Posts Tagged ‘Kentucky Derby’

The Countdown to Woodstock and 2020

Sunday, May 12th, 2019


Fans of Woodstock may have a choice of two 50th Anniversary concerts to choose from. Or maybe not.

Fans of Woodstock may have a choice of two 50th Anniversary concerts to choose from. Or maybe not.

By Bob Gaydos

A look at the news, by the numbers:

  • 7: The percentage of the United States Senate that is running for president (so far) in 2020. All seven are Democrats and four of them are women. The latest count of Democratic presidential candidates stands at 20, I believe, but I could have missed a mayor or state senator or part-time legal clerk who decided that, what the heck, since 2016 proved that anybody really can get elected president in America, why not me?
  • 53: The percentage of the United States Senate that is perfectly comfortable with having a president with no understanding of the Constitution or respect for the rule of law, not a modicum of empathy, who lies as naturally as others breathe, has the IQ of a hedgehog (sorry, hedgehogs)  and the curiosity of a Big Mac, is totally consumed with his own image and how much money he and his family can wring out of the presidency before he bankrupts it like everything else he’s touched. All 53 are Republicans. The GOP, of course, used to be the party of law and order, the party that preached moral values and respect for the Constitution. Today, not so much.
  • 311: Reportedly, the number of grams of food per day Kim Jung-un, North Korea’s leader, says will be rationed to each citizen as the result of the latest food crisis to hit his nation. A bad harvest left the country 1.36 tons short of grain. The bad harvest came on top of dry spells, abnormally high temperatures and floods, which exacerbated limited supplies of fuel, fertilizer and spare parts, all of which was punctuated by economic sanctions against the country for its continued nuclear weapons buildup. For comparison, the average amount of food a healthy person eats daily in a non-rationed nation is four pounds. That’s about 1,800 grams. The North Korea ration diet is mostly rice and kimchi (cabbage), very little protein. About 10 million people — about 40 percent of North Korea’s population  — are affected by the food shortage. Of course, not Kim and his friends, or those who have access to the black market.
  • 3 million: Number of North Koreans estimated to have died in that nation’s famine in the late 1990s, when the ration system collapsed. The question is whether Kim is willing to continue the family tradition of letting millions of  countrymen and women die rather than abandon his nuclear (also chemical and biological) weapons, hoping that Russia or China will come to the rescue. Or, to put it another way — are the rest of the nations of the world willing to let tens of thousands of people die of starvation while they try to figure out how not to nuke each other to death? History is not on the side of hungry North Koreans.
  • 1: The number of times the winner of the Kentucky Derby has been disqualified for interference. This year’s 145th Run for the Roses saw the first-place finisher’s number taken down for interference, and not even for interference with the horse eventually declared winner. Maximum Security, the favorite and clearly the best horse in the field, drifted to the outside, preventing War of Will, a legitimate challenger, from moving forward. After watching a video of the race for 20 minutes, stewards stripped Maximum Security of the win and named Country House, a 65-1 shot, the winner.
  • $132.40: Payoff on a $2 win bet on Country House. Nice.
  • 1: Number of days it took for Trump to say ignore what you see on the tape, forget the rules, the storyline called for Maximum Security to win, so the stewards’ decision was — here comes the buzzword, cultists — “political correctness.” “Bad decision.” To him, all the world is a reality TV show for which he writes the script.
  • 2: Number of Woodstock 50th Anniversary celebrations planned for August 15-16 this year. Michael Lang and Woodstock LLC,, had 50 years to plan the ultimate tribute to the iconic festival without the confusion of the original gathering, but just as the 1969 event got bounced around and suffered from a significant error in available crowd accommodation, Woodstock 50, planned for some reason for Watkins Glen, is a whirl of confusion. The event’s major financial backer, Dentsu Aegis Network’s Amplifi Live, said in a statement: “Despite our tremendous investment of time, effort and co mmitment, we don’t believe the production of the festival can be executed as an event worthy of the Woodstock Brand name while also ensuring the health and safety of the artists, partners and attendees.” Lang said his partners had no right to cancel the event and that it was still on, even though you couldn’t buy tickets on the web site. Jay-Z and Miley Cyrus are still coming, Lang assured. He’s suing Dentsu Aegis. Subsequent reports pointed out that, while Watkins Glen is noted for auto racing (the festival is planned for the racetrack), the community does not have hotel and bed and breakfast accommodations to handle the size crowd expected for Woodstock 50. Sound familiar? That means a lot of the space would have to be allotted for campers, which would then cut down on the allowable crowd space, which would then cut down on profits, which would then make Lang’s financial backers’ cold feet explanation more honest. Lang insists Woodstock 50 will be held in Watkins Glen, Aug. 16-18. Oh, that happens to conflict with another 50th celebration of Woodstock at the original site in Bethel. It’s called A Season of Song & Celebration and will be held Aug. 15-18 at Bethel Woods. Naturally, the state is planning major roadwork on the perennially clogged main road to that site during the time the concert is scheduled. Should be like old times.
  • Zero: Chances that folks who get to a concert at either of these sites will care about the mixups. Peace and love.
  • 50-50: Odds Trump will have something to tweet about Woodstock, which, of course, was his idea until Lang stole it. The 1969 crowd would’ve been huuuger if the Donald’s name was on it.
  • 30. It’s a journalism thing. Google it.

Best Luck I’ve Had in a Long Time

Friday, April 6th, 2012

By Michael Kaufman 

I haven’t won a a contest of any kind since I was in high school and my friends and I used to call in to radio station WLIR during Alan Grant’s “Jazz Nocturne” broadcasts. Grant would give away record albums, tickets to jazz concerts, and even a free paint job for your car provided by one of his sponsors. You just had to be the first person to call in with the correct answer to a question, such as, “Who is playing tenor saxophone on this next song?”

WLIR was then a small radio station on Long Island. My school friends and I were among the “beautiful Jazz Nocturne listeners,” as Grant called the small band of fans of his show. We would wait by the phone for the contest with our Downbeat magazines open to the page with the results of the annual readers’ poll. If we didn’t recognize the tenor sax player immediately we would simply try a name on the list. If it wasn’t the right answer we would hang up and call again with the next name.

“Is it Leo Wright?”

“Wrong.” [click]

“Is it Lockjaw Davis.”

“No.” [click]

“Is it Johnny Griffin?”

“We have a winner!”

I can still see my father shaking his head: “You won another paint job for the car?”

My friends Steve Press and Arnold Adlin won at least as often as I did. So did a kid named Paul Fischler, who we met after we all won tickets to the same jazz brunch concert at the Garden City Hotel featuring Booker Ervin on tenor sax, Johhny Coles on trumpet, and Horace Parlan on piano.

This all came to mind because the other day I received an email that said, “Mr. Kaufman, Congratulations on being our grand prize winner of the 2011-2012 Race of the Day contest! The prize includes a VIP trip to the Kentucky Derby, including a stipend to help defray travel costs. This prize is not transferable. Are you able to attend this year’s race?”

I had been playing in the Race of the Day contest for four months but after a good start, I was picking fewer and fewer winners lately. “Guess I’ll be watching the Derby on TV again this year,” I told Louie, one of my horseplayer friends, who was also competing.

The contest  is a national online handicapping competition sponsored by Bloodstock Research Information Services (, which provides past performance information and other data pertaining to thoroughbred racing. Each day of the contest it posts past performances for a single race and contestants try to pick the winner. Thousands of entrants take part for a chance to win the grand prize, a three-day, two-night trip to Louisville, including a pair of choice tickets to the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 5. The prize also includes tickets for Friday’s Kentucky Oaks, which features the best three-year-old fillies in the country, as well as hotel accommodations, meals, and $500 towards travel expenses.

I looked at the email and read it over and over again.  I laughed. I whooped and hollered, although no one was home except our dog Benji, who tilted his head and looked at me quizzically, and daughter Gahlia, who was asleep in the next room. I woke her up and tried to tell her the news but she just grunted and went back to sleep.

I read the email one last time. Am I able to attend this year’s race?  IS THE POPE CATHOLIC? This is a dream come true for a horseplayer, the equivalent of tickets on the 50-yard line for the Super Bowl or the seventh game of the World Series.  OF COURSE I AM ABLE!

Maybe I’ll even ask them to throw in a paint job for the car. I haven’t felt this lucky in a long time.

Michael can be reached at