Exotic Horse Racing Betting - Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta

Top Betting Mistakes

The first step to formulating a solution, is to define the problem.
The following points are areas of betting where many punters often get it wrong. My views arise from long personal experience and years of communication with successful and unsuccessful punters alike.
My aim here is to highlight these common areas of failure in the hope that I can speed up your learning curve towards successful betting.
Read the following thoughts and you may be able to side step many of the pot holes others have fallen into in the past.
1) Failure to Use Betting Banks
Most gamblers fail to understand that the best method of achieving a healthy and sustained long term profit from racing is to set aside a sum of money away from your main finances, solely for the betting of horses. Whatever method or system you are using, whoever you are following or subscribing to or however your own bets are calculated, you are better off with a "Betting Bank" that has built -in advantages that can help you. It needs to be independent from your own personal finances and needs to be protected from factors that can threaten it. This can take a lot of emotion out of the decision making process. Emotion is a factor that threatens all punters. The size of your betting bank will of course be dependent upon your own individual circumstances and free capital available.
An analogy to the world of shares perhaps may be that no financial advisor worth his salt would advise you throw all your capital into the stock market alone. The vast majority of punters fail to use any form of set aside bank. They bet randomly with what ever money they have in their pocket at the end of the week or go in too deep with stakes far in excess of their personal safety levels. A punter with a professional attitude will set aside what he can comfortably afford to invest and then determine the best use he can make of that fixed sum of capital. With a fixed sum of capital available you now move on to the next reason for failure.
2) Failure to Stake Correctly
It is vital that you consider your betting bank as capped in amount. You do not have an endless pool of resources to dip into. Betting by its nature carries inherent risks. These risks include periods of low strike rates and long losing runs. Your betting bank and staking should be adapted for the method you use. You must in advance, prepare yourself for the possibility of a worse than average sequence of losers through adoption of a sufficient number of units in your betting bank. Correct methodical staking in addition to the mathematical advantage, can also help overcome the risk of emotional reaction to a sequence of unusually positive or negative results. Take the Pricewise column in the racing post as an example.
Long term if you could get on at the advised prices, it would have returned a decent profit overall. During this time however followers would have to have endured runs of up to 40 losers in a row! Despite the overall long term profit I suspect the vast majority of Pricewise followers would have been terminated either by a failure to set aside a sufficient amount of points or through failure to cope with the emotion of the losing run. We have long since established here a strike rate of about 35% on our Best Bet selections and at an average S.P. of over 5/2 for each winning bet.
We feel able to protect clients banks as long losing runs haven't happened and the strike rate and odds have been more than enough to ensure long steady and safe growth for your betting profits. That is in essence the key to winning money. Manage your accounts in a way that protects them as far as possible from the element of risk that the game presents you.
3) Chasing Losses
Chasing losses at first sight may appear to be an easy way to guarantee an eventual profit but the true story is it is a game for fools and statistically will not work unless you generate an overall level stakes profit. Chasing losses is a game for the ill informed who do not want to make the effort to seek value in their bets. Bookmakers have to price up every race. Punters don't have to play in every race, they can pick the races they want to bet in,and that is the main edge that people fail to understand.
If you have had a losing day, by attempting to chasing your losses you give up that advantage and bet in the races that you should not be betting in. You are therefore betting the way bookmakers want you to and not in the way to win. Many punters will alter their stakes in the last race either to "chase" losses or "play up" winnings. Its no coincidence that the bookmakers have ensured that the last race on each day is often a handicap or one of the hardest races that day. There will be more racing the next day and the day after that.
The secret is waiting for opportunities and only betting when you know you have circumstances which favour you and not the bookmakers. You must never change your approach, or deviate from sensible staking as there is no such things as "The Last Race".
4) Lack of Value Appreciation
Appreciation of "value" in a bet is core to long term success. To profit over a long series of bets you must be betting at odds greater than the true chance of winning your selection have. To do this however over the long term, you need to concentrate on each race individually and seek the value bet in that race. There is value to be had in every race. The key to it is understanding where that value is. Many times a punter will screw up a losing betting slip and say "At least I had some value".
There is absolutely NO relationship between value and prices. A 33/1 chance may be diabolical value yet a very short priced favorite may be supreme value. It does not follow that the bigger the price you take the better "value" you have. The value is sometimes clear but more often well hidden and it takes a trained eye to see that. Everyone has this "Foresight" on occasions, it is a game about opinions after all and nobody is always right or wrong. Value can be the most expensive word in racing if you can't bet winner. The old cliche is that value is about betting a horse whose true chance is better than its price reflects.
That's only a small part of it. You also have to make sure that you bet in the right way and in the right races as that is the only way you can keep strike rates high and protect a betting bank. You should continually strive to increase value in your bets. Once you have a selection you feel is value do not just take the first acceptable price that comes along. Seek to improve it by shopping around the various bookmakers or try and top the best bookmakers price by looking to the betting exchanges. Marginal improvements on odds on each bet you make can have a dramatic effect on long term profits.
5) Greed For Instant Wealth
Many punters seek the thrill of a life changing bet that will produce huge gains of instant wealth for a small outlay. Bookmakers play on your natural desire and go out of their way to encourage you to bet exotic multiple selection bets that can in one hit, turn a small stake into a large sum. Professionals however rarely bet in multiples. Most professionals bet singles and steer away from the multiple bets. Bookmakers relentlessly promote a host of multiple bets with exotic names such as Yankee, Lucky 15, and Goliath.
The reason they are heavily touted is the profit margin in the bookmaker's favour increases the more selections you add to your multiple bet. Say you select any random 5/1 selection. If you bet this as a single the bookmaker may have a theoretical edge in his favor of 15%. Taking two such selections however and betting them in a win double, the bookmakers profit margin rises to about 30% ! Yes your win double can produce a much bigger win from the same stake however over the long term the bookmaker is eating away at your capital at a much faster rate.
It is a waste of time debating which type of multiple bet is 'best'. Unless your prediction skills are supernatural or you are incredibly lucky, then betting in singles is more often the best option. You may say that many "Pros," do bet in multiples in bets like The Scoop 6 or the Jackpot, but that's only because they know there is plenty of "Dead" money in any given Pool and they are betting against people who don't understand the dynamics of those types of bet. There are times you should bet in multiples but in truth they are few and far between.
You can't approach this as a "Get Rich Quick " scheme. It is a long slow process of serious and sustained profit and not a game for Get Rich Quick schemers. If you go Into any Betting shop, have a look at all the posters on the wall offering "special offers", "enhanced terms " and "bonus offers". You will see they are all multiple bets. Bookmakers want you betting in multiples and it is easy to see why. They carve most profit from them. You never see a Bookmakers promotion offering extra's on a win or each way single. Ask yourself why.
6) Lack of Discipline
Lack of Discipline is the big hurdle for punters trying to turn a losing hobby into a winning one. Bookmakers know that. That's why in every betting office you can bet on numbers, lotteries, ball games, racing from all over the globe with horses nobody has heard of before and even now computer animated, or as they call it, virtual racing. Bookmakers just believe that its a case of punters sitting all day betting on what ever is put in front of them and sadly they are right in many cases. They are simply thrill seeking and don't care what they bet on, as long as they can bet.
There is no methodology at all and many betting office regulars are simply a bunch of headless chickens prepared to pay long term for the warming buzz of the occasional win. Even more experienced regular gamblers who are savvy enough to turn down bets that they know are stupid always let themselves down by continually bleeding their profits with a fun tenner here and a fun tenner there. It takes great discipline to NOT bet at times. It takes discipline to walk away from a horse when the price isn't right. It takes discipline to say no to that small fun bet.
It takes discipline to keep your money in your pocket and deny yourself the emotional buzz of watching your runner. Punters come in all shapes and sizes. Even the shrewder punters who could win at the game, fall into the trap of lack of discipline of study. After a winning period they forget that what made them winners in the first place, was the effort they put in. They fall victim to over confidence, laziness and indiscipline. Being a long term successful punter is like swimming against the tide. It takes an effort to stay still, even greater effort to move ahead and as soon as you relax or slack off you start to go backwards.
7) Emotion
Betting is a lonely game. Its also a highly skilled game. Emotion undermines success in many ways. There is comfort in knowing that as a sheep when you are wrong it is not your fault as you were simply doing what everyone else was doing. With betting, the laws of market supply and demand, dictate that long term, the sheep will get fleeced. Emotion neutralises discipline and long proven successful practices. The result of any isolated race has little or no relation to races just before that or just after that. Races should be viewed in isolation from each other. We are all emotional in betting but the players at the top of the tree have this down to a fine art and can control those emotions.
Other punters have long since been conditioned by bookmakers to EXPECT to lose rather than win. They have an in built psychological factor that makes them feel like losers and they have been conditioned to losing by years of doing so. Over 95% of punters are flawed emotionally. Examples of emotive gambling include punters following a horse,trainer or a jockey blind. The "Hype" horses are cannon fodder for emotional punters. They may also follow tipsters blind as they "hate" the thought of missing out on a winner. They pay no attention to the changing conditions of a race that may follow non runners or the ground changing. They misunderstand confidence and can't cope with a lack of confidence.
Emotion also prevents people from advanced betting subjects such laying, hedging and arbitrages. Emotion forces some punters to bet horses with certain names that remind them of loved ones. Names such as "Long Tall Sally " and "Susan's Pride " attract many to them just for a name that's relevant to them. Most punters have a grudge against their own money and winning and being successful is alien to them. Emotional punters lose their heads in barren times and fail to capitalise on winning runs. They mess about with systems and staking plans that make no sense.
The more emotion you can rule out of your betting, the more successful you will become. You have to view everyone in the game as your enemy and as people trying to take your hard earned money away from you in the same way as you would a pickpocket. Once you can master your emotions you have made the first big step to betting profitably.
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i don't like doing this but here we are

this should be 10 thousand words
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Personal Project: A Taste of Magic

Hello everyone. Hope all are having a fine weekend.

So this is something that I would love some feedback on. It is a dream of mine to one day write a novel and have it published. In the past I have had ideas and tried some but always never quite finished them. About 8 months ago I got an idea for a story I really wanted to do and for a while I stayed with it. Then work and life and all the usual things happened and I have not worked on this for a while. However I would really appreciate if you fine folks could read a few chapters and tell me what you think. I want to see if there is some interest in this and wanted to see how it read and felt to some other people. So if you could take the time to give it a glance and let me know any criticisms and comments I would very much enjoy the feedback.

Thank you all and hope you have a lovely day!

***
Chapter 1: Class in session. Interpretation. Foundations
“Am I boring you Mister Chang?”
The young man winced visibly, his amber tan face flushed red and he looked up sheepishly. He set aside his quill, surreptitiously pulling a length of parchment over the book he was writing in. The speaker stood at the head of the room, a face devoid of expression staring down at the seated boy. “Well,” he prompted again in the same cool voice, “now that I have your undivided attention, am I?”
He swallowed, trying to ignore the snickering of class mates as well as the long-suffering sigh of the one seated beside him. “N-No Magus, not at all sir.” He winced again at how weak his protest sounded, and the snickering of the others grew.
“If I were to examine what you were writing, then they must be notes of this class yes?” The man made no movements and Daylin felt a moment of relief.
“Not exactly of this class sir, but I was paying attention.”
“Is that right? Very well then, rise and tell the class what we were just discussing.” The teacher crossed his arms, hands slipping into the pockets of his robes and continued to stare at Daylin.
Daylin rose and swallowed nervously, a bead of sweat forming on his brow. “We were discussing ArchMagus Gorath’s Law Of Summation.”
“Very good Mister Chang. Please enlighten the class as to what the Law of Summation means.”
Most of the other students looked away, relieved that they weren’t asked to do the same. One student maintained eye contact however with Daylin, a bold stare of contempt that held amusement at his discomfort. Daylin returned the glare for a moment before looking back at the Magus. “The Law of Summation states that combined magical solutions or spells are only as efficacious as the materials that embody them. If a spell is made up of two weak components then the resultant combination, while stronger than the components individually, is still only as strong as each component.”
The snickers died away. The bold student’s brow furrowed with disappointment and Daylin returned a small smile from a friendlier face. “Very good Mister Chang,” the teacher replied. “So tell me, what happens when a higher level spell is targeted at the combination of two lesser spells or spell components?”
“It would depend on the spells themselves, the environment, and the spellcaster. Some spells have the advantage over others, while some spells draw strength from the environment. If those are equal then the will and the strength of the spellcaster will be the deciding factor.” He held his breath and released it with relief when the Magus nodded.
“You may sit down Mister Chang.” The teacher’s eyes swept over the class. “He is correct. The will of the mage and their magical strength make all the difference when spells are pitted against each other. While combined spells and magical objects provide greater strength and efficiency than disparate parts, the source of the the magic is still a prime factor in determining magical strength. The strength of the spell itself is not the deciding factor.” The Magus raised his voice. “Miss Renshaw.” The young woman who had glared at Daylin turned with a start. “Please explain how the Law of Summation applies to protection spells, specifically barrier types.”
Daylin breathed a sigh of relief, wiping away at the nervous sweat and brushing back a lank of black hair. He spared a glance at the girl who was currently being questioned by the Magus, careful to look for a moment before back at the teacher. Fewer classmates laughed at the girl’s discomfort but that was normal. Even caught flat footed Sylvia Renshaw retained her haughty demeanor, one that accepted no disrespect.
Brushing back a lock of raven black hair, Daylin sat down. He was lucky, while not vindictive Magus Thae was a strict man, a teacher that accepted little disrespect and expected full effort from his students. While the Magus grilled Sylvia, Daylin plastered a mostly attentive expression onto his face and only spared a glance back at the book he was writing in. He was almost done with the dish idea, just one more look would finalize it with the available ingredients, he was sure of it. His attention started to drift, but it was brought back by a surreptitious kick by his friend. With a glance of annoyance and thanks, Daylin left the book covered and listened to the lecturing teacher.
The class continued and the great bell chimed, calling for the end of the class. The teacher spoke calmly as the students gathered books and writing material in the general chaos. “I expect your essays next class period on the applications of the Law of Summation on barrier spells. No extensions this time.”
The students left the classroom, the noise of their chatter filling the air. Daylin swept his belongings into his bag and waved at his friend, making his way to the lectern. He kept his eyes forward, doing his best to ignore Sylvia’s barely concealed snarl as she pushed past him on her way out. “Magus Thae, I apologize for my…impertinence earlier.”
Oron Thae looked up from packing his own satchel, the older man looking down at Daylin. Deep blue eyes gave the student a calculating glance and again Daylin felt himself start to sweat. “At least you redeemed yourself Daylin,” he replied with the same cool voice. “However in the future I do expect that you appear to be paying attention, even if you are not actually doing so.”
Daylin nodded, face flushed and a hint of a smile plucked at Oron’s lips. “However I am impressed, I did not think you actually knew what the law was. Your answer to my hypothetical was correct as well, most students assume the combined spell would lose to a stronger spell without accounting for the other variables. I assume you learned of the law in another class?”
“Yes sir. I learned about it in Alchemy and Potions. I had to do some research to discover why some of my potions were not coming out as intended. Turns out some of the reagents were less than ideal and of poorer quality.”
Oron’s look turned thoughtful. “Ah yes, that does make sense. Well I am sure Magus Brada will be pleased with your efforts. You should not have much trouble applying the law to my class then.” He closed his bag with a snap and it floated beside him. “Run along then Daylin, remember what I said. Other Mages are not as pleasant as I am when ignored.”
The young man bowed and left, grateful that no further punishment had come. If anything he felt a little better, praise from the Thae was rare. When he stepped into the hallway he felt even more relaxed as a student rose from a bench to join him. Both students stepped aside respectfully as the Ron Thae left the room, giving him space to walk and his bag following after him. The two walked in the opposite direction and the other gave Daylin an appraising look. “You don’t seem worse for wear, no additional punishment from Magus Thae?”
“None thankfully.” Daylin casted a sidelong look at his friend. “Thank you Shane by the way. Why didn’t you warn me that he was looking my way?”
Shane Rosehart rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “I did, I hissed at you to pay attention but did you listen? Obviously not. Do you ever? Never.” He grinned as Daylin pushed him towards the stone brick wall. “Yet I always try. No matter how futile it is, I will always try to warn you. Besides, I helped you the second time didn’t I?”
Daylin snorted and tried to push his friend into a pillar. When that failed he kicked out, catching him in the same spot Shane gave him earlier. “How very ‘Noble’ of you my friend. Forever faithful you are and all that.”
Meadow green eyes glinted merrily back form beneath a well-maintained coif of reddish hair, “And don’t you forget it. Come on, I’m starving.” He took off at a swift pace, letting Daylin catch up and two bickered amiably as their steps echoed lightly.
***
An excerpt from “Silverwood Academy: Origins of the College of Mages” written by ArchMagus Yizal Devray
Silverwood Academy, the august and premier college for students of magics, is located right at the center of Vel’Terra. Well, there are some arguments whether or not if it is THE center of the city. Certainly when the city was built, one of the founders of the city helped establish the foundations of the school to come, his abode eventually turning into the Academy itself. Some years prior to the writing of this tome the Council that governs Vel’Terra voted to move the city center some 2 miles eastward in some bid to regain some pride. At the time the head of the Council was noticeably hostile to the ArchMagus Headmaster at the time, venerable ArchMagus Relain Matoush, and bribing and intimidating the other council members allowed them move the symbolic city center. They claimed it was for city planning purposes as well as “city pride” yet one cannot help but draw some conclusions that the head of the Council’s, Sinor Faws, son was deemed ineligible to attend the Academy due to having absolutely no magical ability or talent. Such news, in my opinion, drove the Council head to such petty retaliation. Thankfully the patience of the ArchMagus Headmaster was steadfast, and he nobly ignored the slight.
The Silverwood Academy is a grand structure, the base levels the style of the mansions at the time of inception. Built primarily from the local stone, the bottom levels are in a cross formation where one of four wings meet at the center, the grand doors facing the east towards the sea. A network of underground rooms and cellars below house some of the more volatile materials and classes where controlling any unfortunate accidents are key. As the school expanded in size the Council of Magos along with the Headmaster decided to expand upwards, to take advantage of the space above instead of competing with the city for more room. A large wall was erected around the grounds of the Academy, built in an unfortunate time where a Vel’Terra ruler tried to take over the Academy. However he was repulsed and deposed of, and actually why the city now has a Council of representatives. Negotiations ensued and the Academy was granted lasting autonomy to its own affairs as well as a seat on the city Council. The walls remained as a way to show the borders of what is now officially the Magos district, but for all intents and purposes called the Academy’s grounds.
The main building houses all the classrooms and laboratories for the Academy as well as the commissary, and the offices for most of the staff. The Grand Hall is the biggest of the rooms, fully within the center of the building and reserved for all important functions. Silverwood is world renowned and can say that it possesses facilities that are the envy of other schools. Many different disciplines of magic are taught here and Magi from the world over come to study as well as teach. A Magus never stops learning despite their calling: researchers, alchemists, Court mages, explorers, even the battle-mages. Smaller buildings were erected for different reasons, a dormitory for visiting Magi or students that came from outside Vel’Terra, classrooms of more volatile disciplines that should not be held underground, as well as a few offices for Magi that preferred solitude. There are even a few greenhouses that harbor the growth of magical plants and reagents from all over the world, and a large garden dominated one corner of the grounds that is lovingly maintained by experienced hands. The stable within the grounds houses the horses and mounts of the more mundane variety though equipped for a few of the magical beasts. In my time there was an attempt to section space for a larger menagerie of magical beasts. However the plans are placed on indefinite hiatus while the repairs from an escaped Manticore are sufficiently completed.
As silly as it sounds, only of my favorite parts of the Academy are the grounds. The grass is lovingly maintained and trees from many nations dot the area. Seeds and saplings are brought as gifts and with a little magical ingenuity and honest work they flourish. Nowhere else can you see a majestic Ironwood tree flourish beside a blooming Sandcurl, the metallic Ironwood leaves fall heavily to earth and land amid the soft and sandy peelings of the Sandcurl. I myself am sitting beneath the boughs of a Songflower tree as I write this, the breeze making the leaves and boughs sing sweetly as it blows. This tree comes from far of Xingfu, a delightful gift and is my favorite to sit beneath. Though one must be careful with these exotic trees. Just the other day I had a narrow brush with a Southern Carnivorous Conifer. It looks normal but hides a fanged maw in its trunk, and were I leaning slightly to the left I would have fallen neatly in.
***
Chapter 2: Mid-day meal. Leftovers. Stirrings.
Daylin sighed with relief as he sat against the big oak tree on the Academy grounds, relishing the cool autumn breeze. Most of the classrooms did not open their windows, if they had any, and the air within felt heavy and stale sometimes. The fresh air soothed him, and he let the morning’s stress slowly bleed away.
A good number of students brought their food outside on a pleasant day like this. Winter wasn’t far off and snow and biting cold wind would be in ample supply, so most took advantage of the good weather. Older students and apprentices went about on their errands, teachers and Magi went from building to building in between their own duties. The air was filled with ravens, crows, owls, and other birds. They flew from outside of the Academy grounds or within it, many clutching scrolls or parchment between talon or beak. Terrestrial familiars scampered about as well. It was a common sight to see mice and rats dashing through the long grass, undisturbed by the larger cats or other creatures who also did the bidding of their partners or masters.
Relieved that his favorite spot was open, Daylin sat and leaned against the mahogany hued tree. The breeze picked up and the leaves started to shiver before a light song began to play. He smiled as he felt the music fill him, a gentle sound that soothed his mind. He pulled his lunch out, opening the boxes and setting them on a cloth he spread on the grass. He waited however and waved happily as Shane approached with a tall broad-shouldered girl. They juggled trays of food, waving back before settling down beside him.
The girl smoothed her grey robes, brown eyes gazed evenly at Daylin. “You got in trouble again? You’re lucky you weren’t punished even more.” She grinned at his rolling eyes, brushing dark brown hair back from her face. “I don’t know how you can afford to do other things in his class. Magos Thae’s lectures are so tricky. What were you even writing?”
“Oh you know, the usual,” Shane replied before Daylin could. “More nonsense about food and dishes, what’s coming in season, and what will work with what and blah blah blah. Unimportant things.” As Shane reached out towards one of the open boxes Daylin smacked his hand.
“If you think its nonsense then you don’t have to eat any,” Daylin retorted moving the box away. “My scribbles made those bean fritters and if they are so unimportant then I wouldn’t dream of polluting your noble tastebuds with them.”
Shane pouted as the girl smiled sweetly. “I don’t think they are unimportant. They look delicious, can I have some?”
“You may Elle, because you are nicer and understand me.” Elle Windsong smiled wider, dimples showing in her cheeks as she happily plucked a small fried ball from the box. She popped it her mouth, making exaggerated noises of pleasure. Shane tried to turn up his nose, ignoring the other two before finally breaking down. “Fine fine, I apologize. It was very important work so may I please have some!”
Daylin relented and soon the three ate together, Shane and Elle trading for parts of Daylin’s meal with food they got from the Academy cafeteria. Daylin chewed at his fritter thoughtfully, savoring the mixture of soy beans, flour, and sea beans fried to a crisp. Despite it being fried yesterday, it still retained its texture and he mused about how it would taste with meat mixed in.
“I still feel a little bad for eating all your food,” Elle said as she ate another fritter. “I know we are trading your food for food from the cafeteria but it doesn’t seem right.”
Daylin shrugged, patting her shoulder. “I always bring enough for me and I like to share with you two. It doesn’t bother me. Besides, you guys share with me so it’s more or less fair.”
Shane smiled as he chewed. “Besides, Daylin doesn’t like the food here. Says it doesn’t taste good and it’s not authentic.” He chortled when Daylin shrugged again with some embarrassment and at Elle’s inquiring glance. “First day here last year, when we went to get food, they were serving something they called authentic Xingfu cuisine. Then wouldn’t you know when there is a student, a brand-new student at that, saying that it wasn’t authentic. Which if you can imagine really angered the Head of the Kitchens, caused this big scandal and everything.”
Elle started to laugh and Daylin shook his head ruefully. “Well it wasn’t! Not at all! First of all, nobody drowns the dish in that much soy sauce. It’s a waste and I bet the soy sauce was just black salt water, it’s hard to get here and no one would use that much. Then they chopped those vegetables all wrong and cooked them in the wrong order. Don’t get me started on how they treated the pork.”
“And when the Head, who has traveled to Xingfu as you know, asked how this little child would know any better,” Shane continued with glee. “This little shrimp glaring back at the big cook, waving a knife mind you, in the eye and said- “
“-that my mother is from Xingfu and she is a better cook then he would ever be.” Daylin couldn’t help but smile at the memory. He chuckled along as Elle and Shane laughed uproariously. “I’m not wrong,” he added defensively. “You guys have to agree her food is much better.” The pair nodded vigorously as they ate. Daylin himself had eaten his portion and chewed on the tart they traded him. “I like some of the things here. Most of that stuff though…,” he pointed at a plate on Shane’s tray and shook his head.
“Oh yes, hers is much better. But what did the Head do when you said that?” Elle asked eagerly.
“He started yelling at me, almost threw something. Some of the other Magus had to intervene.” Daylin smiled again. “He banned me from the cafeteria but I was told he technically couldn’t. Still, I don’t mind terribly.”
“Too bad you weren’t banned from the Academy. However, that can still happen hopefully.”
The trio turned their heads at the speaker, and the piercing purple eyes of Sylvia Renshaw appeared from behind the tree. A cruel smile graced an aquiline face, long white hair done in an elaborate braid, she glared down at Daylin. Noticing the absence of a tray before him she sneered. “So poor that you cannot afford to buy any food? You are a disgrace to the Academy. How do you even pay for your tuition? Oh I know, you are here because the Headmaster pities you.”
Daylin tried to ignore her yet his face reddened noticeably, worsening when she laughed. Elle rose, towering over Sylvia. “Why can’t you leave him alone? What’s he done to you?”
Sylvia barely looked up, her eyes fixed on Daylin. “He does not belong here. His very presence offends me and the sooner he leaves, the better.” Her gaze shifted to the taller girl. “You are barely more tolerable. Do not presume to speak to me you half noble cast off.”
Elle opened her mouth to retort but Shane rose, placing a calming hand on her shoulder. “Now ladies, let’s all settle down.” He gently pulled her back and stood in front of Sylvia, facing her directly. “Daylin has every right to be here as you do. He pays his dues and has magical talent. It is beneath you to insinuate otherwise.”
Sylvia sneer faded a fraction and she bowed slightly. “Well as much as I do not wish to correct a son of House Roseheart,” her tone dripped with insincerity, “that one does not have the same rights as I. His talents are negligible compared to the nobility that deserves to be here. Besides, he does not have the right blood to be here.” her gaze went back to Daylin, “Do you, half-blood?”
Daylin’s face burned and he glared daggers at the laughing girl. Shane’s face twisted, his polite demeanor cracked as he leaned back, preventing Elle from stepping forward. “Be careful Sylvia, there are other students from other places that attend the Academy. They all have the right to be here. Just Like Daylin.”
Sylvia brushed away his words with a flick of her fingers. “I will be sure to take that under advisement.” She turned to leave, throwing one more barb at Daylin. “It is like you said in class, when a magical thing is made of two weak parts, it will always be beaten by a stronger and more pure spell.” Her laughs echoed as she strode off.
Daylin looked down at the ground, his hands clenched from embarrassment and anger. Elle spat at the retreating bully, sitting down and snapping twigs within arm’s length. Shane sighed, shaking his head as he watched her go. “Just like the rest of her family, utterly lacking tact.”
“Well, she isn’t wrong.” The pair turned to look at Daylin whose eyes are still cast downward. “I am a half blood, half Hadrian and half Xingfunese.” His hands rose to trace the edges of almond shaped eyes. “My magical abilities are weaker than most. That’s why He- “ he stopped talking. Elle and Shane looked at each other, unsure what to say.
Daylin looked up, a tired expression on his face. “Never mind that, let’s eat up. Lunch is almost over.” The trio went back to eating, slowly resuming their conversation but a pall fell over them, the breeze felt colder and the food less filling.
***
An excerpt from “Vel’Terra the Jewel of Zeiton , Origins and Explorations” by Lenid Pothraw
The origins of Vel’Terra make for fascinating history. It was founded before the Empire of Hadria was even cemented, a group of families left ancient Sifor before its fall, following a branch member of the ruling caste there. By all accounts, Lady Juop Vel, was a much more sane member of the ruling family and left when she realized that the city was on its way to ruin. She said she was visited in a dream by the Silver Eye, sent by her patron Goddess. She was warned of Sifor’s impending doom and so convinced, she left and took any who would follow. Many at the time thought her crazy however she would be vindicated in her beliefs when the Judgement came and obliterated Sifor from the face of the world.
Lady Vel traveled far from the smoking remains of that city and went to the other side of the continent of Ziton. On the shores of the Yinead Sea she found another mark from her Goddess. The sign of the Silver Eye was scratched into a rather large base stone, and upon that mark the Lady decided to erect the new city. It would be a place of learning and commerce, a far cry from the decadence and violence that consumed Sifor before it met it’s Gods given end. The people, grateful for their deliverance, decided to name the city after their savior and thus Vel’Terra was born.
The city would become quite the power it is today. Situated on the coast, the sea would serve as provider for food and eventually for much needed commerce as the nations of the world became part of a global community. Thankfully for the early settlers a fair portion of the military and one of the court mages left with them, providing much needed protection for the burgeoning populace.
That’s not to say that the growing city was completely free from trial and turmoil however. The city almost fell to the Horde of Blades during the Age of Pain. The plagues almost transformed Vel’Terra it into one of the many tomb cities that were sadly common during that time. Civil war tore the city in half and almost allowed the Hadrian Empire to make it as one of their own.
Thankfully, total disaster was averted every time. Many believe that the Silver Goddess continues to watch over her precious city. Having led her chosen away from Sifor, she is said to have personal interest in Vel’Terra and will always watch over it. Some even go as far as to say the spirit of Lady Vel remains in the very bones of the city, that her guiding spirit watches over the city. Who is to say which is more correct if either are? However many can agree that the city has overcome many situations where similar cities have been destroyed and forgotten.
I would think Lady Vel would be proud of her city today. Historical accounts estimate 10 families as well as a small contingent of soldiers were those that left with her from doomed Sifor. Now the city is one of the largest on the continent and is a fully apart from the nearby empires and other nations. It is, in all purposes, a city state all of its own. The city guard is as large as some armies, fairly comparably trained even. What used to be a collection of houses as turned into 7 large districts, and the city continues to grow today. Being so cleverly placed, Vel’Terra is the port of call, handling trade from all around the world.
Small wonder that many, those being honest that is, consider Vel’Terra to be the jewel of Zeiton. ***
Chapter 3: The way home. Streets of the Capitol. Duty.
Sylvia’s words bit and gnawed at Daylin all afternoon. She was still in some of his classes, sneering at him when able. He tried to ignore her, not looking at her helped some, but her words burned in his ears. With each repetition the words coiled tighter around his neck, choking him with their venom. Sadly it wasn’t anything he hadn’t heard before. He still worried about his abilities, how he lacked the sheer magical potential of some of his classmates. He knew he was clever, he understood some theories and how to apply them. Yet knowledge could only go so far if you didn’t have the strength to execute it.
Half-blood. Half-breed. He has heard those words before. The first time he did were from other children. Little ones that thoughtlessly repeated the words of their parents, unknowing of their strength and meaning. Daylin learned swiftly however, and even now he rued his appearance in the mirror. Not how he looked, but how different he looked than the others. His eyes slanted, his skin unlike anyone else save for his sister. Even his mother’s skin tone was richer than his, deeper in hue. However his skin was still different enough than anyone else in Vel’Terra to easily set him apart. His black hair was another differing feature. He and his sister inherited their mother’s hair, long and smooth. Aside from the occasional traveler or merchant to the city from far off Xingfu, Daylin and his family stood out more often than not.
Growing up in a city where most didn’t look like you took it’s toil. Vel’Terra was one of the largest cities on the continent, a bustling port city with many traders and merchants. Down at the docks and in the Traveller’s district the differences were not so important. People there came from the world over and most did not care how different you looked, most being different themselves. In the other districts however, like City center and the Noble sector, he definitely did not blend in. Whenever he was in the other parts of the city the residents of the district would always watch him, whispers and stares hid behind a façade of courtesy. The looks reminded him of how different he was, the underlying feeling that he did not belong there. Growing up in Vel’Terra did not mean he belonged in those districts, an outsider in all but name.
His mother did her best to assuage his thoughts. She told him and his sister time an again, that they were as the Gods created them. A person’s worth was deeper than how they looked, their appearance was only a small part of them. They should be proud of their heritage, both parts of them. While his sister seemed to take her words to heart Daylin had more difficulty. Perhaps it was because he was older, already received the sting of prejudice. He knew one day he would come to terms with how the way things were, but not yet.
Daylin paid scant attention to the rest of the day’s classes, mind in turmoil over the same problems that have plagued him for years. Even scribbling in his book of dishes and food designs did not have the same calming effects that it usually did. The distraction it normally brought felt empty. The final bell came as a relief and he wasted no time in gathering his things. The pleasant outdoors did not comfort him as they did earlier, yet the prospect of leaving for home did. A final wave to Shane, a hug from Elle, and a deliberate ignoring of Sylvia, he left the school grounds. He hurried over the wooden bridge, bidding farewell to the gate-minder, and took off down the street.
Daylin walked home in the late afternoon. The sun sank into the west, casting long shadows over the cobblestone streets. The streets were full, laborers made their way home from the offices and warehouses of the Mercantiles, bumping into matrons and governors escorting children home. A mix of the affluent and the working class was strongest here and most paid no heed to the other. It was not until you got closer to the docks and the residential areas of the city where the higher class citizens did not venture to, and the opposite was true of the Noble sector and the richer parts of the city.
The streets became rougher, more worn than the polish upon the streets from the districts prior. The people here wore rougher and plainer clothes, clothes of more humble material and cut. The guards that patrolled here had less glamor to their uniforms, words spoken more roughly. Yet Daylin felt a little calmer here. This was more comfortable to him. A steady breeze blew into the city, carrying the strong scents of salt and spray from the docks and port. Daylin felt the tension release from his shoulders as he crossed the unmarked border into the Ocean district, this is where he felt like he belonged more than the pomp and polish that was more common deeper into the city center.
Turning the corner he felt a heavy hand land on his shoulder. A gruff voice rasped and he felt the hand tighten. “Well look here, a little lordling lost in the wrong side of town. Shouldn’t you be where the rest of the delicate flowers are?”
Daylin smiled, unperturbed. “I’ll show you who’s lost and delicate, next time you order something you better check for fire-hearth chilis. I’ll burn your tongue off and make every trip to the bathroom a bad one.”
The hand let go and a deep belly laugh filled the air. Daylin joined in and looked up at the burly bear of a man who had accosted him. Small brown eyes twinkled in the setting sunlight, a great bushy beard spilled down his chest and he gently brushed off dust from Daylin’s coat. “Anything but that Daylin! Have mercy on a poor dock worker. The last time I had those fire-hearths I felt my beard would burn off.” He gave a mock shudder.
“That’s what you get when you harass me like that Faulk.” Daylin narrowed his eyes. “Calling me a little lordling, like you didn’t see me grow up around here. Maybe I should tell my mother what you said.”
Faulk’s hands rose into the air, the shudder not feigned this time. “Now now, no need for that Daylin me lad. Just a bit of fun, you wouldn’t tell your mother would you?” He grinned sheepishly and some of the passing dock workers laughed at his contrition. “She’d tear me a new one and then kick me out. I can’t not eat her cooking, or yours for that matter.” He motioned at Daylin’s school cloak and the robes beneath. “Just your school clothes are so fancy. Made me forget myself.”
Daylin sighed, flicking the cloak hem moodily. “You’re not wrong. A waste really, much like – “
Faulk’s hand fell back onto Daylin’s shoulder. It squeezed gently and the beard creased into a friendly smile. “Enough of that. It’s no waste and its good that you’re doing some schooling, make use of your talents. We know why you’re doing it and we’re proud of you, seriously.”
His face flushed from embarrassment, and some hidden pleasure, and Daylin sighed with mock weariness. “Well….thanks. I guess I won’t tell mother and I won’t overload your meal with chilis.”
Another belly laugh erupted and Faulk clapped Daylin’s shoulder, making him stumble from the good natured swat. “Bless you for that lad. I’ll be by later then. Have to make sure me crew’s done for the day. You hurry on now.” He stood and waved, watching Daylin walk down the street before moving on himself.
Daylin continued on his way home, pleased with Faulk’s compliment. He felt a little self conscious, unsure if he deserved the kind words much less believed them. “I’ll prove you right, all of you and mother. You’ll see,” he whispered to himself, hands clenched with conviction. A gentle scent reached him making him stop and breathing in deeply. A broad smile appeared and his steps became lighter.
Finally he reached his destination and he sighed with relief at the sight and smell. The Jade Orchid was an oddly shaped building at the end of a row, slightly apart from the buildings built next to each other. Apparently it was designed to be some sort of curing space, something that needed a little distance from the others. When it was finished the owner fell on hard times, unable to start the business they had planned so the building went up for sale. Most did not want it for it included the small space around the building, adding to the cost. Not only that, the aesthetic of the building was different from its neighbors. The upper portions of the building jutted out over the walls of the room below as well as the foundation. The walls did not go straight up like the rest of the buildings around it.
Tung Hwa Chang, Tiha to the locals, loved the building at first sight. It reminded her of the buildings back where she grew up in far off Xingfu and she was able to save enough to buy it. She turned the bottom portion of the building into an eatery and the small apartment above into her home. Years of hard work got them the reputation it possessed now: a local place for the working class and some of the merchants to enjoy food different from local fare. People came for the relaxed atmosphere, her warm hospitality, and a more approachable way to try Xingfu style foods.
Daylin stopped at the front like he did everyday before entering, touching the carved jade orchid sign and whispering a brief prayer. Named after her favorite flower, Tiha managed to get a proper sign made after the first few years. Signs to the Gods of Commerce and Cooking, both the Hadrian and the Xingfu, were carved above it and Daylin said a prayer to both sets. Sounds of laughter and eating leaked out the door, the windows revealed patrons already within and with a smile that washed away his troubled thoughts he entered his home.
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Kentucky Derby 2018 Analysis

**My Father does a write up about the derby horses every year. He has been to every Derby since Dust Commander won (1970) We had a great response last year so here is 2018! I will see if I can get him to answer any Derby related questions if anyone is interested.
Good luck everyone!
As I begin my 36th analysis of America’s greatest horse race, I need to talk about the way that trainers have approached this race over the last 20 years. Back in 1998, the Derby horses had an average of 8.4 career starts before the Derby. That number is now 5.9 career starts for this year’s expected 20 entrants, a decrease of nearly 30% over the last 20 years - so what is happening? There are many possible explanations for this downward trend. The most discussed reason is that trainers are placing more time between their charges’ races than ever before, the result is fewer starts overall for the Derby contenders. Is it possible that trainers are “babying” their horses a little too much? Back in the 70’s the Derby entrants had their last prep race within two weeks of the Derby, now it’s more like 4-6 weeks between a colt’s last race and the Derby. So as a handicapping factor, the number of career starts and the number of starts as a 3-yo seems to be “out the window”. However, I still believe that the colts with more racing experience have a slight edge in conditioning and therefore, a slightly better chance of winning the race. That being said, this year’s field has eight probable entrants who have fewer that 6 career starts, including the probable favorite and several other legitimate contenders. Let’s see how this turns out. So, without any further ado, here is my analysis of the colts (no fillies entered this year) in the 2018 Run for the Roses. Colts are listed in the order of the points they amassed in their prep races – not in the order that I think they will finish:
Magnum Moon: This lightly raced, undefeated colt (4 for 4 lifetime), is one of possibly 4 Todd Pletcher colts who will be in the starting gate and is one of two entrants who will be trying to overcome the “Curse of Apollo” (see footnotes for an explanation). He ran the fastest final 3/8 mile of this year’s colts with a time of 36:47 seconds in the Arkansas Derby, a race in which he controlled the pace through very reasonable fractions; running a fast final 3/8 mile is generally a good thing in the Derby. The Arkansas Derby has produced 6 Kentucky Derby winners. He has already beaten one other Derby entrant – Solomini – but the Derby will be his 5 th race in 112 days. He is a May foal and also must overcome the “Curse of Apollo “. If he finds himself up close early, in what is shaping up as a race with a lot of early speed, this will likely compromise his chances. I will have a hard time betting him to finish in the money in this race.
Good Magic: This lightly raced Chad Brown trainee (5 starts) actually broke his maiden in the GR1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November and was last year’s 2-yo champion. He has wins over other entrants Flameaway, Bolt’d’Oro, Solomini and Enticed and loses to Firenze Fire and Promises Fulfilled. He had a nice freshening over the winter and came back with a slightly disappointing 3 rd place finish as the odds- on favorite in the Fountain of Youth stakes at Gulfstream in March. His next start was much better as he won the Blue Grass stakes at Keeneland (23 Blue Grass runners have won the Ky. Derby). He is a $1,000,000 Curlin colt, has a great trainer, and his running style will have him off the pace tracking the leaders in the early going. Also, he is considered a “dual-qualifier” (see footnotes for an explanation), an angle that historically has had success in identifying contenders in the Derby. I think he has a good chance of winning the race.
Audible: Another lightly raced, Pletcher trained entrant (5 starts) ran a great race to win the Florida Derby. His winning time of 1:49 2 in the race was the fastest 1-1/8 mile time for a 3-yo this year (reminds me of Always Dreaming last year) and the Florida Derby has produced 24 winners of the Kentucky derby. He will have a five-week layoff before the first Saturday in May but he has shown that he can run well off such a layoff. He has beaten other Derby entrants Free Drop Billy and Hofburg. He has several knocks against him however- 1) his breeding suggests that 1-1/4 miles might not be his best distance and he is a great, great grandson of Storm Cat through Harlan’s Holiday– Storm Cat offspring are 0-51 in the Derby – make of that what you will. As good as he has looked this year, I am hesitant to bet him to win, but he might fill out some of the exotics. For those who don’t know, exotic bets are exactas (first two finishers coming in), trifectas (first three finishers coming in) and the superfectas (first four finishers coming in).
Noble Indy: Yet another Pletcher trained entrant, this lightly raced colt (4 starts) won the Louisiana Derby in his last effort and has beaten other Derby entrants Lone Sailor, My Boy Jack, but was beaten by Bravazo. He began racing in December 2017 so he is just a little shy of qualifying for the “Curse of Apollo”, nevertheless, the Derby will be his 5 th race in as many months. The Derby will also be his first start in 6 weeks. He seems to have issues breaking cleanly from the gate, which could be a factor in the Derby. He likes to be up close to the pace so that could also be a problem in this race. I am leaning against betting on him.
Vino Rosso: Pletcher’s 4 th possible entrant. His last race, the Wood Memorial, was by far his best race of the year as he came from 9 lengths back to win going away over Derby entrant Enticed. However, he was beaten by Flameaway in two stakes races at Tampa earlier in the year. He only has 5 career starts but posted a fast last 3/8 mile in the Wood. Eleven winners of the Wood have gone on to win the Derby, but no colt has done that since 2000. John Velazquez rode him in the Wood and will ride him in the is Derby - which kind of surprises me as I think the other Pletcher colts are better than Vino Rosso and it seems that Johnny V had his choice of which Pletcher colt to ride. He has a closing running style but has never been in a race with more than 8 competitors, so he may encounter traffic with a 20-horse field. I believe he peaked in the Wood but I might bet him in some of the exotics in the Derby. Bolt d’Oro: This colt has intrigued me for the past two years. He won two GR1 races as a 2-yo and has always been in the money in 5 graded stakes efforts (2 wins, 2- 2nds and a 3 rd ). He is a “dual qualifier” and ran very good races in both the San Felipe (great stretch battle with McKinzie) and the SA Derby (when 2 nd to Justify) in his 2 starts this year. He has beaten fellow entrant Solomini and has lost to that one as well as Good Magic and the aforementioned Justify. One knock on him is that he is not a good gate horse and tends to break slow. Another knock is his trainer Mick Ruis (who also owns him). Mick has a poor win record this year, does not do well with shippers and this will be his first Derby entrant. Either his two starts this year have set him up well for the first Saturday in May OR they may have taken something out of him. His last race was a career best speed figure for him and horses often “bounce” (run worse in their next race) off these types of efforts in their next race. Anyway, I think enough of his natural talent to consider him a potential winner of the race.
Enticed: His trainer, Kiaran McLaughlin, hopes that this colt finally gets him and his Owner, Godolphin, their first Derby win. He has been running against the best of his generation for the last two years but his record is spotty against them. He has beaten Free Drop Billy and Promises Fulfilled but he has also been beaten by Vino Rosso, Audible, Free Drop Billy, Firenze Fire and Good Magic. He was beaten in the last two races where he was favored- the Wood and the Holy Bull. He does own a win over the Churchill Downs surface, so he can handle that track. He didn’t come home all that well in the Wood; I can’t see him winning the Derby but, he may get a part of the superfecta. I believe he is a cut below the best of this year’s 3-yo’s.
Mendelssohn: Probably this year’s most interesting colt. On the positive side: 1) He is trained by Aidan O’Brien, one of the best trainers in the world, 2) Though he is a European based colt, he came to Del Mar in November and won the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf – quite an accomplishment for a 2-yo, 3) He was a $3M purchase as a yearling (that price shows a lot of confidence in his potential), 4) He went to Dubai in March and won the UAE Derby, a 1-3/16 mile race, by 18 lengths (the 2 nd place horse was a filly who is running in the Oaks)! 5) He is a dual qualifier. Now for the negatives: 1) Prior to his win in Dubai, his first 5 of his 6 races were on turf tracks in Ireland and Great Britain and the other was a mile on the synthetic track at Dundalk, 2) He raced in Dubai, my experience is that the travel to and from the Middle East takes a lot out of a horse and now he must go to Kentucky! 3) He is descendent of Storm Cat through Scat Daddy and Storm Cat’s descendants are 0-51 in the Derby. As an aside, his sire Scat Daddy, could have four starters in the Derby and if the Storm Cat futility holds up there are four colts who will not win. 4) Like several other colts in the race he is a May foal and late foals have not had success in the Derby in the last 20 years. I suspect that he will be well hyped come Derby time and will take a lot of action at the windows. I will take a stand against him.
Justify: This colt is the talk of the racing world, the hype and respect he has garnered would make you think that he is the next Man O’WaSecretariat. Well I am not so sure that he will win the Derby, though many experts say that he will be the favorite in the race. I base my opinion on the following: 1) He must overcome the “Curse of Apollo” (this will be his 4 th race in 76 days), 2) He is a descendent of Storm Cat and like Mendelssohn is out of Scat Daddy and Storm Cat’s descendants are 0-51 in the Derby. 3) Though undefeated in 3 career starts, he has not had to overcome any adversity in any of those races (though some might say that he is so good that he naturally dominated his competition, kind of the way American Pharoah did in 2015), 4) He will face more colts in the Derby than he has faced in his three career races combined (read that again)- in other words he is not battle tested. 5) The amount of quality speed in the Derby may compromise his chances if Mike Smith decides to keep him close to the pace. 6) His race in the Santa Anita Derby was a career high speed figure for him and he may “bounce” off that effort. NOTE: the Santa Anita Derby winner has won 10 Kentucky Derbies and 7 other Derby winners have come out of the race. On the positive side: 1) He is trained by Bob Baffert who is arguably America’s best trainer with 4 Kentucky Derby wins already and a Triple Crown win – he obviously is a trainer to take seriously in the Derby, 2) In his last race, the Santa Anita Derby he defeated Bolt d’Oro a legitimate Derby contender, and, 3) He gets the services of Mike Smith. “Money Mike” is America’s best jockey but he only has 1 Kentucky Derby winner from 23 mounts. I really can’t play this colt to win, but I probably have to include him in my exotic bets – he might just be as good as some experts are saying and maybe Mike gets his 2 nd Derby win.
Flameaway: Trained by Mark Casse who will be looking for his first Kentucky Derby win, this colt is one of the more accomplished in the field this year with 9 career starts, including 4 this year. He was beaten Good Magic in his last race –the Blue Grass Stakes. His preferred running style is to be up close or on the lead so that will put him in the thick of a hot pace in the Derby. Probably not the place to be! He has one start over the CD track and that resulted in the worst defeat of his career in the Iroquois Stakes. He is also another colt who traces to Storm Cat through Scat Daddy so you all know by now what that might mean. His breeding indicates that he may have trouble with the 1-1/4 miles of the Derby. I don’t see him finishing in the money in the Derby.
Solomini: Baffert’s second possible entrant in the race has never been out of the money in 6 career starts, but he only has a maiden win to show for his efforts (he was disqualified from 1 st to 3 rd for interference in the Los Alamitos Futurity during a stirring stretch duel). He has been beaten by Magnum Moon, Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro – that’s some pretty good company right there! But alas, his dam is out of Storm Cat (here we go again). He is owned by Zayat Stables who brought us American Pharoah so they know their way around the track – so to speak - and Baffert’s record speaks for itself. Is there a Baffert exacta possible in the Derby? I kind of doubt it. Like Justify, I may have to use this guy in a tri or super.
Bravazo: This D. Wayne Lukas trainee was thoroughly beaten in his last Derby prep, the Louisiana Derby. He finished a distant 8 th , beaten by 21 lengths as the 2 nd choice in the betting. Those finishing ahead of him include Derby entrants Noble Indy, Lone Sailor, and My Boy Jack. He won the Risen Star over the same track in his previous start so how could he have such a reversal in form? He has competed against many of the best of his generation with varying degrees of success – beating both Noble Indy and Lone Sailor but losing to Enticed and Free Drop Billy. D.Wayne knows how to get a colt to run well in the Ky Derby (after all he has won the race four times), but Bravazo’s poor effort in Louisiana is hard to explain. It’s great to see D.Wayne with another Derby entrant, but I think I will pass on this one.
My Boy Jack: This colt has the most career starts of any of the Derby entrants with 10. He is very consistent, being in the money 8 times in his 10 starts. Early in his career he was considered a turf horse but has found dirt to be to his liking. Trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by his brother Kent – winner of three Derbies- this colt is one of the four confirmed closers in the field. If the pace is fast, as expected, he is the most likely closer to have a shot, provided he can avoid traffic problems (hard to do with a dozen or more colts in front of you) when he starts to make his move. He will likely have to be wide around the last turn but he is capable of running a fast final 3/8 mile. He is out of Creative Cause so he is another entrant who is a descendent of Storm Cat. If the Storm Cat descendants continue their futile runs in the Derby he may not win. All this being said, I think I have to include him in some exotics as the most likely closer to hit the board.
Promises Fulfilled: One of two Dale Romans’ entrants, seems like he has only one way of going – to the front! I don’t see him having an easy lead like he did when winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes beating Good Magic. He finished last, beaten by 35 lengths, in the Florida Derby after setting fast early fractions losing to Audible. The Derby will certainly not be a slow pace and this will compromise his chances. He has run well over the CD strip, being in the money in two starts. However, his breeding screams “sprinter” with a dosage index of 9.00; he is a descendent of Storm Cat through Forestry and he is a May foal. Given these negatives – running style, high dosage index, descendent of Storm Cat and late foaling date I will pass.
Free Drop Billy: Dale Romans’ second entrant, is also a May foal and a descendent of Storm Cat – two negatives to consider. On the other hand: 1) He won a GR1 stakes as a 2-yo beating Bravazo and Lone Sailor, 2) He has been in the money 7 out of 8 career starts, and, 3) He is a “dual qualifier”. He was beaten in the Blue Grass by Good Magic and Flameaway. He has also lost to Enticed, Audible, Solomini, Bolt d’Oro and Firenze Fire in other races. As you can see, he has been beaten by many of the same colts he should face on May 5 th , not exactly a vote of confidence for his win chances. He has one win over the CD strip when he broke his maiden. He has always been well supported at the windows but come May 5 th , I think he will be a longshot and I won’t play him.
Lone Sailor: This Thomas Amoss trainee ran well enough in the Louisiana Derby to place 2 nd in what was his best race, however, he only has a maiden win to his credit in 8 career starts going into the Derby. He was beaten by Noble Indy, Enticed, Promises Fulfilled, Free Drop Billy and Brazavo when he faced them. This colt is another who does his running from the back of the pack and may face traffic issues turning for home. However, he had a tremendous 5f work at CD on 4/20 that has the clockers talking. I can see him improving enough to be in the superfecta in the Derby.
Hofburg: Not really sure what Bill Mott and his connections (Juddmonte) are thinking entering him in this race - they should know better (perhaps he will scratch). His 2 nd place finish in the Florida Derby earned him enough points to get into the Derby but he only has 3 career starts and if your best effort in a stakes race is a 2 nd , why bother entering the Derby? There isn’t much to say about this colt other than I think he should stay in the barn come the Derby.
Firenze Fire: Trained by Jason Servis, the trainer of 2004 Derby winner Smarty Jones, this colt has not lived up to the 2-yo potential he showed when he won both the GR1 Champaign and the GR3 Sanford Stakes. He comes into his 3-yo campaign with a mile win in the Jerome over a muddy track, while being beaten in his last 3 starts – the Wood, the Gotham and the Withers stakes. He has been beaten by fellow entrants Vino Rosso, Enticed, Free Drop Billy, Good Magic, Solomini, and Bolt d’Oro, and in turn he has beaten Good Magic, Enticed and Free Drop Billy so you could say that he fits right up there with the best of his generation. I don’t think that his 2-yo form has transferred to his 3-yo campaign, so I will have a hard time backing him come Derby day.
Combatant: One of Steve Asmussen’s four possible entrants. This colt has only one win in 7 career starts but he has run 2 nd or 3 rd enough times to get the points (32) needed to get into the race. It is hard for me to back him in any kind of wager except maybe a superfecta. He has been beaten by Magnum Moon, Solomini and My Boy Jack, when he faced them. He is a descendent of Storm Cat so beware of that and he is a May foal, another negative. If I play him at all it may be in the superfecta – he could run 4 th I guess.
Instilled Regard: This Jerry Hollendorfer trainee won the LeComte at the Fairgrounds in his 3-yo debut, but then ran 4 th in the Risen Star at the Fairgrounds after flying back and forth to California – guess he didn’t like the travel. In his next start he again finished 4 th this time to Justify in the Santa Anita Derby - never really getting into the race. He has 2 wins from 7 career starts and he has been in training since his career debut in September 2017. In the Derby, it will be hard for me to bet him. The negatives against him are: 1) In the Lecomte, he really didn’t beat anyone of note, 2) His speed figures haven’t improved since he ran in the Los Alamitos Futurity in December, and, 3) He really hasn’t shown any improvement in his races this year.
So there are the top 20 horses, but I need to look at 1 more in the event that there are scratches or other defections.
Blended Citizen: The Doug O’Neil trainee has earned only $31,890 of his total earnings of $196,854 on dirt, he has earned most of his money racing on synthetic surfaces at Golden Gate and Turfway. His most recent start was in the Blue Grass Stakes where he finished 5 th to the likes of Good Magic, Flameaway , Sporting Chance and Free Drop Billy. He has never won a race on a dirt surface in four tries, the last time I looked, CD was a dirt track. I really don’t think he will have an impact in the Derby. So, there you have it, my analysis of the top possible entrants for the Derby. The big question is how will I bet this race? Well there are two colts in here who “checked” all the right boxes - the boxes that point to a Derby winner – Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro. It is hard to separate these two, but something tells me that Chad Brown will win his first Derby with Good Magic (even though he only has 5 career starts), although I could also be talked into betting on Bolt d’Oro to win. I may place a few hundred dollars to win on Good Magic - I will just have to see come Derby day if I place the win bet on Bolt d’Oro instead. I will have a $10 four-horse exacta box with these two and Justify and My Boy Jack. I will make a $1 five- horse trifecta box using Good Magic, Bolt d’Oro, Justify, My Boy Jack and Vino Rosso. I will then play a $1 six-horse superfecta with Good Magic, Bolt d’ Oro, Justify, My Boy Jack, Audible and Vino Rosso. You will notice that I do not plan on making a win bet on the two “curse” of Apollo colts, the seven Storm Cat descendants, the four colts with dosage numbers above 4.00 or the five colts who are May foals. I am following history and statistics in deciding to eliminate the colts that do not have “history” on their side. Hope they don’t let me down by winning!
Things can change between now and race time. As always, I reserve the right to change my mind on these bets depending on what happens between now and Derby day.
Footnotes: Dual Qualifier: Is a colt who was weighted within 10 pounds of the 2-yo high weight in The Jockey Club's Annual Top 2-Year- Old Rankings (this is a weight-based assessment of the previous year's leading 2-year- olds for a hypothetical race at 1 1/16 mile with the top colt assigned a theoretical 126 pounds to carry in the race) and has a dosage index of less than 4.00. The Dosage Index: Is a mathematical figure used by breeders of race horses, and sometimes by bettors handicapping horse races, to quantify a horse's ability, or inability, to negotiate the various distances at which horse races are run. It is calculated based on an analysis of the horse's pedigree. A dosage index of less than 4.00 indicates the ability to get a route of ground (1-1/4 mile or farther). Curse of Apollo: Since 1882, no colt has won the Kentucky Derby who did not race as a 2-yo. Since 1937 61 colts raced in the Derby but did not have a race as a 2-yo – none of them won. Storm Cat futility: Descendants of Storm Cat are 0-51 in their Derby attempts. I know this is a lot to digest, especially for those of you who are not that knowledgeable about thoroughbred racing. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed reading it and I wish you all the best if you decide to bet the 2018 Kentucky Derby.
May the horse be with you.
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[looking for feedback] A story within a larger story occurs in 2075

Some Friday before 11 October 2075
How Tycho lost his job as Dreamer.
Endless water stretched onto the horizon on all sides. The sky was clear and the ocean still. From the distance a red mist appeared out of thin air and rushed towards him over the ocean, pulling a volley of waves with it.
“You can skip this part”, the man heard echoing from somewhere out of this world. He fast forwarded through water shooting up and merging in and out of different shapes, people and faces. He resumed as the ocean returned to its tranquil state with the mist engulfing it.
A wooden raft drifted past in the mist. On it, two people without faces rowed as if their life depended on it. The waves grew from foot-high ripples to one story high walls of water. As one of those collided with the raft, the color of the wave and the ocean around it turned an unreal shade of dark blue. It dispersed and drained over the people and the raft. As the water flowed away, details emerged from the scene. A small rudder became visible. A net full of freshly caught fish appeared from a blur on the raft’s deck. The unblinking eyes gazed upward. Blood flowed out of the top one. The faceless people screamed, but the sound was muted by the rushing of the waves and the wind that now blew the mist all around them. A lightning bolt struck and illuminated the whirling mist around the scene. The sailors recovered and braced themselves for the next hit. The wave slammed into them, but they held on tight enough to keep their footing. The raft carried them through wave after wave, until the turbulent ocean eventually subsided into a calm tide. The mist retracted as if backing away from a terrible danger. The men on deck slowly unfroze from their cautious stances as sunlight hit the water surface. They sat down and the helmsman took a canteen of something out of his ragged trousers. He put it to his mouth and began to sing in a foreign, unplaceable language. The other two joined in for the chorus, as they heaved on the deck. Somehow, the songs of the sailors echoed over the ominously still water. They sang lighthearted songs, but the expression of the helmsman turned sour. He kept on singing as if his mouth was controlled by something else than the rest of him, filled with horror.
In front of the raft, ripples appeared. They rose, sunk and grew. From the crest emerged a thick volumetric shadow. Two of the sailors turned to the back and saw a similar thing emerge from on the raft’s hind side. The two pointy objects ascended until the whole raft was covered its shadow. With a burst, the objects being the beak of a giant killer-whale emerged out of the water with its beak around the raft. The beast had no clear outlines as if it was an opaque shadow cast in mid-air. Only the eyes lit up, in fluorescent yellow. As it landed with a thundering splash, the raft was gone.
“This is what you have worked on for the entire weekend?” a man said as he took off small VR glasses. Tycho looked at the man with a raised eyebrow.
“Did you make me come here to tell me that? You could’ve sent me the message over link.”
The man stood up and pulled his suit tight. He ran his hand over his waxed hair with care.
“Tycho, we took you in based on some widely applicable experiences. What you have here is a decent high school project. We will have to lower your rating if this is what you’ll supply us with.”
Tycho took a step back and threw his hands up in defense. “No, Emmet”, he said, “You don’t understand. This experience has a deeper meaning that might score well with the Hivemind critics. You just need to roll it out a bit wider. It can have a broad appeal if we just market it right.”
“I ran it through the system in advance and it states that this production will appeal to 3 percent of the population. If we launch this, your approval rating will drop, you can bet on that”, he said, pointing his index finger into the table. “You can do so much better, Tycho. I don’t even get the message you are trying to convey with this two-minute experience... Don’t trust calm waters?”
“You see, it is a metaphor for the easy way we-”
“I don’t want to hear it, Tycho. I will let this one slip, on the condition that you show killer experience at the conference tomorrow. We need something tangible, you know? Not this metaphorical bullshit. It doesn’t resonate with the audience.”
“I don’t know how I can ever repay you for letting it slip”, Tycho sarcastically remarked, “Why did you even want me to come here? We could've held this meeting in VR or not at all. You could've mailed. No… I know… you just want to extort your dominance as a producer.” Tycho stepped backwards to the door and said: “I will let this one slip, Smiley.”
He reversed out of the office while making quick, sarcastic, praying movements. The slick suited man remained alone at his desk. The door slid shut. “Fuck this fucking shit!” Tycho spat. A woman that passed through the hallway and had been intimately focussed on her phone conversation, twitched her hands up in shock of Tycho’s words. She passed with quick steps, looking at Tycho distrustfully. He followed after her but kept a slower pace as to avoid more awkwardness. The floor his feet tapped on had shades and patterns like a plateau of resin. It reflected Tycho and the oak ceiling perpendicular to the bamboo walls. He exit through a ponderous wooden door and emerged onto a sunlit street enclosed by artistic office buildings on either side. Tycho crossed the street away from any crosswalk and without looking. An autonomous car gently came to a halt, letting Tycho continue his path. The occupant of the car threw his hand forward in disgust swearing within the vacuum of the car.
Tycho wore a long, mustard coat, open and with the belt hanging at his hips. His black turtleneck stood atop grey flannel trousers. Most apparent was the black ring around his head, called a Mindring. The sides of the Mindring were supported by earpieces and the circle was gapped in front of his left eye. The part in front of his right eye sported a paper thin translucent display. The Mindring came in a different version that worked with contacts, but Tycho didn’t like to hassle with those. He had never even worn regular contacts since his myopia was painlessly taken care of in his childhood.
As he passed the colorful storefronts, he scrolled through his contact list. His friend, Regina, seemed to have the afternoon off and was free the next day. He flicked his fingers, confirming the thought of calling her.
“Regina here, what’s up?”
“Hey Regina, I just walked out of that review meeting. Guess what.”
“What?”
“I got fucking roasted. Can I come by and hang out for a bit?”
“Sure, give me half an hour. I need to finish up here with an article on the tensions with the Hivemind. Some wackos blame it for everything. From their leveled income to their friends psychological well being.”
“Damn, and what do they blame their basic income and lenient work-hours on?”
“They say they don’t give a flying fuck about that. Wait until it disappears.”
“Damn right”, Tycho said, as he got off the sidewalk and stepped through a door automatically folding away for him like a man-sized origami sheet. Inside was a cafe that looked more like something from the 16th century than anything from 2075.
The clerk stood with his back towards him in a tight black blazer over a white shirt. The massive wooden counter was littered with free cookie samples and stacks of artsy mugs. Tycho took a cup of coffee from the clerk without ordering. His Mindring had ordered it for him, having combined his thought of drinking coffee with his location and his earlier preferences. He made saw a vague acquaintance of his checking out a painting while sipping her coffee. She enthusiastically turned Tycho’s way as he vocally thanked the cashier.
Tycho didn’t really enjoy the superficial talk about the girl’s internship, but she seemed content, pouring her monologue over Tycho. He needed to kill some time anyway, he thought.
“... so nice right?” she ended her sentence with. Tycho absently nodded, giving her his ‘not-bad’ face. He wondered if she saw that he wasn’t looking at her, but at an augmented reality artifact he was shaping in front of her face. From his point of view, a sphere floated in front of her head. It morphed outwards, moving as being kneaded by invisible hands. Tycho rotated and mentally chiseled away at the floating artifact while the girl talked like thirsty men drink. The object floating in front of him in AR took the shape of a face. As it became more detailed, he threw his head to the side to delete it. The girl stopped mid-sentence and waved her hand in his face. “Are you even listening? Pff, I’m wasting my time with you.”
He walked outside in the direction of the park, coffee in hand.
The colorful storefronts and fashionable pedestrians blurred as Tycho summoned a circular plateau on which the ocean-scene appeared, downsized to the size of a tabletop floating in front of him. Everything in the scene was paused. The raft and the people on it stood perpendicular to the ground, pushed by a wall of a wave. Tycho raised a hill from the inanimate water. On the newly formed island, he crafted houses and motionless people to occupy them. He zoomed in one of the summoned characters. Now, the plateau showed a 3d image of one man. He panned the angle to get a view on his face, but on seeing it, Tycho jumped, subsequently bumping into a commercial signboard.
The whole AR setup vanished as Tycho hunched towards his crotch in pain. A second shock hit him when he felt hot coffee burn his privates. He sighed, seeing a large brown stain on his grey flannel trousers. Looking down, he saw an AR ad, hovering slightly in front of the signboard.
“Feeling down? Take some time off the grid with tech-free meditation weekends.” The ad showed a meditating man from which technology seemed to evaporate with a subtle animation. The background consisted of a sunset beach scene, the sun hidden exactly behind the meditating man’s head. As he looked at it, an overlay appeared, saying: ‘Interested? Yes/No’
Tycho shook his head and buttoned down his coat to hide the stain. He entered the park, passing through a pompous brass gate. The gravel path he followed guided him through a variance of exotic trees and colorful plants. A child tried to climb a palm tree while his little brother watched him with one hand squeezing his father’s and the other to his face, with the thumb in his mouth. The climbing boy dropped down as he was distracted from his task by a soft-tissue robot, scurrying back and forth between plants. It disappeared in the underbrush. A second later, a mechanical arm belonging to the robot rose above the bushes. It carefully sprayed resin on where a branch of a birch tree had been broken.
Finishing the last of his coffee, Tycho booted up the design program again. After a second long booting icon, the program had started. Tycho mentally dragged a menu down and selected a copy tool. He focussed on a palm tree he passed and analyzed it thoroughly. A loading icon appeared above the palm tree. As the load-icon disappeared with a ‘pling’, second palm-tree seemed to morph out of the first, in the way a cell clones itself. Tycho mentally dragged the copy of the tree to a folder for later use. He threw his coffee carton on the path and kneeled next to a man, sitting on a park bench with his eyes closed. Tycho positioned his face to the left of the man and slowly panned around him. Passersby looked at him disapprovingly. ‘Pling’, it sounded as Tycho completed a full circle around the man. His body doubled in the same cell-split manner as the palm tree had done. Tycho stood up, while in the background, the small robot skittered towards the coffee carton to clean it up.
Tycho rotated, stretched and repositioned the copy of the man in front of him. With a flick of his finger, the man’s digital copy seemed to come alive, walking with Tycho over the gravel path. To Tycho’s surprise, this copy seemed to vibrate in his step as he walked away from his physical self- still snoring on the park bench. No matter what he thought, Tycho couldn’t get the twitch out of the copy’s step. He squeezed his eyes shut, seeing nothing but the red glow of sunlight coming through eyelids. He let out a deep sigh and opened his eyes again. In front of him was just the gravel path. The man seemed to have disappeared. Then an unexpectedly warm air current passed his neck. Tycho felt like a hundred ants scurried up his backbone.
The summoned copy of the man floated next to him- gazed into him, but when Tycho turned towards him, the face was the one he remembered from the man- it was someone much more recognizable and much more frightening. He wildly shook his head, removing the simulation from his augmented workspace. The flora and park visitors around him took no notice from what had transpired and kept to their programming. Downstruck, Tycho stepped into an autonomous vehicle parked at the exit.
“Set route to ‘Regina’”, the board computer told him, informed by the Hivemind organic appointment he made speaking to Regina. He flicked his finger and the car merged into traffic. In the relative privacy of the car’s interior, Tycho took off his Mindring. Relief washed over him like a wave. Constantly having something read your thoughts can be tiring. He leaned back and gazed at the surrounding traffic. The cars that rode along with him were occupied by casually dressed people that, all occupied either by their wrist phone or some other device, like the one Tycho owned. This life was not exactly what he had wished for, but it allowed him to make use of his creativity. The thoughts criticizing the digitalization of human acts and communication were always muted by his realization that he thanked his fame to the technology. Tycho was a man of ideas, not one of acts. The Mindring allowed him to create tangible things, just by thinking.
The autonomous car drove up a black ramp, into a cluster of high-rises and stopped at a sidewalk on the 20th floor. Tycho got out and took in his new surroundings for a second. The autonomous car drove away over the elevated road, winding between skyscrapers until they veiled the car and its reflection that waved away with it on the black glass windows. Regina lived in this rich, elevated part of the city. All of the roads and sidewalks were pitch-black, occasionally decorated with bright-green bushes in bright planters. Tubes ran alongside the roads to be used as transport for small objects and trash One might forget that he was twenty stories high, were it not for the low clouds. On closer inspection, the reflective roads and sidewalks revealed their function as one-way mirrors. They allowed sunlight to reach the lower, poorer levels.
“You want some tea?” Regina asked as Tycho stepped into her unorganized apartment. It was contrasted strongly with the sterile outdoors environment of her flat. Tea flicked his finger, sending her a confirm-gesture. “You okay, Tycho?” She asked him from her place on the stained couch. She sat facing the floor-to-ceiling window in a room littered with records and boxes filled with records. A bong stood pontifically on the coffee table, surrounded by coffee stains and a half-empty beer bottle. This
Through the window, the other side of the elevated, black reflective road could be seen. There was movement across the street in a couple of dedicated farm-floors. Regina followed a cart that drove itself around rows of potters from which green bushes protruded. Tycho threw his coat over the couch and made his way to her studio kitchen.
“What are you doing?” Regina asked.
“Cleaning my balls” Tycho cynically remarked.
“What?”
“I threw coffee over my crotch as if the day wasn’t bad enough yet.”
“Did you come over to use me as your personal verbal vomit dumpster or are you going to entertain me?”
Tycho jumped in front of her with his legs wide, gesturing comically to his wet crotch area. When a crooked smile showed up on Regina’s face, Tycho threw himself on the couch next to her.
“Don’t you need to prepare your show for tomorrow?” She asked.
“It’s not a show and I’m not going to.”
“You sound like a stubborn teen.”
“I’m fucked.”
“How so?”
“I can’t go lucid anymore. I lost my touch.”
“What do you mean?”
“When I dream now, I can’t take the reigns. The last productions I made are just unedited figments of my dreams. I used to be able to craft what I wanted. My thoughts would be perfectly understood by this thing”, he said, gesturing to his Mindring. “Now I can’t even control in what kind of environment I am. My dreams take place at sea and I can not imagine anything else.”
“Is it because of her? Still?”
Tycho looked down in silence. Regina eyed him but resisted to break the silence. After what seemed like an eternity, Tycho opened his mouth again: “...I just can’t control where my mind goes as I could before.”
“It’s been a year, Tycho. Get your shit together. Don’t waste time complaining about it and design an experience that blows the audience’s mind tomorrow.”
Tycho took a grinder off the table and started to prepare a joint. “Stop talking about work, please. I came to you to take my mind off of it.”
“I don’t want to contribute to your public demise, man.”
“That’s a choice I made when coming here. You won’t change my mind.”
Regina sighed. “We climbed to the top together… I want you to know that it hurts me to see you bring down everything you’ve built up.”
“Saying that only depresses me more… Don’t add that guilt to my problem-pile. It’s going to tumble if you do.” There was a long silence as Tycho closed the joint.
At the moment Tycho lit it, Regina said: “Maybe you should take a break for a while. You know I am not one to easily suggest laying off work, but you could at least try something else.”
Tycho took a deep breath passed the joint before he answered. “I’ve got nothing else. This is all I have done, which is why I am - I was - so good at it.”
Regina folded her uncovered legs and twisted her ankle in thought, rotating the dirty-white sneaker. “The first step is to let go of the stubborn negativity”, she said as she passed the joint back. Tycho took a thoughtful tug and Regina stepped to the record player standing where the room’s wall met the perpendicular glass. The evening sun now peaked into the room, casting Regina and the littered carpet into an orange glow. As the needle hit the record player, a soft static filled the room. The walls of Regina’s studio vibrated ever so slightly, acting like giant speakers. Slow and steady as the tide, the first notes of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ ebbed into the room. Regina waded back to the couch, holding her finger up as if to say ‘wait for it’. When the drums came in, she passionately slammed her imaginary drum set.
“You know,” Tycho said, “we can sync that to real drums with your Mindring.”
“Shhhh”, Regina insisted as she dropped to the couch, “relax”.
She put her finger on Tycho’s mouth and looked at him earnestly. Tycho couldn’t help but laugh as her serious expression faded into a mischievous smile. Though she had the ability to lead a media-business, Regina lacked the skill to hide secrets.
“What is it?” Tycho laughed, pushing her finger away to take a hit from the joint.
Regina opened the drawer of the coffee table. “I got something awesome”, she said. “This stuff just became legal this week. The psychology databases are so comprehensive that they can pre-calculate who reacts badly on which drugs. If you have a real chance of going bad, it will not dispense for you.”
She took a tiny translucent box out of the drawer. A small straw protruded from one side. “What does it do exactly?” Tycho asked. Regina took a yellow Mindring from between the litter on the table and swiped some crumbs off of it. “You can see for yourself”, she said, clicking the earpieces of the Mindring in her ears. Her Mindring was complete, covering her two eyes with a tiny, slick, VR display. She cracked her neck left and right. The wall of windows turned opaque black, veiling the high-rise-farm behind it. Regina made a light flick with her wrist and turned the black wall into a giant screen with a tiny white circle in the middle. Tycho sunk back deeper in the couch. Images cycled rapidly over the wall until they finally settled on a giant representation of Tycho, naked.
“What the fuck Regina?”
Regina had her eyes closed and laughed out loud. “Ok. It’s synced”, she said. The screen on the wall now showed a blurry version of the coffee table with only the translucent box being slightly in focus. Regina took the translucent box to her mouth and inhaled deep via the straw. Tycho saw the vapor coming out of her nose, being lit by the shifting colors on the giant screen. Regina closed her eyes. The screen faded into black and from the middle, a red glow emerged. It seemed to grow and shrink on the rhythm of Pink Floyd. Patterns became more visible with each wave of notes until finally, a representation of the milky-way appeared. The view zoomed in faster than the laws of physics would allow. Stars became distinguishable. One of them rushed into view with the accompanying roar. If Tycho wouldn’t know better, he would have thought he was in some spaceship, speeding around the surface of a distant sun. He looked to his side where Regina sat, eyes closed and with a big smirk on her face. The view shot away from the sun again, accelerating to the infinite until it showed a tunnel of rotating colors. As Regina’s mind worked on, the room was cast in a glow that raced past every possible color. In the middle of the screen, a face unfolded out of a tiny ball. For an instant, it had perfect proportions, before the mouth tore open and stretched the head back where it folded into nothingness.
“Let me join in”, Tycho asked her as he sent a request via his link. On screen, the words: ‘Tycho requests a party invite’ appeared. The letters became squiggly and vague until Regina opened her eyes again. “Sure”, she said and gave Tycho the translucent box.
Tycho took a tug from the straw. “Nothing is releasing”, he stated. “Try again”, Regina said, looking attentively at his method. He did.
“I’m getting a popup that I’m unfit to use this drug.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” Regina said, taking the box into her hand. The ten minutes lasting drug was settling in on her. “Wait”, She remarked as if she had just remembered her grocery shopping list. “I think I know a way.” She grinned. Meanwhile, Tycho booted up an older experience on the screen, where they both were linked to. Tycho mentally navigated menu screens and suddenly a cityscape appeared. Exactly like the city they were in, but from a bird’s view. A literal bird.
To his shock, Regina’s mouth was suddenly on his. Before he could even sense the soft lips that touched his, he felt her exhaling into his mouth. He inhaled and Regina moved back, with that mischievous smile of her. A wave of ecstasy engulfed Tycho as he heard the distorted cry of a bird.
They leaned into each other, both looking at the screen where a giant gull flew past. “Let me try something”, Regina said, and the gull on screen morphed into a lion. It majestically hung in the air for a second before tumbling to earth. “Oh my god”, she exclaimed, still with her eyes closed. The view on screen tilted downwards, where the lion was spinning towards the busy street below. Out of the blue, a hot air balloon appeared over where the lion was.
“Hah, good work”, Tycho laughed as she zoomed in on the lion, leaning its paws on the edge of the straw basket that hung from the balloon. Over the skyline, black dots appeared. Many more popped in, gaining form the closer they were. Each of them was a lion, falling to its doom. “Nonono!” Regina exclaimed, opening her eyes in shock. The screen suddenly showed a smaller version of the cityscape with raining lions and within that another smaller screen. It created a tunnel of screens comparable to the effect of oppositely placed mirrors.
Regina spent the rest of the night taking hits from the mysterious box and romantically passing them to Tycho, who was ecstatically exploring one dreamscape after another. They ate junk food in their breaks and tried every position on the couch as the complete Pink Floyd discography flowed past.
When Regina turned off the giant screen, they were shocked to find out the sun had already risen past the horizon. Since the floor-to-ceiling windows doubled as an opaque screen, the two had been separated from any sense of time for the entire night. Regina quickly turned the windows black again.
“I’m going to ace that conference”, Tycho said as he dug himself out of the couch.
Regina looked at him confused. On seeing that, he explained himself: “I think, tonight has taught me how to create again.”
“Aren’t you tired?” Regina asked.
“Hell yeah, but I will medicate that.”
“If you say so...” she said, nodding before getting off the couch.
Conference
Everything now by Arcade Fire reached the backstage area, mixed with the murmur of the crowd. Tycho stumbled up the stairs. Orange neon lights, outfitted under each step, flashed purple on impact with his foot, emphasizing his every clunky step. There were only six of them in the stairs, but Tycho managed to make it look like he was scaling a mountain of skippy balls.
“Where the fuck were you- get on that stage and blow the remaining audience away! ” a man in the audience called out.
A rare mix of applause and boo’s welcomed Tycho on the stage. Two attendees that were on their way out, returned to their seats. Reaching the spotlight and seeing the childlike expectancy on the front row’s faces, replaced Tycho’s nervosity with excitement. “Welcome to the garden of creation!” He vocalized through the auditorium with his arms reaching for the ceiling. He had been half an hour too late but was already proud of himself having managed to get there at all.
He started striding back and forth across the stage, the spotlight following him. “Excuse me for my lenient schedule, people.” Some laughs came from the audience and they almost drowned the couple of insults that were thrown Tycho’s way. “Since I am a little late, I’ll get right to the good stuff.” The giant wall behind Tycho lit up and appeared to be a large screen. ‘Please put on your Mindrings’ the screen said. Most of the people already wore the same Mindring as Tycho, in different colors and varying from one covered eye to two VR glasses. Tycho booted up a program. “First, say, we want to get rid of this cold black flooring. Let’s turn it into grass. Imagine the picture first, it will create the groundwork... as you can see.” Tycho raised his hands and with that, grass rose through the black flooring. “You continue by imagining more properties to the grass. For instance, you can imagine the effect of the wind.” The grass suddenly unfroze and heaved on a non-existent breeze. “For those with the nerve implant, we can simulate the texture and the way it feels. You touch the grass and its imagined texture and reaction will be automatically coded in. The job for a designer is to imagine its every facet.”
As he said this, he stroked the grass and dropped down into it. The audience murmured until one girl ruse from the murmur with a statement: “We don’t see anything.”
Tycho was stroking the grass with his fingers and looked up surprised. “Anyone else not getting the feed?” he asked from his meditative position. Hands raised everywhere in the audience. ‘Fuck’ Tycho thought, ‘I forgot to connect’.
“Aha, some technical error, but don’t worry, I can fix this.”
He navigated through a menu in his Mindring, subsequently, an applause rolled through the auditorium. Tycho stood up and went on. “Let’s pretend that didn’t happen. Now you see this grass, you might think: what else can you or I create? Say we want to create living, breathing things. It requires a bit more imagination. Let’s test it out and get something to live in our patch of grass.
”A horse” some chubby guy called out from the audience.
“Did I hear a lion-dragon?” Tycho jokingly responded. “That’s a good idea! Let’s digg it from the grass here, and just realize: you only have to imagine that which we will see in action.”
Tycho raised his hands, snapping his fingers and at that moment, out of the augmented-reality grass, a mustard-colored reptile snout appeared. It ascended further until manes became visible around its ears.
The whole lion-dragon rose from the augmented grass, pushing up dirt and roots in the progress. The audience roared in enthusiasm, as the augmented reality lion-dragon was now visible to anyone in the auditorium with a Mindring. Tycho gently moved his hands to the audience, seemingly performing Tai-Chi. The lion-dragon followed his every motion without looking. It towered above the first row and spewed fire from left to right, sending some of the audience in shock. Yelps and screams echoed through the auditorium. The audience away from the stage laughed at the scene. Tycho noticed it and seconds later triggered a thundering rumble by flicking his finger. Six giant boulders rolled down from the back of the auditorium to the front, unifying the crowd in their hysteria. From their perspective, their neighbors were squished to pink and red pulp as the boulders slammed down the rows. Panic raged through the audience. A woman threw off her Mindring while her neighbor laughed nervously. The boulders rolled on, smashing row after row. A tough looking guy took his Mindring off with shaking hands, breaking the illusion for himself. He crab-walked past other visitors and slipped out of the building. Just before the boulders reached the bottom row, where the lion-dragon roared, Tycho shook his head, making all augmented assets: the grass, the lion-dragon, the boulders and the ravage they created disappear in an instant.
Some guy on the front row stood and protruded his chest as if ready for a fight. “That’s great, man, just great”, he shouted, “You scared the shit out of my wife. She’s pregnant for fucks sake!” The seat where his wife supposedly had been was empty. Tycho bowed over him from the stage and hissed: “Don’t take your pregnant wife to an augmented reality exhibition. Especially so when she is afraid of dragons.” He tried to keep the conversation between the two, but Tycho’s voice blasting through speakers around the auditorium made sure to involve every present soul. A short, tense silence followed as Tycho backed up from the man.
He coughed. “So, to get on with the lecture, we will now all start our individual projects. Open a private AR scene. We’re all going to recreate the creature I made at scale. I will give you five minutes to design a setup. For help, use your personal assistant.”
Tycho hurried off stage as the spotlight dimmed and lights brightened the audience. Tycho walked away from the murmuring audience to the cluttered backstage area.
“I’m out. I can’t do it. Emmet, let someone else take it from here.”
The slick man that had degraded his creation the day before put on a psychopathic smile. “Tycho. You are kidding me, right?” He grabbed Tycho by the collar before he could walk away. “You can not walk away from this responsibility. Get back up there.”
“I am sick and need to throw up. Take it from me.”
Meanwhile a suited man wandered on stage and got ready at the stand. Tycho pointed at him. “He can take over. I’m out.”
“Stop feeling sorry for yourself, you pathetic shit. You will get back there or you will lose your job and the speck of reputation you have left.”
“I don’t fucking care.”
“There are kids in there that look up to you. There are women that adore you. Do you want to throw that all away ‘cause you can’t fucking give a lecture while a bit dazed?”
Tycho was aware that Emmet knew what he did last night from his live-file, the one that most employers have of their employees. The murmur from the audience turned sour. Tycho took a deep breath and walked back on the stage. The suited man left the stand.
The murmur subsided. “Alright,“ he said while squinting in the spotlight. “Who’s got the lion-dragon somewhat like mine?”
A tenth of the audience raised their hands.
“Good. Now I will bring you the experience I have designed especially for you, the one that you came for.”
A tentative applause was given. Faces looked from the darkness with expectancy at Tycho. He sat in a blue lounge chair. As he descended in it, the chair moved its parts to perfectly support Tycho. He closed his eyes and focussed. From up close, his irises were visibly shooting in all directions below his eyelids. The screen behind Tycho turned a soft orange, and all other light dimmed. Through their Mindring lenses, everyone saw the same thing. The floor blurred and turned grey. Waves started rolling over the stage until the complete ground level was covered with rough water as if a portal to the Pacific had been opened.
Tycho’s voice echoed through everyone’s earpieces now. “Your AR should now have completely put you in the middle of an ocean, stretching to infinity.”
The audience heard the waves crash, the wind rage and in the background, a soft static emerge. The static became louder as they reached the raft with the faceless people. The waves rose and the mist pulled in. Exited yelps echoed through the audience. The static took on an ominous tone that became louder and louder until the last wall of a wave crashed into the raft. As the ocean subsided, the seafarers signaled out their relief. The audience was now dead silent. One of the seafarers jumped in excitement. In front of them was a tiny island, containing a couple of trees. They started chipping away at them, Tycho mentally took the view of the audience to next to the tree that was being chopped with a giant, rusty axe. A scream came from a spectator. Some subdued laughing followed. The seafarers took the wood to their raft and rapidly built a boat out of it. Tycho made the view of the audience follow it away from the island. The ocean was placid and the mist thinned out. The frontman on the boat jumped again as he saw another island. This one lacked trees, was about the same size, but made of rock. They were still a kilometer separated from it, and something was rumbling underneath their boat. They paddled as fast as they could with their newly made paddles. While they lacked a face to express themselves with, the seafarers pantomimed their panic. A shadowy fin rose through the water. The sheer size of it poking through the water, created waves, rocking the boat. An even bigger back emerged from the water, pushing the back of the boat up. The ominous static had returned, louder than ever. The blurred shadow of an immense killer whale rose up behind them. They were now almost at the coast. The shadow animal opened its mouth and sped up, racing behind them, leaving a trail of black foam. In the nick of time, the seafarers reached the island, leaving the animal partially on the shore, clattering its teeth. They used pickaxes to rapidly collect loads of iron from the island. They melted it in a quickly assembled furnace and hammered it into parts for the boat, weapons and armor. The sun came up and went down three times in a minute. It stopped and the faceless people, armored to the teeth, stepped into their reinforced boat. They continued on the ocean and the frontman made his jump. The next island had trees on which thousands of vines stuck. They used the rope, wood and metal to make and attach two harpoons on the boat. They moved gently across the placid waters and didn’t see any land for days. Finally, the water started to bubble below the boat. The napping crewmembers immediately jumped up in their place.Two of them manned the harpoons. The unsettling static returned.
The shadow whale jumped out of the water, right next to the boat and tilted sideways to hit the boat. The helmsman was fast and dragged the boat into an evasive maneuver. The shadow whale towered above them and subsequently smashed the water surface. The harpoon men were fast and determined. They similarly pulled the trigger and sent the metal arrows flying, followed by the waving rope. The arrows connected to the beast and stayed inside the blurry shadow. The seafarers cheered as the whale swam away, sending them on their way in double the speed. One of them cried of relief while another one stared into the distance with clenched fists. Their celebration was short lived as they noticed the whale was descending. Its back disappeared in the rippled water and only its fin remained, cutting through the water like a razor through meat until even that sank in the grey, ominous water. The crew attempted to cut off the harpoons, but they had attached them too tight. The whale made a loud underwater roar and disappeared into the darkness that matched its shade. It dragged the harpoons, the boat and the crew with it. They attempted to swim up, to surface, but their armor dragged them down until the last faceless man disappeared in the dark. The scenery disappeared and to the audience, the auditorium appeared again. Lee opened his eyes and saw the crowd look around dazed as if they had awoken in a strange place. One lady started clapping and more followed until a rumbling applause filled the building.
Tycho stood up and made a bow, which sent the audience into an increased clapping frenzy. “Now for those of you who thought this was a pre-rendered simulation. It was not. I created this real-time” The applause increased.
"So, any questions?" Tycho asked with open hands to the audience.
Next part in comment section
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