Backstretch With Gordon: A quiet Sunday
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Another great afternoon of racing Saturday at The Red Mile. I’m on the Perfect Sting bandwagon and the Joe Holloway trainee did not disappoint, winning his Bluegrass division with driver David Miller gamely over Summa Cum Laude, who was trying hard up the inside for Yannick Gingras but fell a half-length short in 1:50. As announcer Gabe Prewitt said, “Perfect Sting tacked on the extra point” as he is now perfect in seven starts.
That wasn’t the fastest division for the 2-year-old boys as Matt Kakaley rallied Lou’s Pearlman from fifth at a blistering :52.4 half to win in 1:49.1, just a tick off the world record. If you missed any of the races, or want to watch them over again, just scroll down on our site’s home page to the Today’s Video box.
I watched the races from a trackside box, joined by Boss Kathy and Dr. Katie Flynn. Shaun Laungani came by and gave us a beautiful Diamond Creek Farm brochure with their stallions. I didn’t stay for the last couple of races though because I wanted to get home and watch the Preakness Stakes. My walk to my car was interrupted when I saw Jimmy and Christina Takter sitting on the brick wall. This was the first time I’ve seen the Takters this week. I made it home just as the horses were coming onto the track.
What a great race that was, watching the filly Swiss Skydiver hold off Kentucky Derby champ Authentic in a thrilling stretch duel. It was a great ride by Robby Albarado, who I had a chance to meet a couple years ago when he was at the races at The Red Mile one night. He gave me a brief education on watching jockeys on the track in trying to determine what the race strategy might be.
I headed back out to dinner, meeting Randy Manges, Moira Fanning and Judy Wilson at Le Deauville. I arrived first and saw Tony Alagna at a table waiting on his group, so I sat with him a few minutes. It gave me a chance to give Tony copies of the last Horseman And Fair World that has his Little Brown Jug winner Captain Barbossa—who is racing this afternoon—on the cover.
Tony was soon joined by Al and Michelle Crawford. Others who I saw at the restaurant were Paul Kelley, Steve Jones, Ray Schnittker and Ron Gurfein.
Through a Facebook post Bryan Owen learned I was there, so he sent me a text asking what I was eating. Judy and I shared a bottle of Vouvray, I had escargot for an appetizer, duck for dinner, and raspberry sorbet for dessert.
Several trainers and drivers did double duty yesterday, heading north two hours on I-75 for a trio of stakes for older horses at Hollywood Dayton. We watched the Dayton Distaff Derby on Moira’s I-pad, and saw Kissin In The Sand best Shartin N. Can’t say it was an upset as Kissin In The Sand was the slight 4-5 betting favorite over the even-money Shartin N. I looked it up and saw that it was only the second time in Shartin’s 50-start North American career that she wasn’t the bettors’ choice. The only other time was at The Downs at Mohegan Sun Pocono on Oct. 20, 2018, when Shartin N won her Breeders Crown elim as the 6-5 second choice, with the even-money Caviart Ally third. Those replays are also in Today's Video box.
I made my way straight home after dinner and watched Atlanta set the Dayton track record in the Trotting Derby, and Bettor’s Wish win the Pacing Derby. It’s safe to say that the drivers and trainers who made the trek to Dayton didn’t get back to Lexington until at least 2 a.m. So I knew it would be very, very quiet at The Red Mile this morning, and I was right. Not too many people were around and I looked on the track and saw only four horses.
That’s why I’ll jump back to yesterday afternoon at the track. I wanted to actually see some horsemen face to face finally (or is it mask to mask?) so I walked back to the paddock after the second race. Jeff Gregory came by with his race bike after he just finished second with You Ato Dream, who just couldn’t hang on in a 1:53 mile won by Presto and Ake Svanstedt. I couldn’t tell by the angle who had won, and I told Jeff that, and he said his filly was just a bit too hot on the track after being parked to the quarter in :27.3 and then trotting a second quarter in :27.1 and reaching the half in front in :54.4.
Race 3 was on the track and I walked to the fence and watched with trainer Per Engblom, who was sending out the big favorite Julia C. Andy McCarthy got the job done and I congratulated Per as he headed to the van for the drive to the winner’s circle.
When Andy came back to the paddock at first he didn’t recognize me, but said it was because I had my mask on. I also talked briefly to Yannick Gingras, Charlie Norris, Jim Avritt Sr. and Joe Bongiorno, who I told that I had given a couple copies of The Horseman—he drove Captain Barbossa—to his sister Jenn, who was sitting in an apron box with Annie Larrabee and Travis and Alaina Alexander.
By the way, I saw Officer Kelly (a Red Mile security person) walking around, and she had to remind a few people to wear their masks. It was only a handful though as the vast majority complied. I also saw Twitter Girl Joanna wiping down the microphones used for Dave Brower’s post-race interviews at the trophy table, with Joanna telling me it was done after every interview.
Billy Bigler emailed me a question, and I responded by asking Billy why is he always asking so many questions? Billy wanted to know why I didn’t mention that he won’t be making the trip up from Florida this year, and I told him sadly that the list is long. I think Dean Hoffman is missing his first Kentucky Futurity since Walter Dear won in 1929. Billy also said that while he thought my Wednesday column was my greatest ever, he thought Thursday topped it and Friday bested it yet again. Thanks!
The yearling sale at Fasig-Tipton starts Monday night at 7 p.m., and on Tuesday things kick off at 5:30 p.m. with the cocktail hour in the Kentucky Room that proceeds the Breedings For A Cause auction where you can bid on a 2021 breeding to Father Patrick, Greenshoe, JK Endofanera, Swan For All, Tall Dark Stranger and Walner.
Supposed to be cloudy all day today with temperatures in the low 60s, but it looks like the rain will hold off until after the races. The rest of the week looks glorious, including race day temps in the mid 70s!
Gas prices still the same, now I’m wondering if they’ll continue to drop or we are in for an early-week price bump. Right now in the $2.10s, and as I said yesterday, I saw a couple of $2.02 stations.