Thoughts from the eighth pole…..
- Props to Woodbine for moving one of their signature days from their traditional Sunday date to Saturday. Two weeks ago the suburban Toronto track had media from all over the U.S. covering the Woodbine Mile showcasing Tepin’s big win. Handle was up over $2.4M from the prior year, proving that Saturdays are for the Bettors. Let’s hope they continue the trend in the future and avoid the big bad NFL on Sundays.
- My favorite track food at Saratoga is by far the raw clams at the Lobster Hut under the carousel. Doesn’t hurt that the proprietor is from Buffalo either.
- Why does Belmont Park have two Super Saturdays? Couldn’t they come up with a better name for this weekend’s fake Super Saturday? Jockey Club Gold Cup day is Super Saturday.
- As a child growing up following sports starting in the late 60s, early 70s I remember when Arnold Palmer won the Bob Hope Desert Classic in 1972. It was on an old black and white television and my grandfather had one of those putting cups that clicked the ball back to you. I remember watching while putting into that cup and cheering my hero. RIP.
- Never made it to Presque Isle Downs this year. Shame on me.
- Closer to home, trainer Jeremiah Englehart leads the Finger Lakes trainer standings with 89 victories, 32 of which have come in the last month. His father Chris has won every training title since 2003, an amazing fact in itself. Jeremiah had a terrific meet at Saratoga and it looks like he’s carried that momentum to his hometown track, leading by six heading into the weekend.
- The richest stake of the season at Finger Lakes will be run on Saturday. The $219,000 Breeders’ Futurity for 2-year-olds will be the seventh of eight races on Saturday afternoon.
- Looking for some nostalgic articles about horse racing? Grab a copy of Paul Ranallo’s book “What’s New Harry?” I conglomeration of articles by the late Buffalo Courier-Express sportswriter Phil Ranallo. The book contains 13 entries on horse racing, five on Secretariat by the 1972 Eclipse Award winning writer. You won’t be disappointed.
- NBC announced this week it will cover next January’s Pegasus Cup at Gulfstream Park, the $12M pay to play race. Give credit to Frank Stronach for the innovative idea to have twelve owners/investors pony up $1M for a gate in the race. Fort Lauderdale in January? Sign me up.
- Had the pleasure to write a feature piece in The Florida Horse (page 74 – back cover column) this month on Royal Thoroughbred Racing Stable’s Sandra Lombardo, who has started a breeding operation in addition to her thoroughbred racing stable. The Freedom, NY native is also a world class certified body builder in addition to her work in the horse racing game.
- It was really nice to see Norm Casse shine in the spotlight two weeks ago after Tepin’s Woodbine Mile win. He’s represents the next generation of racing in the training ranks and made his father proud with the way he has handled the superstar mare. We need more Norm Casses in this game.
- Five weeks to Breeders’ Cup, where has this year gone? Big races on tap, the next two weekends. The Awesome Again is Dortmund-Chrome III, we’ll see if the big horse can finally catch Cali Chrome. Runhappy returns for the first time since last year in Lexington to run in the Ack Ack at Churchill, that’s one to keep an eye on. Flintshire will run in the Joe Hirsch at Belmont in his tune up for the BC Turf.
Gene Kershner, a Buffalo-based turf writer, is a member of the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters Association, and tweets @EquiSpace.