A day at the races is great; a day at the races with a couple of TBA members is even better. Took the A train (with a slight detour due to track work) out to the Big A today to meet up with Alan of Left at the Gate and Jessica of Railbird; though I think only one of us walked out a winner (and it wasn’t me—now there’s a shocker), it was a terrific way to spend a blustery autumn afternoon. Most handicappers’ pick for the Stuyvesant was blown when Naughty New Yorker scratched; everything I read and heard today pointed to him as the post time favorite, and when Malibu Moonshine also scratched, the race seemed like an interesting mix of front-runners and closers, with Awfully Smart and Barcola in the latter category, Hunting and Evening Attire in the former. Utopia went off the even-money favorite, Hunting the longest shot at 9 – 1.
The race broke directly in front of us, as we watched from the third floor clubhouse boxes (which, believe me, sounds a lot posher than it in fact is; Jessica and I had to step over a dead bird several times as we made our way to and from our warm inside seats between races), and there was Evening Attire, hanging in the gate as usual, spotting the field several lengths before he got going. He’s done that repeatedly—perhaps even predictably—throughout his career, and I used to say that if he would just get going with the rest of the field, he’d win more often, as he so frequently finishes within a length or two of the winner. No longer—I don’t actually think it would matter, as he is so happy at the back of the pack, coasting along until the end. He was last at the 1/8 pole this afternoon and cruised up to get third, another great effort by the great grey gelding.
Shug McGaughey’s Hunting, the other deep closer, charged up the middle of the track to win it by a length; this was a kick myself race, as I’d looked and looked and looked at the horse…and then decided not to bet him to win, though I did use him in exactas. No way was I going with Utopia in any way, shape or form, not at that price. Two of my exactas ran first and third, with another running second and third…didn’t get any closer than that today.
Congrats to Shug on this win, and for the stakes double, as he also took the Cardinal Handicap at Churchill with Criminologist. Nice day for him.
Scary moment in the sixth race, when Bully for Us, Raul Rojas up, fell in the stretch. Rojas was motionless on the track for a few moments, but we were relieved to see him move his legs. He was carried off the track; he was conscious and complaining of pain in his back, and taken to the hospital. His mount ran off and appeared to be unhurt.
In honor of the upcoming holiday, Aqueduct held a turkey-gobbling contest. Not “gobbling” as in how much you can eat, but “gobbling” as in the sound a turkey makes. Looked like people were having a pretty good time—I did not participate. Sam the Bugler paid homage to the holiday by wearing a pilgrim costume, and Jan Rushton—gulp—dressed as a squaw, feather in the headband and all. The folks at Aqueduct are not what you’d call politically correct, I guess; more than you can say for the folks at Scrabble, as the officially sanctioned dictionary of acceptable words does not include “squaw.”