Backstretch With Gordon: The heat goes on
September 29, 2019
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It’s Day 5 of this year’s Backstretch With Gordon, which is sometimes imitated but never duplicated. Thanks again greatly to Steve and Cindy Stewart and Hunterton Farm and Hunterton Sales Agency for the kind sponsorship.
I know I’m sounding like a broken record, but records are being broken in Lexington—and not just on the track. Yes, I’m still talking about the weather. The heat goes on.
Yesterday’s high was a record 94 degrees, and at 10 a.m. this morning it was already 83, higher than the average temperature for Sept. 29. I got excited at first this morning when I thought a surprise cold front was coming through as my weather app on my phone showed a high of 77 today, but then I realized I was looking at the Las Vegas forecast. The high in Lexington is predicted at 94 again.
Breeders Crown purses aren’t the only things that received a hike this weekend as the highs here on Monday and Tuesday were bumped. Supposed to be 96 on Monday and 97 on Tuesday, which would be an all-time October high in Lexington.
Tuesday is the first night of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale at Fasig-Tipton, and as someone who wished to be anonymous said to me this morning on the backstretch, “Preferred Equine better order more ice cream because they’re gonna need it!”
Another world record was set on the track in Saturday’s first race when Elver Hanover won a Bluegrass division in 1:48.3. The time smashed the previous world mark for 2-year-old gelding pacers and set a new record for all 2-year-old male pacers. It also equaled the freshman mark of 1:48.3 set last year by Warrawee Ubeaut at The Red Mile. Yannick Gingras drove Warrawee Ubeaut to her record score, and he was in the bike behind Elver Hanover on Saturday. Both filly and gelding are trained by Ron Burke.
Elver Hanover is co-owned by Hanover Farm’s Dr. Bridgette Jablonsky, and she was sitting by herself three boxes over from where Boss Kathy and I were. Dr. J was rooting her horse on home mightily, and was rewarded with the world-record effort that made the son of Yankee Cruiser eight-for-eight in his young career.
I tried to limit my walking yesterday afternoon since it was a bit steamy out, so it gave me a chance to say hello to Bob Heyden and Ellen Taylor when they walked by. I later saw Heather Vitale, who had just got to town and came straight to the track. I asked Heather about Shartin N, who is the barn of her parents, JoAnn and Jim King Jr., and she told me the great pacing mare will be in action next weekend at The Red Mile, but not before she races in a Tuesday qualifier with her dad doing the driving. George Segal also came by and said hello and shook my hand. George told me he was heading home to Chicago in the morning but will be returning in a couple of days.
And thanks again to Bluegrass Staking's Mike and Teena Freibert, who served a great lunch to the horsemen. Delicous pulled pork and chicken sandwiches. And I received an extra chicken wing that was terrific.
I had dinner plans at Nick Ryan’s last night, and after some shuffling of the participants throughout the day, our group ended up at six. At six o’clock. My final group included Moira Fanning, Judy Wilson, Mark Short, Wally Mann and the late Mary Lou Dondarski’s son BJ. My crab cakes were delicious. When we left I walked up and down Jefferson Street looking for my car, and was about ready to report it stolen to the Lexington Police Dept. when I remembered I parked it on a side street and not on Jefferson. I’m going to blame it on the bourbon drinks at Goodfella’s, where I stopped for a few on my way to dinner (go ahead and laugh, it’s OK).
I saw on Facebook that “The Young Whippersnapper,” as I used to call him when he interned for The Horseman while he was attending UK, Jay Hochstetler was in town, so I texted him to see if he’d be around the barn area this morning to check in on his horse Bro, who is a Bluegrass division this afternoon. Jay texted he’d be around in about 15 minutes, so I did a couple laps around the barn area and made my way to the Hochstleter barn, which is next to the George Ducharme barn.
George and Jay’s father, Homer, were there, and Homer told me Jay would be right back as he went down to the detention barn to see Bro. Jay soon got back and he told me he was looking forward to racing Bro today. Jay said the horse is really coming around after recovering after putting a leg through a gate earlier in the year. Bro, who won the New York Sires Stakes consolation last time out, starts from post 1 in a field that includes Captain Crunch and Working Ona Mystery. Maybe it’s an omen, but Bro drew post 1 in the original draw, and after the three Bluegrass divisions had to be redrawn because of a conflict of ownership, he landed the same post.
By the way, Jay will be back in town on May 24, where he and Amy Narotsky will be getting married in ceremonies at the historic Round Barn on the grounds of The Red Mile.
While I was wandering waiting for Jay, I heard Bob Stewart yell over at me, so I headed his way, where he was with his wife, Lynda. Bob wanted to know why I ignored him this morning, but I told him to not take it personal and I was deep in thought, trying to come up with story ideas.
Domenico Cecere came by and looked up and said, “Enjoy the clouds.” Lindy Farms assistant Philip Sonsteby also came by and said hello. Philip asked why I was on the track yesterday, and I replied that Boss Kathy and I were headed to the winner’s circle to present the trophy for a race sponsored by The Horseman And Fair World.
After I left Jay, I was a bit hungry so I went up to see if there were any donuts at Linda Toscano’s barn, and when I got there Andy Cohen was also sitting out front and he said no donuts, but to grab a bagel. I went into the bag, took out a bagel, and then I was joined by Linda’s dog, Bailey. As I walked away from the barn with bagel in hand, I had Bailey in tow, and it wasn’t until I finally gave him a small piece of the bagel that I was able to shake loose.
I walked back up to head out and a couple of Tony Alagna’s guys came by and said hello, and I also saw Howie Okusko. Howie asked what I did last night, and when I asked the same, he said he and Jessica had dinner at Winchell’s on Southland.
I also saw Ellen Mulinix, who was loading up the truck to bring their 2-year-old colt pacer Mocha On The Rocks back to their northern Ohio farm. Mocha On The Rocks was making a nice move in the last turn yesterday and it appeared he’d be no worse than second, but the longshot flattened out and finished fifth. Ellen said driver Scott Zeron told her husband, Jim, that he too thought a big check was coming. Scotty told Jim that the colt has the talent though, so I think big things will come next year as yesterdays’ race was it for the year for Mocha On The Rocks.
OK, time to go as I have to set my football lineup in my fantasy league. Be nice, I traded Davante Adams as part of a multi-player deal that got me Deandre Hopkins shortly before last Thursday night’s game, and Adams had a monster game. Hopefully Hopkins will too today for me. And I have my fingers crossed as I took Kyler Murray (who I needed as replacement for Big Ben) out of the lineup for Daniel Jones. Go Giants!
Gas prices still the same, as again I saw one station at $2.59 and another at $2.24. Happy price hunting! And Happy Birthday Jimmy Takter! Also, if you see George Teague Jr. or Trace Tetrick around anywhere, wish them Happy Birthday as well.