March Madness was great for Las Vegas and the sports books as the resorts were all jammed with bettors that were oblivious to hard times. Cash was flowing like a fountain of youth.
Where did all the money come from?
As I perused the Vegas books it was obvious that most of the $500, $1,000 and up bettors were most definitely not from the baby boomers. The money came from all the 40 and under guys who don’t seem to have any worries except where their next drink and tattoo comes from.
The big crowds were loud, but very much into the games and I saw no problems anywhere like you see at some big events in the city. Everyone was having a good time and well behaved.
As far as the games went, there were few upsets and the big boys all moved on to the Sweet Sixteen this Thursday and Friday. The Elite Eight games take place Saturday and Sunday.
One team that seems to stand out as far as I can see is Memphis. After a little scare in the first game, the Tigers just crushed Maryland and seem to be motivated with something to prove from not getting a No. 1 seed.
We will see.
At one time in my life I just loved March Madness and you could not get me away from watching the games. Not so now. I actually found it difficult to watch the games with sound, but I didn’t mind catching a few plays in the race book betting the ponies.
I tried to watch a game at home, but just could not take it. I thought it was a scene from the bar in Star Wars with these kids (well, not kids any longer) with tattoos all over their bodies and hair in pony tails. What really gets me are the shorts that hang down to their ankles.
I guess I am just getting old and don’t like change. Bring back Saint John Wooden. When Bill Walton showed up as a freshman he had a full beard. Saint John explained to him that he had a no facial hair policy and no jewelry. Big Bill explained that he had rights and John agreed, saying he would not be offended if he wanted to play somewhere where they allowed beards.
Bill Walton showed up the next day at practice clean shaven and the rest is history.
In the one Kentucky Derby prep this past weekend, the Lane’s End, winner Hold Me Back trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Kent Desormeaux had not raced since last Nov. 29 at Aqueduct. He broke last and was far back, but just stormed home and won going away.
This was his third win in four starts for Hold Me Back and all his victories have come on synthetic surfaces. In his one dirt race, he ran fifth at Aqueduct. West Side Bernie, the favorite in the Lane’s End, may just have not liked the surface. His dirt form looked best in here, but really never got into the race.
One Derby note of importance from last week was the winning performance of a horse called Mafaaz last Wednesday at Kempton Park. The race was one of the new Derby Challenges and the winner was guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby even though there were no graded earnings.
The old rule was the Top 20 graded stakes earners made the Derby field. Mafaaz, trained by the great John Gosden, may go next in the Blue Grass at Keeneland. He will ship in from over the pond and make a B-line for Kentucky.
Hey, just 13 days until baseball as of Tuesday!
Getting into the last two weeks of spring training most of the starters are back from the World Baseball Classic except any from Japan and Korea. And they will be back this week. So expect to see more starters in the lineup and playing more innings.
Minor Leaguers will be sent to their camps as everyone gets ready for the start of major league season on Sunday, April 5 when the world champion Philadelphia Phillies meet the Atlanta Braves.
Cactus League home teams are 85-74 with the Brewers still with only one home loss. Next best home record is the LA Angels at 9-2. In Florida, home teams are 88-71 with the Braves the best at 9-2.