- I had to go to the Forest Hills OTB to watch Highland Cat run at Colonial Downs yesterday. I could have watched it at Belmont had I gone, as you can find any track on some screen there somewhere nowadays. On Friday, one prominently placed TV in the grandstand had harness races from Mohawk. Non-betting qualifying races from Mohawk.
But I stayed home, and Colonial was not being shown on TVG. So it was off to this venerable OTB branch, which has been here forever. It's gotta be one of the original branches. I'm happy to say that I really haven't spent much time in it over the years; and the visits I've made have been quick and to the point. These days, I go there to make deposits into, and the occasional withdrawal from my OTB phone account. At least now, with smoking banned, it's inhabitable, if not inviting. On Saturday, it was surprisingly, and rather depressingly crowded; this on a picture perfect summer day, as nice of a weather day that will be seen around these parts all year.
And there was a lot of action, with every track imaginable offered for betting and viewing. There once was a time when OTB was only allowed to offer the NYRA track during the day. It seemed an archaic rule at the time but, now that I go in and see what's going on, one that seems sensible in retrospect. It's bad enough that OTB is taking away the business of people betting races at Belmont, from which NYRA receives a reduced percentage as opposed to on-track bets, but many people are betting other tracks from which they don't get a dime. Under a more typical OTB system of course, it would all be part of the track operation. Not long ago, we naively believed that this situation could be corrected as part of the franchise process, but it hasn't even been part of the discussion of a process that is currently not even processing.
Highland Cat ran third after a perfect, ground-saving trip as the 9-5 favorite. This was a $16,000 open claimer, and to me, he looked like he fit about the same as he did while running in the $35,000 NW2 category here. The partnership sent out an email declaring that he ran well, and saying that it justified their decision to ship him to Colonial. But I think he'll have to do better than that.
I wrote here that I was getting excited about Makderah in tne New York Stakes at Belmont on Saturday, especially with the stretch out to a mile and a quarter.
Her breeding is amazing - by Danehill, out of a Mr. Prospector half sister to Nashwan and Nayaf...and she's from the family of Deep Impact - they have the same third dams.She was 8-1 morning line, which seemed, at the time, maybe a bit high, but not too out of line considering the jump from allowance company. But she opened at 5-2 and pretty much stayed there throughout. I've always had a talent for picking out the horse who gets slammed at the windows (though this time I hit the exacta by tossing Pletcher's 6-5 favorite Jade Queen).
The step up to U.S. stakes company - she's graded stakes placed in the UK - proved no trouble at all, with an easy last-to-first sweep to a four length win; final quarter in a hand-ridden 22.64 - can that be right?? "When I asked her, she was gone," [Alan] Garcia said. Take note of this four-year old; on a day that Shadwell lost one star in Invasor, perhaps they found another.