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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Morning in Saratoga

- Dragged myself (and the Head Chef) out of bed at 5:45 this morning to go to the barn area. I suspected that Highland Cat was about ready for a workout and didn’t want to be late. It’s another beautiful morning in Saratoga, and the weather has been kind here thus far. This place is too much; it’s like everyone here is connected in some way or another to the races. The parking lot at the Price Chopper looked like the owner’s lot with all the stickers on the cars. Last night we were out to dinner; a couple behind me were talking about their horse who is making her debut today (and also, as it turns out, conditioned by our trainer Billy Turner), a guy with a sales catalog sat beside us, and the waitress is the daughter of a prominent public handicapper.

I was right on about Highland Cat’s workout, though I almost missed it while talking to the guy from the Castle Village partnership. Billy Turner had his stopwatch in hand, and was purporting to time the work, which would require his being able to start the watch at the precise moment the colt passed the quarter pole about a quarter mile away, and catch him when he crosses the finish wire on the other side of the track. He got him in :49. The colt is progressing nicely, and here’s a photo. As you can see, he unfortunately has a human body growing down from his head, which may delay his debut, still hoped for by the end of the meet.

We had a nice off day yesterday. We set out early for the Clark Institute in Williamstown, MA. They currently have an exhibit of late paintings by Jacques-Louis David; it’s pretty awesome. It has all the elements that I like in art – history, politics, portraits, and that cool mythical shit like Cupid and Psyche. And these amazing paintings of Napoleon – he really did stick his hand in his shirt like that and he seemed like quite a horseman as well! Afterwards we wanted to just find a nice park and swimming spot to chill, and set off to a state park in Clarksburg. When we pulled in and asked where the pond is, the woman seemed slightly surprised. She told us it would be better to utilize the bathrooms in the camping area before we went there, and that there were a lot of “weeds” in the water, but there was a small swimming area.

When we arrived there, there was nobody there except us, in what was just an idyllic looking spot. As we started to set up, another car pulled up, and an older gentleman came our way. “What a waste.” Huh? “This park. I used to come here when I was up to here (held his hand out to about Pat Day’s height), but now the geese have taken over.” He proceeded to tell us not to go in the water because we’d be greeted by ankle-high piles of goose dung and that, indeed, the pond had been condemned. Oh. Well, thanks.

Well, no wonder there was no one here, we thought, the place is condemned! But still, man, it’s beautiful and it’s all ours. I looked back and the man and his car were suddenly gone. I thought maybe he was really the spirit of the pond trying to warn us from its evil spirits, or maybe just to scare everyone away in order to keep the place to himself. We were there for several hours, and only one other car pulled up, and he quickly pulled away. I could picture him muttering, “Fuck, how’d these New York assholes find our place?”

Anyway, it was pretty amazing, as you can see.

I pulled out my Form to handicap today’s card, and man, what a disappointment. It’s definitely a racing program more appropriate for Belmont, complete with the feature allowance with five betting entries. So we’re not going to spend the entire day there, probably show up for the late Pick 4. I wanted to pick The Queen’s Stamp in the 9th today but Dick Francis at Brisnet already did, damn. Randy Shulhofer has been sending out some sharp turf horses off layoffs, and Castellano rides.

- We walked over to the sale last night, what a scene. I love watching the spotters – the guys who watch for the bidders in the audience. They all have their own distinct style – some scream, some grunt, some yell, and they all have their little physical style as well. Here’s a picture taken during the bidding for Hip 16, a Forest Wildcat filly who’s a half to Songandaprayer; she went for $775K. Later on, a Fusaichi Pegasus colt sold for $2 million.