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Backstretch With Gordon: Runnin' Roxie!

October 02, 2020

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I wasn’t sure what to think this morning at The Red Mile when Security Barbara told me my temperature was 35.3. She quickly explained that the thermometer was reading Celsius and she was unable to switch it back to Fahrenheit. The USTA’s Ken Weingartner had reached out to me for something this morning and I told him the story, and he did the conversion and said it was 95.5F.


What a gorgeous Friday morning in the Bluegrass. It was only in the low 40s when I got to the track, but the brilliant sunshine made it seem much warmer. High today only in the high 50s but if the sun stays out it will surely be a great afternoon. Today is the first of six afternoons of stakes racing over the next two weekends, and it sure will be different this year. Attendance is limited to 500 per day—advance reservations should be made by calling the track and speaking to Bessie—and the Jumbotron screen isn’t here. Handicapper Dave Brower is in town to give his daily picks for all the races, and he’ll be getting his exercise as he’ll also be heading to the winner’s circle for some post-race interviews.


Dave will of course be joined by announcer Gabe Prewitt, who returned to Lexington last night after spending a couple of days at Harrah’s Philadelphia in his new position of director of racing for the Caesar’s Entertainment racetracks. Gabe flew commercial, but I’m sure he’ll convince Joe Morris a private jet is needed for the future.


My first planned stop today was to see Chris Ryder and wish him a Happy Birthday! Bob Stewart and Chuck Sylvester were nearby so I stopped and chatted with them, and we got on the subject of blackjack. I had to give Bobby a blackjack lesson when he brought up splitting nines, and I told him the proper play is to split against anything the dealer shows except for a seven, 10 or ace.


When I made my way up the Ryder barn he was on the track, so Nicola took me over to see Bettor’s Wish. The 2019 Three-Year-Old Colt Pacer of the Year has been spending his nights out at Dunroven Farm, and they go out and pick him up in the morning. Nicola said Bettor’s Wish was all full of himself this morning when he realized the rest of the barn was full of females: Party Girl Hill, New Year and Stonebridge Soul. I hope Bettor’s Wish is feeling just as good tomorrow night in the Dayton Pacing Derby at Hollywood Dayton.


“He’s really happy with all these gals around,” Nicola said with a laugh.


In addition to son Patrick, helping out in the barn is Anouk Busch, who told me she’s been working in harness racing for 23 years and this is the first time she’s ever been to The Red Mile. Welcome Anouk to Kentucky!

I received a nice email from Timothy Murdock yesterday about Backstretch, and he wondered if I could glean some info about a caretaker. Good idea, so I decided to target Diane Lewis, who works for Joe Holloway. I made my way up to the barn and Diane was in the back giving a bath to Perfect Sting, the year’s fastest 2-year-old colt pacer who looks to extend his perfect winning streak to seven tomorrow in a Bluegrass division.


Here’s what Mr. Murdock wanted me to ask:

Who are you and where are you from? “I’m Diane Lewis and I’ve worked for Joe Holloway for four years. I was born in Monticello, N.Y., and later moved to Rosecroft, Md. Now I live in New Jersey.”


Who are your favorite horses? “Zero Tolerance and Dedi’s Dragon are two of my all-time favorites.”


Who are the strangest horses you’ve worked with? “I’ve had a few doozies. Back when I worked with John Wagner we had a couple who were looney-bins.”


So this brings me to today’s photo. After I got done talking to Diane, Joe offered to drive me up top in his golf cart. Off we went, and Roxie chased. Joe stopped, tried to shoo Roxie away, and when he hit the gas pedal here came Roxie again. Even picking up speed Roxie was able to catch up. When we got up to the top, Linda Toscano came by in her golf cart and coaxed Roxie to join her, but that lasted about two seconds and here she came again nipping at our heels (insert laughing out loud here). Joe let me off and as soon as he did, Roxie jumped back in with Linda and off they went. It was me she was following, not Joe!


Before I left the track I stopped to see Bessie and pick up a couple programs for today’s racing. I went in and saw Lexington Selected Yearling Sales Co. sales manager Randy Manges, who is in his final preparations for the sale that starts Monday night at Fasig-Tipton. Sherry Lane, a former co-worker here at The Horseman is now an office assistant, so it was nice to see her as well.


Racing starts today at 1 p.m., and continues tomorrow and Sunday, and then again next weekend. Keeneland opens today, but no spectators allowed there. The University of Kentucky plays a home football game tomorrow at 4 p.m. against Mississippi, with attendance limited to 12,000. This morning I was lamenting how different this will be as absent will be plenty of Canadians and Europeans, but then Boss Kathy called and told me that Adam Strom, my favorite photographer who lives in Sweden, has received approval to make the trip. So Adam will be here next weekend!!!


With the yearling sale starting Monday night it will give me a chance to see my gracious sponsors, Steve and Cindy Stewart of Hunterton Farm and Hunterton Sales Agency. Make sure you get out there early on Tuesday as well as cocktails will be served at 5:30 p.m., which leads into Breedings For A Cause, where you can bid on a 2021 breeding to one of these six top stallions: Father Patrick; Greenshoe; JK Endofanera; Swan For All; Tall Dark Stranger; and Walner. Cocktails will be served in the Kentucky Room.


Remember, submissions for the Name The Deck contest have to be in by 8 a.m. tomorrow. I’ve got a bunch of names already, maybe you have one too? Send your suggestion to me at gwaterstone@harnessracing.com and I will pass it on to Cindy Solverson. The winner receives some nice vintage racing hats donated by George Segal.


And gas continues to be boring as the prices haven’t changed: In the $2.10s all across town. Now……let’s get racing!!!!!

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