- Highland Cat was originally entered in the first race at Colonial Downs today. It's a one mile race, on the turf of course, for 14-16K claimers that have never won three races lifetime. That's over his conditions, as he's only won once, but it was the best race available up to that point. But instead, trainer Ann Merryman has found a spot for him on Friday in a starters allowance FOR THREE YEAR OLDS AND UPWARD WHICH HAVE STARTED FOR A CLAIMING PRICE OF $40,000 OR LESS AND WHICH HAVE NEVER WON TWO RACES. Given that he's currently solidly at the 16-14K level, that could conceivably be an even more difficult race.
But not only has the race come up soft, much more so than the race today in which he was originally supposed to go, the $27,000 purse dwarfs the $15,000 prize in the race today. So this was an absolutely inspired placement! And to show you just how very soft the race came up, Highland Cat is listed as the 6-5 favorite!! That's worth repeating - Highland Cat is listed as the 6-5 favorite!! Personally, I think those odds may be a little low, as Jonathan Sheppard has a class dropper in The Price of Love who looks like a dangerous threat. But we have to be very excited to be running against such a weak field for such a generous purse! There's only eight horses in the race, and he gets an extra sixteenth of a mile as compared to the race today. He'll start from the five post, and Nick Santagata will be instructed to try and keep him clear, as he and Ms. Merryman feel that he was uncomfortable racing inside of horses in his first Colonial try.
- Rave reviews for the $1.2 million worth of improvements made by NYRA for the Saratoga meeting this year. A shiny new copper roof for the clubhouse - "we got $21,000 for the scrap from the old roof" - a new clubhouse floor, new aluminum awnings over the backyard TV monitors, and five reconstructed barns on the Oklahoma training track side. Plus, some 60,000 new plantings around the grounds.
Also, Charles Hayward spoke of the possible future of Polytrack in New York for the first time.
NYRA would first install polytrack at Belmont's training track and then Aqueduct, followed by Saratoga three to five years from now.That of course is looking ahead, because despite the reports out of Albany, NYRA is certainly not guaranteed to retain the franchise past this year. Nonetheless, Hayward is pumped for the meet. "People are going to go wild....This place looks great. It looks better than it has in 10 years. We want to make sure the physical plant remains in tip-top shape."
"Once we get the franchise nailed down then we can start doing some long-term planning," he said. [Saratogian]
And holy moley, the meeting starts two weeks from tomorrow!! Wow! It seems like just recently that I signed off on my Saratoga blog last September. I can't wait to see the track.....but wait I will.
Last year was a perfect storm of events - getting fired, severance pay, extra money in the bank - that led to our renting a house and spending the entire six weeks there. This year, I don't expect to be there until Sunday, August 19. I wonder if the plants will still be around by then. It was a great time up there last year, and it's something that I certainly hope to do again in the near future. But it's not something that I necessarily aspire to do each and every year. I like being in the city during the summer - with many people out of town, it's easier to get around and into events; and it's far more intimate, almost like a community feel amongst those who hang around and brave the muggy weather. And of course, there's all the great free outdoor music too, which we've already begun to take advantage of.
Whatsmore, six weeks in Saratoga just goes by too damn fast! Six hours at the track can breeze by like a six furlong race, and six weeks of that makes the time whoosh by like - snap, it's over!
Am I just rationalizing because it's just not practical for us to do it again this year? Maybe. But I'm very excited about our plans. We've rented a house for Travers week, and are planning a big LATG BBQ on Travers night for any of you who will be up there. And, best of all -----
WE'RE GOING TO DEL MAR!!!!!!! We've rented a condo right on the ocean in Solana Beach which is within walking distance of the racetrack! So even though we're bringing the younger girls, yours truly will be free to stroll over to the races at any time. And stroll I will. We'll be there from July 28 through August 4, and we're very excited. Please drop me a note if you'll be there and would like to say hello. And of course, I'll have the laptop, and LATG will broadcast live from the west coast.
- Universal Pictures has obtained the film rights to an article entitled "Gone Like the Wind," which appeared in Vanity Fair in August. It's about the attempts to save Barbaro, and you can read it here. The film will be directed by Peter Berg, who has appeared as an actor in a bunch of movies and TV shows/films, and directed the films Very Bad Things and Friday Night Lights.