Derby Fever…


“Here’s lookin’ at you, California!”

A few seasons ago, it was California Chrome and the DAP that rocked the American Kentucky Derby world in one of the most improbable Derby back stories.

This time around, the back stories of the 1-1/4 miles Derby, run exclusively for three-year-olds, were just as luscious:
— Venezuela’s leading trainer, Antion Sano, twice kidnapped in his home country for his horse racing stables’ fortunes, left Venezuela and started over from scratch in the USA, acquiring Gunnevera for $15,000. The horse earned an unlikely Derby spot in the exclusive field of 20.

— Seven-time Trainer of the Year Todd Pletcher, having captured one Derby crown from 45 entries, entered his usual numbers to Run for the Roses, but this time he had the last minute favorite, Always Dreaming, winner of the Florida Derby, and the favorite had won the Derby over the last four years.

— Patch, one of three Pletcher entries, made the Derby field without the benefit of two eyes. His left orb was removed a year ago when a severe infection was successfully halted to save his life.

— Bob Baffert, meanwhile, had no entries in a dry year, after having the Derby favorite in the field for… years! No problem. He won the Kentucky Oaks (the Derby version for three-year-old fillies) the day before with Abel Tasman, who charged from last to first under veteran jockey Mike Smith.

— Always Dreaming was sired by Bodemeister, a Baffert Derby favorite in 2012. Bodemeister finished second that year.

— Trainer Mark Casse, who years before owned a house one door down from the Churchill Downs track, where the Derby is run, took on his son, Norman, as an assistant. The two had been separated for many years after Mark’s divorce from Norman’s mother.

— Weatherman Jim Cantore, who’s “thunder snow romp” was rebroadcast for a whole Winter season, picked — ready? — Thunder Snow to win the Derby! But Thunder Snow didn’t like the sloppy track and on-and-off-rainy day, apparently preferring snow, as he bucked just out of the gate and made it known that he was done for the day.

— Jockey Rajiv Maragh, six months removed from a 16-month rehabilitation following massive injuries from a track spill, gained a Derby mount when trainer Graham Motion found himself needing a jockey for Irish War Cry, one of the early favorites to win the race.

— In the end, all-time leading money winner among jockeys, John Velazquez, and Pletcher, teamed for the Derby win. Although having worked together for many years, it marked the first time the duo crossed the Derby finish line ahead of the pack together, and the dream came true. Pletcher, by the way, tied his mentor, D. Wayne Lukas, this year for most career Derby entries at 48.

The dark brown colt Always Dreaming led the field early, then brightened the day in a 2-3/4 lengths victory that included a powerful, kick-away stretch run and a fourth straight racing triumph.

Here’s the rest of the finishing field:
(2) Lookin at Lee; (3) Battle of Midway; (4) Classic Empire; (5) Practical Joke; (6) Tapwrit (Pletcher’s third entry); (7) Gunnevera; (8) McCraken; (9) Gormley; (10) Irish War Cry; (11) Hence; (12) Untrapped; (13) Girvin; (14) Patch; (15) J Boys Echo; (16) Sonneteer; (17) Fast and Accurate; (18) Irap; (19) State of Honor.

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Ohio Basketball High Mark


High School Varsity Basketball Coach Paul Wayne, an Ohio coaching legend and a 2015 elected member of the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches Association Hall of Fame, didn’t forget to thank the community of Holgate, Ohio, when he garnered his 500th career win in March of this year as mentor of the Tinora Rams.

That victory came in Division III Sectional Tournament semifinal play at Defiance on March 1. It was Tinora’s fourth win of the 2016-2017 season. This past season’s gig at Tinora was Wayne’s first head coaching job since 2013, when the Holgate school board chose not to renew his coaching contract.

Four-hundred-ninety-six wins in Wayne’s career came as head coach of the Division IV Holgate Tigers over a span of 36 years. In that time, Wayne also earned honors as 2007 Mideast Section Coach of the Year as named by the National Federation of State High School Coaches Association, and he collected a total of seven District 7 Coach of the Year awards, also during his Holgate tenure.

Wayne states his coaching goal as helping his team “strive to reach its potential and hopefully go above that” each year.

Along the way, Wayne’s coaching career has reached the treetops of Ohio.

Photo from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

(For other Ohio stories see: )

Coffee Cup Series — Cup One


But I simply will persevere with humor!

As a young person trying to find adulthood, I was greatly influenced by the man who took care of our family — eight children and Mother — and who had a quick, stalwart and calm smile no matter the circumstances in which he found himself. That would be my Dad, whom we lost in 2011. (Mother passed in 2015.)

My Mother had many challenges in raising eight children, six of whom were younger than I. From her, I learned perseverance and an appreciation for poetry and writing.

What did Dad offer his eight children? He was there, so he showed steadiness. He loved us unconditionally, and bragged that he had one of everything — a musician, a singer, a writer of fiction, a journalist, a mechanic, a farmer, an engineer, and a devoted house-wife.

But it was his sense of humor, and his constant suggestion, through dialogue and example, that it’s a good idea to possess humor in one’s makeup. Humor, he insisted, was the main ingredient that will get one through life’s bumps  — which would be many — without too many sustained bruises. Although he also demonstrated that faith was important, he chose to mainly pass along to us the ingredient of humor.

Was he ever right! Thanks, Dad!

Here’s a cup to you, with heart-felt acknowledgement and good humor!

Photo from the copyrighted and personally owned collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

(Photos also at other WordPress blogs, including: )

Our Small City

Our small city in Northwest Ohio has an historic Courthouse;


beautiful, quiet streets;


lovely birds, flowers and trees along residential areas;


architectural houses of wonder owned by many home-town people;


innovative business transitions (an actual lumberyard renovated into a winery named “Lumberyard — “, featuring an outside, fenced-in visitors and smoking area);

a beautiful bridge completely restructured in 2008 that features wide walkways and rustic iron railings on each of its sides!


This is Napoleon in Henry County, Ohio!

All Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

See more of Ohio at:

An Easter Lily


Living ten miles from my home church without transportation, I rarely get to attend Sunday services. And because the complication of a breathing disability limits my travel, I am listed on the church roster as a “shut-in”.

Something quite nice happens to shut-ins in the way of church membership acknowledgements. Each Easter and Christmas, an Easter Lily, or a Poinsettia, is delivered to shut-ins after these plants have graced the church sanctuary for the appropriate season.

The photographs in this post, with different color and tone camera settings, are of the Easter Lily presented to me Easter Sunday afternoon. Thank you, St. Peter’s!

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Moon Tosses Out Green Yellow Orange and Red

MoonGlowsRedYellow 018

About 10:30 p.m. on April 10, the Moon began to put on an unusual show and glow, tossing colors into the sky with each click of the camera! The orb started out looking like the (ABOVE) picture, with rings of green, yellow, orange, and red.

Then black clouds bringing rain broke the rings into splashes of colors reflected from the moon’s surface and into the surrounding sky (BELOW):

Finally, the entire sky seemed to get swallowed by the stupendous colors being tossed around, while to the far upper right of the moon could be seen a bright, star-like speck (BELOW).

MoonGlowsRedYellow 071

Was the “speck” the Red Planet — Mars — adding its signature color to the spectacular array of reflection?

Photos from the personal and copyrighted collection of Barbara Anne Helberg

Other photos from the author may be seen at:



Winning and Losing As A Team


Perhaps the caption to the picture (ABOVE) could be “Ouch!”

However, the reason for using a basketball game image, as the college national championship was decided just last night, is that basketball is a team sport, and such sports demand team work and dedication to one’s teammates in order for individuals, and teams, to achieve success.

Along the way of the 2017 NCAA Tournament, a player made a last minute error in purposefully fouling an opponent, when the play should have been to defend and let the clock run out, hopefully to secure a one-point victory. Instead, the foul gave the player’s opponent an opportunity to swish two game-winning free throws.

But these young men, the player’s teammates, all got it — support your teammates in victory, or in defeat, or when a mental error becomes very costly. The player’s teammates did exactly that, to a man. They supported their teammate, and, regardless of losing one game, these young men all went home winners.

In games, as in life, lessons on team play make winners out of those who choose to support their team. Life is a team game, and all members of every team are important.

Photo courtesy of