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Backstretch with Gordon: Where's GameDay?

October 05, 2013

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It may be Saturday, Oct. 5, but it sure feels like July in Lexington as the hot temperatures continue. Nothing changes today as it's already hot and humid as I sit in the press box at The Red Mile looking over the gorgeous racetrack and listening to songs from Rocky Horror Picture Show playing over the loudspeaker.
I actually looked for ESPN GameDay here this morning as I figured they had to be in town. I thought, if ESPN is out there covering football match-ups of top-ranked teams, why not be at The Red Mile today? After all, Saturday's card does football one better in that there is a race on the card that is a match-up of THREE ranked teams--I mean horses. We've got number 2 Captaintreacherous, number 6 Vegas Vacation and number 18 Sunshine Beach lining up together in Race 6, the first division of the Tattersalls. Alabama-Texas A&M has nothing on this three-way pairing.
It was yet another great racing card on Friday. How about Muscle Network setting a new world record for 2-year-old colt trotters of 1:53.2 in his maiden-breaking victory? The freshman gelding trotter Outburst backed up his world record set last week with a second stakes score. Yannick Gingras continued his bromance with Gabe Prewitt as he followed up his stakes hat trick on Thursday with another win with Allstar Rating. Have you looked at the photo of the five-horse blanket finish in an International Stallion division? Not only is it amazing the five were inches apart, but also that there was no dead heat in there anywhere. And the day was capped off by Precocious Beauty's world record-equaling 1:50.1 win in the last ISS division.
Before I left the track I decided to make my way back to trainer Gregg McNair's barn to congratulate him on Precocious Beauty's victory. I was hoping Kentucky-based breeder-owner Jim Avritt was back there but he was gone by the time I arrived. Greg told me that Avritt's law office was shut down yesterday so the entire staff could come out to the races, and that they were headed for a celebration dinner. I passed on Greg's first offering of a beer, but then he persisted so I grabbed one, and I was glad I did because I was pretty hot. I chatted a bit with local horseman Randy Jerrell and Jack Gray, who are in the same barn. Greg's son Doug was there too.
As I left I saw Bob McIntosh and his wife, Patty, and John Campbell and his wife, Paula, at McIntosh's barn. I walked over and said hello and we talked a few minutes. John and Bob were reminiscing about the old days around Windsor Raceway so it was nice to hear those stories. I told John one of my favorite moments of the meet came when he won a first-week late-closer with Bax Of Life, who is trained by another former Windsor mainstay, Jerry Duford. I was able to get John and Jerry in a picture together in the winner's circle, and added another Windsor vet, Greg Wright, so it was a trifecta bonus for me.
My legs are starting to show signs of weariness after all the walking I've done these past two weeks. Oh yes, probably again staying out past 1 last night has something to do with it today. After I went home and cleaned up and rested a few, I made my way to Logans for dinner and to watch the Tigers play the Athletics, which started at 9:37. There were several horsemen in there. I sat with photographer John Sannucci. I ran into a problem when Logans closed at midnight and it was still the 7th inning, so I quickly headed to Campus Pub where I watched the close-out of the Tigers victory a few minutes after 1 a.m. And yes, that's when I called it a night. Gonna have to do it again tonight as the Tigers game starts at 9, which conflicts on the TV as Kentucky plays at South Carolina at 7:30 tonight.
I made it to the track this morning and Randy in the parking lot had a spot saved for me in the front row. I told Randy that we still have to work on lines getting painted in the lot to make his life a ton easier.
The first person I saw this morning in the barn area was Brent MacGrath, who races Melmerby Beach in the last division of the ISS for 2-year-old colt pacers. Brent re-introduced me to his partners on the horse, Reg Petipas and Stuart Rath, who were also part of the group that owned 2008 Horse of the Year Somebeachsomewhere, the sire of Melmerby Beach. A couple days ago I asked Brent where Melmerby Beach is, and he told me in his home province of Nova Scotia. At the time he said he liked to go boating there, but this morning I ribbed him a bit when we talked about it again and I said that was where he kept a couple of his boats. That got a rise from Brent's wife, Rhonda, who asked where those boats really were. 
I made a pass through the barn area and it was pretty quiet. I'm looking forward to the great card and another chance to catch up with some people I haven't seen in awhile. Some people I see only once a year and it comes during Grand Circuit action in Lexington. One of those is Kim Dressler and his girlfriend, Angel Roberts, who made their way here all the way from Alberta, where Kim trains a small stable. Kim told me the other day that he is an NFL pool in Alberta where you have to try and pick a guaranteed loser each week. He said although he's still perfect in his losing picks, he wanted me to give him some help this weekend. I told Kim I'd go with the Jets on Monday night as they play Atlanta in Atlanta.
Maybe we'll see a new world record today, wouldn't that be something? We've had a few so far and that's a credit to the track crew overseen by the Coon brothers. I thanked crew member Ed Gorgei the other day for his work on the surface that has been lightning fast. Announcer Sam McKee walked past a few minutes ago on his way to his booth and he came over for a second and asked me to predict a time for the big match-up of ranked horses. Sam told me he expects a new world record of 1:46.2, and that if the conditions are ripe, "They'll go in 1:45.4," he said.
Don't forget too that the annual fundraiser for Floral Hall, the historic Round Barn at The Red Mile, will be held Sunday morning at 10 am, with silent and live auctions. I've seen the list and there are some great items up for bidding. Elsewhere on the homepage of harnessracing.com you can see the full list.
The weather forecast for Sunday keeps changing, although rain is in the forecast. It's just a matter of when. The Weather Channel had thunderstorms in the morning and then cloudy and windy in the afternoon, while the local stations are predicting afternoon storms. Finally, gas prices haven't budged the past few days, still hanging at $3.17 or so. I haven't been past that $3.09 station from the other day though.
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