As a child of the television era, so many of my memories revolve around televised broadcasts of world events, and the first that I can recall with any certainty was my family gathered around our black-and-white console television, mesmerized by images of Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon. Hard to believe that on Monday it will be 40 years (!) since that historical happening and how strikingly ironic that the incomparable Walter Cronkite passed away on Friday, as his emotional reaction to the event so palatably expressed how we all felt.
It’s not often that horses given momentous names live up to them, and, although no American-bred thoroughbred has been named Apollo Eleven, the New Zealand-bred Apollo Eleven (Cyrus-Lady Rizzio, by Treasure Hunt) turned out to be one of the best stayers of his era, winning the Tancred Cup (now BMW), Chipping Norton Stakes (twice), Sydney Cup and Queen Elizabeth Stakes—all within a three-week span in 1973—as well as the Auckland Cup. He died in April 1980 at the age of 12, without any significant offspring.
However, there is a bit of controversy that swirled around him, as his trainer Merv Ritchie was convinced Apollo Eleven had been tampered with following the 1975 Sydney Cup, won by 40-1 longshot Gay Master. Just one week prior, the champion New Zealand stayer had won the Chipping Norton Stakes at Warwick Farm; however, as the 7-4 Cup favorite, he barely managed to cross the finish line in Sydney. Immediate testing revealed nothing, but a month later Apollo Eleven’s entire coat, mane and tail fell out—all evidence, according to his trainer, that he had been poisoned.
Perusing over the entries for Monday, it’s evident that there are a plethora of hunch bets to be played, the most obvious being Astronaut at Thistledown, Race 3. Here’s the complete list along with a video of one of my absolute favorite classic songs, which also happens to be apropos:
Hunch Bets for July 20 (Anniversary of Moon Landing):
Delaware, Race 4—Beam Me Up [$8.00 win]
Finger Lakes, Race 1—Rizzi’s Rocket [$2.10 show]
Finger Lakes, Race 7—Starhumor [$5.10 show]
Finger Lakes, Race 8—Kiss and Fly [$3.60 place]; Ticket to Fly [OTM]
Fort Erie, Race 1—Guyana Moon [scratch]
Fort Erie, Race 2—Radio Relay [$5.10 place]
Fort Erie, Race 8—I See Rockets [$4.00 place]
Mountaineer, Race 5—Starship Sprinkles [scratch]
Philadelphia, Race 2—Lunar Beach [OTM]
Philadelphia, Race 10—Stars Upabove [scratch]
Pinnacle, Race 7—Stellar Star [OTM]
Suffolk, Race 4—Olivia the Rocket [$54.00 win]
Suffolk, Race 6—Chaldean’s Rocket [$10.80 win]; Pop Rocket [OTM]
Thistledown, Race 1—Boots [OTM]
Thistledown, Race 3—Astronaut [scratch]
Thistledown, Race 7—Flightwithoutwings [OTM]