Backstretch With Gordon: Darn you Nate!
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Darn you Nate! I know we need rain badly in Lexington as we haven't had a drop now in 17 days, but it looks like the streak will soon be over, courtesy of Hurricane Nate. According to weather.com, we're in for another terrific 85-degree afternoon at The Red Mile, but around midnight it's supposed to storm. But……they're calling for a cloudy and windy afternoon on Sunday, with zero percent chance of rain until about 7 p.m. Let's keep our fingers crossed they are correct, but we all know that forecasters miss about half the time. Let's hope whatever is left from Nate goes somewhere else.
Speaking of half the time, that's about what I did yesterday afternoon as the guest handicapper on the pre-game show with Gabe Prewitt. I had four winners from the nine races, but I really can't brag too much as they were all heavy chalk. A couple of races I had a toss-up between two horses I went the wrong way. And yes, I missed the Pick 4 that had a nice carryover and an additional $40,000 or so, but I only played a small ticket.
I must not have done too badly though as I was asked to come back again this afternoon to give my prognostications. I had my picks already submitted for the Horseplayers Association of North American contest run by Allan Schott, so I just re-analyzed what I did so I can make some comments that are somewhat intelligent.
Before I go on, I have to quickly jump ahead to today as it's big news. It was whispered to me last night that Huntsville might have gotten hurt, so I checked with trainer and co-owner Ray Schnittker this morning and indeed, Huntsville is out of Sunday's Tattersalls. Ray told me he'd know more about the injury next week.
I have a bruise on my back today courtesy of Sam Bowie. I was on the second level behind the boxes reading a text I had just received when I felt a nudge from behind. "Oh, excuse me," the seven-foot-tall Sam said with a laugh. One of the great things about being in Lexington is having the chance to become friends with Sam, as well as Cotton Nash, another of the all-time greats who played basketball at the University of Kentucky.
After the races ended I immediately headed to Portofino for dinner. Howie Okusko invited me a couple days ago so I met up with him and his wife, Jessica, along with Larry Rathbone, Abe Stoltzfus and Doug and Rosalind Paul. I greatly appreciated the invite and I greatly appreciated the great conversation. We talked about horses of course, but a few other things away from race. Doug picked up the tab and I can't thank him enough. And since I couldn't get the short ribs the night before at Nick Ryan's, I was glad to see them on the menu at Portofino. Abe and I both ordered the short ribs and we agreed they were outstanding.
I made my way to the sale afterward and as I walked at the back of the back ring I heard somebody call my name. It was Dave Springer, a longtime fan from just north of Dayton, Ohio. Dave was there with his wife, his sister and her husband, and he said they were just there soaking up the atmosphere. I asked Dave if he had bought one yet or was planning too, and he replied he loves just being a fan. Dave made me feel good when he told me how much he enjoys reading Backstretch.
I saw Steve Oldford, Joe Pennachio and Dein Spriggs, who all drove in the two amateur races earlier on the day at The Red Mile. I told Steve how nice it was that he gave up his drive in the first amateur race to Spriggs, whose horse was scratched. Joe Pennachio won that race and he came right back to win the second race. Steve owns the second winner, Utopia, and he told me he auctioned off the drive to his peers to raise money for the Hall of Fame & Museum. Joe had the highest bid, and he also had to come up big-time as his sweep led to him having to pick up last night's dinner tab.
I saw David Reid and we talked about how good the sale was doing. I tried to also say hello to Randy Manges but he was on the phone and I couldn't get his attention. I did see Steve and Cindy Stewart, and I asked Steve his thoughts, and he told me, "The sale is strong." I congratulated Steve on Hunterton selling last night's sale-topper, a Trixton colt who brought $180,000.
I made a couple more laps around Fasig-Tipton and left as I had a commitment at a local pub for bartender Kristen, who is moving on after working there for more than 10 years. Some of you may know her as she also for a time did double-duty at the now-shuttered Logan's. While I thought the party might go on until dawn, I gave Kristen a hug (not goodbye as we are also friends) around midnight and made my way home. I didn't want to have bloodshot eyes on TV this afternoon.
Gas still in that same $2.27-2.34 range. Remember UK plays Missouri tonight at Commonwealth---I mean Kroger Field—at 7:30. Racing today at The Red Mile and Keeneland and the football game, the city will be buzzing. Especially if 10-point favorite UK wins to improve to 5-1.