On Friday, August 14th, steeplechase trainer Janet Elliott became the first woman trainer elected to the National Museum of Racing’s Hall of Fame.
On Saturday, September 5th, Rachel Alexandra became the first filly or mare to win the Woodward.
And on Monday, September 7th, Linda Rice became the first woman to win the Saratoga training title.
Some of my favorite moments of Saratoga 2009 focused on the fillies and mares:
Icon Project winning the Personal Ensign…
…and the finish…
Danielle Hodsdon won a flat race with a jump horse, Sermon of Love, on a Monday; three days later, she won a jump race with Mixed Up—no jockey had ever won a race on the flat and over the jumps in the same meet. And a few weeks later, she brought Sermon of Love back, in a jump race this time, to get second.
Sara Louise came back from Dubai to win her first start in nine months, in the Victory Ride. Music Note rebounded after a dreadful performance in the Phipps to win the Ballerina. Worstcasescenario was a surprising and impressive winner in the Adirondack.
Though there was no shortage of memorable performances from the two- and three-year-old males, it was the older males whose races stay with me. Saratoga Russell, second off a layoff, won on opening day. Macho Again, who seems to love Saratoga, turned in two great races in the Whitney and the Woodward. Naughty New Yorker—we all thought he was done, and late in the meet he just missed winning with his patented late run, becoming a millionaire in the process.
…and morning workouts…
By virtually any measure, Saratoga 2009 was a success. And for me, it was a summer beyond my wildest imaginings. The opportunity to write for the iconic Pink Sheet was not something I could have considered when Brooklyn Backstretch was launched two years ago; thanks to Brien Bouyea, the sports editor who gave me a shot, and to Nicole Russo, Chris Fitz Gerald, and Michael Veitch, whose wisdom and experience were invaluable to me throughout the meet. My articles for the Saratogian are available here.
Thanks, too, to Jeanne Wood and Seth Merrow, for opportunities to talk about racing on TV and on the radio, and to all of the writers who offered advice, humor, insight…and a drink when the situation called for one.
Today is the second day of school; the transition is complete. Instead of talking about stakes races, breeding, and cat horses, I’m talking about sonnets, short stories, and opening paragraphs, and that, too, is rewarding and fun.
And hey…Belmont opens tomorrow!