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Wednesday evening, August 8th
A quick correction on my sales report last night. Bidding for hip #117, the Storm Cat colt, reached $800,000, but that was below the reserve for the yearling, and thus he didn’t sell. It’s not uncommon for owners to set a reserve on a horse, and if the bidding doesn’t reach that amount, the horse isn’t sold. The Saratoga Special, a daily racing paper, lists all the sales result, so I learned of this reserve today.
Two races of note today: the first has been well-discussed, and that was the début of Maimonides. I had hoped to get there early enough to take pictures of him in the paddock, but I didn’t quite make it, arriving five minutes before post. I did get down to the apron to see him race, and he was mighty impressive. You can see the replay here http://www.racereplays.com/nyra/index.cfm?start=gen_nyra if you register for free. He won by 11 ½ lengths and earned $37,200, which means that there’s only $4,562,800 to go before he earns back what his owners paid for him. Gotta start somewhere…
The other race that stands out to me today is the 6th, a maiden race for two year old colts. Z Humor, by Distorted Humor and sent out for Bill Mott under Kent Desormeaux (who are both having terrific meets, leading trainer and jockey respectively), was the favorite and won—no surprise there. But Ready’s Echo, by More Than Ready (also the sire of Ready’s Image, who won the Sanford opening week), trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by John Velazquez, surprised everyone, including and especially track announcer Tom Durkin, with his amazing late run to get second. On the backstretch, Ready’s Echo was notably behind the pack, barely running, and at the top of the stretch, he was ninth of nine—nowhere to be found on the TV screen. As Durkin was wrapping up the race and announcing Z Humor as the winner and about to announce Nick Zito’s Pick Off as the place horse, Ready’s Echo charged up the track and Durkin had to pull back to say, “Whoa! Ready’s Echo…Ready’s Echo came from another county!” Although Ready’s Echo split my exacta (there’s a shocker), I couldn’t help but be impressed by what he did. Go to the site listed above and take a look—it’s amazing, and you gotta hear Durkin’s call.
I hit the first three legs of my Grand Slam and thought I'd get the winner in the eighth, but my horse faltered mid-stretch. You know already about my split exacta in the sixth. On the bright side, I hit half of a $100 exacta on the first race I bet, along with a $15 place bet. In the five-horse third race, I used my “long price in a short field” theory, threw out the favorites, boxed three horses, and bet $2 win/place on the longest shot in the field. So for my $10 investment, I pulled in $65. Crawling back towards breaking even….
Thursday evening, August 9th
Just returned from the basketball fundraiser put on by the Race Track Chaplaincy of America for Andrew Lakeman, in which a team of jockeys took on a 5th grade AAU team from Texas with a record of 105-3. Gulp!
Twelve stables (Stonerside Stable, Circle E Racing, Padua Stables, IEAH Stables, West Point Thoroughbreds, Lael Stables, WinStar Farm, Dogwood Stable, Darley Stable, James Scatuorchio, and Earle Mack) each donated $5,000, and donations were taken at the door for Andrew Lakeman. You can get information about donating at www.andrewlakeman.com.
Participating jockeys: Herbie Castillo, Pedro Morales, Garrett Gomez, Eibar Coa, John Velazquez, Javier Castellano, Kent Desormeaux, Pedro Cotto, Shaun Bridgmohan, Channing Hill, Mike Luzzi, and Norbert Arroyo, Jr. Dressed in street clothes, Edgar Prado, Fernando Jara, and Ramon Dominguez joined the team on the bench for moral support. Todd Pletcher was the coach, and Angel Cordero, Jr. appeared to play the assistant’s role.
In the crowd: Bill Mott, Christophe Clement, Shug McGaughey, Cot Campbell, Roy and Gretchen Jackson, Kiaran McLaughlin, Pat Day, Andrew Lakeman’s mother, and Sam the Bugler, who played the national anthem.
Took tons of photos that I’ll get posted in the next day or two.
It was a close game throughout, but the jockeys never trailed and won 44 – 39. Eibar Coa and Kent Desormeaux rocked; they dominated most of the game, with some help from Mr. Arroyo. At various times, Coa and Desormeaux faked; dribbled behind their backs and between their legs; passed behind their backs, and leapt acrobatically to get the ball to the basket. Desormeaux in particular played a fairly aggressive game; at no point was there any suspicion that the jocks might let the kids win! The jocks dominated on the inside game, but the kids had great technique and outdid the jocks from three-point range and on the foul line.
It may have been the only game in history in which the crowd was rooting for the grown-ups to beat the kids!
No word yet on how much money was raised, but I’ll keep you posted. The jockeys wore specially designed, sleeveless silks to represent the stables that contributed.
Oh, and in case you’re keeping track: John Velazquez was tossed from yet another mount today. Twistaway broke through the gate before the start of the feature and ran off; Johnny V was unhurt (as evidenced by his participation in the game tonight), but he’s gotta be tired of this. It didn’t appear to be the gate crew’s fault this time, but it’s the fourth time he’s been tossed this summer. Over/under, anyone?
It’s also worth noting that he didn’t log an exceptional amount of time in the game tonight…poor skills, or Coach Pletcher making sure that his go-to guy didn’t get hurt? You decide… =)
Several jocks didn’t make it to the floor much, but were put in by Coach Pletcher when the game was in hand; hope these Grade I-winning jockeys didn’t feel too bad about making an appearance during garbage time.
And in the type of comment that I am generally not given to making: Kent Desormeaux changed his shirt right in front of me, and I can only say, in the words of Annie Savoy, “Oh, my…”
Great post! It sounds like it was great fun, too! Thanks so much for posting.
I am beside myself with excitement. Making my first trip to Saratoga tomorrow for Funny Cide's big day. Thank you for your daily posts, they have been such fun to read. Tomorrow is just a one day trip and then I am coming back for the Travers.
Cindy NY FOB
This is truly living vicariously! PLEASE keep up the fascinating and fun reports from Saratoga!! Every day another little slice of local color, clever and thoughtful. Good to hear the fundraiser for Andrew Lakeman was so well attended, and lots of money raised.
I have to say I think we were "separated at birth" as far as handicapping goes. I feel like I almost mirror your experiences!! One of these days it will all fall into place (hey, nothing wrong with optimism!). Thanks again for this thread...it is totally enjoyable and means a lot for those of us who cannot be at The Spa...
So GLAD you could make this and even happier that you can report to us about it.
Sounds like a great nite but I TRULY thought the kids would demolish jockeys. Goes to show just how ATHLETIC the riders are! Way to go, RIDERS!!!!
A friend of mine has a sign on the stalls of his stallions...WARNING! FINGERS LOOK LIKE CARROTS!! Yummy, Yummy, chomp, chomp!!So unless you want to be LUNCH, do NOT stick your fingers through the grill...THANK YOU.
Halo had to have his mares covered with a pad as well. A lot of stallions bite for purchase, but some of them bite harder than others. Wasn't that "Hannibel Lector" cage something to behold?
Woodman's folks always sighed when you said you'd like to see him because they had to go after him with a pitchfork in his stall to bring him out.
Some of these guys developed these unfortunate habits because, well, they were just ornery. Others, because of cruelty, which I think is just sad. Halo seems to have passed his "genetics" on to his offspring. So if you see any of his around...even the grandchildren, heed to above-stated warning...unless you want a "special" souvenier.
>>>Cot Campbell of Dogwood Stable>>>
Now THERE is a real Saratoga personality and one of the nicest people you will EVER want to meet!!
How about Alleged? I saw him in 96 at Walmac. I was a bit out from his fence and he started charging. The handlers all told me he HATED visitors. So I just left him alone.
I also saw Sunnys Halo. A pretty chesnut stallion. Didn't have a chance to get close so I can't tell you about his disposition.
At the time Risen Star was also there. One of the guys brought him out in the yard for me. I was in the aisle and this horse came dancing out of his stall. Let me tell you he's huge! I was told he's ONLY 17.1--but I swear he'd pass for 18 hands. He was head and shoulders over me. For one of the rare times I was kinda scared of him so I just told the handler he could pat him for me!
During the same trip I got to see Rahy. I have the funniest pic of him yawning. He kinda looks like he's about to attack someone!
At Claiborne I saw Devil's Bag. He was lying down in his stall. The handler told me it was the horses job to come out and greet people. Apparently the horse knew this. Interestingly enough I think it was the first time I ever saw someone go into a stall and the horse didn't scramble to his feet. The handler clipped the lead on and Devil got up. The guy slowly led him out of the stall--because DB's would stretch. One hind leg would go out backwards (like a kick) and then the other. Then the handler picked up one foreleg after the other and helped DB stretch his front legs.
He just calmly stood there and let us photograph him.
I can't think of his name at the moment but Claiborne also had a stallion that was 24 or something. The horse was sterile because of age. So they pensioned him off. The poor horse didn't know any different. He had the same care as always. He was put out in his field everyday. It was nice to see a farm take care of an aged horse when they could have saved themselves the money caring for him and put him down, because he was no longer useful.
It's kinda interesting to see how different horses respond to their environment. Some are so gentle and some really aren't. One things for sure it takes a very experienced person to handle a stallion.