Backstretch With Gordon: Jump!
October 07, 2020
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The temperatures are jumping nicely in Lexington, with Wednesday’s high maybe hitting 80! It will be in the 70s all through the weekend, although the remnants of Hurricane Delta may make things messy on Sunday afternoon for the Kentucky Futurity card.
It was a gorgeous morning at The Red Mile. I am the freshest today that I’ve been as I actually got nearly seven hours sleep last night. My Tuesday night started at 5 p.m. when I left home and headed for Fasig-Tipton so I could arrive on time for the 5:30 cocktail hour. After hitting every light on the way, I made it and breezed through the covid checkpoint where my temperature was taken (97.5) and wristband put on.
Opening remarks for the Breedings For A Cause auction were given by John Campbell and Gabe Prewitt, representing Caesars’ Entertainment, which owns Harrah’s Hoosier Park, site of the upcoming Breeders Crown. Last year’s opening remarks were given by Marvin Katz, whose Libfeld/Katz Breeding Partnership is sponsoring the Breeders Crown. Marvin, who lives in the Toronto area, did not make the trip this year. Another person MIA this year is Murray Brown, who told me this is his first Lexington meet and sale he’s missed in 63 years. While Bill Haughton hasn’t been coming to Lexington that long, he’s another person I’m missing this year because he always is one of the first ones I see.
My mingling included a chat with Matt Franklin, the head of Wire To Wire Wealth Management, which sponsored Tuesday morning’s breakfast at The Red Mile. Matt told me he now owns an interest in six horses, all with trainer Ake Svanstedt, and as a result he’s been taking lessons in speaking Swedish from a private tutor.
The auction began in the sale ring at 6:45 and up first was a gorgeous Tim Tetrick Hall of Fame watch. That went for $13,000 to Michelle Crawford. Breedings to the six stallions was a combined $105,000, with Father Patrick leading the way with a $30,000 bid from Kountry Lane Standardbreds, followed by Kentuckiana Farms’ winning bid of $25,000 for Tall Dark Stranger.
Tuesday was another good sale night for my sponsor Steve and Cindy Stewart’s Hunterton Sales Agency as they sold 23 for $1.35 million. That brings their total to nearly $4.3 million for 41 sold.
Howard and Jessica Okusko left New York at dawn yesterday and made it to Fasig-Tipton last night, and they were soon joined by Larry Rathbone, who I also sat with Monday night at a table with Jim King Jr. Also in town last night were trainers Tom Fanning and Norm Parker, the brother of Boss Kathy. Norm and I saw Tom Merriman and Anne Schlichtig sitting near the back ring so we went over to see them for a few minutes. Along the way I also saw Elizabeth Caldwell and the MacDonald brothers—Anthony and Mark. Dave Brower asked Anthony if he would do an interview over the weekend about his partnership stables. When Dave told him the interview would be in the winner’s circle, Mark said (with a laugh), “Perfect, as it will be the first time I’ve in the Red Mile winner’s circle!”
I left the arena around 8:30 to meet Dave Brower, Gabe Prewitt, Austin Luttrell and the Standardbred Transition Alliance’s Jennifer Daniels at J Renders for their Tuesday night rib special. Once again great conversation and great food—hard to believe all the years I’ve been in Lexington I had never been there. Our server does double duty with Thoroughbreds and has worked at the Maryland fairgrounds in Timonium, where the Harrisburg sale will be next month, so she gave some dining tips to Gabe, who will be helping out on the podium. Is there any job Gabe doesn’t have? As Dave told him last night at dinner, “Some day we are all going to be working for you!”
We were all tired so we all were going right home. That was good for all of us except for Jennifer, who was making the three-hour trip to her home near Columbus, Ohio. I got to sleep right away (before 10:30), so that’s how I got my seven-hour beauty sleep.
I can’t say the same for plenty of others as the last horse didn’t go through the ring until 12:20 a.m. Andy and Julie Miller told me this morning that they stayed just about to the end. As I walked away from them I went over to say hello to Dr. Andy Roberts. Paul Kelley came by and I since I didn’t get to see any results from the NHL draft last night, I asked who the Red Wings selected. Paul told me it was an 18-year-old left winger from Sweden.
Breakfast was served, this morning courtesy of the Bettor’s Wish syndicate. Chris Ryder was at the table when I got there so I thanked him, and I also sent a text to Art Zubrod as well. Trackman Dan was there and we talked about his preparations for the likely rain on Sunday, and he said his biggest prep will be a special do-not-rain dance on Saturday night in the Red Mile winner’s circle.
Jessica Dowse came by the breakfast table and she was followed by her 10-year-old bull terrier Tank, who brought along his red ball. A bull terrier won the 2006 Westminster Dog Show and we talked about that for a few minutes. Nearby was Chris Tully, Heather Wilder and name withheld by request, and Heather made us all laugh when talking about the “luxurious accommodations” she and Mike were staying in this week in Lexington.
I went over to Nancy Takter’s barn to see the new number-one horse in the weekly poll: Tall Dark Stranger. That’s a barn full of stars as Nancy had three other horses in the top 10 announced yesterday: Sorella, Ready For Moni and Kissin In the Sand. Not too often a trainer has four horses in the top 10; I know her father, Jimmy, did it back in 2014 when he had Father Patrick, Nuncio, Trixton and Shake It Cerry.
How about Peter Wrenn? I saw him yesterday morning at the Red Mile, and last night he drove his 2-year-old filly trotter Shirley Goodness to an Indiana Sires Stakes win. That race didn’t go off until 10:30, and then Peter jumped back in his car and returned to Lexington, and he was back at the Red Mile today bright and early.
The draw for the Kentucky Futurity is Thursday morning at 11 a.m. It will be held on the Deck Of Dreams and you can watch it live on The Red Mile's Facebook page. Great name for the deck, with the moniker coming from Kim Dressler, who is usually here these two weeks with Angel, but couldn't make the trip from Alberta because of the travel restrictions.
That’s it for today, and ending on good note, I saw a couple $1.99 gas stations on my journey this morning.