I love this photo of Evening Attire on his way to the track at Saratoga. He was fourth in the MassCap yesterday at Suffolk, and even though he hasn’t won a race since last March, I love that he’s still out there. Thanks to the folks at Alex Brown Racing for bringing this article from the Boston Globe about the big grey guy to our attention.
Railbird attended and covered the races yesterday; take a look for stories and photos.
A while back I wrote about Richard Migliore and his decision to take his tack to California last year. Last weekend the Mig was back at Belmont, much to the delight of the paddock fans. They are an active crowd at Belmont, and it’s not uncommon to hear them heckling the jockeys as the jocks walk into the paddock. Many of the folks are Caribbean and sing out to the jockeys in a lilting accent—imagine it if you can: “Miiiiiiiig! Come baaaaaaaaaaack! We miss you, man! Come back to New York! You comin’ back?” The September 1st issue of Thoroughbred Times quotes Mig as saying when he came back to Saratoga for a weekend this summer: “What a welcome I got, even walking in. Fans, people I don’t know were coming up and hugging me and saying they miss me.” He was up at Suffolk yesterday, getting second on Fairbanks in the big race.
The fans are not, alas, always quite so pleasant. The same guys imploring Migliore to come back checked in with John Velazquez every time he walked by: “Johnny Veeeeeeeeee! I’m wooooooooorried about you! You OK? You sick?” After a much-publicized disappointing meet at Saratoga, Velazquez has ridden five winners at the Belmont fall meet, twelve behind Eibar Coa’s meet-leading seventeen. As goes Todd Pletcher, so goes Johnny V; Pletcher’s got three wins at the meet so far.
A late, quick note about another impressive two-year-old from Saratoga. From the last crop of Danzig foals, Prussian, trained by Bill Mott, ridden by Kent Desormeaux, impressively won at first asking on August 17th. Desormeaux went with the colt up to Woodbine for last weekend’s G3 Summer Stakes and won by a length and a quarter. Prussian is pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
And some notes on the fillies at Belmont this afternoon: Duchess of Rokeby broke through the gate, along with another horse, before the start; she was cleared to race and finished third, making a bit of a late run, though she was well beaten. I first saw her race on the 20th of July at Belmont, and then again at Saratoga, when she sneaked up the rail to win a race for me, defeating the horse whom my father had going in Pick 3’s. This horse is a sore spot with him (“That damned seven horse,” he calls her), but I like her.
The Fairway Flyer Stakes was run today (I have a hard time saying this name with a straight face; now that Fairway has come to Brooklyn, the race sounds like an ad for weekly supermarket specials) and featured a trio of interesting fillies: Bobby Frankel’s Barancella, Todd Pletcher’s Jade Queen, and Bill Mott’s Nunnery. Jade Queen won a terrific race at Saratoga in ’06 (my pick, which won my father a Pick 3–so I guess we’re even) and has been close but not nearly as impressive since, and Nunnery was a nut-job at the Spa last year. She ran off on more than one occasion and gained quite a reputation as one hard-to-handle filly. You could tell, though, that she was talented—if you could get her to settle down. She beat Jade Queen in an off-the-turf race at Saratoga last month, and they met again today. Barancella was the heavy favorite coming in off a lay-off, and chalk held; Jade Queen turned the tables on Nunnery and got second over her. Jan Rushton said before the race that Nunnery had been kept apart from the other fillies and that she’d be with a stable pony up to the start. This did not prevent her from losing her jockey before the start, though I missed how it happened. She’s certainly got them where she wants them, doesn’t she?
One other filly note: Astronomia ran in last weekend’s Noble Damsel and attracted a lot of attention at the windows, though she finished up the track. She was back on Thursday, in the Lady Valor Stakes, coming from the back of the pack to nip Stormy Kiss, who had wired the field, at the finish line. She started moving on the turn and just steadily inhaled horses. So much for the disadvantages of short rest.
Discreet Cat is expected to get back to the races this Sunday in the Grade I Vosburgh. I had him in a winning exacta when he broke his maiden at Saratoga two years ago and have followed him closely (as much as one can) since; quite an enigma, this fabulously fast colt who always seems to be racing below his ability. (I am throwing out the Dubai race, as he was clearly not on his game.)
Barclay Tagg won another two-year-old stakes race today, the Grade II Bertram S. Bongard for state-breds, with Big Truck.