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Backstretch With Gordon: It's a wrap!

October 06, 2019

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We're at the finish line for this year's two-week Grand Circuit stand, and what a meet it's been. We'll wrap up the meet today with the contesting of the 127th Kentucky Futurity. We wrapped up a record-breaking Lexington Selected Yearling Sale last night at Fasig-Tipton, with the five nights setting all-time highs for gross sales and average prices. I'm sure sale managers Randy Manges and David Reid have had a smile on their faces all week.
Congratulations to my sponsors, Steve and Cindy Stewart's Hunterton Sales Agency, whose 110 yearlings sold brought in more than $7.4 million.I can't thank Steve and Cindy enough for their backing of Backstretch With Gordon.
Well, after 40 days and 40 nights of no rain, we finally got some. It rained pretty good here this morning around dawn, and the forecast calls for more rain later today. Bessie, who you all know from manning the switchboard at The Red Mile, had the future radar on her computer screen when I came in today and she said it looks like storms arriving around 4:15 p.m. 
Trackman Greg told me during yesterday afternoon's card that he would be sealing the track in anticipation of the precipitation. And the racetrack would be closed in the morning. That it was, but since it's the last day there were only a couple horses out on the infield track. Speaking of closed, if your travels to The Red Mile today take you on Limestone and turning onto Virginia, take Waller instead. They have it closed due to construction on a building that's going up on the corner.
Going back to yesterday, what great racing we saw. McWicked was massive and Six Pack was sensational, but how about Elver Hanover remaining undefeated at two. Also, Tall Dark Stranger is still unbeaten after an impressive victory, which led to co-owner Marvin Katz remarking to me afterward, "How can he not be in consideration for Horse of the Year?" Tall Dark Stranger also caused a big minus pool as $50,000 of the $53,000 in the show pool was on him. Another winner I need to mention is Warrawee Ubeaut, who is simply dominating her division right now.
I joined the Michigan connection again last night for dinner. I met Patty, Lee and Denna at Tilted Kilt. It's the first time I've gone there, even though I know Derrick, the general manager pretty well. When I arrived I found Chris McKee and Don and Rich Niccum at the table, so it was a nice big gathering. Photographer John Sannucci was at the bar counter so I stopped to say hello to him. Joe Holloway came in with a group to watch the end of the Yankees victory over the Twins, and Joe was nice enough to send a bucket of suds our way.
We were finishing up when Don Lawrence, one of the track judges at Woodbine Mohawk Park came over to say hello. Don introduced himself to Lee Sattelberg, and said years ago he raced Split Image against Lee's horse Lightning Mick. Don started to walk away and said he also remembered racing plenty of times against Chain Lightning, who was campaigned by the late Wally McIlmurray Sr.
Although Dave Brower texted about my whereabouts and future whereabouts, I went home and I will admit I was asleep around 10. I woke up about 1 and thought I still had time to go out and make it for last call, but that didn't happen. I know what Dave's wearing today as he's already arrived, and it's a coat and tie for the Futurity program.
Although it was still sprinkling a bit when I made it to The Red Mile this morning, it was pretty warm. About 70 degrees, and it's supposed to reach 80, albeit with rain. It was REALLY QUIET this morning, with most of the noise coming from trucks leaving filled with horses. I saw a big group around the Melander barn, which was roped off with a sign that said: "Do not enter without permission." I stopped to talk to Ake Svanstedt for a second about Six Pack's big win, and then made my way to see McWicked. Although I knew Casie and Mark Herlihy got in the car immediately after the races, I wasn't sure when McWicked was leaving. I can now report he was gone.
I saw Noel Daley, who is returning to the U.S. after a couple of years back home Down Under. Noel and his 6-year-old son Max are back and Noel said he’ll be back training at Magical Acres. He said he purchased eight yearlings here in Lexington and with another two given by somebody else, he already has 10. 
Since it was so quiet I made my way up to the press box to write this Backstrech With Gordon finale. TV Bob was testing the microphones, and I just hope he doesn't repeat his attempt to sing the early refrains of the national anthem as he did yesterday. The trophy stand is empty, and it hasn't been the same for me this year with Trophy Girl Whitney Fields not returning as she had to tend to her duties at Rood & Riddle.
One person I'm really going to miss next year is longtime track photographer Nigel Soult, who I told you a few days ago was retiring. Nigel is all class and willing to do anything needed, and he will be really missed personally and professionally by myself. Make sure you check out our next Horseman And Fair World for the full wrap-up of the Red Mile meet, including the Futurity, and plenty of Nigel's photos.
One more time too, what a great job Dave Brower and Gabe Prewitt did on the simulcast show. And I have to make sure I mention race secretary Connie Hochstetler.
As for this afternoon, the weather will certainly impact the times. I also hope that Bob, Tom and Charlie Wingfield finally take off those red shirts with the logo of the school in Columbus on them. I was going to ask Barb Wingfield if she could help out when I saw her in Wagers yesterday, but Amy Hollar distracted me as she wanted to take photos of us together. And if someone sees John Cooper, please tell him I looked all over for dinner with him, but he couldn't be found.
Jeremy at the gift shop still has great things on sale so if you're at the track today make sure you stop in and see him.
One more thanks to Hunterton Sales Agency and their support. And to Boss Kathy, who lets me out of the office every morning to get my four miles of walking in. And for not acknowledging that I ignore her orders every day to be brief.
Finally, if you're heading out of town today, gas prices did drop about 10 cents overnight into the $2.40s. And finally, that $2.55 Speedway next to the $2.33 Shell on Limestone got wise and dropped to $2.33.
That's it for Season 17, thanks greatly for reading and commenting. It's greatly appreciated.
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