary graded stakes races must also face each other in the Grade I finale, the US Presidential Sweepstakes race on November 4th 2008. In this race, the winning thoroughbred’s handlers will have to pony up an additional 250 to 300 million dollars for each of their respective entries.

Oops, the gun just sounded and they’re off in what appears to be another early start for the two preliminary Grade II stakes races. As the horses near the first turn, Edwards appears to have the early lead by a half a length over Clinton and Obama in the Donkey-Ass race, while on the course next door, Giuliani is running neck and neck with McCain in the Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes.

I must apologize for being caught unawares by the early start to the two preliminary races, which seem to start earlier every time we begin another four year race cycle. But since this is an extremely long race involving 2 complete circuits of the racecourse, I think I still have time to take a few moments to handicap some of these thoroughbred race horses for you.

If the history of past preliminary stakes races is any kind of indicator, then the current positions of the front runners is by no means indicative of how these thoroughbreds will finish these races. These are, after all, races where endurance and stamina mean just as much as pedigrees, breeding and training. Oftentimes a dark horse or long shot will emerge from the pack during the course of the race and run down the early betting line favourites long before they reach the finish line. Clinton did this in the 1992 Donkey-Ass Stakes race.

On a few other occasions some of these preliminary races, as well as the occasional Presidential Sweepstakes race, have gone right down to the wire resulting in a photo finish, with the final winner determined by a decision of the race stewards, also known as the judges of the US Supreme Court.

Such was the case as recently as 2002 in the US Presidential Sweepstakes finale. In that race, even though it appeared that the Donkey-Ass Stakes winner Gore had beaten Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes winner Bush by a nose, the race stewards saw the results differently and named Bush the winner in one of the closest Presidential Sweepstakes finishes in recent memory.

Another interesting note about the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes race is that while the winner of the race often goes on to win the same race again 4 years later, it has been over 180 years since the Presidential Sweepstakes race has seen successive winners in 2 races three times in succession. Since Clinton won the race in 1992 and 1996 followed by Bush in 2000 and 2004, (if history is any guide) one would have to bet that whoever wins the race in 2008 will not repeat as the winner in 2012. Monroe was the first and only Presidential Sweepstakes winner to have done so, back in the early days of Presidential Sweepstakes’ history, when he won in both 1817 and 1821.

I wonder how many of these thoroughbred’s handlers are aware that, based on many past performances in follow up races 4 years later, they face long odds of being a repeat winner in 2012. In light of this fact, wouldn’t it be smarter to sit out the 2008 race and wait to run in 2012, thereby increasing your odds of repeating as a winner again in 2016?

Of course, one reason many handlers may have overlooked this little bit of history, was because they were focusing so much on the fact that this will also be the first Presidential race in 80 years that will be without either the previous race winner or his stable mate (aka Vice President) running in one of the preliminaries. These experienced past winners usually begin the season as odds on favourites in the preliminary stakes races.

That is why I encourage all you bettors to do your homework and make sure you thoroughly investigate each prospective horse before making any wagers. Years ago the motto around many betting establishments was “bet early and bet often”, which sometimes resulted in strong showings by particular horses in specific areas of the country. This old betting practice helped a thoroughbred named Kennedy nip Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes winner, Nixon, at the wire in the 1960 Presidential Sweepstakes race.

While this practice has been on the wane since that 1960 race, bettors are still entitled to make single wagers in both the preliminary and final races and I want to encourage each and every one of them to do so. Not all citizens of the world have the same rights and privileges as we do and I’m afraid we may one day lose this privilege if we continue to fail to exercise it.

Many states have gone to great lengths to stem the constant decline in individual bets by allowing bettors to place their wagers as much as 30 days before the race. As a result, there is simply no excuse anymore for not betting on these races. For my part, I won’t even discuss who won or lost these races with any bettor who fails to place a wager on them. I think I will close for now and come back next week to handicap the race contestants for you.

Poetry anyone?

I read a great little poem written by a woman named Adree DeSanti and couldn't resist authoring a follow-up sonnet of my own. Mine follows hers:

We base our relationships on these five little letters
How we used to jot down on notebooks how we'd be "Together Forever"
But puppy love is fickle, and we always change our mind
We have our hearts broken and we learn to heal in time

We always say that trust is the basis of the foundation
Which holds together lovers through times of desperation
So many times I've seen love fall through so many's hands
Begging for answers to their questions that no one understands

I've spent my lifetime believing trust is a two way street
Paved on dirt to leave footprints on and not solid like concrete
I think that many have made mistakes, and I've watched it with my eyes
To see how hearts once full of love could be turned to ones with lies

I've loved someone and lost before, and seen what it can do
When the one you trust becomes someone else and plays you for a fool
But my heart was never hardened and from that experience I learned much
That to me i will always remain true to me and still believe in TRUST.

I realize now that I wont change how I am or how I intend to love
I give all I have to the one I choose and from my experience i rose above
So one day I will be ready to open that door again
Ive already said good bye to the past and soon enough my future can begin

So many say they can't trust anyone, but I think thats such a waste
Cause you never know that the right one for you can be right in front of your face
But being scared and afraid of "chance" will leave you empty in the end
So for now I'll still believe in TRUST...or at least I will pretend.

*Copyright 2007 Adree DeSanti -

Before we can begin to TRUST,
there is one more essential must.
We must know how to face our fear.
There's just one answer which is clear.

When fear is knocking at your door,
you must have FAITH in something more,
if you believe that God does care,
when the door opens, no one's there.

Answer to fear is FAITH you see,
much like the fruit that's on a tree
when it gets big enough to face,
it falls into another place.

That fear will bother you no more,
because of FAITH the soil is poor
and thus the seeds can't root again,
because of FAITH in your God's plan.

With this FAITH, we begin to TRUST,
because it's an essential must
if we're to find that one true love,
He wants for us from up above.

"Copyright 2007 Charles Laffiteau-Metro Eireann and