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Backstretch With Gordon: the track & the sale

October 06, 2020
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All things considered, Monday night’s opening session of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale was pretty good. The session may have been down 16.3 percent from last year’s record-breaking numbers, but it still was the second-best opening night in history. And it was a really good night for my sponsors, Steve and Cindy Stewart’s Hunterton Sales Agency/Hunterton Farm as they sold 18 for just under $3 million. I was nearby a few times when Hunterton horses sold, and I saw Steve do some fist pumping in joy!
 
Hunterton consigned the sale topper, Hip 89 Kadena, the second filly out of world champion Mission Brief. There was some lively bidding for the daughter of Walner, with Marcus Melander getting the final say for Anders Strom’s Courant Inc. at $725,000.
 
I arrived at Fasig-Tipton for last night’s sale at 6:30, and instead of driving straight, unless you had already been on the grounds earlier in the day and had your temperature taken and wristband put on, you had to turn right. Security asked for my name, took my temperature (again, just 97.3) and put the wristband on. There were far fewer cars than normal, but after I parked and walked—a short distance since I could get much closer now—I was pleasantly surprised as it seemed a nice crowd.
 
I did a lap, including a look in the big tent where there were tables and the ability to bid, before I landed in the Kentucky Room, where I joined Moira Fanning and Judy Wilson for a glass of wine. John Campbell came by for a few minutes and just as he left we were joined by Boss Kathy and then later by Paul Kelley and Anthony MacDonald. I waved hello to Lella Montgomery, who I’ve known since our days together at Hazel Park Raceway, among many others.
 
Bidding had begun so I walked around where I found myself having trouble recognizing people because of the masks. I saw Linda Toscano and Andy Cohen, who had a nice set-up at a table near the back ring. I saw Doug and Beth Yontz, from Anvil & Lace, so I caught up with them for a few minutes. Northwood Bloodstock’s Bob Boni was nearby so I went over and asked how the Yankees were doing, and the sale. Bob gave me a thumbs-up that the sale was going good.
 
Brian Brown was in his usual spot at the back of the back ring, so I stood with him for a few minutes. I looked behind me and saw that all the tables were taken out of the bar area, a casualty of the pandemic.
 
I went inside the arena and that’s where I bumped into first John Fodera and then Winnie Morgan Nemeth and trainer Melanie Wrenn, the wife of Peter Wrenn, who I’ve also known forever. In fact, I told Melanie that—and it hard to believe it’s been that long—we’ve known each other for 40 years. They were with Trish Hammond, who made my night as she told me that her father, Leonard, reads Backstretch every day, and was the one who told her the saga of loose horse Sea Of Life on Sunday afternoon. Thanks Leonard for reading.
 
Somebody said hello but I didn't recognize him, but it was Justin MacEachern, the 2016 Caretaker of the Year. I haven't seen Justin in a while, so I had an excuse. I started to make my way out and I ran into a person whose name I cannot write because he’s exceeded his quota of mentions already this year, who was with one of my local friends, Kameron, who I first met serving at Harry’s Palomar. Kameron had also been doing double duty at the Thoroughbred sales, and now she came over to the good side after getting hired by Diamond Creek Farm to do the same at Fasig-Tipton.
 
Kam and name withheld convinced me to join them at a local restaurant for some quick food and beverage. Since the restaurant kind of bent the rules a bit in staying open just a wee bit longer, I’ll also withhold the name. But plenty of people arrived after the sale to get some late-night nourishment. And I was hungry because after stuffing myself Sunday night at OBC Kitchen with Moira, Judy, Dave Brower, Howard Perlmutter and Sarah Lauren, I hadn’t eaten much all day. I'll confess that I did have a small bacon-wrapped filet for lunch at home—I had the afternoon off to regenerate for week two—since it was getting near expiration date and I didn’t want to put it in the freezer.
 
It was chilly again this morning at The Red Mile, but it’s going to warm up into the low 70s by the end of the day. Almost 80 tomorrow! And then remaining in the mid 70s all week, but now it looks like a pretty good chance of some rain from what will be the remnants of Hurricane Delta on the weekend. Hope the storm moves slow and waits until after Sunday’s card.
 
I did a few laps and stopped in to say hello to Paul Kelley, who was in his office with assistant Rene Sejthen. They were watching television and when I noticed the channel was CBS New York, Rene told he has Roku and a million channels, including RTN. He said having RTN was nice because he could keep an eye on the races here and know when he had to take horses out to warm up. As I was leaving I came upon Marcus Johansson, who is now the racing manager for Diamond Creek.
 
Remember tonight’s cocktail hour at 5:30 p.m. in the Kentucky Room at Fasig-Tipton, followed by the Breedings For A Cause auction and then the second night of the yearling sale.
 
Gas is becoming boring as prices haven’t budged! See you tonight at the sale!   
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