- Discreet Cat and Bernardini have each had their first morning workouts, at Belmont, since their dominating wins at Saratoga. We can only hope that we'll be able to mention their names in the same sentence when talking about a race sometime soon. Discreet Cat worked five furlongs on Saturday in 1:02.06 (10/32); and on Sunday, Bernardini got the distance in 1:01.68 (12/18). The latter is preparing to meet Invasor in the Jockey Club Gold Cup; and the former beat the same rival soundly in the UAE Derby on Dubai Day.
The turf course at Belmont is not in great shape, and three races were taken off on Sunday despite what was a perfect weather weekend. According to the NY Daily News, NYRA lost about $1 million in handle. "We ripped it up pretty good on Friday," said jockey John Velazquez. "It's been soft since opening day." One race remained on each course, however, and Johnny V. explained that the courses were "rolled." "It's just like when they seal the main track. It makes it tight and safe for that one race but you can only do it once a day on each course."
- I've read attendance estimates ranging from 3,000 to 10,000 or more for the first day of harness racing at Chester Downs. Perhaps they haven't installed the turnstiles as of yet. But considering this was a pure "racing" play with no slots installed yet, it has to be viewed as a significant success regardless of the exact figure, especially with the Eagles opening their NFL season on the same day. And the reviews from both the fans and horsemen were excellent. Dave Palone, perenially amongst the leading drivers at the Meadows, said: "The racetrack is super fast; it’s a good firm surface and the horses are getting over it real well. It’s a nice wide passing lane, so it gives everyone an opportunity to get loose. No complaints whatsoever." [Harness Link]
And it's great to read of the enthusiastic crowds - I read several people invoke the old days of Liberty Bell and Brandywine. But there were, I imagine, many of the curious in attendance, and it remains to be seen if the enthusiasm continues. Until, of course, slots arrives. And today, Chester will be one of the racetracks that will have a chance to expedite that occasion when they have their two hours to present their case for one of the "early-bird" slots licenses that are being offered to the existing tracks, which hope to have slots up and running early in 2007. The bidders seeking standalone casinos will have to wait until late October to make their case, and until December 20 before those licenses are issued.
- Gretchen Jackson spoke to Bloodhorse.com about the status of Barbaro:
"It (Barbaro's recovery) doesn't seem to have gone back. We haven't had a crisis since the laminitis. His coat is shiny. He lost a lot of his tail. Did you know that? (It's from) balancing him coming out from operations; I don't know if it's hands on him or what. But he lost a lot of his tail. But that's all coming back. Everything is just starting to blossom, and you want to see light at the end of the tunnel. We haven't had Dean say there is light is at the end of the tunnel."