The attention paid here over the weekend to Rachel and Russell might have led readers to believe that little else was happening in the racing world, so we’re taking a minute to recap other points of interest:
Ventured out for my second visit to twilight racing on Friday afternoon; the Festival Tent had been taken over by various groups who had carried in their own food and drink, to the dismay of the woman selling beverages at the back of the tent: “So much for tips today,” she said, surveying the many coolers of beer. That beer was consumed enthusiastically throughout the afternoon and into the evening, even—or especially?—through the storm that hit Belmont just after the eighth race. As one observer noted following the cancellation of the ninth race, as the evening band played in the tent, “It’s become a frat party in there.” Glad that I missed it.
Fortunately, the scene was a little more palatable earlier in the card; Maestro Ernie Munick (can we call him Ernie Musick?) offered classic rock, blues, and racing chatter through the afternoon, and he shared the stage with Matt from the 105th precinct in Queens, who favored the crowd with his renditions of “Wild World” and “Brown Eyed Girl.”
The cat horses have hit the winner’s circle—or at least the board—with some regularity over the last week or so. On Friday afternoon Lyrical Bobcat was second at 21-1, paying $11.40 to place, and on Saturday, long time Backstretch favorite Wishful Tomcat (left) won relatively easily, paying $3.70. Sunday, the distastefully named Slam The Cat (Grand Slam – Fleeting Feline) won her third in a row, paying $4.50 and bringing Furlong his first win. Madison is now the only Backstretch
female feline (!) not to cash in the last week, and as she is also the one most put out by the new feline residents, she is one unhappy cat.
Looking ahead to Saratoga: You can now register for the Fasig-Tipton 5K to be run on Saturday, August 15th. The proceeds from the race will benefit four New York backstretch charities: the Belmont Child Care Association; Backstretch Employees Service Team; the Backstretch Education Fund; and the Race Track Chaplaincy of America. You can check out the brochure for the race and register at the Fasig-Tipton site.
Unfortunately, it appears that the route is not quite as flat as I’d have liked, but it is quite scenic, so at least I’ll have something pleasant to look at while I likely set the record for the slowest 5K ever run.
In other Saratoga news, NYRA this year will offer jockey autograph books, formalizing a long-standing Saratoga tradition: the willingness of jockeys to sign autographs as they make their way to and from the jocks’ room, paddock, and track. The book features ten leading New York jockeys and offers space for additional signatures. The books will be given away on select weekdays during the meet and are expected to be available for purchase on the track. All proceeds from the sales will benefit the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund.
Another addition at the Spa this year will be Saratoga Sliders, in the Carousel. This food concession will offer mini burgers, chicken sandwiches, crab cakes, and other deli sandwiches.
Other Spa news upcoming over the next couple of weeks—Opening Day is one month from yesterday!