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Backstretch with Gordon: Last call

October 06, 2013

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It's the last day of Grand Circuit racing 2013 at The Red Mile and there's some light rain falling in Lexington as I sit in the press box and write this at 10:30 a.m. Yes, it's a gloomy Sunday morning and the radar shows more rain--heavy rain--is in the near future. Hopefully it will move through and we can wrap up the two weeks with some great racing.
I just talked to trackman Dan Coon on the phone and he told me they've had time to scrape the top off the track and do some work, enough that Dan told me the surface will be rated "good" when today's Kentucky Futurity card gets underway. An under-saddle race is scheduled for 12:35 p.m., with yesterday's last race, which was canceled when the monsoon hit the area and dumped about two inches of rain in a short time, raced as a non-bettor immediately after. 
Going back to Saturday's card, how about that effort by Shebestingin in her Garnsey division? A world-record 1:47, the fastest ever by a female pacer, regardless of age. I saw trainer Joe Holloway sprint to the winner's circle after the race, and I made my way down as well. Joe said he'd challenge me to a 100-yard dash, but we'd be so slow we'd need a sundial to time us. I saw driver David Miller a bit later and I told him I thought that record would stand for awhile as the boys have been shooting at 1:46.4 for some time. David said don't be so sure of that, and it wouldn't surprise him if.....
I told Joe H. also that he put pressure on the Captaintreacherous group and the rest of the horses in the next race, which was the first Tattersalls division, with Shebestingin's effort. I told him everybody expects The Captain, or whoever won the race, to go in 1:44 and change.
We didn't quite get the 1:44 mile, but we did get a tremendous race as Captaintreacherous and Vegas Vacation fought tooth and nail down the stretch. The Captain showed his determination yet again as he held off Vegas Vacation to win by a neck in 1:47.2. The winning camp couldn't have been any happier in the winner's circle.
After staying to the northwest of the track for some time, the dark clouds began to close in on The Red Mile soon after, and we got to see some spectacular lightning bolts around. That prompted the decision to delay the races for a bit. When we resumed it was still raining, and then the last division of the International Stallion for 2-old-colt pacers was raced under a deluge. The first division that went off hours earlier went in 1:49.2, while this split was clocked in 1:57.1. Driver Corey Callahan told me it was about the worst conditions he had ever raced in. With no end in sight for the rain, the decision was made to cancel the last race, a late-closer, and re-schedule it for today.
While we waited the delay, there was even a mini-tornado that came up on the infield training track. Meadowlands general manager Jason Settlemoir came upstairs to the press box to say hello, and he was headed up even higher to see announcer Sam McKee. But Jason quickly did a turnaround when he realized he'd have to walk across an open roof in the pouring rain.
I got soaked leaving the track, but made my way home to get some rest before a late, late dinner. I was invited by Myron Bell to join the big dinner party at Dudley's, with a reservation of 10:30 p.m. I had planned on watching the Tigers playoff game, but decided with the team up 1-0 in the series and Verlander pitching, I'd make the big sacrifice as it was nice to be invited.
Joining in the dinner were John and Barbara Fodera, and Chris Ryder and his wife, Nicola, were also invited. They were sitting at a separate table since the group was so big that one wouldn't do. Marvin Katz was also there and he moved about the tables. Another grouping was Frank Antonacci Sr. and David Reid, who were joined by Thoroughbred trainer Wesley Ward, who trains the duo's horses they race as Ice Wine Stable.
My big table included Myron and his wife, Stephanie, trainer Tony Alagna, Joe Sbrocco, Cindy Solverson and her husband (who sat at the Fodera table because of space), DRF's Derick Giwner, and Nick Salvi, who brought a lovely lady who he met in church while in Lexington. It was a great time--I had the short ribs, substituting the squash for the garlic mashed potatoes--but also a late one as we didn't leave the restaurant until 1 a.m. The only thing that went wrong is that I had been receiving texts from a friend in Detroit giving me baseball updates, and I found out the Tigers lost 1-0 in the bottom of the ninth. 
I did ask David Reid how Saturday night's final session of the yearling sale went and he gave me a thumbs-up. The final numbers show a 13-percent increase, with a gross dollar rise of $3 million from last year's numbers,
It's been a great two weeks as I wrap things up. I got to see a lot of old friends and meet some new ones. I had a chance to meet my local state representative Susan Westrom, who ironically is a neighbor of my friend Larry, who is the commissioner of my fantasy football league. I also met Richard Scott, a competitor in the Horseplayer's Association of North America charity handicapping contest I'm participating in. My former co-worker, Greg Schuler, even made the trip with his wife Barb. I almost didn't recognize Greg though with that thing he's growing on his lip.
Hey, I even met Governor Steve Beshear along the way, although that was on Kentucky Sires Stakes Super Night, when Walnut Hall Ltd.'s Alan Leavitt was gracious enough to introduce me. My Amish friends, who I haven't seen in a couple years, were also here yesterday and once again sitting below me in the press box. Every time I went down to the winner's circle they'd give me a funny question to ask the winning connections. And then I'd come back up and give them a funny answer I made up.
I learned that this year is the 50th consecutive Kentucky Futurity card attended by Communicators Corner inductee Dean Hoffman. Actually, that's professor Dean Hoffman as he is headed out to the University of Aritzona to teach class in their Race Track Industry Program. Dean was in the press box yesterday and he'll be joining me shortly today, after he gets done spending his cash at the Round Barn auction. Wonder if he'll make it for 51? Also, congrats to track photographer Nigel Soult, who was given a big round of applause a couple days ago when Sam announced it was Nigel's 30th year at The Red Mile.
So now it's time for last call. Those were two words I heard more than I should have over these last two weeks. Once again, a HUGE thanks to Steve and Cindy Stewart's Hunterton Sales Agency for sponsoring me. They had a great sale again, so congratulations. Thanks to The Red Mile's Joe Costa and Shannon Cobb for allowing me to sign for my lunch, knowing the hours I was at the track. And a big thanks to Boss Kathy for giving me the leeway to hang out in the backstretch every morning, which lasted a bit longer this year because of the great weather we had (until yesterday and today).
If you're heading out of town, remember to not get gas at those stations near I-75 out by Fasig-Tipton as they're about a quarter more a gallon than in town. Prices still hovering around $3.16 or so. Thanks for all the nice comments and thanks for reading. It's greatly appreciated.
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