May 9 2009


I know better than to trust what I read in the newspapers, but in the case of the 135th Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird, I fell into the written word trap.  I have been bitten so many times on the Internet by false information I always approach that information with a cautious eye. But I grew up trusting the stuff I read in the newspapers. Journalism has become so sloppy they are nothing more than Internet Bogs in printed form. I said the owners of the Double Eagle ranch, Mark Allen and Leonard Bloch paid $9,500 for their horse, Mine That Bird. That is not correct. They paid $400,000 for Mine That Bird. He came out of Canada where he was the top two year old.

The reason he was so underrated and disrespected in the US is he had never ran in a grade one stakes race. The folks who set the odds had no information on him. I think when Bennie ‘Chip’ Woolley hauled him to the race in a trailer behind a pick up truck the smart people immediately discounted the horse as having any worth. Besides, Bennie is an ex-rodeo bare back rider and had not been training horses all that long. He didn’t have the clout of Baffert, Luckas, Mott, or Zito.  And, by the way, Chip is a tad too tall to be a champion bronc rider. I know. I tried my hand at bulls, saddle  and bare back bronc riding. Those little 5′-6″ inch cowboys sit an animal like they were stuck there with rubber glue.  Or as an old time cowboy put is, “They are like a fly on a lump of sugar.”   I was all legs and arms. I did win some in small rodeos, but I was smart enough to know I wouldn’t be able to repeat at a higher level. The horses buck harder and the bulls are meaner. The cowboys are a lot better. I get my rodeo riding in when one of my green horses decides to get rid of me and the saddle. When that happens I’m grabbing the saddle horn and any concho straps that might be flapping (smile).

The first part of this week Bennie Woolley said they were going to skip the Preakness. I got the feeling he was upset at the disgusting way the press treated him during the week leading up to the Derby.  They made fun of him and basically said he was too stupid to be there. He said they were pointing toward the Belmont, where Mine That Bird’s father Birdstone won in 2004.  Bennie felt his horse might be better suited for Belmont.  He said, “We are not obligated to run in the Preakness.”   I got the feeling if the Preakness wanted him and his horse they would have to come with hat in hand. He was not going to allow them to disrespect him again.

I don’t know if he can win the speed race at the Preakness, but if he runs like he did on Derby Day then he just may be our first triple crown winner in a mighty long time.

Since I’m on the horse race, an old cowboy over east of me, from Tilton, went to Retama to wager on the Derby. Retama is a horse race track in San Antonio and they simulcast all the races. He picked a four-fecta. I don’t know what that is called, but he picked the first four in order and won $250,000. A newspaper guy asked him “what are you going to do with the money, buy a new truck, house, go on a cruise or something exciting?” I loved his answer. “I have horses and I’ll use this money to feed and care for them.”   After taxes and fees he received $209,000.  Not a bad afternoon’s work.

I don’t know how many horses will be running in the Preakness, but traditionally there will be less than a dozen. The jockeys’ skills are not as important as they were in the nineteen horse field of the Derby. One thing for sure, you can bet your boots, your best boots that this old broken down cowboy will be tuned in.

On a different note I ran across some interesting housing figures. Nationally home values dropped 11.2% between 2006 and 2008.  Texas during that same time frame had a 17% climb in home values. That is a 17% INCREASE in value.

There are several factors that come to play in the Texas home market. First of all the equity requirements in our state are higher than others. We didn’t get stuck with a lot of sub-prime loans. Most who purchased had to qualify. Second we are more relaxed in construction requirements. Some states have so many regulations that it really raises the cost of the home. Over regulation has hurt the home markets in a lot of places.

The sub-prime loans in California, Arizona and Nevada hurt them big time.  Los Angeles had a 31% drop in home values between 2006 and 2008. Phoenix dropped 29% and Las Vegas fell a whopping 31%. The worst hit was Fr. Myers Florida, where home Values plummeted 43% between 2006 and 2008.   Washington DC fell 20%.  Yet here in Texas cities like El Paso had a 3% increase,  Austin  rose 5.3% and San Antonio increased by 2.6%.

Without question the reason the economy is in such bad shape is sub-prime loans. People with no jobs, no credit, and no income were loaned money. They moved into new homes and lived six months without making any effort to make payments. According to government records 500,000 Illegal Alliens were given home loans. I should think they were a better risk than many that ACORN pushed the banks to loan money to.  We can thank Barney Frank and Cris Dodd for the shape this country is in. They demanded banks make unsound loans. I know it’s in vogue to bash Bush for the economic meltdown, but if you look at what actually happened, George W. tried to push loan relegations through but was blocked by Barney and Chris. President Bush, being from Texas, understood the importance of a homeowner having equity in his property. No money in, easy to walk away.  Get 20% of your money in the deal and you will fight like a wet cat to save your home.

What is even sadder is the big home building companies are packing up their hammers and walking away from half completed subdivisions. The people who purchased homes are now stuck with partially finished homes and vacant lots with no prospects of them ever being built on. When time comes for them to sell,  they will be stuck. No one will want to buy in an abandoned subdivision. This trend is happening all over the country. Not even Texas is exempt from this. Giant home builders are merging with other big builders and scores of little builders have given up or have filed bankruptcy. All because Barney Frank and Cris Dodd wanted the low income, welfare vote. They wanted to spread the wealth. Your wealth into the pockets of thousands that had no qualifications for buying a home. Now the government is talking about making these free loaders’ home payments. There are a few who purchased that were qualified to buy, only a much smaller home. I feel sorry for them. They let a greedy loan provider sell them more home than they could ever pay for. People like this are in the tiny minority.

Thanks for listening. This is it for the night. Will Cooper <><


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