Out of town guests; a family event; a bout of food poisoning; and a domestic disaster have all conspired since late last week to keep me away from the races and away from the keyboard, despite any number of interesting events in the racing world.
Those who read the articles that I wrote for the Saratogian in August might remember this piece that I wrote about the process by which races are made official, and the safeguards built into the process so that mistakes aren’t made. Last Thursday at Belmont revealed that even the most careful procedures aren’t foolproof, as the order of finish for the last race superfecta was posted incorrectly, resulting in nearly three minutes of incorrect tickets being cashed and, quite likely, nearly three minutes of correct tickets being thrown away.
NYRA announced the next day that both superfecta combinations—the official, incorrect one and the correct one—would be paid out. David Grening of the Daily Racing Form spoke to the placing judges:
On Friday, Stephen Foster, one of the three placing judges, said it was simply a
mistake made by him and fellow judges Sentell Taylor and Ralph Theroux Jr., who
all mistook the 13 for the 10. According to Foster, the placing judges are
required to do a rundown of all finishers in a race. Foster said that all three
placing judges had the 10 horse twice in their rundown, but by the time they
realized it the race had already been made official.
“I’m really sorry it happened,” Foster said. “It’s the first time it’s happened. We got to be more careful. We’ve worked together for five years and never made a mistake. All three of us had two 10s in the rundown. It was a freak thing – we didn’t catch
A full investigation is being conducted by both NYRA and the New York State Racing and Wagering Board.
Missing Saturday’s Gallant Bloom was a major disappointment for me, bringing to the track Backstretch favorite Sara Louise in a match-up with Indian Blessing. Following an extended layoff, Sara Louise returned to the track in the Grade III Victory Ride at Saratoga, winning easily, and on Saturday, she faced older females for the first time.
Not unexpectedly, Sara Louise and Indian Blessing hooked up heading into the far turn, pulled away from the field, and head-bobbed to the finish in a gutsy, dramatic stretch run that went to the champion Indian Blessing. Much as I love Sara Louise, it was remarkably satisfying as a fan to see Indian Blessing end her New York racing career with a win, and with an epic one at that. Here it is:
As disappointing was missing the race was missing the opportunity to write about the filly for whom the race was named. Gallant Bloom (Gallant Man – Multiflora) was owned by King Ranch and trained first by Hall by Famer Max Hirsch and then by his Hall of Fame son W.J. “Buddy” Hirsch; there are too many tempting stories to tell about the horse, about the owner, and about the trainer, but those will need to wait for another time; here, I offer that Gallant Bloom’s race record was 22 – 16 – 1 – 1, and that as a three-year-old in 1969, she was a perfect 8 for 8, thanks to a disqualification in the Delaware Oaks that placed her first. She won that year at Aqueduct, Monmouth, Delaware, Belmont, Atlantic City, and Keeneland, all stakes races except one. In one 15-race stretch, she won 14 races and finished second once.
And finally, Saratoga Russell returned to action Sunday in the slop at Monmouth, in his first race for new trainer Mike Hushion. Setting his usual insane fractions (23.3, 45, 57.1), he led the entire way, until he was beaten a neck at the wire, a race similar to his first race after his long layoff in June, also at Monmouth.
At his Belmont barn on Monday morning, Hushion said that he was pleased with the race, especially with the fight in Saratoga Russell, who hung on gamely and dug in when approached by Easy Gallop, the eventual winner. Hushion cited a Beyer figure in the low 90’s and said that he didn’t think that the horse needed to be on the lead to win. Given that he’s never run any other way, it will be interested to see whether the four-year-old can learn some new tricks. Hushion indicated that no decision has been made about next steps for the colt, including whether the Florida-bred will winter up here or in the sunny South.