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Backstretch With Gordon: Grand, 100 Grand!

October 04, 2017

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I'll get to yet another gorgeous morning in Lexington on Wednesday in a bit, but let's go back first to last night and the opening session of the Lexington Selected Yearling Sale at Fasig-Tipton. While the average may have dipped slightly, there were 54 horses of the 93 sold who topped $100,000. And congrats to my sponsors, Steve and Cindy Stewart's Hunterton Sales Agency, for leading all consignors with an average of $263,636 from nine sold.

I was starting to get ready to head over to Fasig-Tipton last night when the Hambletonian/Breeders Crown director of publicity Moira Fanning called about dinner, so I first met Moi and Tom Charters at Cracker Barrel near the sale pavilion.

We sat down and right after we ordered a gentleman came up and said "Hi stranger, good to see you, dinner is on me." And off he went. He moved so fast I don't think he really wants any recognition for his good deed so I will keep him as "anonymous." But I would greatly appreciate "anonymous" finding me at the races on Thursday afternoon so I can thank him. I looked for him last night at the sale, and Moira said she did too, but neither of us found him.

I arrived a few minutes before Hip 1 sold, and as I walked around the back ring it was almost like I was at a boxing match. I saw Chris Oakes and Al and Michelle Crawford on one side of the ring, almost directly across from the Jimmy Takter camp. Over on another side was Andy and Julie Miller, and nearby was Erv Miller, Nick Surick and Mike Anderson. The back area was full as others found their bidding areas. When I made my way all the way around and walked through the arena, I saw Myron Bell and Tony Alagna in their usual spot, and the Burke Brigade was also in their spot at the top.

The Hunterton Sales Agency-consigned Hip 11, a filly by Sweet Lou of the great mare Artistic Vision, went for $235,000. By then I had walked back out to the back ring and stood to the right of Team Takter. Nancy Johansson was close to me but she was busy looking at her notes. On my other side was Dave McDuffee and David Miller. Northwood Bloodstock Agency's Bob Boni came up next to me and said he was going to be bidding on Hip 21, so I watched a master in action.

Acting as agent, Bob purchased the Somebeachsomewhere colt for $150,000. Bob was pleased because he thought he was going to have to go higher to bring the pacer home. I told Bob that I acted as agent a long, long time ago in Michigan when Tom Wantz wanted a horse but didn't want to bid because the horse had "Wantz" in his name. Tom asked me to do his bidding and told me to go up to $6,000 (remember this was probably in 1982 or 1983 and in Michigan), and I was nervous. I can't remember if I had the first bid, but I do know I got the last bid at $5,500. Tom came immediately over and signed the slip. Bob made me feel better when he told me he was nervous when he first started buying horses also.

It seemed I was constantly saying hello to people. I saw Boss Kathy's sister, Sally Bolon and her friend Mikey (I hope I don't offend her but not sure how to spell Mikey). Sally asked me about a possible bourbon trail trip today and I told her the Woodford Reserve tour was well worth it. That was something I hadn't done until just a couple of years ago and was kicking myself I hadn't gone sooner.

Dave Menary walked over for a minute, and when I walked back inside I saw Preferred Equine's David Reid. David was pleased with the way the sale was going and then he mentioned the tragic situation in Las Vegas. Dave knows my affection for Vegas as we've have plenty of conversations over the years about my favorite city.

Andrew Cohen saw me standing at the glass and came over. Andrew asked what my first yearling sale was in Lexington and I told him it was back in 1998 when I took the job at The Horseman. He told me his first sale was in 2006. We discussed how the sale atmosphere has changed over the years. I mentioned the fewer number of buyers and he noted the higher prices.

The hip numbers were now approaching the 70s so I wanted to try and leave to watch some of the Yankees-Twins baseball game. I saw sale manager Randy Manges so I wanted to be sure I spoke to him for a few minutes. Somebeachsomewhere's trainer and co-owner Brent MacGrath and partner Garry Pye came over to say hello. Garry said he and Brent came down from the Maritimes with a film crew in tow as they are filming a documentary on the racing and stallion career of SBSW. Brent said I've already been captured on film and could make the final cut, and he pointed to a young lady with a camera behind me. A company out of Nova Scotia called East Link is putting together the one-hour documentary.

Before I left I wanted to make sure I checked with the Stewarts to see how things were going, and Steve said it was a pretty good sale. And as he always does on the opening night of the sale, Bill Haughton came over to check on gas prices. We chatted a couple of minutes and I told him I better start checking closer the prices as I was getting near empty.

As for this morning, the first person I saw walking into the track was Jimmy Takter, who told me he bought just two yearlings last night. Jimmy told me earlier he wanted to cut back next year. Jimmy then confirmed to me what I already knew, that Ariana G would race in the Filly Futurity on Sunday afternoon and not against the colts in the Kentucky Futurity.
I then went over to say hello to Bob Stewart, who was there with Chuck Sylvester and Ben Baillargeon. Joe Holloway was taking a horse to the track so I congratulated him on the Yankees victory last night. I didn't want to tell Joe I was rooting for the Twins though. I became friends long ago with former Twins manager Tom Kelly, so I called Tom yesterday afternoon to tell him I was cheering for the Twins.

Tom is still affiliated some with the ball club. He's also a big fan of harness racing and told me he has been doing some online wagering on The Red Mile races. When Tom retired as Twins manager the team gave him as a retirement gift a trip to Churchill Downs for the Kentucky Derby, but he had them change it to a trip to Pocono Downs for the Breeders Crown. When the Breeders Crowns were held at Colonial Downs in 1998 he came down on his own and helped with the post draw.

I know this is longer than usual but there was lots to catch up from last night. Thanks for reading once again. And gas is still in that same $2.27 range, although for some reason a station on Main Street near Tony's Steakhouse was at $2.49 last night.

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