The Eider has landed!

Clear Creek Beagles Eider says a fond farewell to his best friend, Jean MacLean.

TONIGHT the houndbloggers are welcoming the newest resident of Beagle House, Clear Creek Beagles Eider. We think he’s probably some sort of cousin to Mr. Box, and in any case we know that both descend from the CCB’s great Major. Eider, now about two-and-a-half years old, started his hunting career last year with the Clear Creek beagle pack. We ran into him again this year at the end of November, when we went out beagling with Clear Creek Master of Beagles Buck Wiseman and whipper-in Jean MacLean. There, I’m afraid, Eider did not acquit himself very well. There were deer involved. And a lot of not leaving off their trail. And quite a bit of not coming when called. And called. And called.

Eider and Clear Creek Beagles Master and huntsman Buck Wiseman say au revoir.

And so it was, with great regret, that Buck determined that Eider–although he was a great character in the kennel and Jean’s favorite hound (she had raised and loved him from a pup)–needed a new home. Enter the houndbloggers.

Eider arrived this afternoon, on the very same day, it happened, that we also brought home our most ridiculous purchase to date: an early-1920s Victor Victrola wind-up phonograph. Yes, it was a folly, but who, I ask you, can really resist the delight of winding up a record player and then, as a reward, hearing it scratch out the tuneful strains of “With You” by Waring’s Pennsylvanians or the stirring fox trot “That Night in Araby” by Edwin J. McEnelly’s Orchestra?

Eider's eyes lit up when he heard the victrola!

(In case you’re wondering, we bought ours from Brian Gorrell at the Athens School antique show. He very kindly and enthusiastically explained all the technical stuff to us, about loud needles and soft needles, how to change them, and other interesting and useful things.)

Eider settles in for a good chew in his new home.

So far, Eider is settling in quickly and comfortably. Harry is disappointed that Eider, like the hound puppies who visited,  is not a minion (“I am sure I ordered minions,” says Harry). But otherwise things are fine. Eider likes Nylabones, biscuits, the dog beds by the fireplace, and, oops, my woolly clogs (or, okay, how about these paddock boots?), and my home office (an Emporium of Potential Toys!). He is not yet sure about leashes or walks in the ‘burbs, but he’s happy to be with the rest of the Beagle House pack. It will take him a little time to get used to the new routine now that he’s retired from hunting in the Clear Creek pack, but, if Mr. Box is any indication, it won’t take very long.

We’ll keep you posted!

Well, shoot

ICE BOX didn’t win the Belmont Stakes, much to our Mr. Box‘s disappointment. He finished ninth (but was placed eighth due to Uptowncharlybrown’s DQ to last) in a race that, as our Mr. Box had feared, showed little early pace.

Mr. Box and the Beagle House hounds are a musical lot, and, to express their woe, they have dedicated a special singing of the blues to the equine Ice Box, the defeated Belmont favorite. We wish the hard-running colt much luck in his next race and hope he will turn the tables in the Travers at Saratoga in August!

In case you are wondering, Harry is the lead vocal in the Beagle House Trio. Our Mr. Box contributes both harmony and percussion at various points, and the final “whoot” at the end is his solo.

How ’bout that Box!

HE didn’t win, but, man oh man, Ice Box overcame significant traffic trouble and was closing fastest of all with a furious, blazing run on the far outside! If you had him across the board in the Kentucky Derby yesterday, you got a nice payoff anyway for place and show. Ice Box paid $11.20 to place and $8 to show. Not to mention you got a thrilling run for your money!

He’s a mudder, and his mother musta been a mudder. Which is interesting, because our Icebox actually isn’t a mudder at all.

Oh, right, yes, Super Saver won by 2 1/2 lengths.

If you don’t remember why the hound blog cares so much about the 2010 Kentucky Derby’s second-place finisher, click here for a refresher.

Ice Box wasn't the only mudder at the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Trust me, we saw worse than this!

When we returned home from Churchill Downs last night, we asked Mr. Box how he managed to pull it off.

“I think I probably was running to  get out of the mud,” he said.

Will he go to the Preakness?

“Oh, I don’t know,” he demurred. “Are there biscuits? I hear the Belmont has great big biscuits.”

At least Mr. Box didn’t lose a shoe. Judging by the number of flip-flops (more like flip-slops after the heavy rains on Derby Day), tennis shoes, and hiking boots we found abandoned in the parking lot and on the sidewalks around Churchill Downs, a fair number of the patrons did. Here are a couple of especially compelling examples in a department we’ll call …

Lost Soles of the Kentucky Derby

Some of the numerous shoes we saw left behind in the parking lot near Churchill Downs after the Derby, their owners apparently having been Raptured .... but they were nice enough to leave their drinks behind for the rest of us!

... but it was nice of them to leave their drinks behind!

The evidence tells the tale: this guy was handicapping the second race when he simply vanished, leaving muddy shoes, damp socks, and the all-important Daily Racing Form Derby Edition behind.

The Derby is really one big party, and there’s a lot of debris in the aftermath. Amazingly, by dawn on Sunday, the track’s all-night cleaning crew sweeps everything up. But before then … it looks like an impossibly large job.

This morning, our Derby runner-up slept in (“It was raining,” he explained), stretched his legs with a little run around the bottom of the staircase with Harry and Bingo, and declined to go outside, even for Important Business (“It’s still raining,” he explained.). Asked how his life had changed, Mr. Box said, “Well, it seems like it’s rained a whole lot more.”

Paging Noah …

Icebox is right. We’re in the middle of the worst full-day downpour we’ve seen in months. This prompted the houndbloggers to take a drive back down to Boone Creek and the Iroquois Hunt Club to see how things were looking. The creek was rising fast, and we estimated that the rapids were only about 18 inches under the bridge by the time we left at about 3:30 p.m. Luckily, the intrepid Debbie Young had already been in to bring things up from the basement, and while we were there IHC president Derek Vaughan and neighboring landowner Chas Martin also were on the scene, so Grimes Mill was in good hands.

This flood already looked larger than the one we saw last fall.

The ground was thoroughly waterlogged, but we hope things will start to dry out soon so that we can get back to riding. In the meantime, we hope you’re all staying warm and dry–and that you cashed a ticket on Mr. Box!

A houndblogger at the mutuel window. Hooray for Ice Box!

Happy Sunday, everyone!

Our exacta Box (now with video!)

Icebox breezing five furlongs on Wednesday in preparation for the Kentucky Derby.

The Churchill Downs countdown clock says it’s only 1 day, 6 hours, and 7 minutes until the first Saturday in May, better known as the Kentucky Derby.

This year, we at Beagle House have a special interest in the race, because one of the 2010 Derby horses is Ice Box. You might remember that one of the house hounds is also named Icebox–his hunting name when he was with the Clear Creek Beagles and before he retired to our house. So in this year’s Derby we have the ideal exacta Box!

Ice Box at Churchill Downs, where he was 10-1 in the morning line. Photo by Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography.

Naturally, we were delighted when Ice Box won the Florida Derby by a nose in a real thriller. Now, we’re keeping paws and dewclaws crossed that he can run a winning race again on Saturday.

And here is our Mr. Box in his most recent performance:

CCB Icebox, also known as Mr. Box in our household, was surprised to learn that he was even in the race, which he thought was for three-year-old horses, not seven-year-old beagles. But, being a game sort, he takes his involvement as an honor and has been buckling down to some serious training. Early each morning, while his packmates are still snoozing, Mr. Box is up at exercise, beginning with his all-important stretching routine:

After a good breakfast–breakfast is very, very, very important in Mr. Box’s training regimen–it’s outside for the most strenuous part of the workout. Fortunately, Mr. Box’s friend Bingo has volunteered to serve as both pacemaker and wrestling coach. From a lifetime of experimentation with various workout programs, Mr. Box has come to the scientific conclusion that this one is the best. Step one: wrestle with Bingo and Harry.

"A vigorous wrestling match is good for the system," says Mr. Box.

Harry gives Mr. Box a training tip: "Put your ears into it!"

For strength-training, Mr. Box advises pulling a human around your neighborhood at least twice a day (Helpful Training Tip: It’s easier if you let your companions do most of the pulling. This is called “Being Smart”):

Mr. Box working in company.

There’s also the Biscuit-Eating Exercise, because, as Mr. Box says, “It’s not good running in the Derby without some fat reserves!”:

Mr. Box's gate training includes biscuit-catching, too.

Mr. Box does have a secret weapon in his Derby training arsenal, revealed publicly here for the first time. It’s the Paper Towel Run. Step one: grab a paper towel out of the garbage can.

The Paper Towel Run step one: the grab 'n' go.

Step two: trot briskly away before they can catch you.

Step three: Rip! Eating is optional, and you'll have to do it fast before you're caught!

You’ll need plenty of rest after this strenuous exercise program. Or at least Mr. Box does. After all, Derby contenders need to be relaxed in order to make their big stretch run, right?

Good luck to all on Derby Day, especially the horses. May everyone come back safe and sound, and here’s hoping Ice Box comes home the winner!