Sept. 22, 2003. Not only was that the day the TV show Two and A Half Men premiered, but it was also the day of the premiere of Backstretch With Gordon. Here we are 10 years later and who would have thought that although Two and A Half Men is still on the air, that I would have outlasted Charlie Sheen? Now that's winning! I even picked up a sponsor a few years ago in Steve and Cindy Stewart's Hunterton Sales Agency, and I thank them greatly for their support.
Ten years ago Boss Kathy sent me to The Red Mile during a Grand Circuit morning and told me to write for our website what I saw and did. That's what I did, although over the years the idea expanded to include my nighttime antics so a lot of what I saw and did couldn't be posted. And little did I know how many people would come to count on me to let them know the price of gas in Lexington. That tradition started in 2007, when gas had begun its steady rise and at the time was $2.47 a gallon. Today the price at the stations nearest The Red Mile is $3.35 and $3.39, and some stations around town were still above $3.40.
My first stop at The Red Mile today—I got there shortly after 8 a.m.—was to see trainer George Ducharme. I was enjoying a leisurely and quiet dinner at Logan's last night when George and Britney Gale, the caretaker of Hambletonian champ Royalty For Life, and trainer Howard Okusko Jr. came in and sat beside me. They had just arrived after a 12-hour drive from New York. As Boss Kathy reported last week, George wasn't planning on racing Royalty For Life in the Kentucky Futurity, but now he'll skip the Bluegrass this week and start in the Oct. 6 trotting classic. Britney asked for a couple more copies of our Hambletonian issue so I obliged and dropped them off this morning.
Ole Bach also came into Logan's and joined us, so it was nearly midnight when our little Logan's gathering finally broke up. I was walking to my car when I received a text from Nick Salvi, asking me to meet up with them. Since I wanted to get to The Red Mile early this morning, I passed on the offer.
I stopped for a second this morning to greet Ron Gurfein, and then saw Perry Soderberg over at the Jimmy Takter barn giving the meeting table and chairs a good scrubbing. I told Perry I'd grab him to clean my seat in the press box tomorrow night. Jimmy came off the track and I asked how he managed to make it from Delaware, Ohio, last Thursday to The Red Mile for his nighttime drives and that he would have had to drive 120 miles an hour on the highway, but he said he had chartered a small plane.
I saw Erv Miller and told him that it has been very strange for me that I haven't called him for a story on one of his horses all year. He told me that while the numbers are down—$3.7 million in purse earnings as of today—it's still been a solid year for the barn, "We're having a good year, just a different kind of year. I don't have a $1 million winner this year,” Erv told me.
Tony Alagna went by with Captaintreacherous, who was going to train with Wake Up Peter. Tony has 35 horses at The Red Mile so he's a busy man. I went trackside to watch Tony take The Captain on his first work trip this morning, and I was joined by Myron and Stephanie Bell, as well as Jerry Silverman. Myron said because Captaintreacherous had just raced Saturday night and was racing again this Saturday in the Bluegrass, that Tony wouldn't be going any big training mile with the colt.
Speaking of Saturday night at The Red Mile, if you're in town and planning on going to the races that start at 7 p.m., be warned that the UK-Florida football game also has a 7 p.m. kickoff and traffic might be snarled a bit.