With apologies to Manfred Mann, I was blinded by the light last night at The Red Mile. Ok, so it wasn't exactly bright lights, but when Murray Brown showed off his shoes to Boss Kathy and myself, we both stepped back and said "Whoa!” The longtime Hanover Shoe Farms publicity director was wearing shoes in the famous colors of the farm, bright blue with orange laces. Murray asked me if the shoes were enough to get a Backstretch mention, so here it is my friend, right up front and in the headline. Kathy took a photo and I think she plans to share it in a sale-preview story she's working on.
The Grand Circuit meet opened up last night at The Red Mile and there was a pretty good crowd, which included a few hundred sorority and fraternity members who were there hoping to win a party in The Red Mile clubhouse. Organized by our intern, Jay Hochstetler, the promotion once again was successful. I heard some others mention this last night, but I'll publicly thank Jay for bringing all those sorority girls to the track. Now Jay has to figure a way to get them all back to the races.
What's also great about these two weeks is that I get to see some long lost friends from my days in Michigan. E.J. "Ed” Underwood stopped me to say hello, and he was sitting with Darryl Wright's wife, which reminded me I wanted to go back in the paddock and say hello to Darryl, who had brought Michigan Sires Stakes champion Lady Windsor for a late-closer. Darryl introduced me to his daughter Mariah, who is 21. I remember when she was born. I told Mariah that I still keep an eye on things in Michigan and knew she had won a few scholarships, so I congratulated her.
How about Designed To Be's world-record 1:52.2 win in the last division of the Bluegrass, which was the last race of the night? Jumping ahead a second to this morning, I went over to see Andy and Julie Miller to congratulate them. I had heard they tried to get a picture taken with the timer in the background, but by the time they went over to the board, the plug had been pulled. Andy told me that they were able to find someone to put the time back up so the picture was taken.
Andy and Julie told me that they are having about 75 family members come to their home in New Jersey for Christmas. A busload is bringing all of Andy's family from Indiana, many of whom still are practicing Amish. Andy said including he and Erv, there are seven siblings and 34 grandchildren. I told Julie to make sure she sent pictures as it has to be an interesting gathering.
I asked Andy if he watched the Breaking Amish TV show and he said he does watch the show, which centers on young Amish men and women testing the waters about leaving the community. He and I discussed how the show was probably scripted. He also told me had the show been on when he was still living in the Amish community, and he was offered a chance to be a cast member, he would have done it—"If the money was right,” he said with a laugh.
Back to last night. After the races pretty much the entire horse industry in town went to Buffalo Wild Wings for food and to watch the football game. I sat with The Red Mile's Gabe Prewitt, trainer Paul Kelley, caretaker Jenna Caligaris, Frode Fladen and Dewayne Minor. I felt bad earlier at the track when Goddess, who I posed with in a picture yesterday along with Jenna, made a break in her Bluegrass division. I thought she had been interfered with, but Paul told me the trotting hobble broke. I see the chart does carry the "ex.” Hopefully Goddess will get a second chance next week to prove herself.
When I got to the track this morning I headed over to Casie Coleman's barn to give her and assistant Anthony Beaton a couple copies of our Little Brown Jug issue. Joe Holloway's dog Ramsey stared menacingly at me, so I walked over first to say hello to Joe, who told me he saw me last night at Wings. Joe was there to watch the Yankees game, so we talked about the classy way Mariano Rivera closed out his career in Yankee Stadium, with Derek Jeter and Andy Pettite coming out to get him with two outs in the ninth inning. If you haven't seen the video clip, don't miss it because it's a memorable moment.
It was hard leaving the track this morning since it is yet another beautiful day. High 78, low tonight in the low 60s. Tomorrow's high now 80, and a predicted high of 78 with a slight chance of rain on Sunday. Remember, if you're coming out to the races on Saturday night that UK plays Florida at Commonwealth Stadium at 7 p.m., so there will likely be traffic issues around The Red Mile. Don't let yourself get stuck in traffic with a low tank of gas, filling up around here is getting "cheap.” Gas today was just $3.28 a gallon.