Tuesday, February 27, 2007

2008 Presidential Sweepstakes (Horse) Race

Republican Politics, American Style
Published February 22nd 2007 in MetroEireann
By Charles Laffiteau

Last week I promised to handicap the horses competing in the 2008 Presidential Sweepstakes race cycle. I would like to begin by first handicapping the horses in the Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes, since I am a bit more familiar with the horses in this field.

McCain is the older of the 2 early front runners in the Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes and has a bit more national racing experience than his challenger, Giuliani. But some bettors have concerns about McCain’s age and his health and question how he will fare against a younger horse in the Presidential Sweepstakes should he win the Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes.

In addition, many socially conservative bettors have their doubts about both of these nags and are looking carefully at some other horseflesh that they believe possess better training and social breeding.
Romney, born in Michigan but trained in Massachusetts, appears to be the favourite among many of these bettors, but not all of them by any means. Some of them like Huckabee, who trained in Arkansas just like a past long shot winner of the Donkey-Ass and Presidential Sweepstakes, Clinton. Another entry conservative bettors appear to like is Brownback, who was bred and trained in Kansas.

Beyond these five the rest of the field consists of horses about which bettors have questions like training, Pataki out of New York and Ridge from Pennsylvania, or breeding like the maverick horse from Nebraska, Hagel. Questions about their desire to run surround horses such as Gingrich from Georgia and Powell from the nation’s Capital, Washington DC. Still it’s too early in the race to eliminate any of these horses from betting consideration. I wouldn’t be totally shocked to see one of them emerge from this crowded field as a winner in the preliminary race, provided one of the current front runners doesn’t get out to too large of an early lead.

In the Donkey-Ass Stakes race, Edwards has the experience of running in both the 2004 Donkey-Ass and Presidential Sweepstakes races and many bettors believe this horse has the best chance of beating the winner of the Elephant-Pachyderm Stakes in the Presidential Sweepstakes race. Edwards is out of South Carolina but has spent a lot of time training in Iowa, which could prove advantageous in this equally crowded field of horses.

Many questions surround the only distaff in the race, Clinton, even though she has experience in national races running alongside the eventual 1992 and 1996 Presidential Sweepstakes winner with the same name. I would like to think the betting public in the United States has begun to catch on to the idea that a female thoroughbred is just as capable of winning the Presidential Sweepstakes as any of her male counterparts. Even though this has proven to be the case in other countries, many conservative American bettors still maintain a bias against fillies and mares. This will probably remain the case among an ever declining percentage of bettors for at least the next 20 years. After all this is still a male dominated sport, otherwise they wouldn’t continue to call it the “Sport of Kings”.

Hmmm. Does anyone have any suggestions for a better name? The “Sport of Queens” just doesn’t sound quite right. Neither does the “Sport of Citizens” nor the “Sport of the Public”. How about the “Sport of Royalty” or the “Sport of the Rich and Famous”? Hey people, give me some credit, at least I’m trying to come up with a more politically correct name.

Now even though a black horse has never won any of these races, the only entry in this year’s race shouldn’t be considered a dark horse to win his first national race. This young stallion is actually the first black horse to be given a chance of wining by odds makers since these races first began over 200 years ago. He is a very fast, smooth running horse who has been training well for the past 2 years, but his lack of racing experience at the national level is seen as a disadvantage by many bettors. Many of them either want to wait and see him run successfully against the heavier weight horses nationally before placing any bets on him or they have the same bias against black horses that some bettors have against mares.

As for the rest of the field, it is still possible that a winner could emerge from this group. Given the strength and quality of the 3 current front runners, they could sap each others strength long before they reach the finish line, leaving the door open for dark horses like Richardson, with his Spanish bloodlines or Clark, another stallion bred in Arkansas. Long shots include that darling of more liberal bettors, Feingold who trains in Wisconsin, Biden, who was bred and trained in Delaware and Vilsak who has also spent a lot of time training in Iowa over the years.

As for who I like in these races, I’m still doing my homework on all theses horses, and will try to let you know the results of my due diligence in the next week or two. We still have a lot of time till these races are over and their winners decided.