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Backstretch With Gordon: Nancy and her girl

September 28, 2019

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I made a trip around The Red Mile backstretch this warm Saturday morning and on the second time around I saw trainer Nancy Johansson standing by the fence with a horse. I walked over to congratulate Nancy on her world-record win with Manchego last night in the Trotting Derby at Hollywood Dayton, and she said, “This is my girl.” So I was able to take this great photo of Nancy and the new world champion.


Staying on last night, I had dinner at Le Deauville with a group that included (in alphabetical order): Dave Brower, Frode Fladen, Austin Lutrell, Gabe Prewitt, Nick Salvi and Chris Tully. We sat outside and there was heavy pedestrian traffic as a lot of people like to walk their dogs in the area. We also watched on our cell phones the huge race Manchego went at Dayton, winning easily in 1:50.1 (we also watched Adriano Sorella’s Jimy Freight get the big upset victory in the Pacing Derby).


Dexter Dunn drove Manchego to her HUGE victory, and is there a hotter driver anywhere than Dexter? A world record at The Red Mile on Thursday afternoon and a second one the next night up in Ohio.


“Dexter didn’t even pull the plugs,” Nancy told me, adding that the trotting mare finished with plenty left in the tank.


We weren’t the only horsepeople at Le Deauville last night as Joe Holloway was there, as was the Melander troupe, including famed Swedish photographer Adam Strom. Marvin Katz was also there and when he was leaving he sat down with us for a few minutes. Marvin is excited about the Breedings For A Cause gathering on Wednesday night (Oct. 2) at 6:45 p.m. right before the yearling sale gets underway at Fasig-Tipton. People will have the opportunity to purchase breedings for the 2020 breeding season to seven of North America’s top sires, which proceeds going to charity.


The stallions offered are: Muscle Hill, Captaintreacherous, Sweet Lou, Chapter Seven, Father Patrick, Always B Miki and Tactical Landing.


How can Marvin not be excited about the offerings? It’s also an open bar cocktail party so there’s no reason not to be there. Kudos to Marvin and Al Libfeld for all their hard work in putting this all together.


Back to this morning again, Nancy told me her dad, Jimmy Takter, was around, and I saw him over talking to Per Engblom. Now on medication in hopes of avoiding surgery to remove a tumor on his spinal cord, Jimmy made it to Lexington yesterday—just in time to celebrate his birthday tomorrow. Jimmy had obviously just come off the track with a horse, so I told him I’m glad he’s feeling better. Jimmy said he was only marginally on the mend, but the pay was so good from Engblom and his daughter that he couldn’t turn down the work.


I was just wandering around when I heard someone yell my name, and it was Ellen Mulinix. I walked over to say hello and her husband, Jim, was there with their 2-year-old pacer Mocha On The Rocks, who starts in a division of this afternoon’s Bluegrass. I’ve known Jim and Ellen a long time so it was nice to see them again.


I saw Howard and Jessica Okusko so I headed that way, and Bob Stewart joined me on the trek. Howard had Covered Bridge in tow and was headed to Bob’s truck, where he and at least another horse were headed to the Caldwell’s Cane Run Farm for some turnout time.


Marcus Melander was sitting in front of his barn eating ice cream so I asked first how his dinner was last night, and then about his “A” team of trotters, who are in to race tomorrow afternoon. Marcus said his dinner was great and that all his Sunday starters got in some jogging miles this morning. So it was a quiet morning in the Melander barn.


I made my way up to see Carter Pinske, who added another two Grand Circuit victories to his training resume, and the Pinske barn also made it to the winner’s circle with another they owned. Carter wasn’t there but his girlfriend, Makenna Amiss, was hard at work. Makenna is the niece of driver Corey Callahan, or as she told me she calls him, “Cool Uncle Corey.”


I saw Brian Brown again with a load of manure and he said he purposely waits until I’m around to shovel the (blank). You know the word he used. Driver Chris Page is getting married later today to his longtime girlfriend, Brianna Kriel, and I had been told Brian would be on the road later today up into Ohio with Joe Sbrocco to attend the wedding. Brian said my info was bad as he wasn’t going, and neither was Joe, although Joe’s wife would be attending. One of Brian’s starters this afternoon is Seeyou At TheBeach, who is the 6-5 morning-line favorite in Race 3, a division of the Bluegrass for 2-year-old colt pacers. The son of Somebeachsomewhere is owned in part by Chris Page, so wouldn’t that be a nice wedding gift for he and Brianna?


Brian received a nice birthday gift yesterday when his 3-year-old filly pacer Margret Hill was a 44-1 upset winner in the last race, a $12,500 late-closer. One guess who drove the daughter of Somebeachsomewhere? Yep, it was Dexter Dunn.


Remember that Sunday is Veteran’s Appreciation Day at The Red Mile, presented by Texas de Brazil steakhouse. Should be a fun afternoon. And remember the Round Barn fundraiser is on Monday night from 6-8:30 p.m, with $45 tickets still available at Fennell’s or online at https://squareup.com/store/stableofmemories.


I can’t wait for Tuesday night when the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale gets underway. By the way, if you don’t have the chance to eat early, Mark and Frank at Le Deauville asked me to remind everybody that the restaurant will have extended hours every night so you can chow down later. “We’ll stay open until 2 or 3 a.m. if we have to,” Mark told me.


I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it actually rained just slightly overnight. There were bigger storms north of Lexington and east, but we got just enough to wet the ground slightly. Erv Miller told me he saw lightning in the distance on his way to the track in the dawn hours. It remains hot in the Bluegrass, high today 94 and now my weather app says a high of 95 the next four days, before “cooling off” to 90 on Thursday.


OK, that’s it for today as I have to make my way over by the She Shed where Mike and Teena Freibert have set up shop for the Bluegrass Staking lunch. Tina told me lunch will be served for a couple of hours starting at 11 a.m. and all are welcome.


UK plays South Carolina tonight on the road at 7:30 p.m. If you want to watch the game, or any other, there are good options around town. My favorite place, with plenty of TVs, is Banners, just a short drive from the track to Man O War and Boston Road, tucked behind Kroger. I know everybody there, from (alphabetical order) Ali, Chad, Charlotte, Chris, Guff, JB, Kristen, MacKenzie and Stephanie and there's always great service. 

Chris Tully told me yesterday that my gas prices yesterday needed to be adjusted a bit as he found a station just north of The Red Mile that was $2.32, about seven cents cheaper than I had written. I’ve gone by a bunch of stations the past day and the prices are all over the board. Last night, that Marathon station that was $2.59 and then $2.39, was back up to $2.53. This morning it was down again to $2.32. The station across from where I live (by the Tates Creek Malone’s) was at $2.26 this morning. So go ahead and price shop away!

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