1) DERBY WEEKEND!
It's Derby weekend and while it's true the Kentucky Derby once was a bigger deal than it is now, we have a need to celebrate horses and the people who follow them. Many of you know that MPR host Cathy Wurzer's other name is Horsewoman Cathy Wurzer. And we noticed this week on Twitter that people were begging her for her handicapping secrets.
But Wurz, if nothing else, is NewsCut's favorite host for a reason. She said "nay" -- or maybe it was "neigh" -- because she was saving her picks for the blog we like to believe is her favorite.
OK. Collins whined and cajoled SO MUCH that I gave in and agreed to look at the field for the 2012 Kentucky Derby. It's a full contingent of horses. 20 of 'em. Disclaimer: I'm a horse person not a handicapper so if you lose money based on my handicapping...it's your own fault. Consider the source of your information. Me.
There are a lot of speedy horses who'll likely compete for the lead. With a 20 horse field, it'll look like a cavalry charge to the first turn. The race could set up for a stretch runner.
Two horses are currently the co-favorites: Bodemeister and Union Rags. Bodemeister wins for the funniest backstory about his name. He's had three name changes. Bodemeister is a nickname for his trainer Bob Baffert's 7-year-old son, Bode.
It's the third time Baffert, a Hall of Fame trainer, has had the early Derby favorite. The first two didn't work out. Third time the charm or strike three? You decide. I think the latter.
Other handicappers are giving Bodemeister the early nod because he had a heckofa win in the Arkansas Derby. Blew away the field winning by nine lengths. He's fast but there's a ton of speed he'll have to contend with.
Trinniberg is probably the fastest of this crop of young horses. He has blazing speed but he'll look like a forlorn motorist by the side of the road when he runs out of gas.
Hansen, the Galloping Ghost is also quick. He's making news because he's literally a horse of a different color. You don't often see white racehorses. Don't get me started on keeping a horse like him clean.
It's likely Gemologist will be up somewhere in that first flight of charging hooves.
I think the speedsters burn themselves out and stalking them are several interesting horses. Of the stretch-running threats there's Daddy Nose Best. (Ya gotta love creatively weird/funny race horse names!) He'll get some action from handicappers because he ran to a fast first place finish in the Sunland Park Derby in New Mexico, a minor prep race. He's got a really good trainer, Steve Asmussen, but while Asmussen an excellent trainer, he's is 0 for 9 in the Derby. I think you'll see Daddy Nose Best somewhere at the finish.
Dullahan is an unfortunate name. I hope he's anything BUT dull Saturday. He's breaking from the number 5 post position and in a 20 horse field he'll be shuffled back but he's got a stretch kick. I like his jockey. The horse had had some good workouts this week at Churchill Downs. He likes running on the grass. We'll see if he likes dirt kicked in his face.
A horse I'll certainly watch for is Take Charge Indy. A son of champion A.P Indy, he's out of the number 3 post position, running close to the rail, which is exactly where his jockey LOVES to be. Calvin Borel (nicknamed Bo-Rail by other jocks) is known for his heart stopping, rail hugging stretch runs that won him the Kentucky Derby in 2007, 2009 and 2010. Calvin is a character and on a Kentucky track you can never count him out.
Another late runner is Optimizer. He's a 50-to-1 shot so he may well still be running well after the race ends. I'm kidding. Sort of. One bright spot for Optimizer: He's trained by four-time Derby winner D. Wayne Lukas...Wisconsin kid...former LaCrosse high school basketball coach.
There are several other 50-to-1 shots in the field including Done Talking. He's also likely to BE done well before the home stretch.
So there you have it. Early speed burns out and there will be a thrilling stretch run. That prediction is a pretty good bet. Oh, speaking of bets, do me a favor. At least place a bet to WIN on the horse of your choice. Don't be wishy washy and pull a Bob Collins: bet the favorite to show! Are you listening Collins?!?! :)
Happy Derby Day. Pour yourself a mint julep and enjoy the race!
You don't get that kind of quality from Wertheimer.
(Photo and Photoshopping: Michael Wells)
2) IS THIS STILL ABOUT A STADIUM?
You've let me know in no uncertain terms that you're sick of Vikings stadium talk, so I apologize for bringing it up once again, but the story is no longer about whether the Vikings get a new stadium. It's an exposing look into the the dysfunctional government of Minnesota, marked by a general reluctance by leaders to take a stand, especially one based on principles.
Nowhere was that more obvious yesterday that KFAN host Dan Barreiro's interview with Kurt Zellers, the speaker of the Minnesota House. Scroll to the 11-minute mark below. Barreiro accused Zellers of misleading him from an interview last week, and later contended that Zellers was mostly interested in denying a "win" to a governor from another party, no matter what the cost. He said he wants a stadium to bill to pass, but he's not going to vote for it.
Granted KFAN has a horse in this race, but Barreiro, to his credit, pierced the political talk in a way rarely seen in Minnesota. He charged Zellers and his colleagues were trying to scuttle the issue, while preserving their political futures.
The Legislature will vote on the bill on Monday.
3) REVERSE RACISM AND A BEATEN REPORTER
A former Fargo Forum reporter who was beaten by a mob in Virginia has become the latest poster child in the ongoing debate on race because people are charging reverse racism in the case. The story got buried by his current newspaper, The Virginian-Pilot, the Fargo Forum reports today.
Dave Forster says the situation was handled appropriately by his employer, but that's not stopping the rhetoric.
In an editorial this week, the newspaper blamed the Internet:
But that's only one portion of the talk, which has been perverted on Internet sites from Facebook to political blogs to the most awful white supremacist precincts. Those emails and calls came from California and Cincinnati, from New York and from locations unknown.
This conversation cannot and should not be ceded to those people, most of whom couldn't locate Hampton Roads on a map but have nevertheless taken it upon themselves to tell us what this attack means and how we all should react in its aftermath.
They have used email and Twitter and the Internet to stir racial animosity, to articulate the rankest bigotry and to spew vulgarity and cowardly threats at any and every one.
These are the kinds of visceral reactions typical of an anonymous Internet, where deliberative responses have no chance of keeping pace with the impulsive demand for more violence, for a nihilistic surrender to the inevitable.
A different kind of racism? Asian women are commanding a premium for their eggs, the Los Angeles Times reports today. "The fact that we think of these gametes as having particular worth depending on race and class is really one of the starkest examples of how capitalism has entered the market in human parts," a bioethicist says.
4) THE WORLD STILL CARES ABOUT A MAN WHO NEEDS SHOES
Thanks to all the people who donated money, Igor Vovkovinskiy, the tallest man in the country, is in Massachusetts getting some new shoes. "I haven't been able to go for a joyful walk for six years now -- that's something that I've missed and I know my dog has missed," the Rochester man said. "I look forward to just going for a walk with my dog, just walking around the neighborhood."
5) 1860s HOUSE V. 1960s TANK
We've patiently sifted through all the stories of the week. This one from Kasota has won the top spot.
Bonus I: A Minneapolis woman is charged with stealing $4,000 to pay her cellphone bill.
Bonus II: It was 42 years ago today. Today's assignment: Walk up to people under age 35, say "Kent State," and note the reaction. Then, report back here with your results.
Legislators have announced that they will vote on a Vikings stadium proposal on Monday. Gov. Mark Dayton has asked Minnesotans to contact their legislators and urge them to vote yes. Today's Question: What would you like to say to your legislator about the stadium?
WHAT WE'RE DOING
Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) - First hour: The dangers of hazing.
Second hour: Stephanie Curtis on the movies.
Third hour: Weekly roundtable with three area political wags.
MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): From MPR's Broadcast Journalist Series: Ross Douthat, author of "Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics." He was interviewed by MPR's Stephen Smith.
Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) - First hour: A new survey that shows Americans want more action on climate change. Plus, Mayim Bialik on her role as the Big Bang Theory's Amy Fowler. Fowler has a PhD in neuroscience.
Second hour: Tthorium, and why some are calling it a super fuel. Plus, from storage to music to your office files, is it time to move to the cloud?
All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) - To some in Jamaica, the national religion is an athletic event: Sprinting. In the last summer Olympics, a Jamaican man and woman brought home the holy grail: Gold medals in the 100 meters. And they'll be the ones to beat this summer at the London games. Why are Jamaican sprinters so good? NPR travels to Kingston to find out.
In the fall of 1971, the Minneapolis School Board started busing students between two sections of the city. The busing effort was started by a biracial group of parents who wanted to accelerate integration in the schools. Students from a more racially integrated section of south Minneapolis were bused to Hale school (K-3), and mostly white kids from the Hale area were bused to Field Elementary (4-6 grades). MPR's Brandt Williams was one of the kids in the busing program.
My 11 yr old all horses all the time daughter says to go with I'll Have Another. ( If you place your bets based on the cutest one. And who doesn't?)
Oh cool, Minnesotans have such little regard for their own history that they smash it with tanks for fun. Yeah, culture is pretty important here.
Aw, Bob, give us newbies a little credit. We know the significance of Kent State.
Kurt Zellers wants to have his cake and eat it too.
If you mention Kent State to my 16YO he'll start singing Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young lyrics.
His mother and I are so proud .
All of the 35 and under crowd in my office knew about Kent State. Proud of my crew.
Of course, they did say you had to read the WHOLE story and not just the headlines to know about it...
Allie, Jim and Mary - you made my day. (And it's still early here :-) Thanks.
The events of Kent State were in 1970, in the context of the My Lai Massacre and the invasion of Cambodia. They also had a domestic precedent. On May 15, !969, then-governor Reagan and former-Alameda County DA Edwin Meese, his chief-of-staff, overrode the University's statement that they would not try to remove occupiers from People's Park. Police fired shotguns into the crowd, killing James Rector, a bystander, and wounding at least 128 people with "OO" calibre buckshot. This was followed by National Guard deployment (with tanks!) and weeks during which Berkeley citizens were beaten and detained, regardless of their involvement or not in the protests. I grew up in this area, and have vivid memories of the state of fear in the community.
On April 7, 1970, not quite a year after the death of James Rector, Reagan said, in an address to the California Growers Association, "If it takes a bloodbath, let's get it over with. No more appeasement." The events of Kent State happened a few weeks later, when Gov Rhodes made similar statements.
I note the militarized approach to crowd control in cities across the United States when people are engaged in political speech, but not when Hockey fans turn over cars. Sadly, this is not new.
Joanna - Thanks for the powerful recounting of the tragic events of that period.
But did you have to besmirch the memory of St. Ronald? :-)
Perhaps I run with a more aware crowd, but all my friends (twenty and thirty-somethings) know about Kent State. That said, I think that hearing a first-hand account of the tragedy made it much more real for me; my mother-in-law was a student at Kent State.
Jim Shapiro, I don't care about horse racing, but I practically squealed for joy when I heard that your girl's pick won!