Backstretch With Gordon: Quiz anybody?
September 26, 2019
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Day 2 of Backstretch With Gordon began early for me as I woke up at 5:15 a.m. I got up and ran to the window like a kid on Christmas morning so I could look outside and see wet pavement from the predicted overnight rain. Never happened. While it did drizzle for about a second an hour later, that doesn’t count. So we are now in Day 30 of the dry spell in Lexington. It’s so dry here I had fish knocking at my door this morning asking for a drink.
It is a very warm morning in Lexington as the temperature was 74 degrees when I arrived at The Red Mile promptly at 8. My photo above is of Quizzer, and if you have to ask why the name you need to look a bit closer at the picture. Quizzer is a 2-year-old pacer in the Brian Brown Stable who is owned by Red Mile announcer Gabe Prewitt in partnership with Jim McLaughlin, Matt Cuddahee and Austin Luttrell. Gabe and Jim bred the son of A Rocknroll Dance, and I remember Gabe telling me before how easy the name came to be.
Austin was at Brian’s barn this morning and Quizzer had just returned from a stroll around the track as he’s in to go on Saturday in a late-closer (Race 2). Pun intended, Austin agreed with me when I said Quizzer has been a big puzzle this year. He’s been a bit erratic, and when he wasn’t, he was saddled with outside posts. Quizzer made a break at the start of the Standardbred last Wednesday at Delaware, and Austin said it was a result of his head knocking the gate.
Speaking of Delaware, I need to backtrack and publicly thank Team Teague for having the 2015 Horse of the Year Wiggle It Jiggleit return after a three-year absence and race on Jug day. As I told George Teague, I was thrilled to finally have the chance to see WIJI at Delaware since the only Jug I’ve missed since forever was the won he won in 2015 as I had some sinus surgery scheduled that day. WIJI finished second last Thursday and I see he’s back in to go on Monday at Harrington.
OK, back to The Red Mile, where shortly upon my arrival trainer Linda Toscano came by on a golf cart and offered a ride. I accepted and we rode back to her barn and chatted. I told her I was honored that I was being driven around by a Hall of Famer. Her stalls this year are next to Joe Holloway’s, so I stopped to see Joe, who was sitting in his office. As I was walking out I saw Paul Kelley, who was across the way, so I made my way over to see him. Ray Schnittker was also there helping bathe one of his horses.
I saw Nancy Johansson coming off the track so I went over to say hello. Nancy told me her dad, Jimmy Takter, was in the car on his way to Lexington for a Friday arrival. Jimmy told me a couple weeks ago that he didn’t expect to make the trip because of surgery to remove a tumor on his spinal cord, but doctors changed protocol last week and put him on medicine instead. Nancy said Jimmy feels good enough to make the trip, and remember his birthday is on Sunday.
I saw John Butenschoen, who told me it’s a relaxing meet for him as he only has four horses on the grounds. John said it was quiet enough that he was able to take his wife out for a nice dinner last night and just enjoy the evening.
Dani Copeland was working outside of the barn of Melanie and Peter Wrenn so I went over to chat with her for a second. Dani is the daughter of one of my longtime friends, Michigan Hall of Famer Vince Copeland, who is now based in Delaware. I played for a few minutes with Theo the dog, and Dani also introduced me to Trotter the goat. Yes, the goat is named Trotter. He didn’t do much but guard a stall so he wasn’t much fun.
I saw Dr. Andy Roberts and said it must be a busy time for him. Andy replied it’s been busy for a while now since the Kentucky Sires Stakes season got underway.
I started to make my way out and saw Alicia Ritter, who does the licensing for the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission, so we chatted for a minute. Trainer Terry Deters, who I've known a long, long time, was talking to Nick Salvi on the fence so I went over to say hello to both of them. Cindy Solverson, Director of Sponsorships at the Red Mile, was trackside and she reminded me that the TV piece that Tony Alagna did yesterday with local personality DeAnn Stephens will air this afternoon on CBS affiliate WKYT (Channel 27) at 4:20 and 4:50. With a 1 p.m post and nine races today, the card will be done in plenty of time. However, I have a hunch horsemen will be heading out to look at yearlings since the shift to afternoon posts for the first week this year after it being at night in past years may make it tough on time management.
In one final look at the weather, while it was warm this morning it was still expected to hit a high of “only” 82. Things will crank up tomorrow as a string of 90-degree days will begin and continue all the way through next Thursday.
And the Marathon station near The Red Mile must have read yesterday’s Backstretch as I believe the price dropped substantially as it was down to $2.39 a gallon this morning.