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Backstretch With Gordon: And the winner is...

October 05, 2020
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And the winner is……Deck Of Dreams! Congratulations to Kim Dressler, a horseman from Edmonton, Alberta way, way up in Canada, for the winning name for the trackside deck as chosen by Cindy Solverson, The Red Mile’s director of sponsorships. In his email, Kim said that if his submission was chosen then to donate the hats to young racing fans, and Cindy said she’ll take care of that.
 
Another winner this morning is Javier Oranten, a caretaker in the Tony Alagna Stable, who helped put a stop to a very scary incident just prior to the start of Sunday’s races. As assistant Ron Best was warming up Sea Of Life for his start in Race 5, a Bluegrass division, the 3-year-old colt pacer got loose. Best was dumped to the track and the horse took off at a pace that he might have been able to beat Secretariat in a race.
 
After going one way on the track, Sea Of Life turned around and went the other way and then through a back gate. Off he went, running past the apartments and Spring Hill Suites. As the horsemen on the track kept an eye on Sea Of Life, people were running toward the first turn. I was right there and all I could think was, please don’t run out onto Red Mile Road or Broadway. Sea Of Life didn’t go left, he thankfully turned right and ran parallel to the track in front of the parking lot. Some nearby horsemen tried to grab the lines but missed, and it was only when Sea Of Life ran into the tent where temperatures were being taken and wristbands put on that he stopped. He was quickly grabbed by Javier, which for sure prevented Sea Of Life from taking back off, possibly running through the grandstand.
 
There were some huge performances on the track yesterday but there was also a big surprise when Ramona Hill finished second to Ab’sattitudexpress, breaking the Hambletonian champ’s six-race win streak. So my first stop on a chilly but sunshine-filled Monday morning at the track was to check on Ramona Hill and Sea Of Life and Best. Tony said Best and Sea Of Life were doing fine, and he’d be taking the pacer on the track shortly. As for Ramona Hill, Tony told me the filly scoped a bit sick afterward, with the mucous being “a 3 out of 5.”
 
Dave Brower had told me that when he was crossing the track for his post-race interview, driver Andy McCarthy came by with Ramona Hill and yelled over that the filly would be fine for next week. I told Tony that and he agreed, but when I asked where “next week” was, the Filly Futurity or the Kentucky Futurity against the boys, he said he was still undecided.
 
While I know Ramona Hill’s owners would love a chance to beat the boys a second time, they’re leaving the decision up to Tony. One thing that could sway Tony to go against the boys is that the new conditions for the Kentucky Futurity call for up to the 12 richest entries going only one heat.
 
I also learned some big news yesterday from Mark Weaver, that the $1.7-million-winning 4-year-old mare Warrawee Ubeaut has new owners in Al and Michelle Crawford. I will have the full story in the upcoming HarnessRacing Weekend Preview on Thursday, but Mark, who had told me a few days ago that something was in the works and he'd let me know, said the deal was very creative in getting the Crawfords involved. Al told me that he and Michelle were very excited, and that Warrawee Ubeaut will remain in the barn of trainer Ron Burke as they decide her future as a racehorse or broodmare.
 
I have to mention Cattlewash’s 1:46.4 victory on Sunday, tying the world record set by his sire, Somebeachsomewhere, and Party Girl Hill, who was so impressive in winning her 12th straight. Also, Tall Dark Stranger was game again in victory.
 
After TDS won, I went by the winner’s circle and as trainer Nancy Takter hopped out of the van I said something about driver Yannick Gingras was successful in pulling the ear plugs, and she laughed and said she had just said the same thing. Yannick couldn’t pull the plugs in the North America Cup elim that TDS won, or in the Kentucky Sires Stakes final, which TDS also won. But those wins were too close for comfort. When Yannick came back with TDS he told me he made sure at the top of the stretch that he was pulling hard to pop the ear plugs.
 
Back to this morning, I stopped by the breakfast table for a donut and I went to lower my mask and sneeze, and PJ Fraley and Nick Salvi were standing nearby and yelled they were going to call the police. Of course, everybody laughed. PJ and I talked some football, most notably the likely change of head coach of the Detroit Lions. And then we all laughed again as PJ did an act worthy of America’s Got Talent as he grabbed several paper cups and plates as they blew off the table from the wind.
 
Alagna assistant trainer Jesus Oranten was bringing donuts back to the barn, so I walked back with him as he wanted to introduce me to his nephew, Javier, who was able to grab hold of Sea Of Life yesterday. I told Javier what a great job he did. With the help of Jesus as translator, I asked Javier the same questions I posed to Diane Lewis a couple days ago.
 
Where are you from? “I came here in 2015 from Guatemala when I started working for Tony.”
 
Do you have a favorite horse? “Stay Hungry.”
 
Remember your strangest horse? “I remember one we had that was just scared of everything.”
 
I was getting ready to head out when I saw John Butenschoen and Erv Miller, who were also heading out to look at yearlings. Tonight is the opening session of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale at Fasig-Tipton, with things getting underway at 7 p.m. Remember to get there even earlier on Tuesday as a cocktail hour gets underway at 5:30 in the Kentucky Room, followed by the Breedings For A Cause auction of 2021 breedings to six top stallions: Father Patrick, Greenshoe, JK Endofanera, Swan For All, Tall Dark Stranger and Walner.
 
A couple of the local morning news shows stole my daily update of gas prices, and today is was noted that the $1.99 station on Waller was still $1.99 and the cheapest in town. Some have dropped into the $2.02-2.04 range. If you’re heading to Oak Grove for the upcoming opening of its meet, I saw on TV that there was a $1.69 station there.
 
I’m looking forward to seeing everybody at the sale tonight, including my sponsors, Steve and Cindy Stewart of Hunterton Sales Agency/Hunterton Farm.
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