Despite a card of good races, Sunday felt like a letdown. The expectations around Saturday’s Whitney; the double carryover; the incredible weather; the nearly 40,000 spectators—no question that Saturday at the Spa was a Big Racing Day.
Sunday started chilly and grey and humid, and ended warm and grey and humid. We got a little rain, and while attendance was a respectable 23,998, the whole place sort of felt like it was nursing a low-grade hangover.
Fortunately, even a racing hangover responds to a little hair of the dog, and Sunday provided several moments to knock the malaise out of those who showed up.
In the fourth race, super-fast filly Elusive Heat wired a field of three-year-old fillies in the Geyser Spring Stakes; zipping through speedy fractions, she was never seriously threatened and won by more than five lengths. She’s just awesome to watch, and it’s too bad that whoever made her saddlecloth thought that her name was Elusive Heart. Oops.
The eighth race was called by celebuchef Bobby Flay—while painful to hear, it wasn’t as bad as it could have been. That said, let’s hope that it’s the last race call by a non-pro for the foreseeable future.
Far more interesting than the call was the incident that occurred as the field comes off the first turn, when an apparently suicidal seagull dive-bombs leader Sebastian Morales, bounces off his helmet, and then hits Julien Lepararoux behind him. You can see it in the video below; a head-on view at the NYRA site gives a better view (free registration require). I advise listening with the sound off.
Game Face took the first of the two graded stakes, the Grade II Honorable Miss, but I loved how Keep The Peace looked in the paddock.
Sometimes a horse just seems to be named exactly right, and yesterday, we saw one in Fabulous Strike. He’s six years old, he’s almost unbelievably fast (remember his True North on Belmont Day? Unreal.), and he’s beloved by those who watch his game effort in every race.
Running at his preferred distance of 6 furlongs yesterday, he sat just off the pace set by Go Go Shoot, passed him at the sixteenth pole, and won by a length. I covered the race for the Saratogian, and it was a pleasure to have the job of watching this terrific, low-key gelding win yet again, and to hear trainer Todd Beattie talk about this horse.
This is work? I’ll take it!