- Noble Causeway was back on the track after his mysterious late scratch from the Jim Dandy on Saturday, and jockey Ramon Dominguez said he was "a little crabby" before getting going. He went a half mile in 49.65 with NYRA’s chief vet on hand to observe. Zito commented, "I thought he went beautiful - very fluid, very nice, very relaxed….A lot of horses, no matter what, they're stiff sometimes, to be honest with you.” [Daily Racing Form] He’s deciding between an allowance race at Saratoga this weekend and the West Virginia Derby on Aug 14. Sun King is also a possibility for the latter, though he’ll have to find a new rider with Rafael Bejarano shelved with a hairline ankle fracture.
With the Jim Dandy having been run this past weekend with only 5 horses after Noble Causeway’s scratch, and the Haskell coming up on Sunday, which other 3 yo’s will be around to contest the $750,000 race at Mountaineer remains to be seen. The Haskell may have a fair number of entrants after Afleet Alex’s defection, but it will be more quantity than quality. Monmouth’s GM Bob Kulina said "I believe the West Virginia race needs to be relocated and this year's a prime example of it….It's not good for racing to have (these purses) given away in a short time for the same 12-15 horses." One trainer who didn’t have a tough time deciding which race he’d send his horse Roman Ruler to is Bob Baffert: "I'd rather run at Monmouth Park than Saratoga…..Great fans, great race and they treat us nice. I'm glad they're getting the Breeders' Cup. They deserve it." [Asbury Park Press] Perhaps I’ll heckle Baffert about that remark if I see him next week. “Yo, Baffert, go back to Joisey if you like it so much!” He has a good sense of humor, right?
He also has a sharp horse in Roman Ruler, and he sounds quite confident. "My confidence is just as high with Roman Ruler as it was for War Emblem and Point Given….Physically, he is doing fantastic. He worked (Monday) and he looked great. He's ready." [Newark Star Ledger]
- Pat Day announced his retirement today. He had been on sabbatical alone in a cabin on the Kentucky River to think things over. His wife Sheila explained "He needs to know he's where God wants him to be."
This isn't the first time Day apparently was troubled about missing what he calls "the nod from God." However, he previously worked through his concerns without taking time off during an important part of the racing schedule.Today, his agent Doc Danner said that “the Lord assured him it was time to move on and pursue a different direction in his life.” [Bloodhorse] No word on if Danner will collect his usual 10% from the Almighty.
Last summer Day rode only weekends and select weekdays at Saratoga, using the rest of the time to tour tracks to raise money for and awareness of the Race Track Chaplaincy program. He still finished in Saratoga's top 10 in wins.
"I remember a situation after he had just won the (1994) Preakness and Belmont on Tabasco Cat," Sheila Day said. "Talk about it being a height, and his question to me the week after that is, 'Am I doing enough for God? Am I where I need to be?' It's always been a priority, with whatever level he was in his career. That's been his main concern, and he's asked me that question for the last 20 years." [Louisville Courier-Journal]
- The city of Saratoga passed a resolution calling on the state to consult with them regarding the decision on the NYRA franchise. Mayor Michael Lenz said 'We need to be a major part of any consideration of the franchise.'
The eight areas of interest it highlights are property taxes, admissions taxes, building and planning approval, the 36-day racing season, involvement in franchise negotiations, selections of a the best franchisee (not just the highest bidder), continuance of the Oklahoma Training Track schedule, and alternative use of the track being subject to building and planning approvals. [Saratogian]Well, I guess it makes sense that they want input on the process since they do host the highlight meeting of the racing season, but fat freaking chance of that happening. I mean, it also makes sense that the people of this country should have a say regarding its chickenhawk leaders having a legitimate reason to send other peoples’ kids into a war that has now cost over 1800 American lives, but welcome to reality Mayor Lenz. The decision will be made in a boardroom somewhere in Albany, and you likely will not be present.
Voters in Broward County in Florida gave their input when they approved slots, but that hasn’t yet spurred Governor Bush and the legislature to implement them. The Palm Beach Post (via Albany Law School Racing and Wagering Page) reports that Bush met with Senate Leader Tom Lee regarding the stalled initiative. "That sounds like a 2005 issue to me, not a 2006 issue," Bush said, suggesting that it might require a special session this year. However, they did not settle on a date. [Palm Beach Post]