Backstretch With Gordon: A beautiful Saturday!
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We had some great racing to open up the six days of Grand Circuit stakes at The Red Mile, and while it was a nice Friday afternoon, a breeze made it chilly unless you were sitting in the sun. Obviously, the crowd was sparse due to attendance limitations, but those on hand and all others watching via simulcast were, as I said, treated to some great racing.
With all respect to the other winners, my favorite performance of the day was the near-world-record 1:52.3 win by Jim Campbell’s 2-year-old gelding trotter Take All Comers. David Miller drove the son of Creatine to the victory, and he was also behind the 1:50..3-winning 2-year-old filly pacer Test Of Faith, who comes in second on my list of best victories of opening day.
Another of my favorite wins Friday came when Tim Tetrick drove Watayankee to a 1:53.3 win. The race was an $11,000 overnight, but I liked that the 3-year-old Yankee Glide filly is trained by Kentuckian Jack Gray Jr. A nice win for a Bluegrass guy!
Boss Kathy and I watched the first race from an apron box I gave driver Joe Bongiorno a thumbs-up as left the winner's circle. Race 10 was the Cantab Hall Trot, sponsored by The Horseman And Fair World. Boss Kathy had to leave early to take care of some things in the office before dinner, so I presented the trophy to driver David Miller, who won with the George Ducharme-trained Sheer Energy.
Hambletonian Society chief operating officer Moira Fanning and the Delaware Standardbred Breeders Fund administrator Judy Davis-Wilson arrived Friday afternoon and Boss Kathy and I met them at Sedona Tap House for dinner. Trackman Dan Coon wasn’t with us as he was spending the day trying to get Oak Grove into shape for its opening in a couple weeks. The place was just getting busy when we started, and by the time we finished there were people waiting inside and outside.
The first person I saw this wonderful Saturday morning was Amanda Stephens, the new track photographer this year, replacing the legendary Nigel Soult, who retired. Amanda also doubles up as the new Kentucky Harness Horsemen’s Association’s executive director. I had a pile of the new Horseman And Fair Worlds so I gave Amanda a copy as she had plenty of photos published as part of the Kentucky Sires Stakes championship card on Sept. 20.
I also gave a couple of copies to the Jugette-winning trainer Chris Ryder, who introduced me to his son, Patrick. Patrick turned right to the page with Party Girl Hill winning the Jugette, and he said it was the first time he’s ever had his photo in a magazine. Patrick was going to be soon on his way north on I-75 as they are racing Bettor’s Wish and Stonebridge Soul at Hollywood Dayton tonight. Chris said he’ll be on his way after he’s done racing this afternoon at The Red Mile.
Ace photographer Vicki Wright walked past and asked Chris and myself to flank Bettor's Wish as she took a photo. I was honored.
It’s nice that Chris has Patrick here with him this year. I also learned Ron Burke has his two sons helping out in the barn, so I’m certainly going to check that out in the next few days.
Paul Kelley was coming off the track so I circled around to say hello. Ray Schnittker was also there. We talked horses and sports, mostly about the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs. Another trainer I waved to that was coming off the track was Brian Brown. Watching nearby was Austin Luttrell, a semi-converted Thoroughbred guy who has horses with Brian
Jack Gray came by heading to the track so I congratulated him, and then I bumped into Andy Cohen, who was heading up to get coffee and donuts (which were graciously brought today by Amanda and Matt Stephens). I was heading the opposite direction, so Andy turned around and walked all the way back up to where he started in the barn of Linda Toscano. Andy, Linda, Brad McNinch and I chatted a few minutes and then they were getting ready to head off to look at yearlings. I also learned they too were at Sedona last night for dinner, but they were outside on the patio.
It was actually very quiet at the track this morning as it appeared plenty of others were out checking yearlings. I did get chased by another dog this morning, but thankfully Jonas Czernyson called out for him to stop harassing me.
Jim Campbell came by on his golf cart so I of course congratulated him on Take All Comers wins. I asked if we would see a repeat performance next week, but Jim told me no, and that the Breeders Crown will be up next.
Greg Coon was also on the backstretch this morning, and he was fretting some about tomorrow’s forecast of rain. Nick Salvi was nearby so Greg asked Nick if he thought tomorrow morning would be a heavy training day, and he breathed a sigh of relief when Nick told him it should be very light since racing wouldn’t return until next Friday.
Let’s hold out hope that the rain holds out until after the card is finished. Next week’s weather looks glorious, as it’s supposed to warm into the low 70s, and even into the high 70s by next weekend. Fingers crossed!
So we’ve got today and tomorrow for racing, and then on Monday the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale starts out at Fasig-Tipton. Don’t forget Tuesday night’s Breedings For A Cause, which gets underway with a cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. in the Kentucky Room. The auctioning off of breedings to Father Patrick, Greenshoe, JK Endofanera, Swan For All, Tall Dark Stranger and Walner gets underway at 6:45 p.m.
Boss Kathy also told me young Adam Strom wasn’t waiting until next weekend to fly over from Sweden, and in fact he’ll be here this afternoon. I also got an email from “The Ancient Hoosier Hermit,” telling (or is it warning?) me that he’ll be in town next weekend after he gets his workload off his plate.
I think we’re caught up now; looking forward to another great afternoon of racing today. Hopefully I can shed my jacket as it should reach a high of 63 by post time for the third race.
Also, thanks for the great response for the Name The Deck Contest. Many names were submitted and I’m turning them all in to Cindy Solverson shortly for her to pick the winner. Hopefully I can announce that in the next couple days. And thanks for the nice comments that some added, especially the one that gave me a hot tip for Sunday’s card.
And again, gas prices are staying mostly in the $2.10s, but I did see a couple stations down to $2.04.