Backstretch With Gordon: No shorts needed today
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Ding-dong, the heat is gone. The wicked heat is gone. After a 95-degree Thursday—the fifth consecutive day records were broken—it’s downright frigid this morning. It was just 60 degrees when I arrived at The Red Mile, and the high today is supposed to be only 75. Back up to 85 on Saturday, then back down to 78 on Sunday, and you best keep an eye on the weather as you might need some rain gear. Keep your fingers crossed it holds off until the Kentucky Futurity card is completed.
Dave Brower had asked me earlier in the week if I would go on the air for the pre-race TV show on Thursday, so I made my way to the set at 12:25, five minutes before show time. I wouldn’t admit it then, but I will now, that I was a bit nervous because Dave is such a professional I didn’t want to drag him down. As I noted elsewhere, Dave can make sandpaper sound smooth, and he helped me along.
A sarcastic Steve Wolf asked if my time was worthwhile and did I give out any winners. It was a seven-race card and I can proudly say I had four winners on top and two of my top selections finished second at odds of 7-1 and 6-1. Three were favorites, but if you followed my picks you received some great getaway money as I had Sail By on top in the last race, and Andy McCarthy drove the filly to perfection as she won by open lengths at odds of 8-1, returning a nice $19.60.
The nice payout meant I had enough cash to take my longtime Michigan friends Patty Wright Robinson and Lee and Denna Sattelberg to dinner last night. Texas Roadhouse it was, and it was great catching up. Sam McKee began getting us all together a few years ago, and I told them I was going to make sure the tradition continued. While the Sattelbergs still live in Michigan, Patty, whose career in racing included being the outrider at Hazel Park, moved to Kentucky shortly before I did, but recently shipped east to North Carolina.
I received a text message from Larry Rathbone that Goodfella’s Pizza was being served on the picnic tables at Fasig-Tipton for the third night of the sale, but I had already eaten dinner so I declined. There was another $300,000 yearling sold as the sale continues to be very good.
As I noted earlier, it was chilly this morning in the Bluegrass. My first stop was to see Sunday Tattersalls starter Bettor’s Wish, who Boss Kathy told me yesterday was going to be trained around 8:30. When I got to the barn I was told Chris and Bob Stewart had just left to fetch Bettor’s Wish, who is spending some R&R time on Bobby’s farm. A bit later I saw Chris’ wife, Nicola, head to the barn, and then head to the track, so I called her over. When she didn’t see Chris or Bettor’s Wish in his stall she assumed he was training, so I filled her in on the schedule. Just then Chris happened to call, and he said he was still a few minutes away.
I saw Rene Allard and he said he was happy with Air Force Hanover, who he recently purchased. Air Force Hanover drew post 1 in the Tattersalls division with Bettor’s Wish and Captain Crunch, and Rene admits it will be a tough task to beat both, let alone one. Rene said he was also going to be heading onto the track to give Hambletonian Oaks champ and Sunday’s Kentucky Filly Futurity starter When Dovescry a final training session.
I made my way up to see trainer Bill MacKenzie, who brought Little Brown Jug champ Southwind Ozzi and was stabled near the barn of Julie and Andy Miller. Bill was on the track with Ozzi, so it gave me a chance to chat a few minutes with the colt’s caretaker, Michelle Coyle. When Bill returned, we relived the Jug winner’s circle where he and I had talked about the victory. It cost Ozzi’s connections $45,000 to supplement to the Tattersalls, and he drew away from Bettor’s Wish and Captain Crunch, who complete a most formidable trio of sophomore colt pacers this year.
I was walking by the barn of Gregg McNair when he yelled over at me, “Hey, where’s your jacket?” Although he’s Canadian and should be used to the cool weather, Gregg was all bundled up in a Red Shores jacket. I was talking with Gregg when Larry Gibbons, who I knew long ago back in the day of Windsor Raceway, came over. We reminisced about the good ole’ days at Windsor and Hazel Park, both of which no longer exist. Larry asked me about Northville Downs, and I told him they were currently racing weekends into December.
Since the wind chill made it feel 50 degrees, I decided to end my Friday journey around the backstretch and head back to the office. I haven’t seen much of co-owners Heather Kemper, Lynne Meyers or Hannah Reynolds—I’ve seen plenty of Boss Kathy—this week. The now-retired Tom Charters, who was just elected into the Hall of Fame, stopped by the office for a second on his way to the track.
Gas prices still in the $2.50s, and again this morning when I went by the two side-by-side stations on Limestone near UK’s campus, I got a kick when one was at $2.33 a gallon and the other was $2.55.