Welcome to NY Showcase Day! Ten races for NY breds, a celebration of NY products; what a shame that this New Yorker will be wending her way home from points south and missing the whole day.
Race 3: The Sleepy Hollow Stakes. Many of today’s races follow the longstanding tradition of naming races after regions of the state; Sleepy Hollow is a small town about a half an hour north of New York City. It was made famous in Washington Irving’s 19th century tale The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, known to most as the tale of the Headless Horseman. Gotta love a race whose name carries both historical and literary associations. Note: Sleepy Hollow’s geographical significance was made official in the last ten or so years, when North Tarrytown changed its name to Sleepy Hollow. How quaint.
The race is for two-year-olds and features Barclay Tagg’s Big Truck, last out winner of the Bertram Bongard, and Be Bullish, who won at first asking on September 22nd under Kent Desormeaux. You might recall that Be Bullish was in fact bullish on that day, and that the horse survived an inquiry to stay on top as the winner, though Desormeaux was assessed a fine and given days as a result of his ride. I believe that he’s appealed and has yet to serve that suspension.
Race 4: The Iroquois Handicap is for fillies and mares three and up; we see the return of Ice Cool Kitty, the subject of much discussion after she won the Floral Park on September 27th and ran back three days later in the Beldame, finishing last by thirty-three lengths. Not such a smart decision for her connections, and this race seems like a far more appropriate place for her; she’s the favorite at 7-5.
Regular readers know I love Duchess of Rokeby and she’s back after winning an allowance on October 8th, back under Jorge Chavez. Nice to see him getting in the winner’s circle again, after a long dry spell and a hard time getting mounts. This horse loves to run…she never gives up and fights to the finish, and she’s finished off the board only once in her last six starts.
Race 6: The Ticonderoga brings me back to my most nightmarish race at the Spa, the Yaddo, when I liked Latitude Forty a lot but made the stupid decision to throw her out; she won, paying close to $50 and topping a $277 exacta. I know that I should be over it by now…but I’m not. Latitude Forty is back after finishing sixth her last time out; J’Ray returns after finishing up the track as the well-beaten favorite in the Yaddo. I had the good sense to throw her out that day (not even close to making up for my Latitude Forty mistake), and she’s the second favorite on Saturday.
Race 9: The feature, the Empire Classic. We see here another of Allen Jerkens’ horses, Lord Langfuhr, who ran a great race last time out (even though he was beaten by twelve lengths for second—I know, it sounds ridiculous, but watch the replay…he was great). Indian Hawke, who beat him that day (October third, first race) comes back here as well. And fan favorite Naughty New Yorker is hoping for his first win in the Empire Classic in his third try, coming off two victories. If there’s any poetic justice, a horse named for the Empire State will win the Empire Classic…and he is the morning line favorite.
I’ll look forward to catching the replays when I get back to New York tomorrow night. It’s the last weekend of racing at Belmont; take advantage of the gorgeous fall weather and get out to beautiful Belmont Park before racing turns to the Big A.