The weekend recap

I didn’t get to Aqueduct until the fourth race on Saturday, and after watching the first race on television, I nearly decided not to head out. Poor John Imbriale—the horses broke, and unable to see anything through the dense fog, he pretty much stayed quiet until the horses were nearly at the finish line. Even when horses were visible in the stretch, saddle cloths and silks were not, so nobody had any idea who was in the lead. The fog gradually dissipated until the sixth and seventh races were wholly visible, but just as post time for the features rolled around, so did the fog, with the result that the two big races were all but totally mysteries until the finish line.

A nice win in the seventh by Irish Blast; he broke his maiden awesomely on December 29th and was second in his last two starts. He was a bit of a belligerent colt in his last start, fighting regular jockey Alan Garcia in the stretch, wasting precious energy and time, yet still losing by only a head. Yesterday, he showed that he’s becoming a grown-up racehorse; he hung about three lengths off the leaders down the backstretch, and heading into the stretch, he took outside, turned on the jets, and confidently, maturely passed the leaders to win by four and a half. He is a nice, nice colt. A personal connection to a horse always makes him more interesting, and I was lucky enough to meet this guy last fall at his farm in Virginia. Don’t know what the plans for him are, but maybe he’s ready for some state-bred stakes company?

Looking southward, I was happy to see Armonk win a stakes race at Laurel on Saturday. This New York-based filly from Kiaran McLaughlin’s barn began her career in illustrious company; after finishing third after a bad break in a maiden at Saratoga, she jumped right up to graded stakes company, finishing second to Proud Spell in the Matron at Belmont. After finishing twenty-two lengths behind Indian Blessing in the Frizette, she went back to maiden ranks, finally winning in her fifth start. She won her next start, an optional claimer, and finished second by a neck in the Dearly Precious last month. She is a sweet, sweet filly, another one I had a chance to meet last summer at the Spa, and it was nice to see her get a stakes win.

In sadder news, the silks man of New York, Louis Olah, passed away on Saturday; he was profiled in the New York Times in January, and it’s good that he got his fifteen minutes of fame while he could still enjoy it. Jenny Kellner reports on his passing on the NYRA website:

With no two colors alike, Olah had the silks rooms at NYRA’s three tracks
arranged in exactly the same way, with walls of yellow jackets and caps
cascading into orange, then red, violet, blue and green, each set on its own
hook, distinguishable only by the slightest differences in hue and the
arrangement of the hoops, circles, dots, yokes, and chevrons on the bodies and
sleeves. As well, Olah kept a record of each owner’s colors in a huge three-ring
binder that is the size of a telephone book from a major metropolitan area, each
with a notation that might read something like: blue gold emblem gold sleeve
gold star.

Not that Olah needed to refer to the book very often. His memory was
extraordinary, which he credited to having memorized every bad habit of all the
cheap horses he rode. (Kellner)

The article also includes memories of Louis from some of New York’s top jockeys. RIP, Louis.

One thought on “The weekend recap

  1. Mr. Olah was a very humble, true gentleman. We considered him as a part of the ambiance, if you will, of going to the track – especially at Saratoga where you could see the incredible amount of energy and work that he did…He will be missed and now there is one less of the “old guard.”

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