Week 3 brought the first real dose of Saratoga summer weather: little rain, but oppressively hot & humid days. The track was baked, the times were fast, and more than one person referred to the turf courses as “rock hard.” One of Saratoga’s epic thunderstorms passed through early Tuesday evening, but it likely did little to soften the dirt or the grass.
Carryovers abounded: we had one last Thursday; a double carryover into Sunday; and we start week 4 with yet another. One of these days, maybe I’ll actually play one.
Remember Sean Avery—the horse, not the hockey player? The one that I lost after he raced here last summer? He re-surfaced on Saturday, now in the barn of Michael Hushion. Making only his second lifetime start and first since last summer’s Saratoga meet, he went to the lead and never looked back, winning by more than three lengths. He went off at a juicy 6-1, and I, too busy yapping with friends in the backyard, didn’t pay attention until the gates opened. Oops. This was not the first time, nor will it be the last, that Sean Avery made me swear.
Overheard at the Travers bar on Saturday afternoon, following the seventh race: “I wish that I’d been born on August 3, 1961.” The 8-3-6-1 superfecta had just paid $17,008.
The Hall of Fame induction ceremony last Friday offered any number of memorable sights and quotations. Worth noting (and it has been, by many) are jockey Eddie Maple’s words in his induction speech: the fate of racehorses after their lives on the track “needs to be at the top of our agenda. It’s as vital to the integrity [of the sport] as any problem racing is trying to work out.” He called on owners and breeders, “who have the power to support” initiatives to ensure that horses have a safe, comfortable life when their racing days are over… “for a lifetime, not just a racing lifetime.”
Waiting for the start of the Fasig-Tipton 5K, I noticed a teenage girl. She had headphones on, hard core music pouring out, game face on. As I watched, she lay down on the wet grass and started doing sit-ups. I vowed at that moment to stay as far away from her as possible. No idea where she finished, but I surmise that she had cooled down, showered and changed, and was on her way to breakfast by the time I crossed the finish line.
And thank you very much to the anonymous donor, who, upon hearing my time for the race, donated $26.42 to the Belmont Child Care Association. I matched that donation, and am grateful for his generosity. I’m also grateful for the added inducement to run SLOWLY next time!
Some Saratogian updates: I wrote last Friday on Teresa Pompay, who ran a horse here last week; and today, I’ve got two in: one on the children of horsemen who spend their summers here, and a mid-meet check-in column.
Apologies for the lightness on the “sights” part of this weekly post; some technological challenges with the camera will leave this post image-free for the moment, though I hope to add some photos later in the day.