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Monday Backstretch With Gordon

October 01, 2012
HOME PRINT

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Two words I never want to use in the same sentence are jacket and umbrella, but I have no choice this morning. I had to wear a jacket and carry an umbrella because it is yet another cool, damp and dreary day in Lexington. After a sunny Sunday the rain has returned and so did my back-up shoes as I traipsed around The Red Mile's backstretch.

Speaking of back-ups, let's back up to Sunday. There were several nicely-done winning efforts, including the world-record performance of Check Me Out. It's incredible that her 1:51.2 effort was the fourth time she has bested 1:52 this year.

With the stakes divisions spaced out on the card, I had a chance to walk around a bit. I was sitting in an apron box talking with Peter Arrigenna, the trainer and co-owner of Yonkers Trot winner Archangel, when I heard a groan in the next box. It was New Yorker Steve Pratt, the trainer and owner of the 2-year-old filly Best Babe, who won several New York Sires Stakes races this year and finished a close fourth in the final. Steve was wearing a Buffalo Bills shirt and he was receiving texts on the progress of the game against New England.

I had checked the NFL scores before I came down—just because there's racing doesn't mean I can't keep an eye on my fantasy players—and the game was 21-21. In the matter of less than one race, the Patriots suddenly were up 42-21. That was the cause of Steve's groan.

I continued to hear the buzz about the disqualification of Odds On Equuleus on Saturday night. A few people made a comment to me on my take in yesterday's Backstretch, and I appreciated their approval. It will certainly be interesting to see what transpires during the appeal process. If you haven't yet seen the race, or want to watch it again, the video is still on our homepage in the video box; just click Rockin Amadeus, who was the placed-first winner.

Following the races there was a Kentucky Hall of Fame gathering in the historic Round Barn. Kentucky Harness Horsemen's Association president Bob Stewart—who filed a complaint with me that he had been unjustifiably not been mentioned once in a 2012 Backstretch column, so are you happy now Bob?—first gave a President's Award to State Sen. Damon Thayer. Damon is a Republican who has gone against the grain of his party in trying to pass legislation for expanding gaming in Kentucky. Back in another life as PR director at Hazel Park I knew Damon, who briefly worked at Detroit Race Course in the same capacity. Damon also worked alongside Sam McKee, so it was nice they had a chance to catch up for the first time in years. Damon said he will always be on the side of harness racing, which drew a round of applause from the crowd.

The late Bill Napier, who was the longtime executive director of the horsemen's association, was then formally inducted into the Kentucky Hall of Fame. His wife, Janet, spoke briefly, and she was followed by Bob Duncan, one of Bill's partners in the business who also drove the starting car for many years at The Red Mile, who did not speak briefly. Bob told a few tales about Bill which brought about much laughter. Another who spoke was attorney David Franklin, who also spilled the beans about some of Bill's life and career.
 
Boss Kathy left the Round Barn and went to Malone's with her husband, Dan, to have dinner with a group of Australians in town for the racing. Kathy said there were quite a few horsemen there, including Trond Smedshammer, who hurt his back earlier in the day when the bike he used to drive Solvato to a second-place finish with in the second-race, a Bluegrass division, broke in two soon past the wire. Trond has had back issues in the past, and he told Kathy he was still feeling a bit sore. Trond had two more drives on the card following the incident, but turned over the lines to Yannick Gingras, who drove Chilitodayhotamale to a Bluegrass win, and to Brian Sears, who directed Arch Madness to a second-place finish in an Open Trot.

So let's finally get to Monday morning. Despite the rain, I made a sweep through the barn area. I saw Sugar Valley Farm's Joe McLead, and told him he did a fine job in presenting a trophy on Sunday's card. As I walked by Bob Stewart's barn he yelled over to me something that I can't print, but when I told him he'd be getting a mention today he said he'd retract his statement. I think though that Bob has used up his quota of mentions for this year now.

I stopped by Pete Foley's barn and he told me that Bolt The Duer has been battling a throat infection, likely dating back to the Little Brown Jug and carrying through last Saturday's Bluegrass division when he finished sixth. Pete said the pacer has been responding to treatment so he plans on starting the colt in this Saturday's Tattersalls Pace.

As for the weather, it is supposed to rain all day today and carry over to tomorrow. Hopefully it will clear up by the end of the day. Remember, the yearling sale starts at Fasig-Tipton on Tuesday night. The weather the rest of the week is supposed to be decent, with a chance of rain again on Friday and then highs only in the mid 60s on Saturday and Sunday.

And I can't forget--$3.65 a gallon.

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