Gulfstream Park doesn’t open until this Sunday, but the backstretch is abuzz as horses train in Hallandale for races at Calder (for a few more days, anyway) and get ready for Opening Day 2010.
Standing at the quarter pole, looking east as the sun comes up; the track’s been open for a while, but it’s still serene before the heavy traffic comes out for training.
A gloriously sunny and warm South Florida morning turns suddenly scary when, near the gap on the turn on the backstretch, a gasp goes up and we turn to see a loose horse and a rider down. Outriders spring into action; exercise riders change their paths and pull up their mounts; more quickly than one can imagine, equine traffic is stopped as the ambulance makes it slow way to the downed rider. It seems to take forever—can’t it get here more quickly?—but it is pointed out that, with dozens of horses on the track, the ambulance can’t speed its way to the turn.
Minutes go by, the EMT’s tend to the injured, but we can’t tell what’s going on. Over and over… “Is he OK?” “Who is it?” Finally, he strapped onto a board and inserted into the ambulance; it looks serious, but we are told on the backstretch the next day that he’s OK. We hope that our source is right.
A stop by the barn of Teresa Pompay brings the news that the old veteran Hotstufanthensome is back in her barn. He’s been there before, and she’s glad to have him back. The son of Awesome Again will be ten in just a few days; with 13 wins from 45 starts and earnings of $756,743, his best days are behind him, but he’s probably got a few races left in him. He made four starts this year, winning his first one at Monmouth in June; in November of 2008, at age 8, he fittingly won the John Henry Stakes at the Meadowlands. He’ll be in Pompay’s capable and compassionate hands as he rests up for his next start.
At Dale Romans’ barn, the holiday spirit is alive and well, thanks to one of the exercise riders…
…while his Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf winner Tapitsfly lazily soaks in the sunshine as she gets shod. Expect to see her next in mid-January.
The sun is high in the sky, and training hours are nearly over. Time to head out, clean up, and set out for our next racing destination: Calder Race Course. More on that coming soon.