Monday, April 7, 2008

A Full Day of Racing and a Work

Saturday was a full day at Keeneland. I was up with the birds and while it wasn't sunny (though at the time it was too early to tell), it also wasn't raining, which was a plus. My friend and partner, David Miller (, managing partner of Star of the North Racing, called me early to say Somerset Sam would be working out a little earlier than expected. Fortunately I was already up and halfway ready, so I finished up and met David at the track. We went over to the backstretch and stopped to see Sam in Barn #9 where he was saddled up and getting ready to breeze 4 furlongs. Soon after I met Kellyn Gorder, Sam's conditioner, a short older gentleman passed us by in the barn. Kellyn pointed him out to us as Jean Cruguet, the Hall of Fame jockey of Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. While I was a bit starstruck, I soon realized that I hadn't seen anything yet.

Sammy looked great. David made a great call sending him to Kellyn to get ready for the summer meet. He had filled out his big frame and was putting on the muscle of a well cared for racehorse. We walked up to the track behind Sam with Cricket, his exercise rider up, and Christmas in a Bottle, a big ticket purchase who had run twice, but had fallen short of breaking the maiden. Kellyn was going to work them in company. My head was on a swivel walking up the path to the gap. Two barns before the gap was the Phipps Barn, legendary in racing circles for seemingly forever. Angel Codero, Jr. while a jockey agent now, still exercises horses in the morning as we learned as he strode past us on a nice looking roan filly. To be honest, it was difficult to pick a bum horse out of the 100's we saw that morning. The stock at Keeneland in the Spring has the reputation for being the finest in the world and of that there was no doubt. Of course on the way back we saw trainers Bobby Frankel and Bill Mott putting their chargers through their paces. I told you, my head was on a swivel.

Before we knew it Sam was finishing up and galloping out in 49.4 to place 47 of 89 horses that morning. Not bad for our Minnesota-bred amongst all those bluebloods that day. He finished up a little winded, but he is still learning and as he was hot walked, I was able to snap a picture (see above). After a great breakfast in the track kitchen: how you can go wrong with bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy and coffee for $5 and some change is beyond me (artery clogging aside, of course), we went back up to the track and grabbed a table on the Mezzanine near the windows looking over the paddock and settled in for the day.

Sitting nearby was a lady lording over her friends and pointing out to them loudly how we blocked her direct walkway to the blacony door when we backed the table up to the outlet on the wall so 1) David could plug in his computer and 2) so the cord wasn't dangling out to get tripped over. As it was about 3.5 hours to the first post, we really didn't see it as an issue. In fact, if she hadn't been so boisterous about our rudeness, we would have moved the table back as planned as soon as David finished up his work. Needless to say, we didn't. Of course, that paled in comparison to the diatribe she lit into when two ladies dared to place folding chairs in front of the window. This was, in my opinion, a little rude, but I really didn't care at that point as this lady complained about everything under the sun that didn't comply to her needs. Given that the it was the first Saturday of the meet and the crowd to come would soon overwhelm everyone and everything, I can only imagine the consipiracy theory in place in her mind as to how all these people dared come to the track and inconvenience her. But enough about her - I gave her too much play already, but she was an interesting character that obviously felt slighted that she was relegated to spend time among the peasants in the grandstand.

The highlight race of the day was the Grade I Ashland Stakes to be contested by 3-year old fillies going a mile and a sixteenth. This was to be the tune up race for the Kentucky Oaks for horses like Proud Spell, beaten only by the swift Indian Blessing in her only career defeats thusfar and Country Star, coming into the Ashland off an impressive 2 3/4 length victory in the Grade I Hollywood Starlet. The match race the crowd expected never materialized. Little Belle, with only her Maiden and an ungraded Aqueduct stakes victory to her credit battled Bsharpsonata through the stretch to prevail by a neck in 1:43.69, muddling up the Oaks picture with only a month to go. Not only did this victory vault Little Belle into the Oaks picture, it also places her up on the leaderboard for 3-year old fillies in 5th place with Proud Spell narrowly holding on to fourth place with her 3rd place showing.

On the right you'll see the TBA standings updated through this weekend. Well, the top three in each category. If you go ahead and click 'standings explained' to your right, there is a great explanation of the standings and how they are comprised. This is a very effective tool to be able to tell at a glance the top contenders in each division. Additionally you'll be able to click over to any of my fellow TBA blogger's blogs and read about horses from every possible angle. Trust me, if you enjoy this blog, you'll LOVE them.

After a Mexican dinner at a small place a few miles from the track, it was back to the hotel to try and dope out tomorrow's races and put a strong finish on the weekend trip.

No comments: