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Backstretch With Gordon: It's a wrap!

October 11, 2020
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A big thanks to everybody who joined Trackman Dan in his do-not-rain-Saturday dance as for the most part it worked. And it may have worked for today as the forecast has changed a bit. We had some light rain this morning, but instead of heavy downpours and wind throughout the day, now only occasional rain is predicted. And it may even clear up before the card is over. Roger Huston is coming to town for today’s Kentucky Futurity card for the first time in 25 years and he was hoping for sunshine. I hope he settles for just staying dry.
 
There were some off-an-on sprinkles throughout Saturday afternoon’s card at The Red Mile, with the heaviest shower coming only for a few minutes and, of course, when I presented the trophy to driver David Miller and the connections of Beautiful Game after the 2-year-old filly trotter won an International Stallion division.
 
Credit to Trackman Dan and his crew as the track surfaced remained “fast” all afternoon. But with the cooler and damper weather, we didn’t see any record-breaking performances. We almost saw Perfect Sting’s unbeaten record broken, but David Miller—who won four races on the card—was able to rally the 2-year-old colt pacer from off the pace to win his International Stallion division in 1:49.4. That’s now eight in a row for the son of Always B Miki.
 
I went down to the winner's circle and congratulated trainer Joe Holloway and caretaker Diane Lewis on the victory, and Joe said to me, “That was a bit nerve-wracking.” I told him it was just a perfectly measured drive by David.
 
Another son of Always B Miki, Southwind Gendry, won the next International Stallion split in a career-best 1:50 for driver Yannick Gingras and trainer Ron Burke. I saw Jimmy Takter a bit later in the grandstand and he remarked on the back-to-back winners sired by his former trainee and world champion, Always B Miki.
 
While I was talking to Jimmy, his phone rang and it was owner Goran Anderberg, face-timing him from Sweden. Jimmy turned the phone toward me so Goran and I waved at each other and I told him I missed seeing him here this year.
 
Another person I missed the year is Amy Hollar. But I did hear Amy hollering from her Ohio home on Friday when Isowantapetrock, who is trained by her husband Buck, won an overnight Friday afternoon impressively in 1:51.
 
The Wingfield brothers made it to town. I first saw Bob and then later Tom and Charlie. What a great group of guys who always have stories to tell. I have to admit that between races I watched Race 2 at Keeneland and saw something I’d never seen before. There was so much bumping in deep stretch that multiple objections and inquiries were in play, so much so that the top four horses all came back to the winner’s circle awaiting the judges’ decision. It took about 15 minutes, and the winner was left up and the shuffling underneath led to the horses that finished fourth and fifth being moved to second and third.
 
Dinner last night was at Tony’s, and joining my usual crew of Gabe Prewitt and Dave Brower (name withheld by request had other plans) was Joanna Ricci, who does the tweeting on behalf of The Red Mile. Joanna made her way to the University of Kentucky from New Jersey, and she knows racing as her family has had horses. What was also nice was that Tony stopped to talk with us for a few minutes.
 
This column wraps it up for the 18th year of Backstretch With Gordon. As you see from the photo, I’ve collected a nice gathering of wristbands from coming to the backstretch in the morning, the sale at night, and the races.
Being gone so long has made my new kitten Willow a bit lonely, so it will be nice to spend some time with her again. She’s been sleeping at the door waiting for me to come home, and hasn’t left my side while I was there. Dave Brower told me he’s also looking forward to going home to New Jersey tomorrow as he is missing his two cats. I’m looking forward to Dave going home only because I am now afraid to get on a scale after all the big meals we’ve had the past couple of weeks.
 
Thanks to Steve and Cindy Stewart’s Hunterton Farm/Hunterton Sales Agency for again their kind sponsorship of the daily column. Thanks to Boss Kathy for coming up with the idea long, long ago, and still sending me out to the trenches every morning. What’s nice is that after being on the backstretch every morning and talking to people, nobody starts running away during week two.
 
Thanks to Cindy Solverson for her idea of a breakfast table on non-racing days, and for the Name The Deck contest. The winning selection was Deck of Dreams, and everybody seems to love it.
 
The races are once again going to be live streamed today on The Red Mile Racetrack’s youtube page. It’s a great, great card, with great, great horses competing, and we may have a better idea of Horse of the Year afterward. There’s still the Breeders Crown in a couple weeks at Harrah’s Hoosier Park, and as Tom Charters, Moira Fanning and John Campbell tell me, “It all comes down to the Breeders Crown.”  
 
All of the program pages for today’s stakes races can be found in our HarnessRacing Weekend Preview that was available last Thursday afternoon. Go to our website, www.harnessracing.com, and click the archive box and scroll down to the Weekend Preview tease story.
 
If you’re joining Dave in getting out of the Bluegrass tomorrow, I can say that gas prices continue to slowly drop. Try not to spend more than two bucks a gallon as most as in the $1.90s now.
 
Thanks to all the horsemen and horsewomen who I have spoken to and graciously gave me their time. Thanks to everybody for reading. More importantly, stay safe and healthy and wear a mask. Let’s get through this so we can all get together again next year.
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