Nothing sweet about this parting

“Farewell! thou art too dear for my possessing,
And like enough thou know’st thy estimate,
The charter of thy worth gives thee releasing…”
(William Shakespeare, Sonnet 87)

Really… you had to know that this English teacher wouldn’t let the retirement of Shakespeare go by without throwing in a little poetry. The various Breeders’ Cup defections are covered elsewhere–Valerie at FoolishPleasure; Dana at Green but Game; and of course The Blood-Horse and the Daily Racing Form. Racing fans have to become inured to being disappointed; the biggie for me was Afleet Alex not coming to Saratoga a couple of years ago, and of course the maybe yes/maybe no/definitely no appearance on the racetrack of Rags to Riches this summer. Shakespeare’s retirement is up there with these two for me; two years ago, in my never-ending quest to bring new fans to the game, I brought three of my English teacher colleagues to the races, two of them for the first time, on the day of Borrego’s Jockey Club Gold Cup win. Of course we all bet Shakespeare; of course we all won. (And, I am happy to say, at least one of those racing rookies has become a regular fan—woo-hoo!)

Shakespeare re-appeared for me this summer at Saratoga, when I was lucky enough to hang out with Kiaran McLaughlin for a morning. It was after Shakespeare’s terrific comeback win (Tom Durkin’s memorable call as the horse hit the wire: “Shakespeare has a second act!”), and Shakespeare was in his stall that morning, very mellow, very placid. After his dominating win in Canada a few weeks ago, it was clear that his race at Saratoga was no fluke; I am terribly disappointed that we won’t see him in two weeks. I’m not sure that the 16th century Shakespeare had it right when he said that parting is such sweet sorrow—there’s not much sweet about this one.

I wrote yesterday about Fantastic Shirl in today’s Athenia; she’s a half-sister to Shakespeare and also trained by Kiaran McLaughlin.

Sitting here watching Peter Rotondo’s morning show on the OTB channel, and in keeping with the Kiaran McLaughlin theme, Rotondo picks Feastorfamine (also mentioned in yesterday’s post) in today’s third.

Did anyone have the Leo/Leonardo exacta in the third yesterday? Apparently yes, as it paid only $22.20. I was not among the winners.

A friend at Alex Brown Racing alerted me to this article in the Lexington Courier-Journal, which discusses the concerns about the Polytrack surface at Keeneland.

I’m off in a bit to help rescue the homeless Brooklyn kittens (mentioned in October 10th post), and then back to the Garden for tonight’s tilt against the mighty Ottawa Senators. Oh me of little faith—last night the Blueshirts won wire to wire. Some cautious optimism creeps back…

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