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Friday, July 21, 2006

News and Notes - July 22

- Racing was cancelled at Belmont after the 5th on Friday; too bad that the twilight cards, which have been so downright festive this year, had to go out on such a drenched note. The Head Chef and I, on two occasions, needed to go out into the worst of the storms (with yours truly being deathly afraid of lightning). These were only partly successful bids to bail out the stairway leading down to the basement from our little backyard paradise set in the middle of the brick row houses and apartments of Queens (literally). Seems it was raining so hard that the drain at the bottom of those stairs not only couldn't keep up, and water was seeping into the basement.

At least we're not amongst the 25,000 in Queens who have been without electricity in this tropical morass since early in the week. Con Edison originally reported that the number was 2500, but then "clarified" that, explaining that they meant to say that they'd received 2500 calls.

The worst of the storms had actually spared Belmont early on in the twilight card. The track was muddy, but the first was actually on the grass. And perhaps it was the mud that took its toll on chalk players who made John Ward's first-timer Summer Wildfire the 1-2 favorite in the second. A two-year old half-sister to Songandaprayer, as well as the dam of the $1.2 million colt sold earlier in the week in Kentucky, Summer Wildfire was a $725,000 Oxley/Ward purchase at Saratoga last summer. But she was just miserable in finishing last here, and let's hope she's OK. If so, you'll likely have another chance to bet her at 1-2 next time if the track is fast.

The winner, Floresta, is a Bill-Mott trained Forest Camp filly making her second start. She's out of a Saint Ballado mare who is a half-sister to the nice three-year old Victory Speech, won the Dwyer, Swaps, and Lazaro Barrera.

Ward later sent out another losing favorte in 6-5 Trento, a $300,000 purchase running in a $35K maiden claimer. It's probably not a great idea to back any Ward starter in a maiden claimer. A look at Formulator shows just nine such starters over the last five years. Only one has won; and there were losers at 3-5, 4-5, 6-5, and 5-2.

- The track will certainly be sloppy for the Coaching Club American Oaks today, and though I haven't had a chance to handicap the race, I think Pine Island will be a huge underlay and will be taking a look at Baghdaria, Sugar Shake, and the British import Vague.

Sloppy conditions reign at Calder too, and that's a drag. It means they can't run the Extreme Day events scheduled for the turf, such as the wrong way race, and the two races that were to be run simultaneously. Perhaps they can add a race in which the horses run in flippers.

- Jockeys at Philly Park were threatening to withhold their services for Saturday's card due to an insurance issue. Rider David Mello was hurt during a post parade on July 10, and apparently was told by the insurer that coverage applied only to incidents occuring during a race, and not during the post parade, paddock, or morning works. "We were prepared to exhaust every avenue with management to prevent a disruption of live racing," [jockey spokesperson Anthony] Black said, "but we couldn't allow something like this to continue." [Bloodhorse] The track's CEO Hal Handel said that some "communications errors" were to blame, and that the riders always had such coverage.